Christmas, from Old English Cristes mæsse, literally, Christ’s mass
Christ, from Greek Christos, literally, anointed
Messiah, Hebrew māshīaḥ & Aramaic mĕshīḥā, literally, anointed; the expected king and deliverer of the Jews
definitions taken from Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Earlier this week, I was watching a Saturday Night Live holiday special. The one clip that stuck in my mind was a TV Funhouse claymation titled, “Christmas for the Jews.” (NBC.com videos will only play in U.S. Apologies). There’s one scene (at 46 seconds) in which a passing crowd re-forms the figures in a nativity scene into the four main characters from “Seinfeld.” It made me chuckle… but it grieved me, too.
The animation is meant to be ironic, but its title speaks truth.
This Jesus we celebrate was born in Israel to Jewish parents (not in December, by the way). Before he was born, he was announced as the Messiah — “the expected king and deliverer of the Jews,” as Merriam-Webster tells us.
What does the angel tell Mary?
You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 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, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.
Luke 1:31-33 NIV
Jesus is transliterated from the Greek Iesous, which is a transliteration of the Hebrew Yeshua. It means “God saves.”
But look at the last sentence: “The Lord God will give him [Jesus] the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever.”
What? Throne of David? Which David? The King of Israel.
Reign over Jacob’s descendants? Who? The offspring of Jacob, the father of the 12 tribes of Israel (God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, Genesis 32).
Here is the story of a Jewish woman receiving a promise of a Jewish son, who is promised the earthly throne of Israel. Yeah. earthly. Where was David’s throne? In Jerusalem, once he united the kingdom.
What is this Good News (gospel) Christians are supposed to be spreading? The apostle Paul, a Jewish rabbi, says:
the gospel of God — the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.
So, here we have a Jewish rabbi pointing to Yeshua as a fulfillment of the Hebrew prophecies, including the inheritance of David’s throne. We also see Paul claiming Messiah’s authority “to call all the Gentiles to obedience.”
This isn’t about conversion. There is really no such thing as conversion. Either you believe that the Messiah of Israel, the savior of the world, has come, or you don’t. This isn’t religion. This is about kingdom alliances. Are you for the King of Israel or not? Do you believe He came, as promised, or is to come, or do you think the promises of God are all baloney?
For those who believe in the kingship of Jesus the Christ, Yeshua the Messiah, may you worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in spirit and in truth. Enjoy this season as we celebrate the birth of our kinsman-redeemer.
For those who don’t believe, Jew or Gentile, I pray you consider the Scriptures and seek God. Especially you children of Israel, who have faithfully kept the words of God through the millennia. You’ve been waiting for Messiah for so long. I know. I can imagine your frustration and even skepticism.
He has come… and is coming again. He will come in power and with justice just as the prophets foretold. God has not forgotten you, children of Israel. God is not a man that He would lie. He may tarry. His reasons are to save as many as well accept his salvation, so he extends time to the sinner. But God will come. Your King is coming. ADONAI Tz’vaot will vindicate you, children of Israel, and comfort all who call on his name, Jew and Gentile alike.