Happy, Wonderful, Joyful Christmas!
“Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’ Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’ Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, ‘Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!’ Nathanael said to him, ‘How do you know me?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.’ Nathanael answered him, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’” (John 1:45-49)
Almost seven decades ago, I was born in Baltimore, Maryland to a Reformed Jewish family living in a Jewish neighborhood where the orthodox Jews walked to Synagogue on Saturday mornings, didn’t carry money, flip light switches, or cook, for fear of breaking the Sabbath law. My home must have seemed radically liberal in that community. When we moved, it was also to predominately Jewish neighborhoods. We attended temple services on Friday night, as most Reformed Jews do, at the beginning of the Sabbath, after saying the prayers at dusk before dinner. I did not know God as a person or Sovereign; I knew stories from the Pentateuch, Hebrew prayers, and Jewish traditions. We had a Torah but not a Bible. I heard this prayer millions of time in my young life: שְׁמַעיִשְׂרָאֵליְהוָהאֱלֹהֵינוּיְהוָהאֶחָֽד׃ – “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.” (Deuteronomy 6:4)
How did a naïve girl, basically a cultural Jew, become a lover of Christ, the true King of Israel? How could anything good come out of Baltimore where I pridefully rebelled, seeking my self-righteousness as the highest good, if not by by God’s grace alone, because of His irresistible grace, sovereign election, and victorious mercy! If I were superstitious, I might suspect that the Lord wanted me to see the power of his choice, giving me an almost-Christmas birthday (26th), saving me at the symbolic age of thirty-three, starting with my Jewish upbringing. Think what you will, but every soul that Christ rescues has the same precious, momentous and amazing journey from utter corruption to complete reconciliation.
Our one, unique, victorious Savior will elect others to the kingdom today, and every day until Jesus returns. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will bring quietness and solemnity to the world today that will only be duplicated next Christmas and the one after. Today we celebrate the humility of Jesus Christ with wonder and awe. He is the Lord our God. The only One who offers eternal life to the elect, for his pleasure. May He find delight in our meditations today. How will you gift Christ on His birthday? Will you share your joy with your family and friends?
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17)