7/2/2016 12:03:28 PM
Christmas in July
When do you celebrate Christmas? That might seem like a strange question to ask; for Christmas (unlike Easter) lands on the same calendar date every year: December 25th. Yet, that doesn’t answer the question. I didn’t ask when Christmas was, but, instead, when you celebrate Christmas. A year ago, my family celebrated Christmas on December 6th, December 25th, and January 17th.
With everything that takes place in the month of December, it is often challenging, sometimes even impossible, for families to get everyone together to celebrate. Because of that, some families celebrate Christmas in July.
Whether your family has this practice or not, July might be a great time for you personally to open your Bible and read through the Christmas account once again. With all the stress of the Christmas season, some details of the Christmas account may have escaped your memory. Maybe last December you didn’t take the time to treasure up and ponder all these things in your heart like Mary did. Therefore, July might be a great time for you to read through and ponder the message of Christmas (Matthew 1, Luke 2).
Yet, as we think about the account of Christmas, Matthew 1 and Luke 2 are not the only places to turn. There are various places throughout the Old Testament to turn as well. Long before Jesus was born, many details of his birth were foretold, and they happened exactly as prophesied. One example can be found in Matthew 1:23 where Matthew quotes from the Prophet Isaiah who lived 700 years earlier, “See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel, which is translated ‘God is with us.’”
This detail of the virgin birth of Jesus has been debated by and denied by many. Why is this so controversial? Because it doesn’t make logical sense; humanly speaking, a virgin birth is impossible. Therefore, people have tried to find other explanations. One explanation often given is that the Hebrew word used in Isaiah 7:14 doesn’t necessarily have to mean a virgin, but it could just mean a young woman. Although that is true, we know that it means “virgin” here; the New Testament clearly shows that the birth of Jesus was a virgin birth. Not only that, but the other occurrences of this Hebrew word in the Old Testament are in contexts where the young woman being talked about is clearly a virgin.
Regarding this point there is another place where we may turn as well: Genesis 3:15. After Adam and Eve first fell into sin, God came with the first promise of the Savior to come. Speaking to the devil, God said, “I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” The seed of the woman listed here is talking about Jesus. Some English translations use the word “offspring” here. Although there is nothing wrong with that translation, the more literal translation is “seed.” When you talk about the seed of something or someone, to whom is that referring: the man or the woman? ‘Seed’ always is spoken of as coming from the man. Yet, here we find God speaking of the seed of the woman. Why is that? Because in Jesus’ birth, there would be no human father involved. Jesus would be born of a virgin, and thereby Jesus would be Immanuel, God with us, true God and true Man. And it had to be this way! If Jesus was born in the normal way with a human father and a human mother, Jesus would have inherited a sinful nature from his earthly parents. If Jesus had a sinful nature he could not have been the Savior. Jesus had to be born in this supernatural way so that being true God and true Man in one person he would live the perfect life that God demands of us all, die an innocent death in our place, and have his death count as the payment for the sins of the world. The virgin birth is not just another interesting detail, but rather an essential detail in the historical account of our eternal salvation.