View From the right-Whose birthday is it?
By Judy J. Howard
Whose birthday is it?
Have you ever gone to a birthday party which did not have an invited birthday celebrant? No presents for the one celebrating a birthday? We do that every Christmas season. Millions of dollars are spent for presents for party celebrators. More millions of dollars are spent for party decorations. Are these presents given to the one celebrating the birthday? No, they are distributed to all the people attending the party. In fact, in many cases, the birthday guest of honor is often not even invited nor recognized.
Messiah Jesus was born approximately 2,000 years ago. As the Bible tells us, He was born of a young, economically poor virgin named Mary. In fact, He was her firstborn. His siblings did not arrive until after Mary delivered Messiah Jesus as a result of her relationship with Joseph, a simple carpenter. In Isaiah 7:14, we read, Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son and shall call His name Immanuel (God with us). Though written centuries before Messiah Jesus birth, this prophecy was fulfilled exactly as written when His birth was announced in Bethlehem.
Almighty God chose to tell hard-working shepherds about His Sons birth rather than religious authorities, sending angels to announce this promised Saviors birth. Overcome with joy and recognizing the fulfillment of the centuries-old prophecies, they immediately went to the Saviors manger in the animal shed. (Luke 2:1-20)
Such a simple birthplace. Such an ordinary mother. Such a responsibility for Joseph, now criticized by religious friends because he decided to marry Mary even though she was already pregnant.
Did Mary realize her Son, Messiah Jesus, would eventually die on a cross (Isaiah 53:5-7) in order to purchase salvation for those of us who chose to accept this salvation gift? Did she understand His earthly existence was orchestrated by His Father, Almighty God, to fulfill hundreds of earlier prophecies? Im certain she recognized those prophecies when Gods angels told her she would be the Messiah Jesus mother. However, as a mother myself, Im just as certain she, being merely human, was not aware of the physical, emotional and spiritual pain she would experience eventually.
None of us is absolutely certain of Messiah Jesus birthdate. December 25 has been chosen by many religions because that day has been traditional through the ages. Others recognize late September as His birthdate, as this seems to coincide with various biblical descriptions of activities related to His birth.
Why, then, have we usurped this beautiful birthday, turning the celebration into a commercial, monetary feast? We all enjoy having our families with us for special occasions. But do we really need to spend hundreds of dollars in order to celebrate this pleasure?
We have forgotten the gift Messiah Jesus gave to us when He was born and later crucified. He died on a rough, splintered wooden cross, shedding His blood to pay for our sin as required by Almighty God. What do we do with gifts? Do we leave them unopened? Certainly not! What about the gift of salvation Messiah Jesus died to give us? Have you opened His gift to you yet? Is it still packed away somewhere?
May the Holy Spirit open our hearts this birthday season, enabling us to recognize our sinful nature in need of cleansing through Messiah Jesus birth and eventual blood sacrifice. May we invite Messiah Jesus to His birthday celebration, open the gift He is offering us, in return, giving Him the gift of our lives. What a wonderful way to celebrate Messiah Jesus birthday.