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It's a Boy! The Birth of Jesus: What It Means and How It Happened

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Pastor Ed Allen preached today a message for the second Sunday of Advent.  He started by pointing out that if we're not careful, the story of Jesus' birth falls into the same category in our minds as other Christmas stories.

We looked at Matthew 1.  Matthew wants to communicate:

1)  Jesus' life was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.

2)  Jesus is "God with us" - the great mystery

During the Advent season, we're going to be looking at five reasons to believe this actually happened.  Today, we covered the first of those reasons:

Old Testament prophecy suggested something like this.

There are three categories of Old Testament prophecy:

Some are surprises.  When they were written, people didn't realize they were prophecies about the Messiah.  Over time, Jesus' followers came to believe they were written about Jesus.

An example is Matthew 2:15 - "Out of Egypt I called my son."  The original context was about Israel.  But Jesus' followers came to see him as a symbol of the nation of Israel.  And he was also called out of Egypt.

Some are obvious prophecies.  Right from the start, they are known to be about the Messiah.

For example, everyone knew the Messiah would be a descendant of David.

Matthew was amazed that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy and wants us to be as well - that's why he includes the genealogy of Joseph, to show Jesus was the legal heir of David.

Another example was that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem.  Matthew 2:1-6 points out this was fulfilled.

One starts to believe it may be more than coincidence.

Some passages they weren't sure if they were prophecies.  They hinted at the Messiah, nonetheless.

An example is Matthew 1:23 and Isaiah 7:14 "a virgin will conceive."

Most people in Israel didn't see it as a Messianic prophecy, and it might have referred to a young woman, Hezekiah's mother.  Early in following Jesus, Matthew certainly didn't think of this passage.

But that makes it more likely to be true.

The virgin birth came as a complete surprise.  No one expected this.  It's not even a Jewish idea.

So where did Matthew get this notion of the virgin birth?  From Egyptians?  Not likely.  Did he make it up?  But why?  He doesn't need the virgin birth.

The simplest explanation is that Matthew got it from Mary and it really happened.

When you try to construct alternate explanations for Jesus' life, it's not easy.  This is either the champion of coincidences or something mind-blowing happened here.

So what?

The Christmas story can get buried in sentimentality.  Jesus is looking for surrender.

We worship Jesus today.  We submit our lives to Him.

The profound mystery:  He is God with us.

First Sunday of Advent

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Pastor Ed Allen spoke to us on Sunday, December 3rd, the first Sunday of Advent.

So... What's the Point of Advent?

In this first week of advent, it is important for all of us to remember the critical point of the season.

In the hustle and bustle of the season, we might think that the point is to slow down -- to spend some time with our loved ones -- and to reflect on how we might be better people.

Indeed, the season does seem to force us to focus on these things -- We think of friends and family -- far-away parents -- and our grown-up children -- remembering our happy times as children growing up, or our pride as parents as we watched our children grow.

But is our focus on family really the point of the Christmas season?

The answer is not as easy as you might think.

As you might suspect, if we are talking about our flesh and blood family relations, the answer is clearly no.  Christmas is not meant to be a celebration of our earthly family.  Indeed, if we think more deeply, focusing on our earthly families cannot help but lead us in the wrong direction.  

So, if our earthly families are not the point of Christma and the entire Advent season, what is the point?

We can take comfort in the fact that our confusion on this question is nothing when we compare it to the confusion of Joseph and Mary who, through their faith, agreed to marry and serve as Jesus's earthly parents.   

Can any of us imagine being in their place?  What monuments to faith Joseph and Mary were!  Can we possibly imagine how challenging that the situation of Jesus's birth must have been for them given the social norms of their day?

We are fortunate for their faith, as even Joseph and Mary could not have fully understood the ultimate significance of Jesus's coming.

Indeed, the real point does not become clear until we come to the end of the story in Jesus's death and resurrection.

The point of Advent and Christmas is the gift that Jesus gave to all of us in his willingness to bear the unbearable; his willingness to love us even when we did not love him; his willingness to pay the price of our transgressions, and shoulder burdens which are rightfully ours to bear.

That's right, the point of Christmas is Jesus 

And the gift he gave us which we can never repay.

Posted by Kevin Baugh with

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