Note: Over the next four weeks, we will consider four essential features to the story of the birth of God’s Son: the patriarchs, Bethlehem, the shepherds, and angels. This week we focus on the patriarchs.
By Stuart Powell
The four weeks before Christmas are a time for believers to make preparations for the coming celebration of Jesus’ birth. It’s important to note that God began making preparations for the first Christmas generations before Gabriel’s announcement to Mary. The first book of the Bible is filled with the stories of the Jewish patriarchs—Abraham, Issac, and Jacob and his 12 sons. When Jacob was about to die, he spoke of what God was planning to do through his sons. Jacob was the first patriarch to directly speak of God’s plans for a great king. He directed his children to prepare for the king’s arrival. In part, Jacob said,
“Judah, your brothers will praise you;
your hand will be on the neck of your enemies;
your father’s sons will bow down to you.
You are a lion’s cub, Judah;
you return from the prey, my son.
Like a lion he crouches and lies down,
like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he to whom it belongs shall come
and the obedience of the nations shall be his” (Genesis 49:8-10, emphasis added).
Jacob promised that a son of Judah would rule over all the nations. God intended for this ruler to rightly wield ultimate authority.
We live in the days of that promise fulfilled.Jacob promised that a son of Judah would rule over all the nations. God intended for this ruler to rightly wield ultimate authority. We live in the days of that promise fulfilled. Click To Tweet
This season reminds Christians that Jacob’s announcement was realized with Jesus’ birth. God’s mighty ruler from the tribe of Judah came to earth as a baby. Jesus fulfilled God’s work by giving up his life on the cross for the benefit of the world.
This table helps us remember that the death of Judah’s great king was the hope of the patriarchs. We eat the bread to remember Jesus’ beaten body; we drink from the cup to recall his sacrificed blood. As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, let’s focus on Jesus’ sacrifice for all people. His death provides salvation from the world’s brokenness.
Stuart Powell lives outside of Terre Haute, Indiana, where he serves with the North Side Christian Church.
We seem pretty sure about the time of Jesus’ crucifixion. It seems he was about 33 years old. If a Jewish man became recognized as in his manhood at about 30, Jesus would have been about 30 when he was baptized by John. I don’t know if the date of that can be researched for sure. When Jesus turned 12 years old, he may have had a barmistvah in Jerusalem when he was there and did not follow his parents when they started back home. I don’t know if there is a way of knowing the date of that but these might help in determining Jesus’ birth date if that is really so important to us. When I celebrate Jesus’ death on the cross each time I am able to share at the Lord’s Table, in this I am recognizing that Jesus was born and while at it I can marvel at God’s miracle of birth by a virgin woman. I don’t Know if “celebrating” his unknown birthday does anything to encourage or strengthen me in my faith in him or our Heavenly Father. Let’s just call it a winter family holiday so we don’t have to worry about “celebrating it” correctly. Someone started by setting a date for his birth and then setting up “customs” to follow but these customs or traditions seem to change from time to time. So, do the celebrations celebrate the customs and traditions or do they really go back and celebrate his real birth? I really don’t get it or even feel comfortable when around those who “really get into the spirit of it”. Just me thoughts and feelings about “it”.