Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year “with those kids jingle-belling and everyone telling you be of good cheer”. Its music is joyful and triumphant! It’s a time for adding events to your calendar and for checking your Christmas gift list. As you are preparing your calendar and wallet/purse for Christmas, make sure you prepare your heart as well. One way many Christians do this is by observing Advent. Advent comes from the Latin word for “arrival”. Specifically, it refers to the arrival (birth) of Jesus Christ. Observing Advent is a way to intentionally remember that Jesus is the reason for the holiday season. With Galatians 4:4-5 as our guide, we shall learn on this first Sunday of Advent that Jesus’ birth was expected and is exceptional. “When the time came to completion, God sent His son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal 4:4-5).
Jesus’ Birth was Expected
Paul spoke of Jesus’ birth by saying it happened: “When the time came to completion…” No doubt, Mary and Joseph were surprised; but the coming of the Messiah was God’s plan from the beginning and there was anticipation concerning His coming. The Bible says a lot of about the coming Messiah: He will be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), born of a virgin (Is 7:14, 9:6-7), the Seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15), a Prophet like Moses (Deut 18:15), Son of Abraham (Gen 12), Son of David (2 Sam 7:16), and the Coming King (Zch 9:9).
Jesus’ Birth is Exceptional
Jesus is called the “one and only/only begotten” (John 3:16) Son of God. He is unique. The Son of God “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Jesus is the Second Person of the Trinity who is fully God and fully man. While it is difficult to grasp, it is the teaching of Scripture.
His Birth was Announced by an Angel “God sent His Son…”
God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary to tell her that she will “give birth to a son and you will call His name Jesus” (Luke 1:31). Mary told her fiancée Joseph the news and he was—understandably—skeptical. Joseph wanted to divorce her quietly, but God sent an angel (most likely Gabriel) to tell Joseph to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife because she is indeed pregnant with the Messiah.
He was born to a virgin named Mary “…born of a woman…”
It is easy to understand Joseph’s initial disbelief. The woman he is going to marry, who was a virgin, told him that she was pregnant. She told him that she had not been unfaithful, but that this was a supernatural conception by the Holy Spirit. Why must Jesus have a virgin birth? The virgin birth is important because it means that Jesus’ father is not Joseph, but God. If Jesus’ father was Joseph, Jesus would be just like us with a sinful nature inherited from Adam. However, being God’s Son, Jesus does not have Adam’s sin nature and is able to perfectly obey without sin. Being without sin, Jesus can offer Himself as a sacrifice to take away the sin of others.
A Descendant of Adam, Abraham, and David “…born under the law…”
While He was a descendant of Adam (Luke 3:38), He was born of a virgin and free from Adam’s sin. Jesus was born under the Law of Moses and followed it perfectly. He had perfect righteousness under the Law and was completely blameless. This is important because He became the “lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Peter describes His sacrifice as “like that of a lamb without defect or blemish” (1 Peter 1:19). Jesus is the “last Adam [who] became a life-giving Spirit” (1 Cor 15:45). Jesus is the descendant from Abraham who will be the blessing to the world (Gen 17?). Jesus is the King of kings from the line of David that will have a kingdom that will last forever (2 Sam 7).
Jesus is Immanuel (God with us) “…to redeem those under the law…”
Jesus’ name means “The Lord saves”. This is why the angel told Joseph that His name will be Jesus “because He will save His people from their sins” (Matt 1:21). The angels told the shepherds, “Today a Savior, who is Christ the Lord was born for you in the city of David” (Luke 2:11). God is with us in Jesus Christ. He died the death we deserved to die in order that we can live the life we were meant to live.
Jesus is the Son of the Most High “…so that we might receive adoption as sons.”
Not only is Jesus the Son of Adam, Abraham, and David; He is the Son of God. The angel Gabriel told Mary, “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. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end” (Luke 1:32-33). Through Jesus we are adopted into the family of God. The Apostle John wrote, “But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).
Hymn: Joy to the World
Joy to the World; The Lord is come;
Let Earth receive her King:
Let every Heart prepare him Room,
And Heaven and Nature sing.
No more let Sins and Sorrows grow,
Nor Thorns infest the Ground:
He comes to make his Blessings flow
Far as the Curse is found.
Joy to the Earth, The Saviour reigns;
Let Men their Songs employ;
While Fields & Floods, Rocks, Hills & Plains
Repeat the sounding Joy.
He rules the World with Truth and Grace,
And makes the Nations prove
The Glories of his Righteousness,
And Wonders of his Love.
As you prepare for Christmas, don’t forget to prepare your heart.