I am far from what I would consider an artist. I have absolutely no skills with a paintbrush. However, I love to look at artwork, specifically art that's inspired by something I know a little bit about. That's why I was beyond excited when I heard that one of our art professors at the college where I work would be painting a piece during the weekly chapel service.
"And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed."
If I had it my way, I'd make a lot of money, do what I want to do with my day, and get on with life. But that can lead to a lot of catastrophe and heartache.
God can see what I need. He can see what is best for me and what will be best for me down the line. Have you ever heard those amazing stories from people who claim that they had a flat tire only to realize there was a massive wreck that occurred on the road they were about to travel on? Flat tires can really mess with our day. We don't understand why God would give us a flat tire the day before we get paid, but there is an unseen reason for everything. These are the brush strokes we don't understand.
Painting by Vilas Tonape
Since there won’t be another (Son)days Until (Christ)mas before Christmas Day, I wanted to use this Sunday to talk all about Jesus’ birth. I will be restating what the verses say, but I think you should go check it out for yourself for sure.
MATTHEW 1:18 TO MATTHEW 2:23
In this gospel, much of the first half of the verses in the first chapter are the family tree of Jesus’ earthly parents. By verse 18, the chapter begins to detail Jesus’ birth and origin story.
Matthew says that Jesus’ mother Mary, who was to marry Joseph, became pregnant with a child of the Holy Ghost. Joseph, when he found out, was troubled because he didn’t want to embarrass her, so he started to think about breaking off the engagement. However, the Angel of the Lord appeared in a dream and told Joseph that the child was of the Holy Ghost.
The angel told Joseph they would have a son and that they should name him Jesus. It then says that Joseph went on to marry Mary and didn’t break her virginity until after she had Jesus in Bethlehem of Judaea.
The wise men left and found the child. It says here that they came into the house to see the child with Mary. They then worshiped him and presented him with gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Frankincense is a resin that is obtained from an African tree. It is sweet smelling and is often burned as incense. Myrrh is similar. It is also a resin from trees near the East that is used in perfumes, medicines, and incense. Both would have been very valuable in those days.
After finding the child, the wise men had a dream where God told them not to go back to the king. After their dream, the Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph again in a dream, telling him to leave and go to Egypt because Herod was set to destroy Jesus. They left in the middle of the night and lived in Egypt until Herod died. But, before he died, Herod decided to kill all of the children in Bethlehem who were two years old or younger since he did not hear from the wise men.
After Herod died, the Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph again and told him to take his family to Israel, and he did. They moved to a city called Nazareth.
LUKE 1:36-37 AND LUKE 2:1-20
Interestingly enough, Luke begins with the origin story of John the Baptist and mentions Jesus’ birth by verse 26. In verse 26, it says that the angel Gabriel came to Mary and told her that she was highly favored by God and that she is blessed among all women. Mary was confused and worried when she saw the angel, but the angel told her not to worry.
The angel said that she was going to have a son named Jesus who would be called the Son of the Highest and he shall have the throne of David and that his kingdom will never end. Mary said she didn’t know how that would be possible since she was a virgin. The angel explains she will conceive through the Holy Ghost. Her cousin Elisabeth, John the Baptist’s mother, was also brought up. The angel told Mary her cousin would also have a child.
Shepherds in the same area were watching their flock when the angel of the Lord came to them, which scared them. The angel told them not to be afraid and told them of Jesus’ birth. A bunch of other angels appeared and praised God. The shepherds went to visit Jesus.
HOW THE STORIES WORK TOGETHER TO COMPLETE THE NARRATIVE
In Matthew, we are told that Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem when Jesus was born. Luke gives us the reason they were there: to be taxed by the Roman ruler of the time. We are also given the reaction from Joseph and from Mary, and we also learn of the shepherds and wise men.
Additionally, we see that some time must have passed between the birth of Jesus and when they fled to Egypt because Herod has all children aged two and younger killed.
These two gospels work together beautifully to give us a description of Jesus’ life before and after he was born, though it doesn’t give us much about when he was growing up.
I've done a lot of thinking and heard a lot of wise words on this subject. No matter if you're looking for a Christian lesson plan for your Sunday school class, or if you're simply interested in how common Christmas symbols can be related to Jesus or Christianity, keep reading!
SANTA CLAUS = GOD/THE TRINITY
God can be related to the jolly man in red mainly due to his omnipresence, or his ability to be everywhere at once. In the popular song "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," the singer says "He sees you when you're sleeping, and he knows when you're awake. He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake."
CHRISTMAS TREE W/ LIGHTS= CROSS & LIGHT OF THE WORLD
Jesus is often referred to as the "Light of the World." Basically, He brings goodness in a world of bad and brings salvation to people of all creeds and races. He was placed on a tree, much like our Christmas lights. On the day of His death, Jesus shone bright, showing humility and strength and forgiveness. Those who are drawn to the cross are likely to use their God-given gifts for Jesus' glory, laying their talent at His feet.
CANDY CANE = THE GOSPEL NARRATIVE
POINSETTIAS = THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM
SNOW = PURITY
I hope you enjoyed today's post. I know that Christianity isn't everyone's thing, but I only think it is right to spend this season talking about Jesus this way. I hope you will take some time to still enjoy my Sunday posts and pass them around to your friends!
HOW TO GET TO HEAVEN
There is a common misconception that there are several ways to get to Heaven when you die. This isn't true. JESUS IS THE ONLY WAY TO HEAVEN.
God is a perfect being who designed each and every one of us. He is sinless, good, and perfect. However, after Eve ate that apple, sin was released into the world and, as a result, everyone was born into sin and everyone does wrong. Only those without sin can enter into Heaven. But don't worry, Jesus came down to Earth and paid your sin debt do you could go to Heaven. Jesus is our salvation and offers us a way to Heaven. A way to live with Him forever. Here is what you have to do: