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Why are Christians still so bothered about Jesus at Christmas?



Most people know that the Christmas story is about a baby being born. That, in itself, is wonderful - children are a real blessing and bring us great joy.


However, is a baby being born alone enough to build an entire festival around? Unlikely! So, why do Christians celebrate at Christmas?


This short blog post will hopefully go some way in answering that question by looking at chapter 1 of Matthew’s Gospel.



Jesus is God’s promised King

In the first chapter of his Gospel, Matthew, zooms in on the fact that Jesus is God’s chosen and promised king.


He refers to Jesus as being the ‘Messiah’ once at the start of the family tree (v 1) and twice at the end of it (vv 16 and 17). So, what does 'Messiah' mean?

Put simply, it means ‘anointed one’ (or chosen one) which means it has the exact same meaning as the word ‘Christ’. God had made a promise centuries before Matthew wrote stating that one day his 'Messiah' was going to come to put all the wrongs in the world to right and bring in God’s kingdom.


As if this wasn’t enough, Matthew also makes the point that Jesus is a descendant of the great King David, in verse one. The promised Messiah would be a descendant of David (e.g. Ezekiel 34:23) and shows that Jesus was legally entitled to the throne of Israel at that time in history.


Matthew even structures the family tree itself in such a way that it hints big time at Jesus being this promised king. The generations are split into three groups of fourteen (v 17). This might not strike us as meaning very much. But each letter of the Hebrew alphabet has a numerical value, and fourteen is the numerical value of the letters in the Hebrew alphabet that make up the name David -  Israel’s greatest and most famous king.


This means that when Jesus is first mentioned here (before he is even born!) there are various bits of evidence and hints to be found that show people he is this promised king. A promised king not just for Israel but for all the world!


‘So what?’ you might ask. Well, having a king means there has to be a kingdom. And the kingdom of God’s promised king is one where everlasting joy, peace, hope, safety, security, goodness and blessings reign supreme and where pain, misery, sin and death have no place.


Though the Bible tells us that this kingdom only fully comes into existence in all it’s glory when Jesus returns, it also tells us how we can get a taste of it right now. How? By knowing God personally for ourselves by repenting and trusting in him. The Bible also tells us that a true church is a place where you can experience God’s blessings and get a taste for his perfect kingdom too. That's why being part of a church like Grace Church - imperfect as we are - is such a blessing.



Jesus is God on a rescue mission

Amazingly, Jesus is not just a human king.


For a start, verses 18-25 give a lot of attention to the fact his conception and birth was far from ordinary. Matthew tells us that Jesus’ mother, Mary, was promised to be married to Joseph, Jesus’ earthly adoptive father, meaning they hadn’t fully consummated their marriage.


And yet, Mary (a virgin) was pregnant. How? The Holy Spirit had planted a tiny little baby in her womb.


This obviously points to a unique child - one who Matthew says will be called ‘Immanuel’ which means ‘God with us’. So, God has come in human form to earth as a baby by miraculous conception - you don’t get more unique than that!


But there’s more! If you thought this baby had plenty of strange and wonderfully meaningful

names under his belt already, we’re told the name  ‘Jesus’ also has great meaning too.


Literally it means ‘the Lord saves’. But saves from what?


The angel tells Joseph,


‘ … you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’ (v 21)


God is here and he’s on a rescue mission to save his people from their sins. This means that Jesus, the baby born and laid in a manger, came from God to rescue us from the penalty our sins deserve (God's fair judgement in hell) and the destructive power sin has in our lives.


God hasn’t kept himself distant from all the misery and suffering we experience but actually got down in the dirt with us and felt what we do for himself!


God hasn’t kept himself distant from all the misery and suffering we experience but actually got down in the dirt with us and felt what we do for himself!


A rescue for everyone

So, what has this got to do with you and me, 2000 years later and in a completely different part of the world?


Everything.


In the family tree, Matthew also makes it clear that Jesus is not just descended from David but also from Abraham. Two thousand years before Jesus, God told a man called Abraham that through him 'all nations of the earth will be blessed' (Genesis 12:3).


By making this connection to Abraham clear, Matthew is reminding the original readers of his Gospel (who would have been mainly Jews) of this promise and therefore the global impact that this child will have.


This promise from God has no limitations on it. It simply says ‘all peoples’. That means every single person throughout all of history is impacted by the birth of Jesus.


That means that the kingdom he brings, and the rescue mission he is on is on offer for everyone who trusts and believes this for themselves.


This is made even clearer when you take a deeper look at the  people included in the family tree Matthew provides. It's a real mix of ‘good’ and ‘bad’, insiders and foreigners, famous people and complete nobodies, men and women. All these people were around in the best times and the worst times in Israel’s history and they’re all part of the grand story that leads to Jesus’ birth.


It may just look like a long list of names but really it’s confirming that all the barriers that separate people in different ways are being removed. It tells us that anyone and everyone can be included in God's own people.


Amazingly, Matthew is highlighting that Jesus came for everyone. So, no matter who you are and what background you have, the barriers you experience in this life are not barriers when you come to Jesus.


Everyone is included.


Hopefully you can see that the birth of this baby - this promised king on the grandest rescue mission the world has ever seen - is pretty good news and gives you an idea as to why Christians remain so bothered about Jesus every single Christmas!