JE # 120 – The Hope of Transformation

By: Pastor Renchi

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Christmas, easily, wins first prize for the most amazing, wonderful time of the year, and at the heart of this wonder is transformation. Everything transforms around Christmas time. Just look at our homes and the malls. Streets that glitter with Christmas lights. “People making lists, buying special gifts, taking time (for once) to be kind to one and all.”

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No other holiday transforms the country like Christmas. And how fitting. Christmas is our celebration of Christ’s coming to earth—transforming into a man in order that men might be transformed.

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What could be more wonderful and awe-inspiring than the fact that God became a man? (Joan Osborne asked, “What if God was one of us?” But there’s no “what if” about it. He did become one of us.) He left the perfect comfort and glory of heaven to live in this broken, painful world, where He would be rejected, hated, and ultimately murdered. He came to experience all the loss, frustration, confusion, hurt, loneliness, and temptation that we face. After this miracle of transformation, we could never accuse Him of not being able to understand. We could never complain that He was distant. It is mind-blowing. It is nothing short of amazing.

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The story of Christ’s birth has a number of absolutely amazing elements. Four in particular are Joseph’s faith, Jesus’ bloodline (family background), the Magi’s arrival, and the advent/arrival of Jesus Himself.

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JOSEPH’S FAITH

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Mary gets a lot of due credit for being Jesus’ mother because of her exceptional purity and submission. Let’s not forget, however, what a major figure Joseph, Jesus’ adopted father, was. Think about everything he had to deal with. His fiancée comes up to him and announces that she’s pregnant with God’s son. A likely story? No. Virgin birth, you might recall, has never happened before, nor has it happened since. You really can’t blame Joseph for being skeptical at first and planning to “divorce her quietly.” Then he has a dream telling him it’s true, and he believes. It’s one thing for Mary to have perfect faith that she’s carrying God’s baby knowing from experience she’s been a good girl. But Joseph has faith without any proof.

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Then they get married, and we’re told that Joseph “had no union with her” until after Jesus was born. He was so in awe of the miraculous thing happening in his wife that he respectfully waited. Considering Joseph was most likely your typical teenage guy with typical teenage hormones, this was a pretty substantial sacrifice for him to make.

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So then Joseph has another dream telling him to go to Egypt because King Herod wants Jesus dead. Joseph believes. He obeys. He leaves everything familiar and comfortable without any recorded complaining. He had no idea how long he and his little family would have to hide out there or when the next directional dream would come. But he had faith, and because of his faith, prophecies were fulfilled and Jesus was protected. We just have no clue what simple faith and obedience can do.

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JESUS’ BLOODLINE

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Jesus’ lineage is a remarkable one. Matthew 1:17 says, “There were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.” That is so interesting, and here’s why. Jesus was the 42nd generation, which is a multiple of seven, which is understood as one of God’s special numbers. God created the earth in seven days. Loads of Old Testament instructions for worship in the temple involved seven repetitions, and in Revelation, we find seven seals, seven lamp stands, seven stars and so on.

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What’s so fascinating about this is that God is not random. He obviously had a plan for exactly when he wanted His Son to arrive since at least way back in Abraham’s time. And He told Abraham that all nations would be blessed through him. Abraham could have had no idea how far-reaching that blessing would be—that through his bloodline, God Himself would become flesh.

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Another aspect of Jesus’ lineage worth noting is that it contains a prostitute, a Gentile, and a king. Rahab, a prostitute, helped protect the spies who came to scope out the Promised Land, and God rewarded her faith by making her a part of Jesus’ bloodline, proving that He can use those with even the most shameful pasts. Ruth, a Gentile (Moabite), married Rahab’s son, making her a great, great, great, great…grandmother of Jesus as well, early proof that Jesus came to rescue or reclaim everyone—not just the “Chosen People.” And David was Israel’s most known and beloved king. Although Jesus’ actual birth was humble and anything but noble, he was part of a royal bloodline. He was King.

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THE MAGI’S ARRIVAL

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These fellows were probably the most unlikely visitors to come see Jesus. They were pagans and foreigners and were coming from outrageously far away. Their entourage was big enough to catch the notice of the king, and their journey probably took them years. One commentary (Bible Gateway) says, “Magi were astrologers from the royal court of the king of Persia (now Iran)…Kings would often send congratulations to new rulers in other realms (empires).”

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Clearly the Magi were expecting to find an earthly king, surrounded by splendor. They went to Herod’s place first to find Jesus. You’d think that when they found Jesus not in a palace but in a humble house, they would have split. But we’re told they bowed down, worshiped Him, and presented Him with expensive gifts. These powerful and wise pagans, who actually practiced a form of divination (fortune-telling) condemned by God, fell down to worship a Jewish baby in a common house in a small town. That is incredible. God demonstrates how nothing is impossible for Him by reaching the most improbable people and using them to demonstrate His Kingship.

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JESUS’ ADVENT/ARRIVAL

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Just picture the baby Jesus wrapped up tight and lying in a feeding trough. It smells. It’s saliva-filled. It’s dirty. The chill of night has fallen. Mary and Joseph are far from home, tired and alone. Mary is in a great deal of pain. No family and friends are there to welcome their new child. The God of the universe has been transformed into a helpless, fussing baby. God came to earth. That is most amazing!

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Let us continue to be amazed, be filled with wonder, and worship Him. And in the process be transformed…

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