Several books have been produced to help us prepare for Christmas. We have one on the go for the next few weeks entitled ‘the dawn of redeeming grace’. It is a great title. For the breaking of a new day is something that cheers the soul!
Our churches are reading this book: it has just a couple of pages per day. It covers Christmas as reported by Matthew’s Gospel, which starts with an introduction that is like an episode of the TV show ‘Who do you think you are?’. For it begins with an extensive family tree. Matthew is concise in his report of the birth of Jesus and so didn’t include all the same details as Luke (such as news about John the Baptist being born, the census that led to a long journey, the visiting shepherds). Matthew has been at his editor’s desk and the resulting concise birth narrative enables key truths to stand out even more clearly.
This daily devotional guide for the season of Advent covers the four weeks leading up to Christmas – to refresh and inspire us as we reflect on the real story of the birth of Jesus Christ. Our course our focus on the first coming of Jesus Christ leads to a lot of preparatory work for our festive celebrations: we have trees, turkeys, and tinsel to plan. But another meaning of Advent is Jesus’ second coming, or return, which is no less important.
So, why is Matthew’s account important? What is his message that we should tune into?
At the end of Matthew’s family tree, we discover why the advent of Christ is so important. Matthew records the angel’s message to Joseph which is good news: ‘She [talking about betrothed Mary] will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins’ (Matthews 1v21).
Jesus came to bring the salvation of the Lord. He will save people not merely in the physical sense (as when he calmed the storm to save his disciples lives), but in the most fundamental sense because he will bring salvation from sins. As sinners in a fallen world, estranged from our Creator as rebels without a cause, we see in Jesus that God has shown his mercy and forgiveness. Jesus fulfilled the promise of ‘God with us’ and provides salvation for all who repent and believe in him. It is this alone that can prepare us for his second advent, on a future day but with an unknown date. On that day Jesus will come as Judge of all and save those who are his people into his eternal kingdom.
Christmas is an annual reminder of the future day to prepare for. Are you ready? Have you seen the beginning of the dawn of a new day?
We’d love to see our readers at our Christmas celebrations. Look out for the special Christmas cards we are posting with service details.