ADVENT Story Revealed part 14

What Simeon Saw

Forty days after Jesus was born, Joseph and Mary brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord. They did that in accordance to the Law of the Lord, “EVERY firstborn MALE THAT OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD”. (Luke 2:23)

Luke 2:25-33
And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, according to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, and the glory of Your people Israel.”
And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him.

Why were they amazed?

  • It was not so much that Simeon foretold new things respecting the Child Jesus that they marveled; their surprise was rather that a stranger, evidently of position and learning, should possess so deep an insight into the lofty destinies of an unknown Infant, brought by evidently poor parents into the temple court. [Pulpit Commentary Biblehub.com]
Luke 2:34-35
And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

Have you ever wondered why this part of the Advent story is rarely spoken around a Christmas dinner or during the early morning openings of presents? Even in every children’s production of the Christmas Pageant, there is not even a hint of it. For if you did include it, then the subject of what Simeon saw in this child would have to come up.

What did Simeon see?

He saw this holy child grow up into a man who would be rejected.

Isaiah 53:3
He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

He saw this child grow up into a man (who was without sin) die for our sins.

Isaiah 53:4-6
Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.

I can understand why parents want to leave this part out? For who wants to hear that the only reason for Jesus’ birth was that he was born to be sacrificed like a slaughtered lamb on the cross?

But the TRUTH is, without the cross His birth has no meaning and no real reason to celebrate Christmas. By the way, as a reminder, Jesus did resurrect and that is even more reason to celebrate Christmas.

ADVENT Story Revealed part 13

The Call of the Shepherd

Luke 2:8-9
In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them…

It is the day after Christmas and my thoughts lingered on the shepherds who were priviliged to be visited by an angel and instructed to seek the babe who would be the Savior of the world. I can imagine them coming together on the hillsides after watching a cascade of fiery angels lighting up the night sky and filling them with awe. I can just see them all wanting to head into the sleepy town of Bethlehem, but then some of the older shepherds hesitated to leave their flocks alone. So, some relunctantly stayed with the promise that they will be later relieved to seek out the Christ child also. Most eagerly rushed down the darkened hillside. They split up to scoure the overcrowded town, waking up the households with new born babes. There were probably a number of irated parents that night. For the shepherds woke them up and insisted to see their new born but quickly left because they have yet to find the new born in swaddling clothes laid in a manger. Of course, they found the house where Mary gave birth inside the empty animal pens. One of them blew a ram’s horn to signal the other searchers that the right babe was found. When asked of why this large group of shepherds came asking about Mary’s new born, they made known to them the statement which had been told them about this Child. When they eventually left…

Luke 2:20
The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

You know, shepherds were not highly thought of by the big wigs of that time. But God loves them. In the Old Testament, God favored them. Look up the stories of Abel, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who were all shepherds. One shepherd in particular was so favored by God that he became Israel’s greatest king. He contributed a fair number of songs (psalms) in the Bible one of which was about ‘The Shepherd’ of them all.

Psalm 23:1-6 (A Psalm of David)
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

I know why God sent the angel to appear to the sheherds first. You see, He desires us to be shepherds just like them. I don’t mean literal shepherds but spiritual ones.

Like Jesus…

John 10:14-15
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

Then we should…

Acts 20:28
Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.

And…

1 Peter 5:1-4
Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

As to The Shepherd who look over us…

Psalm 79:13
But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.

ADVENT Story Revealed part 12

Why the Angels Celebrated?

Jesus was born. As he was wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger, something was happening at the nearby hills.

Luke 2:8-16
In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.

Who truly was this child that inspired the angels to light up the sky with their fanfare?

Isaiah revealed His identity…

Isaiah 7:14
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel”.

Immanuel means ‘God with us’.

Isaiah 9:6
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The Apostle John said this…

John 1:1,14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Read the words of a better storyteller than me, Max Lucado.

It all happened in a moment, a most remarkable moment. For through that segment of time a spectacular thing occurred. God became a man. While the creatures of earth walked unaware, Divinity arrived. Heaven opened herself and placed her most precious one in a human womb.

The Omnipotent, in one instant, made himself breakable. He who had been spirit became pierceable. He who was larger than the universe became an embryo. And he who sustains the world with a word chose to be dependent upon the nourishment of a young girl.

God as a fetus. Holiness sleeping in a womb. The creator of life being created.

God was given eyebrows, elbows, two kidneys, and a spleen. He stretched against the walls and floated in the amniotic fluids of his mother.

God had come near.

He came, not as a flash of light or as an unapproachable conqueror, but as one whose first cries were heard by a peasant girl and a sleepy carpenter. The hands that first held him were unmanicured, calloused, and dirty.

No silk. No ivory. No hype. No party. No hoopla.

Were it not for the shepherds, there would have been no reception. And were it not for a group of stargazers, there would have been no gifts. (Max Lucado Christmas article)

Wow! Join me and repeat the words of the angels.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

ADVENT Story Revealed part 11

Tradition or What the Bible Really Say

As far as I can remember, in every traditional Christmas story heard, read and viewed, I always found Joseph and a very pregnant Mary traveling to Bethlehem on a skinny donkey. When they arrive, they find no public inn available because of over-crowding except for a space in a stable already inhabited by a cow, a donkey and some sheep. Just as Mary was about to give birth, the Bethlehem Star would burst through a hole in the roof to shine upon the newly born baby Jesus. Then shepherds would come first then the three wise men.

This version of the Christmas Nativity story, according to tradition, was first illustrated like this during the Dark Ages by the legendary, Francis of Assisi.

I must admit that I had always found this version quite magical but was it biblical? I mean, was it presented the way the Lord God intended? Let us see…

Luke 2:4-5
Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

The verses above only narrated the journey of Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem with no other clear description on what was their mode of transportation or the conditions of the journey.

It may be that they did travel by donkey as tradition suggests. However, there are other considerations found in Scripture that may add to their journey story.

Nazareth is found in the region of Galilee which is about 80 miles as the crows flies to Bethlehem. At most traveling there by donkey using the established roads would take about 3 days trip. But Joseph and Mary being Jews were faced with a more arduous journey. Why? Let’s look at this map of Israel at the time of Jesus’ birth.

Joseph and Mary could not take the shorter and more direct route because to do so, they would have to travel through the region of Samaria. Jews avoid travelling through Samaritan territory. Why? The people of Samaria were hated by the Jews. [To fully understand the enmity between these two people, you can open your Bible in several books of the Old Testament.]

So, what would be their route? Let’s look at the map again.

As Jews, they would have skirted the Samaritan territory by taking the much more longer and risky route. This would mean at least a week’s journey time through hazardous country. Considering this added information, I really doubted that Mary could have ridden on the bony back of an ass 20 miles a day for a week or so. More than likely, she rode on a cart accompanied with other folks making the same trek to Judea.

So, they reached Bethlehem…

Luke 2:6-7
While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

In the stories told and the movies I watched, Mary and Joseph always arrived in despiration to find lodgings because of extreme labor pains. But if you consider closely the words of Luke 2:6, ‘While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.’ I believe that what was implied was that they were already in Bethlehem for at least a day or so.

How about Jesus being born in a stable because there was no more room in the inn?

People got the idea of the stable mainly because the baby was laid in a manger. Understandable but in truth, not exactly accurate. Where the Bible only offered conjecture, archaeology may shed some light.

Based on archaeological digs in Bethlehem, the average houses looked almost like the image below.

What they unearth was that inside the house was an area for living, eating and sleeping. This living area part was on a large raised platform. The sunken area was reserved mostly for the household’s livestock which were usually kept indoors during the winter time.

Mary (in all probability) gave birth in the sunken area of a first century Bethleheman house which probably belonged to the kin of Joseph who readily took them in. By the way, the ‘inn’, in actuality, is usually the upper room or guest room built on the roof which was already occupied by another kin folk of Joseph who arrived there first. Hence the reason ‘there was no room for them in the inn’ (vs7). Fortunately for Joseph, there were enough female kin to help with the birth.

Praise the Lord God who always provide.

In my next post, we’ll talk about the part played by the shepherd and exactly who it is who was born in such humbling conditions.

ADVENT Story Revealed part 10

God’s Will Be Done [continued]

Imagine, if you will, God going over His checklist of things that are done and things yet to be done.

  • Sent angel to Zecharias.
  • Blessed a barren woman named Elizabeth to become pregnant in her old age.
  • Indwelled the child of Zecharias & Elizabeth with His Holy Spirit while still in the womb.
  • Sent angel to Mary.
  • Conception in Mary’s womb by the Holy Spirit.
  • Sent a dream to Joseph to protect Mary and unborn child.

Then God looks at the next item to be checked, but then He pauses for the next item was suppose to be…

  • Jesus born in Bethlehem

But there is a problem! Mary and Joseph are still in the northern village of Nazareth. Bethlehem, on the other hand, is located far to the south; about 3 days of arduous traveling time. Not too safe for a nine months pregnant woman who is quite ready to deliver.

So, Jesus is born in Nazareth, what’s the big deal?

The big deal is that the Lord God declared that he is to be born in Bethlehem. It’s written in Scripture… So, His will must get done

Micah 5:2
“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.”

In truth, God saw all this before it ever happened. His solution was to use a most unlikely of person, the emperor of Rome.

Luke 2:1-3
Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.

This should be a reminder to us on how great our God is. For…

Psalm 22:28
For the kingdom is the Lord’s and He rules over the nations.

So, meanwhile…

Luke 2:4-5
Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

In tomorrow’s post, we will compare the traditional way of the Christmas story to what the Bible actually say.

ADVENT Story Revealed part 9

God’s Will Be Done

In the beginning of the prayer that Jesus taught the Apostles were these words.

Matthew 6:10b
‘Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’

As we continue our Christmas tale, allow me to bring to light how the Lord’s will got done.

Luke 1:26-35
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”
Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.”

Let’s talk about the virgin birth. First, it was planned…

Isaiah 7:14
… the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.

Second, it was crucial for our salvation. How?

Let’s understand that God had set only one way for mankind to avoid eternal damnation and that is for one of us to pay for it through sacrifice of life. The problem is that the one who is to be sacrificed must be completely without Sin. This Sin was passed down by Adam and so, every human born of man and woman was born in sin. This is why we are not qualified to pay for the penalty of sin.

But then Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit.

1 John 3:5
You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.

Now, after the angel made this incredible news…

Luke 1:38
And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

There are many that may not know that this conception may actually put a dent in God’s plans. Let’s read…

Matthew 1:18
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.

In other words, Mary was found to be with child who was not Joseph’s. If the conception by the Holy Spirit is not believed, people can only conclude that Mary was unfaithful and cheated on Joseph. After the angel’s visit, Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth who was also with child (miraculously). When she returned, she was already 3 months pregnant and obviously showing. This was a problem for her, the unborn Messiah and God’s plan. How?

Leviticus 20:10
If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

According to the Law, Mary could have been stoned to death.

Matthew 1:19
And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.

But sending her away was not God’s will.

Matthew 1:20-25
But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.”
And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.

In my next post, we will continue to look over God’s will being done.

ADVENT Story Revealed part 8

Is Jesus the Legitimate Messiah?

If I were an enemy of God, I would make it a point in casting doubt on the credibility of Jesus of Nazareth. I’d especially challenge his messiahship. By the way, this is exactly what the Devil is doing even in Christmas time. But God who is by far wiser than all had already thought of this. Do you recall His plan. Yes, ‘The Plan’ for our salvation.

We already saw part of His plan coming into fruition with the angel visiting Zecharias. The next stage is…

Luke 1:26-28
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”

Ok… Some questions need to be asked before we can go forward.

  • Why would God send His most important angel to this girl?
  • Who was Mary? At that matter, who was Joseph?
  • And how were they part of God’s plan especially in regards to Jesus’ messiahship?

As part of God’s intricate plan, He had chosen a specific family… a family line that went from Adam to Noah to Abraham to Isaac to Jacob to Judah then many generations later to a shepherd boy who slew a giant and became the greatest king of Israel. Of course, we’re talking about King David.

Now, if you want to read David’s entire story, you can open your Bible at the 1st & 2nd books of Samuel, the 1st book of Kings and the 1st book of Chronicles. For our purposes, let us look at what God said about David.

Acts 13:22
After removing Saul, He raised up David as their king and testified about him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after My own heart; he will carry out My will in its entirety.’

Saul, by the way, was Israel’s first king before David, but he had failed God big time. God loved David so much that He gave him this promise.

2 Samuel 7:12-13
When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

Since the time that David passed the people expected the Messiah who is to be their forever king. So, how did Joseph and especially Mary came to be legitimately the royal link?

Let us look at their geneology.

From a legality point of view, no one can deny about Jesus lineage. Even if they did not believe in the virgin conception, Joseph’s choice to keep Mary as wife, made Jesus’ birth as his.

Just before Christmas Eve, we will continue this advent story on how God fulfilled His prophecies on the birth of His son.

ADVENT Story Revealed part 2

The Intended Relationship

Greetings. Well, traditional Christmas is just 25 days away. In my last post, we (rightly so) started this Advent story in the very beginning of the Bible when God created the universe and then mankind. But what does this have to do with Christmas? Why not start with the angel’s visitation of a young woman named Mary? We will! However, other questions needs to be told first; the most important is…

Why does the world need a
SAVIOR?

To answer this, we must remind ourselves of this crucial background.

Psalm 8:3-4
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?

How special were you when the Lord God created you?

Genesis 2:4
This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.
Genesis 2:7a
Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground…

I love watching potters with their bare hands firmly but yet gently form beautiful pottery from a lump of clay. Their love for their work is visibly expressed in how they formed their masterpieces. No wonder this Bible writer expressed this particular thought about God, the greatest artisan of them all.

Isaiah 64:8
But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.

But we are more than just art pieces. Remember…

Genesis 1:26
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…”

And let us read the rest of verse 7…

Genesis 2:7
Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Here’s a Christmas thought. Why don’t we express gratitude to God and say…

Psalm 139:14
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.

Now, God did not stop there. Like a good parent, He did not set us out into the wild environs of His creation

Genesis 2:8-9
The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

He placed mankind in a safe place…

Genesis 2:15-17
Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

In that enriching haven, God and mankind became closer.

Genesis 2:18-20a
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field…

Whenever, I read this part, I see this image of a father bringing his child for the first time to the zoo. What a fun time for father and child to have together. This is what our Lord God intended for mankind for eternity. (Even today, He still desires it for us.)

Now, we come to the BAD NEWS of the Advent story. In the beginning, we had it made. But then…

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ADVENT Story Revealed part 1

Where the story truly begins?

Every year, at around the month of December, most of the contemporary world celebrate a well known ADVENT event; that is Christmas. By definition, Advent means the beginning of an event or the arrival of a person. It also means ‘an invention being made’, which is important for this article but this will be for later use. For now, Advent is also a traditional time period of four weeks when the religious prepare spiritually before December 25.

Though Christmas is an expected holiday, many still have no clear understanding of what to really make of it. When asked about Christmas, most would correctly answer that it is the day that Jesus Christ was born. But when asked about the more important life-changing aspects of Christmas, you wouldn’t believe how many shrugs and blank stares I get. Of course, this is not new to me.

Romans 10:2
For I (the Apostle Paul) can testify about them (Israelites) that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.

Like what the Apostle Paul wrote, Biblical knowledge is sorely lacking. Many enthusiastic folks may know the gist of Christmas but a lot of it is not based on actual Bible knowledge.

So, for this Advent time, I offer myself as a fascilitator into the BIBLE that I love and that changed my life. How do I qualify? Let me state that I am not a scholar. But God had set me and many more of us who believe to be witnesses to His goodness.

So, let this Advent tour of the Bible begin. Most Christmas stories start with an angel visiting a fourteen year old girl and revealing to her that she will become the mother of Savior of the world. But a question must be asked and in need of an answer.

Why does the world need a
SAVIOR?

The answer to this, we must go way way back to the very beginning.

Genesis 1:1
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

I think I’ll leave you to read the rest of Genesis 1 on your own. As your guide, I would like to show you how the psalmists expressed what they felt about creation.

Psalm 33:6-9
The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born. He assigned the sea its boundaries and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs. Let the whole world fear the Lord, and let everyone stand in awe of him. For when he spoke, the world began! It appeared at his command.
Psalm 74:16-17
Both day and night belong to you; you made the starlight and the sun. You set the boundaries of the earth, and you made both summer and winter.
Psalm 104:24-25
O Lord, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your creatures. Here is the ocean, vast and wide, teeming with life of every kind, both large and small.

Then God made us…

Psalm 8:3-5
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.

How were we created?

Genesis 1:26-27
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God; male and female he created them.

Consider how special you are to Him.

After He created us, He was very pleased then He rested. So, I think I will pause here for now. We will tackle ‘Why does the world need a SAVIOR?’ in my next posting.

Creation is very much part of the Christmas story. And I hope that you would share this to everyone and this attitude…

Psalm 145:3-7
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They tell of the power of your awesome works—and I will proclaim your great deeds. They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch4 – part 4

SPYING IN A TREE – Capernaum, GalileeCG-book-cover-w

Then Jacob tiredly walked in. “I think I have found another part of the puzzle concerning the Nazarene.”

Cornelius noticed that Jacob was breathing heavy and streams of sweat were rolling down into his beard. He was also massaging his right shoulder down to his arm. “What is wrong? Do you feel ill?”

“No! It is just the heat.” He wearily lowered himself into a chair. “I’ll be fine.”

“Do you want to rest? We can certainly talk later on.”

“No, no. I just exerted myself a little to rush back here to tell you what I discovered.” After Cornelius gave him a drink, he continued, “Do you recall how I questioned that this young rabbi could not be the promised one because according to the Scriptures that the messiah was to come from Bethlehem not from Nazareth? Well, I met with a woman who is a second cousin to the Nazarene’s mother. This Jesus was not born in Nazareth. Though his family was a permanent resident there, his parents, Joseph and Mary, went to Bethlehem in compliance with an edict by the Emperor Augustus to return to the town of their ancestry for the census. I remembered that census. That was about thirty years ago, just before I left for Athens where I eventually worked for your father. Anyway, a few months later, this Jesus was born in Bethlehem.”

Cornelius picked up a sheet from the notes that he was compiling and pointed at it. “This complies with Micah’s prophecy that the Messiah will come from Bethlehem. But then there must have been other infants born in that town that same year.”

“Yes but then, the old Herod ordered the slaughter of all male infants up to the age of two in Bethlehem and its surrounding villages.”

“There were already rumors of a promised Messiah going around in Herod’s kingdom. Herod was afraid that another king will take his place. Then came a group of magi from the East and it was from them that he discovered that the awaited king and descendant of King David was an infant. Herod probably tasked the magicians to reveal who the infant was. But when they didn’t return, he couldn’t take the chance and had them all slaughtered.”

“Except that if this Jesus was born there, his parents obviously escaped the carnage,”whispered Cornelius.

“Yes, Cornelius! You have it right, I think. For the woman said that months after Herod’s death, they showed up in Nazareth; Joseph, Mary and a four year old Jesus, her son.”

Cornelius picked up his pen and started writing down more notes.

“There is something else.”

Cornelius heard something in his voice enough to pause. He put his pen down.

“Do you recall when we discussed about the sign of a virgin birth? How we both surmised that it may be figurative?”

Cornelius nodded in agreement.

“I now believe that God intended that passage to be literal. It was the way that she worded ‘Jesus, her son’ was what peaked my curiosity. Why not ‘their son’? I asked myself. So I pressed this woman for more information. Apparently, this Jesus may not be of Joseph’s seed.”

“What do you mean?”

“His true father may be another! She, apparently over heard her parents say that Joseph wanted to divorce Mary quietly. In our tradition, there is only one reason why a man would do this. If she had been unfaithful! After which Mary went to some relatives in Judea. But then he later changed his mind, followed her and married her.”

“I know what you’re thinking Jacob,” exclaimed Cornelius. “This Jesus could just be the son of another man. It is not uncommon.”

“True. But then my cousin told me later that there was a rumor that a young woman in Nazareth was visited by an angel of the Lord. And that she claimed that it was the Holy Spirit who caused her to be pregnant. Rumor or not, it is too much of a coincidence. I believe that the prophecy of the coming Messiah is at hand and so far it points to the man from Nazareth!”

Cornelius contemplated what Jacob claimed. “I have to see this man again. Do you know where he is?”

“I hear that he is somewhere in the up-lands near Cana moving from one village to another.”

“Well, we can’t traipse around the highlands blindly. So, we wait until he returns to Capernaum.”

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The story continues on in my next post a week from now.

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