Christmas in September

In the Philippines, Christmas begins every September 1st because it is the first “-ber” month before December. You can hear Christmas carols in the radio and inside the malls, where they also starting to put up their Christmas decorations. Vendors start to sell Christmas lanterns. This Christmas celebration is very early compared to other countries.

Come to think of it, do we actually really know the exact date of the first Christmas? Bible scholars have been trying to find out through many decades, but we still don’t know the exact date. However, we know the story. Of course, God planned in the beginning, and it started to unfold when God sent His angel, Gabriel, to Mary, who was still a virgin at that time. Gabriel said in Luke 1:30-33 (HCSB):

Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
31 Now listen:
You will conceive and give birth to a son,
and you will call His name Jesus.
32 He will be great
and will be called the Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give Him
the throne of His father David.
33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever,
and His kingdom will have no end.

God used a virgin girl to carry God the Son, when He became a human being. This is definitely inconceivable. However, God does works in mysterious ways. And if He wants to show the world something big, like saving humankind, He had to do it supernaturally through incarnation. How? Gabriel furthered in verse 35 (HCSB):

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,

and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.

Therefore, the holy One to be born

will be called the Son of God.

In verse 31, the name given to God the Son, when He became a human being, is Jesus. In Matthew 1:21, Gabriel told Joseph to name Mary’s son, Jesus, “because He will save His people from their sins.” Jesus (Heb. Yeshua or יֵשׁוּעַ Jeshua, later form for יְהוֹשׁוּעַ Joshua[1]) (Greek: Ἰησοῦς) means “Yahweh is salvation” or “the Lord saves” (NIV marg.).

In verses 32-33, Luke describes Jesus. First, Jesus “will be great.” According to the New Testament scholar, Robert Stein, “This greatness contrasts with the rest of humanity… This adjective functions not as a name but rather indicates his being and nature.[2]  Second, Jesus “will be called the Son of the Most High” or “Son of God,” because Jesus is God the Son in the first place. Stein explains, “The mention of Jesus’ divine sonship before mention of his Davidic messiahship in the next part of the verse indicates that the latter is grounded in the former and that Jesus’ messiahship should be interpreted in terms of his sonship.[3] This is very significant because Jesus is God first above all else before He became a human being through incarnation. Third, “The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.” Jesus was born as a descendant of King David (see Mt. 1 and Lk. 3). Fourth, “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever.” God promised through the Old Testament prophets that He will place a son in David’s throne who will reign forever. Jesus, being God the Son, could actually do it because He Himself is eternal. (See 2 Sa. 7:13, 16; Is. 9:7; Ps. 89:3f., 28f.; 132:11f.; etc.)

Thus, He reigns forever. Fifth, “His kingdom will have no end.” Stein expresses, “The kingdom of God that is realized in the coming of Jesus and is to be consummated at the parousia will continue forever.”[4] (See Is. 9:6 and Dn. 7:14.) I. Howard Marshall, another NT scholar states

The early church clearly associated the reign of Jesus with his resurrection and exaltation and linked this with the Davidic promises (Acts 2:30–36). This will have been Luke’s understanding of the matter, but he is also conscious that the kingdom of God could be said to have arrived in the ministry of Jesus, so that the exaltation was the open recognition of One who had already acted in his earthly life with kingly power as the representative of God.[5]

This is what Christmas is all about in the first place—God the Son, whose name is Jesus Christ, came down to earth to be one of us, to become Savior, Lord, and God of humankind. Jesus reigns forever and His kingdom will never end. Amazing!

Advance Merry Christmas, y’all! (Tagalog: Maligayang Pasko!)

[1] Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 471). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

[2] Stein, R. H. (1992). Luke (Vol. 24, p. 83). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[3] Ibid, 84.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Marshall, I. H. (1978). The Gospel of Luke: a commentary on the Greek text (p. 68). Exeter: Paternoster Press.

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