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Merry Christmas
read in Macedonian


We all know the Christmas story...Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem as there was an empire-wide census required by Cesar.  Joseph was from the ancestral house of King David of Israel and Bethlehem was his town.  While there, Mary – who Joseph was pledged to be married to – gave birth.  The two had not yet had intimate relations but the child Mary carried was conceived by miraculous conception.  Their first-born son, Jesus, was born in a manger, because there was no room in the inn (Luke 2:1-20).  Jesus, the Son of God, fully human and fully God, would grow and begin his ministry about 30 years later.

The event, while well-known now, was actually predicted by the old Jewish prophets hundreds of years before.  And not only the birth of Christ, but the location as well; Micah 5:2 states “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”  Other scripture points to the life of Christ, including his death and resurrection.  According to “Jewish biblical scholar Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889), a convert to Christianity, wrote a classic work affirming there are 456 passages in the Old Testament that refer to the Messiah.”

Did you ever stop to consider why God in his wisdom chose that time in history for the birth of his son?  At that time Octavian, Cesar Augustus, was emperor of Rome.  The whole known world was under the Roman Peace, Pax Romana.  Rome, as the enforcer of global peace, and commerce, established the Internet of the day – a system of amazing roads that allowed communication to flourish. There is a reason for the well-known phrase “all roads lead to Rome,” because they did.  Some 80,000 km of Roman roads crisscrossed the empire.  The Roman army and others could travel 40 km in one day and commerce – and thus the economy – grew enormously because of this sophisticated network.

The fact that communication was so easy (relatively speaking) is one reason why God chose that time.  For his message of peace – not global peace as we know it, as in the absence of war – but inner peace for individuals in a personal relationship with God, their creator – was much more effectively spread around the world at that time precisely because of Roman roads and the ease with which people – hence information – traveled.

Think about it – from the time almost 2,000 years ago (as I wrote last week, the reason our calendar is split in two) – from that time after the death and resurrection of Christ, the Gospel of Christ spread rapidly.  From 12 Apostles plus Paul (who was not one of the original twelve), to about 120 believers right after the resurrection (Acts 1:15), to the great Roman persecution of believers under Diocletian, to Christianity becoming the “official” religion of the greatest empire the world has ever known under Constantine in around 325 to 2 billion self-identified believers today.  Never underestimate what a small, but determined, group of individuals can accomplish (granted, they had the Holy Spirit on their side!).

I hope you understand: the Kingdoms of this world are all about conquering.  The Kingdom of God is all about the offering of a gift of peace and love – if you accept it.  When Paul and Silas were in Philippi – after he had heard the “Macedonian Call” of Acts 16:9 – they were thrown in jail as a result of their miraculous work.  But because of another miraculous act of God, an earthquake occurred and the doors of the jail cell were thrown open.  The jailer was about to commit suicide when “Paul shouted ‘Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!’ The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas.  He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.’” (Acts 16:28-31)

Today, and because of the birth, death and resurrection of Christ, individuals are offered life eternal in the next life and inner peace in the current life.  Granted, Christ did not promise the Christian a life free from stress, worry or problems in this life.  But He did promise to those who believe that he had come so that individuals might have an abundant life stating in John 10:10 “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  When the believer adheres to and follows Christ, on a daily basis, denying his own desires and following Christ’s desires, then inner peace, then life to the full is offered and is possible.  Remember, it is never what you can do in terms of “being good,” “following rules,” or “don’t do this” type of living.  It is a deeply personal relationship with the Creator of time and the universe that allows you to enjoy life and be at peace.  And that is why there is a Christmas.

This Christmas, my prayer for you is that you can live well by living life to the full, the way it was meant to be by believing in the one who made Christmas possible.

Merry Christmas Macedonia!

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Jason Miko
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