Reflections: Preparing for Christmas
At the coming of our daughter in 1979, my mother-in-law began a project of love for her. She obtained some fabric and embroidered (and she was excellent!) pictures of babies on each of nine large fabric blocks.
When finished, she sewed the blocks together. Then, life happened and the intended quilt was never completed. Now our daughter is married and has two children. After her daughter was born, I remembered that quilt top stored in a cedar chest and decided it would be the perfect Christmas gift. We found backing and border fabric, added batting and sewed it together, finishing it with baby yarn. Two generations of love and 36 years later the quilt was finished.
That gift was a long time in the making, but how about a gift that could be traced back 42 generations (at least 1,000 years) as laid out in the first chapter of Matthew? We might be tempted to skip the names but they give historical credibility to the lineage of Jesus.
In Psalm 89:3-4, for example, we read that Jesus would come from the lineage of David. His name is included in the Matthew list.
In addition to Jesus’ lineage, there are hints of the gift of Jesus sprinkled throughout the Old Testament. There are at least 68 references to the life of Jesus in the book of Psalms alone. Even as early as Genesis 3:14-15 God challenges the deceiving serpent as he speaks about Jesus’ death and resurrection. In Psalm 22:16 we read that Jesus would be pierced. That piercing is described in the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ death. See especially Matthew 27:38.
In Isaiah 7:14 we read, “Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with a child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” The Gospels confirm that Jesus was born of a virgin.
When the Wise Men came to find Jesus, King Herod, fearing some other king would take his place, asked his scholars where this Christ was to be born. They found the answer in Micah 5:2 ” But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.”
Since Jesus was found in Bethlehem, King Herod, wanting to be sure that this “would be” king would be stopped, had all the boys 2 years and younger killed. That mass murder was prophesied in Jeremiah 31:15. “A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more.”
There is even mention that Jesus would teach in parables in Psalm 78:2. By reading in Matthew 13 as well as many other passages, we know that this was true.
These and many other Bible passages reveal God’s plan of a special gift for us. Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection are the gift that gives eternal life in heaven to all who will accept it. That birth is what we celebrate now!
Have a merry Christmas enjoying the best gift anyone could ever receive!
Helen McCormack and her husband, David, are members of Wycliffe Bible Translators serving from their home in Minot.