Tag: baby

Jesus is crucified

Jesus is crucified

Luke 23:26-43

There have been a few posts recently that have been a bit sad rather than happy and joyful as you would expect and hope at this time of year. I’m afraid we are about to get stuck into just about the saddest passage in Luke now, just before Christmas – Jesus’ crucifiction. There is a reason we are reading this passage today though, and hopefully you will understand why by the end of the blog post…

It is important for us to remember that although we celebrate Jesus coming down to Earth as a baby at this time of year, He didn’t stay a baby. He grew up to become a teacher, friend, neighbour, prophet, brother, healer, carer and more, and ultimately, He became our rescuer, redeemer, forgiver and Messiah when He died on a cross, taking away our sins.

It isn’t nice to read about Jesus suffering and dying in pain and alone, especially at Christmas, but it is important to remember who Jesus was and what He was sent down to Earth for. He knew His purpose so well, and loved so strongly, that even on the cross, when the pain in His arms and feet was unbearable and His breathing difficult, He focused on the sinner beside Him. This man had done wrong in a big way, and did not deserve anything, instead of using His God given power to free Himself.

The next time you see a nativity scene, acknowledge the baby in the manger, but then look closer. Imagine the baby as a man. God sent to Earth in human form to teach the teachers, heal the sick and broken, change theology, share the good news of God, awaken the dead, calm the seas, feed the hungry, release demons and finally, die on the cross for us. He didn’t have to do it, He didn’t deserve it, but He chose to do it for us, because He loves us.

Jesus enters Jerusalem as King

Jesus enters Jerusalem as King

Luke 19:28-40

This is it, there is no denying it now. We are much into the traditional Easter story instead of the Christmas one now. This is where things get less pretty, and more intense, full on and emotional…

Christmas is an exciting, fun time for myself and many others, full of great food, presents, laughter, joy and love. It’s easy to get distracted and forget the reason we are even celebrating is because a baby was born. Not just any baby though, the Son of God!

This passage in Luke 19 reminds us that not only should we be remembering and celebrating the moment Jesus was born, but also the moments after that in which He went into Jerusalem, got arrested and died on a cross, knowing that it was required in order that we might be able to live with Him in eternity.

Death and pain are not things we like to think about at this time of year, but this one was special. He didn’t stay dead, He rose from the dead later on, proving who He was and what He was born to do.

As Jesus enters Jerusalem, His followers shouted out, praising Him for what He had done, and even laying down their coats and leaves to make a path for Him (and the donkey He was on) to ride across. If you know the Easter story, you will know that these cries of Hosanna soon changed to be boos of hate.

It can be easy to love Jesus when things are going well and we are surrounded by happy people and good things but when things in life are challenging, Christmas is over and we go back into the ‘real’ world, are we still celebrating Jesus the King? Do we continue to worship Him when He is no longer a baby? Do we lift our voices or hands and give thanks to Him when the cross feels far too heavy for us and life isn’t all tinsel and bells and glitter?

I wonder how many of the people present on this day in Jerusalem, who seemed committed to worshipping and praising Jesus, continued supporting and loving Him when the crowds had to choose between Him and a murderer? How many of them still saw Him as their Lord and Saviour when He died on the cross? How and why would our God allow His Son to die a death like that? Surely it can’t really be Him!?

When Christmas is done, are you still going to be there beside Jesus when life is rough? Or are you only there for the good parts, the celebration? It’s a challenge for us all to make sure we don’t get life get in the way of recognising Jesus in everything and not giving up on Him when things don’t pan out the way we want.

The Reason for the Season

The Reason for the Season

We know the Christmas story so well as a result of the Christmas films and Nativity plays we watch but there is so much we don’t know. Despite it being one of the most important stories we have, only two of the 4 gospel writers include Jesus’ birth in their books, Luke and Matthew. As we can see here, even then, neither of them go into a lot of detail about the birth itself:

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.’Luke 2:1-7

’18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.’Matthew 1:18-25

Behind all the magic of the Christmas story is a historical event that really happened to a young couple, shamed by society for an unbelievable virgin pregnancy, who travelled for miles by donkey whilst heavily pregnant, slept in a stable and gave birth to the Son of God there with the threat of a jealous King trying to kill their special baby boy. Whilst we get caught up in the beautiful, fun, incredible aspects of the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph balanced that with all the real, difficult parts of this time in their lives. It is likely Luke didn’t bother including these details because the people of the time would have understood the background context, or maybe because those details distract from the point of the story. That is, the birth of Jesus, God in human form, born to a young girl who lived a normal life with her fiance, a humble carpenter, who took her to Bethlehem, as was required, to be counted in the census, where Mary gives birth and puts her baby in a manger.

This is the reason for the story so why add any frills? Anything beyond these facts is unnecessary distraction to it. Jesus is the reason for the season and let us always remember that. We can enjoy all the decorations, food, presents and other festivities that come in December but let us make sure never to forget what, or rather, who, it’s all about – Jesus.

Surprise!

Surprise!

We have moved from one surprise in chapter 1 verses 5-25 (the angel appears to Zechariah) to the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary.

When Gabriel appeared to Zechariah, they told him not to be afraid and in this section of the chapter, Gabriel repeats this to Mary. I guess even then if an angel were to suddenly appear in front of you, it would make you jump and run away so this was a necessary phrase for the angel to use.

Just like Gabriel did when announcing the arrival of John to his parents, they went on to say all the great things Jesus would do when He was born – ‘He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of King David, His ancestor. He will rule over the people of Jacob forever and His Kingdom will have no end!’.

Then, the angel goes on to explain that this will happen because the Holy Spirit will come down and the power of God will cover her and make the baby holy – the Son of God.

In a recent session in our house group, we looked at the story of Moses by the burning bush in which Moses tells God he can’t go to the Pharoah and talk to him about God and ask him to let God’s people go because he wasn’t able or confident enough. When the angel Gabriel comes to Mary, she reacts in a similar way, telling them that she is a virgin, therefore, there is no way she could have a baby, but unlike Moses, she is convinced and accepts what is to happen in and with her. ‘I am the servant of the Lord. let this happen to me as you say!’ What an amazing to response to an event that would have sounded completely impossible to Mary, and one that she knew would spread as gossip throughout the area and bring shame on her and her fiance, Joseph.

In the film, Aladdin, there is a scene in which Aladdin falls off a balcony and then appears again stood on a magic carpet. Aladdin reaches out his hand to Jasmine to invite her onto the magic carpet and as he does so, he asks her, “do you trust me?” to which she says “yes” and climbs aboard the carpet with him and they fly off into the distance.
(clip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eitDnP0_83k) .
Gabriel tells Mary about some of things Jesus will be and do in His life and announces Elizabeth’s surprise pregnancy, ending their speech by telling Mary that God can do anything! This is the God version of ‘Look what I can do, do you trust me?’ and Mary responds “yes”.

I wonder how we would react today to an event like this? An angel, an impossible situation and a prophesy from God. Have you ever experienced something that made you doubt your experience but knew full well despite that, it was real and God was in it? If so, we would love to hear all about it in the comments below!