Peter Denby, Jr.
    I would like for you to remember that this is the time that we remember that our Father, who is in Heaven, brought forth to this earth a son, Jesus. Many people say the timing of His birth was other than as we celebrate it and so our discussion will center on the birth and life itself. We all probably know the basic details. Jesus was born of a virgin in a manger. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was to be married to Joseph. Joseph found out she was pregnant, and not by him, and he was a little upset. God explained what was happening to Joseph in a dream. Joseph did marry Mary but prior to the birth of Jesus he “knew her not” (Matthew 1:25) Mary was the virgin mother of Jesus.
    In discussing this issue we need to look at the reason that Jesus was sent in the first place. Technically, Jesus fulfilled prophecy and came to teach. Technically because these are the minor reasons He was sent to us. God made man and women and wanted them to be happy BUT there was one rule. Adam and Eve broke that rule. Thus sin entered into the world (Genesis 3). Then the world became full of sin, so full of sin God was sorely displeased at what He had created. Noah and his family were upright people who followed God. Noah was told to build an ark to save the righteous ones in the world. He spent 120 years preaching to the world. His family were the only ones that listened (Genesis 6). God then cleansed the earth (Genesis 7 & 8). Not long after the flood we see that the world had returned to corruption. Later God gave the Israelites the ten commandments and the law to live by. No person was able to fulfill all the duties of the law. Some were better than others at trying to do so but all failed. In Romans 3:23 we are told that “all have sinned and fallen short of the Kingdom of God.” We all belong in Hell! We have all earned Hell! Everyone is a sinner. As the bumper sticker says, “Christians are not perfect, just forgiven.” The law could not forgive or atone for our sins. We could never be totally right with God!
    So God spoke to Isaiah, the prophet, and told him about a person that would come and be without any special features, who would be abused and despised (Isaiah 53). Compare this chapter with the gospels and see if it really does show what would happen. You bet it does.
    So God sent the Holy Spirit on a mission to get Mary pregnant in a way that had never been done before (or since)! This pregnancy was one of a kind. Jesus was to be special. Jesus was born when all of Bethlehem was full of people. The inn was full. The innkeeper gave them a stable because they were in great need of a place for Mary to have her baby. Almost everyone loved the baby Jesus. King Herod wanted Him dead. “There is only room for one King in this land and that is ME!”, Herod might have said. King Herod being the unloving and power hungry person that he was had all baby boys, two years of age or younger, killed. (Aren't you glad we live in a “kinder, gentler” time?) Joseph, Mary and Jesus escaped because they were in Egypt due to following the warning from God.
    At twelve Jesus was teaching by asking questions in the synagogue. He was doing His Father's will. Little is known of Jesus until He reenters written life at thirty. Jesus taught for three years. And then He was sold for thirty pieces of silver to be killed on the cross. Many people have died on a cross. Jesus’ death on the cross was not amazing. His resurrection AS.
    The background leads up to this: humans were headed straight for Hell. We had no way of getting into Heaven. God had extreme mercy and gave Jesus up to be killed on the cross. Jesus’ blood was to be shed for all people. Jesus carried a heavy burden to the cross. You, the person reading this, had your sins lifted away on the cross, even before you were conceived.
    Jesus was laid in a borrowed, guarded tomb. How sad it is that the government understood so little of Jesus as to not understand His power. Even in His ‘Escape’ Jesus was merciful. The guards lived (at least until their superiors got a hold of them.) Jesus continued the final preparations needed by the disciples. And then
SALVATION CAME! (Acts 2:36-41).
    Jesus rose on the day of Pentecost. That day the apostles gathered and Peter preached a message to many thousand Jews. Peter's message was piercing for three thousand people. When he told them that they had crucified the one person that they were seeking, and that this person, Jesus, could save them, they responded!    Peter then gave them the best news of all. “The promise is to you [the Jews present], and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” (Acts 2:39)
    Let us review that statement. The Jews can be saved. Their children can be saved. And everyone else who would like saved CAN BE! In verse 38, Peter makes it clear that the promise carries with it certain duties. The Jews already knew to have faith, believe and confess their faith in God. Peter told them that they needed to “repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus, for the remission of sins.” (See also Romans 6:4-6).
    Three thousand people means Peter had a great revival. However we should continue reading through the end of the chapter. These verses are telling us what the first century Church did. How they lived as new Christians. And it tells us of the results of their efforts. New Christian ‘babies’ were born. The battle was just beginning.
    So often we spend all of our time ‘conceiving’ new Christian ‘babies’ and forget that we need to ‘nurse’ them. I once was told that babies were breast fed for five years in Old Testament times. How would the Church grow if we ‘breast fed’ new Christians for five years? If we were to nurture them the way that we do our children? If we got up in the middle of the night when they cried? If we would ‘kiss their scraped knee’? If we would have to sacrifice as new parents do? I am not saying that we need to allow new Christians to be ‘babies’ for five years. They need to grow far beyond that stage in that time. However if we trained a Christian, as sacrificially as we do our children, we would have far more people accepting Christ into their lives because, if nothing else, we would have more strong Christian examples out there. I would venture to say that we would have more strong preachers and teachers, as well as people witnessing for the Lord. How are we treating our ‘babies’ today? Are we out planting the seed for the Lord? Generally people don't come to the Lord without someone teaching and encouraging them. Philip asked the eunuch if he understood what he was reading? The eunuch answered, “How can I unless someone teaches me?” So Philip started at the same place and taught to him Jesus. The eunuch responded and was baptized. (Acts 8:26-40)
    I would ask you to remember that we need to teach the two remaining steps as strongly as the first five. We need to teach about the Lord's Supper and Revelation 2:10. “Fear non of these things thou shall suffer: behold, the Devil shall cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried; and you shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life.” No faithful church would leave out the teaching on the Lord's Supper but remaining faithful unto death is preached lightly in some places. All I am saying is, follow through. Like a parent is responsible for their child, be responsible for your ‘babies.’
In closing, I ask you to remember,
“Jesus IS the reason for the season!”