Fatal Attraction By Wendy Wippel A church I visited recently, as an overture to the…
A Singular Celebration
By Wendy Wippel
Of all the principle players in the Christmas Story, the most enigmatic, in my humble opinion, is Simeon. The guy who was in charge, at the time, of circumcision for new male additions to the Jewish Tribe. The Bible calls him just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, otherwise known as the Messiah. Kind of a mysterious fellow too, because one look at the newborn Jesus and he says, “I can depart in peace”.
I have a Christmas album with this whole verse put into song, and the whole verse goes like this:
Come let me hold him, Oh bless me, Lord. I can depart in peace. Mine eyes have finally seen my salvation….The Glory of Israel
This is only one of a number of duh moments I have had over my lifetime. But every year I listen to that song and every year I wonder how Simeon knew without explanation that this was the Christ child. I mean, all those male Jewish babies, all the same age at their circumcision, are going to look pretty much alike.
Turns out he had had a previous visit from Jehovah Himself in which he was promised that he would see the Christ child before he died.
But it also turns out that (despite the fact that one Christmas commentator online asserted that only in the last couple centuries did anybody want to celebrate the Saviour’s birth because there is no importance to Jesus’ birth only His death), there are actually dozens of verses about Jesus’ birth in the Scriptures.
They are prophecies of the event, not a retrospective.
Like Matthew 1:2-3; His birth:
Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)
A prophecy from Isaiah made more than 700 years earlier. Just as foretold, Mary (a virgin) conceived.
And Matthew 2:18; the deaths of other children because of His birth:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted,
Because they are no more.”
Just as foretold, when the wise men asked Herod where the child they sought could be found, he tried to eradicate every child in of about the same age.
And Zechariah 9:9; His presentation as King:
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Just as foretold, Jesus rode into Jerusalem, on a donkey, as a crowd followed waving palm fronds. A day that would become Palm Sunday.
And Isaiah 5; our punishment, on Him:
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth..
Just as predicted, Jesus did not take a way of escape offered by Pilate but endured a vicious flogging on the way to the Cross.
And Isaiah 53:3-5; His rejection:
He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Just as predicted, the Son of God who had committed no sin was put to death by those He died for.
And Micah 52; His future rule:
Just as foretold, Jesus will rule ultimately rule over Israel.
And these are just a handful of what the Scriptures provide.
But at least one Christ follower got the importance of the prophecies of Christ we have, versus the histories of Christ we have in the New Testament. What the birth of Christ, when it came, really meant. His name was Phillip P Brooks (1835–1893), and he was an Episcopal priest who was rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Philadelphia.
And he wrote the Christmas carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”.
(Which happens to be my favorite one).
O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie. Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, the silent stars go by. But in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light. The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
That one night—the star that had guided the magi above—was a singularity. A single moment in time that would never be repeated or exceeded. A moment in which all humanity, sentenced to death since the fall, were offered new life in a Saviour who was God come to life. Summed up so eloquently by Pastor Brooks.
The hopes and fears of all the years were met with the birth of a baby.
The Christ Child, whose birth we are about to celebrate. And I for one, don’t feel a bit bad about it.