Here we are, just a few days before Christmas. On that day, we celebrate the greatest gift ever given to mankind, God’s only Son!

Luke 2:1-20
1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Like Mary, I pray that all of us treasure the birth of Jesus and ponder these things which occurred in our hearts. The birth of Jesus was not exactly brought about in the best of circumstances and certainly not in a way which we would expect!

Joseph and Mary were very young, likely only teenagers. Joseph, knowing that this child was not his, planned to quietly divorce Mary. Of course, an angel intervened to convince him of Mary’s explanation that this truly was a virgin birth.

They were forced by the government to travel at the end of her pregnancy simply to register in Joseph’s hometown for the census.

No one cared enough for this young couple to give them a place to stay, so Jesus was born in a manger; an animal’s feeding trough. Not exactly the most sanitary of conditions for giving birth!

Mary and Joseph were very poor as indicated by their sacrifice of a pair of pigeons or doves to consecrate the birth of Jesus at the temple.

So far as the Bible indicates, Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth was the only supportive family member of this pregnancy.

King Herod had all boys two years old and under murdered in an attempt to stop Jesus from fulfilling His destiny of King of the Jews.

The Christmas story where the birth of Jesus takes place is in reality a dark and gloomy one. Yet, in the midst of such opposition and darkness, an inexpressible joy is experienced as the light of Christ and the hope of His promise shines forth. It is the dark backdrop of these circumstances that causes the birth of Jesus to shine so bright.

Good news that will cause great joy for all the people! Indeed these words of the angel still ring true for us today!

We who gladly receive the good news about Jesus are filled with hope no matter our circumstances. As we are reminded in 1 Thessalonians 4, we are ones who may mourn and suffer just like the rest of the world. However, we are ones to mourn and suffer with hope unlike those who do not know Christ.

Hope changes everything and this is what the birth of Jesus grants us – hope. Hope is a coupler between our current circumstances and the fulfilled promises of God. Hope is a placeholder causing eager anticipation of good things to come our way until they become our reality.

Hope is what enables us to maintain joy through the valleys of life and hope is what carries us through those valleys to the mountaintop victories! Hope is what enables us to fall flat on our face, pick ourselves up, and carry onward. Hope changes everything for us! Jesus is born – God wrapped in flesh – Emmanuel! In Him, we have not only hope, but a living hope!

Despite the harsh circumstances of the birth of Jesus and the greatest attempts to stop Him – Jesus was born just as God promised. No word from God will ever fail! He continued on to fulfill thousands of prophesies through His life. He was put to death on a cross, willingly taking on the punishment that you and I deserved. He was placed in a borrowed tomb – the darkest, final, and most hopeless of any conditions. Yet, He rose again to life defeating even death itself!

We have hope – no matter our life circumstances. Christ is come! Jesus is born! The word of God wrapped in flesh – Emmanuel!

This Christmas season, ponder these things in your heart. Joyfully receive the hope of Christ, which will couple your current life circumstances to the fulfillment of God’s promises. Light will pierce your darkness and joy will swallow up your sorrow.

Jesus, the reason for the season, will prove Himself good, faithful, and true.

Merry Christmas! May the hope of Christ be yours this Christmas season and all the days of your life!

The Gift