Happy Birthday, Dear "-------"
December 24, 2005
Christmas is really a birthday party. If the truth be told the best song of the season might not be Joy to the World or Silent Night. It would be Happy Birthday. Of course, the key to that song is the line that says "Happy Birthday, Dear ----; Happy Birthday to you!" If you don't know the name, you can't really sing the song. If you don't know the name, you probably don't belong at the party.
I know I'm preaching to the choir. But just in case anyone has any doubts about it, let me clear up whose birthday this is we are celebrating. It isn't Santa Claus or one of his helpers. It's not Rudolph or Frosty or anyone of the other characters we see so frequently during this time of the year. Three different names pop up in the Christmas story for the "birthday boy" we are honoring. Each tells us something significant about why this day is so important today.
First, we know him as Christ. Christ is not Jesus last name, though we often use it like it was. It is a title. It meant "anointed one" or "chosen one." The Hebrew word was "Messiah." The Greeks translated it Christ. It was the term used throughout the Old Testament for a special person who would fulfill God's will and purpose. The Lord's prophets had said that someday, sometime, the God of heaven would send a deliverer like no other.
The Wise Men in the Christmas story knew what this name meant. After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born" (Mt 2:1-4).
The priests and teachers knew exactly where to look. They went to the writings of the prophet Micah and found the promise that the Christ would come from Bethlehem. That's why Herod sent his soldiers to that tiny town just outside Jerusalem in search of the Christ.
Time and time again, both Jesus and the Apostles would appeal to the Old Testament prophets as proof that he was the promised one. "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, …" (Jn 5:38). "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself" (Lk 24:7). These prophecies provide a powerful case for Christ.
Professor Peter Stoner in his classic book Science Speaks sums up the case for Christ. Stoner argues that if one applies the modern science of mathematical probability to only eight of the Old Testament Messianic prophecies you are forced to the following conclusion. "We find that the chance that any man ...
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