Christmas is usually cluttered. We’re overbooked with parties, concerts, B-B-Qs and shopping trauma while our houses are jammed with decorations, out-of-town guests and way too much food.
Then on Christmas morning, after the presents have been opened, we sweep up the crumpled gift wrap, tinsel, ribbons, bows, pine needles and boxes that are scattered everywhere.
As much as I love the joy of this season, I sometimes struggle to make sure I don’t lose the profound simplicity of Christmas amid the sensory overload.
This year I decided to pay closer attention to the names of Jesus used in the Christmas story. These names are like wrapped gifts—you have to open them carefully to savor their meaning. You might want to share these names with your loved ones at your Christmas luncheon or dinner, or take a break from the stress of the holidays to look up these Scriptures and ponder them carefully.
Remember: Jesus is God’s gift to us.
Have you fully unwrapped this amazing gift?
1. He is the Son of David (Matt. 1:1). Matthew’s gospel, which was written primarily to Jews, stresses that Jesus was in the royal lineage of Israel’s kings. The genealogy that appears in Matthew 1 traces Joseph, the husband of the Virgin Mary, to David’s line—and then back to Abraham. Even though Jesus was not the biological son of Joseph, He could legally claim the family name. He was King of the Jews in the truest sense; yet unlike the sinful kings of Israel, Jesus was the perfect ruler—and His kingdom will never end.
2. He is the Son of Adam (Luke 3:38). Luke’s gospel, written to a Gentile (non-Jewish) audience, focuses on Jesus’ humanity. And the genealogy that appears in Luke 3:23-38 is not about kingly succession. Instead, it traces Jesus’ lineage through Mary’s family tree and goes all the way to Adam—establishing the case that Jesus was a descendant of the first man. Through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, God’s eternal Word impregnated Mary, making her child both God and man. Yet Jesus, unlike Adam, never disobeyed God. He remained sinless so He could sacrifice His life for us.
3. He is Emmanuel (Matt. 1:23). An angel told Joseph in a dream that Mary would conceive a son miraculously—and that His name would be Emmanuel, which means, “God with us.” Wrapped up in this name is the mystery of the Incarnation. Jesus is, as John’s gospel emphasizes, the Word that “became flesh” (John 1:14). He was with God before the creation of the world as the glorious firstborn Son, but He left the glory of heaven to dwell among sinners on earth.
4. He is Jesus, the Savior (Matt. 1:21). The angel told Mary she would give birth to the “holy child” and that she would call him Jesus, which is the Greek form of the name Joshua (or Yeshua in Hebrew). Jesus means “the Lord saves.” Just as Joshua in the Old Testament succeeded Moses and took God’s people across the Jordan into the Promised Land, Jesus led us out of the wilderness of sin and ushered us “by grace” and “through faith” (Eph. 2:8) into the blessings of salvation.
5. He is the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6). Angels said to the shepherds in Bethlehem: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased” (Luke 2:14). This harkens back to Isaiah’s ancient prophecy that the Messiah would institute peace on earth. The gift of Christ was, in fact, the greatest peace treaty ever enacted. Wherever the true gospel of Christ is preached and believed, hatred is uprooted in human hearts and wars and violence cease.
6. He is the Light of the Gentiles (Luke 2:32). Simeon, the old prophet who met Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus outside the temple in Jerusalem, recognized that the long-awaited Son of God was not sent just to Israel but to all people. Jesus’ mission was a global one. This was also confirmed by the visit of the mysterious magi—wise men from a Gentile country who bowed before the Christ child and honoured him as a true king. They knew that some day this King would be worshiped everywhere.
7. He is the Messiah, Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11). This is how the angel described Jesus when he spoke to the shepherds in Bethlehem. The word “Christ” means “the anointed one”; the Hebrew word is Ha-Mashiach, or Messiah. It speaks of the Deliverer God promised to send to earth. Abraham saw Him from a distance; King David sang and prophesied of Him; Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Micah, Haggai, Malachi and many other prophets foretold His coming. He was not only anointed by the Holy Spirit to heal the sick and raise the dead during His short time on earth; He was anointed to die on the Cross for our sins and to be raised from the dead so that we could live with Him forever.
Many people today—even many professing Christians—have never unwrapped the full meaning of the Savior. Some doubt His power to forgive them. Some struggle to believe He is the only path to God. Others don’t experience inward peace because they have never fully submitted to His lordship.
To all my friends around the world, from my family to yours, have a Merry Christmas! May you enjoy, and delight in, the the precious gift of Jesus in 2012.
Peter J. Coburn
P.S. Don’t forget Sameesha’s Story this Christmas. How will you respond?