By Ian Cotton, retired Seventh-day Adventist pastor
Every December, we are bombarded with glitzy advertizing for shoppers and Nativity scenes displaying the familiar but pleasant picture of three wise men and the shepherds gazing with adoration on the Christ child babe of Bethlehem.
We see Joseph and Mary, Jesus’ parents, three wise men and domestic animals all looking adoringly at the manger where Jesus lay. But, is that a true Biblical picture?
Did you know that the Bible does not portray such a scene? It does not say that there were three wise men, or that they saw the shepherds, or Jesus wrapped in a manger. See Matthew 2 and Luke 2 for the Biblical picture.
Yes, the shepherds did see and heard the angel multitudes praising God, singing, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men!” Then. they went into Bethlehem and saw Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a feed trough (manger.)
Regarding the wise men, the Bible says, “and when they had come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary, His mother, and fell down to worship Him.”
This might have been a year after Jesus was born. This theory is well supported when we read that King Herod commands his soldiers to kill all the male children two years and under in Matthew 2:16.
You can trust the Bible, but be careful of interpretations and traditions!
Regarding Jesus, there are more than 300 prophecies concerning Him.
Here are eight:
• Born in Bethlehem – Prophecy: Micah 5:2, Fulfilled: Matthew 2:1
• Born of a virgin – Prophecy: Isaiah 7:14, Fulfilled: Matthew 1:18-23
• Attempted murder by Herod – Prophecy: Jeremiah 32:15, Fulfilled: Matthew 2:16-18
• Betrayed by a friend – Prophecy: Psalm 41:9, Fulfilled: John 13:1819, 26
• Sold for 30 pieces of silver – Prophecy: Zechariah 11:12, Fulfilled: Matthew 26:14-16
• Pierced – Prophecy: Zechariah 12:10, Fulfilled: John 19:16-18, 37
• Buried in a rich man’s tomb – Prophecy: Isaiah 53:9, Fulfilled: Matthew 27:57-60
• Raised on third day – Prophecy:Hosea 6:2, Fulfilled: Acts 10:38-40
Dr. Stoner of Pasadena College applied the “principle of probability” to just eight prophecies of the Messiah and determined that the probability of all eight being fulfilled in one man’s lifetime is 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000!
There is absolutely no chance of Jesus being anything other than the Bible claimed he was – the Creator, the Divine Son of God. Yes, you can trust the Bible and its prophecies.
The Christian’s favorite Bible verse is John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
God’s love is so great for us that He gave us Jesus, so that “whoever” believes in Him will have eternal life. But what does believing mean? It means to trust and obey Him, for as the song says, “for there is no other way but to trust and obey.”
So, this December, do not be mesmerized with all the advertizing glitter and in these days of COVID, political unrest and lawlessness, why not accept Jesus’ invitation to come to Him? Matthew 11:28 Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
This is the Christmas message that God wants all to hear.
The greatest gift that anyone can ever receive is that of eternal life. The Christ child of Bethlehem offers eternal life freely to all.