The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (Mark 1:1)
You would expect Mark to go on with some account of the birth of Jesus…but he doesn’t. There are no details of the census. No insight to the “Word becoming flesh.” No relating of the dreams that calmed Joseph’s fears or any mention of shepherds.
The next verse gets into the work of John the Baptist, then Jesus’ baptism and temptation and Mark’s moving forward with the narrative, teaching and miracles of Jesus’ public ministry.
So why doesn’t Mark begin the “gospel about Jesus” with his birth? Really why doesn’t Peter begin with the birth of Jesus? (Strong evidence points to the source of Mark’s gospel as the account of the Apostle Peter.)
Perhaps the best explanation is he was focused on the life and ministry of Jesus. As one blog post wrote in defense of its absence (read it in its entirety here: https://coldcasechristianity.com/writings/why-doesnt-mark-say-anything-about-jesus-birth/):
- Silence doesn’t mean denial
- Brevity doesn’t mean ignorance
- Absence doesn’t mean it’s not assumed
These are all good points, but what about this opening verse assumes the reality of his birth as Matthew and Luke relate it?
- The message of Mark is the gospel…the GOOD NEWS of Jesus Christ.
Mark uses the same word the angels did in Luke 2:10-11 “10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you GOOD NEWS of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
What the angels announced the shepherds was fully going to play out in the Gospel of Mark. He wanted his readers to know that over everything he was going to recount and share about the life of Jesus had one purpose: Share the Good News about Jesus!
- The person about whom Mark is writing is JESUS CHRIST
Names stick. Mark doesn’t start another account about another person, but identifies the focus of his message as Jesus Christ. This was the very name given to the baby born in the manger by Joseph:
Matthew 1:21 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.” …
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 had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
The Christ was the “anointed one.” The whole of the Old Testament narrative and prophecy was to bring “the Christ” into the world. God hadn’t forgotten. Mark recognizes God’s faithfulness in the title for Jesus, “the Christ.” Mary knew that God was using her to fulfill his promises to his people as she sang, “
Luke 1:54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.”
- Mark identifies Jesus as the SON OF GOD.
The angel said to Joseph:
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”
The angel speaking to Mary said:
Luke 1:32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
While Mark adds no new details to the birth of Jesus, he affirms all that was revealed at the birth of Jesus in his opening words. He assumes the reality, affirms the truth, and then advances the GOOD NEWS God’s Spirit gave to him regarding the events and teaching of Jesus, the one whose birth we celebrate at Christmas.
Mark doesn’t say much, but he packs a ton of truth about Christmas in his opening verse!
Apply: What insight of Mark’s opening verse stands out to you in light of the truth of Christmas?
Prayer: Lord God, thank you for the continuity between all the authors of the Bible. While some you gave details and others you allowed authors to omit, through them all you communicated clearly your plan of love to save all of us from the consequence of our sins!
(Reprinted from December 2021)
Good morning devotion reader…
With Christmas Day in our rear view mirror, I’d like to journey with you through the accounts found (or not found) in the four Gospels that relate different details and perspective on the birth of Jesus. While the image of the baby in a manger is familiar, I invite you to consider the details that are communicated and the importance of them (Also notice what details we assume about the Christmas event that are not found in the Gospels.)
We begin with Matthew.
Matthew is writing to an audience of Jewish people and has as a purpose throughout his Gospel to draw the connection between Jesus and the Old Testament prophesies. Perhaps ironic as Matthew was a tax-collector called to follow Jesus, and yet many of his Jewish people thought him to be a traitor. Yet God’s Spirit inspired him to reach the very Jews that called him a “sinner” with the saving message of the Messiah.
Lineage was important for the Messiah. I invite you to look at chapter 1:1-17 as Matthew begins the book with tracing the lineage of Jesus back to Abraham. The Messiah must be a descendent of Abraham to be authentic. Matthew does the research and checks that box for the reader right at the beginning.
With the lineage of Jesus established, Matthew jumps into the first prophecy: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”) (Isaiah 7:14).
But for this prophecy to be fulfilled, it created questions, confusion, and finally confidence in Joseph. Who wouldn’t wonder what happened if the lady you are engaged to is found to be with child. Assumption is that another man is involved.
So God intervenes to explain to Joseph what was taking place. Mary was not unfaithful. Mary was the human vessel for the Son of God to take on human flesh. The miracle of Isaiah’s prophecy was playing out in real time in Joseph’s life.
Joseph does as the angel of the Lord commanded. He dismissed the idea of divorce and courageously embraced the role of being the earthly father of Jesus.
“And gave him the name Jesus.” We don’t hear a lot about Joseph’s role in Jesus’ life, but following the word of the Lord through the angel he gave Jesus his human name: Jesus. Why? Because Joseph believed he truly would “save his people from their sins.”
Enjoy reflecting on the faithfulness of the Lord spurring the faithfulness of Joseph to be a faithful father to Jesus and husband to Mary:
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.
Apply: What detail or insight from Matthew’s account enhances your appreciation of the miracle and significance of Jesus’ birth?
Prayer: Father in heaven, thank you for sending Jesus into the world through the miracle of a virgin birth and under the watchful and faithful care of his earthly father Joseph. AMEN
If you were busy last night, take time today to join us for worship
Crosspoint Church – 3800 Shell Road, Georgetown, TX 78628
Or online: Click Here
(Reprinted from 12/25/2020)
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” —Luke 2:10-11
There’s been so much bad news this year in the era of doomscrolling. How about some good news headlines?
History brings us some momentous ones: “Peace. Greatest War of All Time Over.” “Victory. Nazis Reveal Surrender.” “Man Walks on the Moon.” “Nelson Mandela Freed.” But we can also find these feel-good stories from the past year: “A 6-year-old ordered $350 in Barbies from Amazon. Her parents gave them to a hospital.” “A farmer fell ill. So dozens of his neighbors showed up spontaneously and harvested his crops.” “Bride and groom had extra food. So they took it to a shelter and served it.”
Today we celebrate the best, most momentous news of all time: Christ has come! Jesus is here! He comes in the midst of troubling times. He brings hope in our despair. He brings peace in our worry. He brings joy in our sorrow. He brings love in our conflict. He brings life in our death. This is the good news angels announced in the night. It is the good news we can proclaim on this morning. Jesus is who we expectantly await in Advent, and Jesus is who we celebrate at Christmas. He is the Good News no matter how troubling the times. Jesus is here. Jesus will come again. Jesus will never leave us.
In Jesus, let’s celebrate with hope, peace, love, and joy in our hearts as we worship with the angels: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom
his favor rests.”
Apply: How will you rejoice and celebrate today? How can you carry Christ’s hope, peace, joy, and love forward with you all year?
(Reprinted with permission from Outreach.com “Advent Reading Plan”)
TONIGHT: Find the HEART of CHRISTMAS!
Christmas Eve Worship – 5pm
In person @ Crosspoint Church, 3800 Shell Road, Georgetown, TX
Online: Live Stream
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. —Luke 2:4-5
“This is sooo not what we need right now!” Mary and Joseph must have thought when they found out they had to report in Bethlehem for that Roman census. Mary should have been at home nesting, preparing the nursery, cleaning the cupboards, or weirdly reorganizing the hut for the twelfth time. If you’re a parent, you know what I mean. But instead of those final preparations, Mary had to endure a 90-mile journey on foot from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
In pregnancy, you know the time is drawing near, but you never know exactly when the baby is coming. There are contractions. There may be false starts. But one moment you are rearranging the kitchen, and the next, labor has begun. There’s no going back. Your body and mind completely focus on the process of labor. This new life is entering the world, and your life will never be exactly the same.
In these moments, there is joy and there is uncertainty. There is contentment and there is expectation. There is the planned and the unexpected. There is completion and there is the journey ahead. Here on Christmas Eve, we find all the same things.
As we finish our Christmas preparations, let’s also pause to rest a few minutes in the expectant now. The celebration will erupt. The emotions will swirl. The memories will be created. Our lives will add another new day, a special day not exactly like any other, and in that sense, our lives will never be the same. Like Mary, let’s ponder and treasure these moments in our hearts as we reflect on this threshold of birth and life, expectation and celebration, and God turned human in our hearts and lives.
Apply: What is heavy on your heart in the anticipation of Christmas? What is joyful in your expectant spirit?
(Reprinted from 12/24/2020 with permission from Outreach.com “Advent Reading Plan”)
Devotions this week based on Sunday’s Message: LOVE is the Heart of Christmas! (LISTEN HERE)
So you just have a today and tomorrow to find the perfect gift…hopefully your shopping is done by now!
Finding the perfect gift for the people in your life is certainly challenging. Hopefully our devotions have given you some practical thoughts based on God’s Perfect Gift of love to you. A perfect gift is personal, priceless (given from a heart of love), timeless, and practical.
But outside of God’s love for you, it’s hard to find a gift that matches all of these…which is why God’s love is such the perfect gift.
But there’s one more attribute of God’s Perfect Gift…it causes celebration!
You can probably recall a Christmas git you received (or watched another person receive) that as soon as they saw what was inside they dropped the package half opened and threw their hands up in the air, yelling “YES!!! It’s what I ALWAYS wanted!” After the yell there may be a spontaneous “happy dance” around the family room, shouting and yelling joyful glee. Mom and Dad or whoever gave the gift may get a huge hug and a large “THANK YOU!” as part of the celebration for receiving THE perfect gift!
The Gospel of Luke records the shepherd’s celebration in Luke 2:20:
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
As Luke “carefully investigated” the life and work of Jesus, I wonder if had the chance to interview one of the shepherds? If he did, I wonder if the excitement returned as the shepherd recounted the appearance of the angels, the visitation to the manger in Bethlehem and the return through Bethlehem which found them telling anyone who would listen!
Perhaps it was a spontaneous “happy dance”! YES! God did give us what he has promised us for a long time! YES! God gave me exactly what I needed…a Savior. If I could run and give God a hug, I would…YES! What a perfect gift!
Christmas Day is a special day for us as Christians. While we know what’s “wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in manger” is Jesus, the impact causes celebration every time we peer into the manger and see Jesus, our Savior born for YOU and me!
YES! What a perfect gift!
Don’t let your meal prep, your family gatherings, your travel, your unwrapping of presents or anything else get in the way of celebrating the perfect gift God has given to you. Make it a point to go to your local church Saturday and Sunday. Take your friends and family with you!
If nothing else as you are unwrapping gifts, just spontaneously stand up and yell, “YES!” Do a happy dance! Give someone a hug! And when you have everyone’s attention, simply say, “God gave me and us the perfect gift, the gift I’ve always wanted and needed…Jesus.”
Jesus is THE perfect gift!
Prayer: Lord thank you for giving all of us THE perfect gift at Christmas…your son, Jesus, our Savior. AMEN.