BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“The angel replied, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby born to you will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God’” (Luke 1:35 New Living Translation).
God put Adam and Eve in the beautiful Garden of Eden. But they disobeyed Him thereby handing over to the serpent (Satan), the authority or dominion over the earth that God had given them (Genesis 3:1-7). Their disobedience disrupted the original plan of God for man on earth. However, God did not give up on man. God, out of love for man whom He created in His own image, had a redemption plan through Jesus Christ. This will ensure that man won’t spend eternity with Satan in hell-fire.
While God was passing judgment on Adam, Eve, and the serpent, He foretold the birth of Jesus thus, “And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15 New Living Translation). The offspring of the woman, in this verse, refers to Jesus Christ.
His birth was also foretold by the prophets centuries before He was born. Jeremiah prophesied the coming of a righteous descendant of David to rule (Jeremiah 23:5-6). Isaiah also prophesied the birth of Jesus thus: “All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’)” (Isaiah 7:14 New Living Translation).
Isaiah, again, in Isaiah 9:6-7, prophesied His birth: “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!” (New Living Translation).
Notice that this scripture says a child is born and a son is given. That’s important. A son is not born, because Jesus has always existed as the Son before He was born a child. The Bible says Jesus Christ, “who, though from the beginning he had the nature of God, did not reckon equality with God something to be forcibly retained, but emptied himself of his glory by taking the form of a slave, when he was born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7 Montgomery’s New Testament).
The phrase, “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us” talks about the humanity and divinity or deity of Jesus Christ. A child is born refers to His humanity; a son is given, refers to His divinity. His four names, in Isaiah 9:6, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace, also present Jesus as both God and man.
The virgin conceived a child
Mary, a virgin from the line of David, was the woman chosen to carry the supernatural pregnancy of Jesus. “The angel replied, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby born to you will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God’” (Luke 1:35 New Living Translation). That was the good news that the angel Gabriel brought to Mary.
After Jesus had been born and laid in the manger, it was this same good news that the angel of the LORD brought to the shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night – the good news of great joy to all people (Luke 2:8-12).
Why Jesus was born
Only two of the four books of the Gospels in the Bible, Matthew and Luke, record the birth of Jesus Christ. In Matthew 1:21, the angel told Joseph in a dream the reason for the birth of Jesus: “And she [Mary] will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (New King James Version). God did this because of His love for man. He didn’t want human beings to perish in their sins. Ezekiel 18:4 says the soul who sins shall die. But the will of God is that no one should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
The salvation of sinners is the main reason for the birth of Jesus and Christmas should be celebrated with this understanding. If you’re not born again, you should respond to the love of God now. Your Christmas celebration this year shouldn’t be without Jesus in your life. You need to come into a personal relationship with Jesus rather than concentrate on the social aspect of the season. Jesus, born over 2000 years ago, must now be born in your heart. This is possible right now if you’re ready to surrender your life to Jesus.
God loves you and sent Jesus to be born to save you from your sins. If He had not been born, He wouldn’t have died for your sins. It all started with God’s love to save humanity. “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9 New King James Version).
You should respond to God’s love. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17 New King James Version).
If you’re already born again, you need to share God’s love with others, especially those who’re yet to give their lives to Jesus. Christmas should be a time for sinners to be reconciled with their Maker through Jesus Christ. No religion can save anyone from the power of sin. Matthew 1:21 unequivocally states that Jesus will save His people “from their sins.” That includes everyone who has not yet accepted Jesus Christ into his heart as his Lord and Saviour.
In Luke 1:31, the angel told Mary “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.” Jesus is the English rendering of Iesous, the Greek form of the Hebrew name Yehoshua (Yeshua), and it means “Jehovah is salvation”, “God saves” or “The Lord saves.” Save is another word for deliver.
Christ is not the surname of Jesus, as in Jesus Christ! “Christ” (Christos) means “the anointed one.” So “Jesus Christ” means “the anointed Saviour.” The Greek word Christos (from which the English word Christ is derived) is the equivalence of the Hebrew word mashiyach (from which the English word Messiah is derived), which also means “anointed one.” So Jesus Christ also means Jesus the Messiah. In Luke 2:10-11, an angel announced to the shepherds the birth of Jesus Christ, saying, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (New King James Version). Jesus Christ; Jesus the Messiah.
The purpose of the birth of Jesus Christ is clear. Jesus was born to save us. He was born to deliver us from our enemies. Zacharias prophesied, saying, “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who have been since the world began, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us” (Luke 1:68-71 New King James Version). To the Jews, their enemies were the functionaries of the Roman Government. So, the Jews were looking for a political saviour. But that wasn’t who Jesus was.
Herod (Herod the Great) had no rightful claim to the throne of David being an Idumean, an Edomite. Edomites were descendants of Esau. Therefore, Herod was disturbed, because he thought that Jesus was after his throne. He saw Jesus as a threat to his kingship when the magi made enquiries about the king born whose star they had seen in the east (Matt hew2:3-4, 16).
Even the disciples of Jesus, who were with Him, for over three years, failed to realize that Jesus didn’t come for political deliverance or salvation. Hear them before his ascension: “So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, ‘Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?’” (Acts 1:6 New Living Translation). Their concern was the restoration of the kingdom to Israel.
Celebrating Christmas the right way
Christmas is more than Santa Claus. It is more than a holiday. It’s more than all the social events that take place during the season. It’s more than all the feasting or commercial activities of the season. It is a celebration of God’s love for humanity – it’s salvation from sin.
If you invite everyone to celebrate Christmas with you, but you don’t invite Jesus into your heart or surrender your life to Him, you’re missing the purpose of Christmas. Jesus is God’s most precious gift to humanity.
No matter the religion you profess, know that you can’t bypass Jesus and hope to enter the Kingdom of God. Jesus is the cure for man’s sins. Without accepting Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, you’re celebrating a Christless Christmas, which is dangerous. It will lead to hell-fire. As the apostle Peter said on the Day of Pentecost, “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12 New Living Translation). Religion doesn’t save; only Jesus saves (John 3:16-17). You need to respond appropriately to the love of God for you this season.
The wise men (magi) went in search of Jesus. They took the trouble to come from the east to worship Him and honour Him with gifts out of their treasure (Matthew 2:10-11). The journey took the wise men some time, but, today, Jesus is so close to you that you don’t need to travel before you can surrender your life to Him.
Unfortunately, many are yet to seek Him but are eager to celebrate Christmas. Christmas celebration must be Christ-centred. Christmas celebration should be for those who are born again, those who have received forgiveness of their sins from the Father through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus, who is the real meaning of Christmas, said He is the way, the truth, and the life and no one can come to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).
Because no sinner can come to the Father, the angel told Joseph that Jesus would save His people, including you, from their sins so that they shall be qualified to come to the Father. It is meaningless for a sinner to be celebrating Christmas. The sinner must first be born again.
Jesus, the light of the world
Isaiah 9:2 says, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined” (New King James Version). In this scripture, the light is Jesus Christ and His message; and the people in darkness were the people of Zebulun and Naphtali, referred to in Isa 9:1, but by extension, all sinners. Jesus fulfilled this scripture in Matthew 4:12-13 when He departed to Galilee and came and dwelt in Capernaum, by the Sea of Galilee, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali.
Verses 14-16 note, “This fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy: ‘In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali, beside the sea, beyond the Jordan River — in Galilee where so many Gentiles live — the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined” (New Living Translation).
Sinners are in darkness. Those who are saved have seen the light. The Christmas light should remind all that Jesus is the real light. “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life’” (John 8:12 New King James Version). He said in John 9:5, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (New King James Version). The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light! Are you walking in darkness or you’ve seen the light? Jesus came to deliver the world from the power of darkness. “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14 New King James Version).
Have you been delivered? Are you born again? If you are, share the love of God with those yet to accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Let the light you’ve received light up your world. Become the light of the world, as Jesus said His followers are (Matthew 5:14). Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:17). If you’re still walking in darkness, receive Jesus Christ into your heart today. Accept Him as your Lord and Saviour.
The government will rest on His shoulders!
Back to Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the birth of Jesus I referred to earlier: “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6 New Living Translation). The Hebrew word for government is “misrah”, which means rule, dominion, or government. The Emphasized Bible: A New Translation says, “The dominion is upon his shoulder.”
Some Bible commentators have interpreted the phrase, “The government will rest on his shoulders” as an allusion to the ancient custom of the ensign of office being worn on the shoulder. The New English Bible presents the phrase as “to bear the symbol of dominion on his shoulder.” The phrase means that Jesus would bear the responsibility or carry the burden of governing His people.
Why would the government rest on the shoulders of Jesus? If Jesus must be the Messiah and stand in the office of the Messiah, He must carry full authority or dominion; He must rule with power. According to the Knox Translation, His “shoulder will bear the sceptre of princely power.” The scepter is the official staff of a ruler. It is a symbol of authority or power. “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes” (Genesis 49:10 New King James Version).
Jesus came to the earth through the tribe of Judah. The word Shiloh in that scripture is regarded as a reference to Jesus. Balaam also referred to a sceptre in his prophecy, which is believed to be foretelling the birth of Jesus Christ. He said, “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and batter the brow of Moab, and destroy all the sons of tumult” (Numbers 24:17 New King James Version).
The government will rest on his shoulders. In Isaiah 9:4, the Bible says, “For You have broken the yoke of his burden and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian” (New King James Version).
From the foregoing, we have two different shoulders: his shoulder and His shoulders. The first refers to the yoke of the burden and the staff of the oppressors on Israel’s shoulder. They abused the Israelites, but God broke their power and delivered them.
So that scripture meant that Jesus’ government would be unlike that of the oppressors. He would not oppress the people, but deliver them from the yoke of slavery, lift the heavy burden on their shoulders and break the oppressor’s rod. No wonder, Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 New Living Translation).
The government shall rest on His shoulder. He will rule with power. This is similar to what the LORD said about His servant, Eliakim the son of Hilkiah. “The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder; so he shall open, and no one shall shut; and he shall shut, and no one shall open” (Isaiah 22:22 New King James Version).
The Bible in Basic English presents the phrase, “The government will rest on his shoulders” as “the government has been placed in his hands.” There are two parts to the fulfillment of this prophecy. The first was fulfilled when Jesus started His ministry on earth and established a spiritual government, the kingdom of God, in the hearts of those who believed in Him then and those who believe in Him now, accepting Him as their Lord and Saviour.
During His earthly ministry, Jesus declared that the kingdom of God, the spiritual government of God, had come. “Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21 New King James Version).
Two similar terms the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven are used in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to express the same thing. However, only Matthew uses both. Mark, Luke, and John mention only the kingdom of God. But in Matthew 19:23-24, the two terms are used interchangeably.
Everything that Jesus did in his earthly ministry was a manifestation of the kingdom of God on earth, which showed that He is the Messiah. From the prison, John the Baptist sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” (Matthew 11:2 New King James Version). Jesus replied, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me” (verses 4-6 New King James Version).
In other words, Jesus confirmed that He is the Messiah, the Coming One, because, apparently, the miracles He mentioned were the marks of the Messiah the people were expecting (Isaiah 29:18-19; 35:5-6; 61:1). John 7:31 says, “And many of the people believed in Him, and said, ‘When the Christ comes, will He do more signs than these which this Man has done?’” (New King James Version). Jesus only called Himself the Messiah privately, not publicly, except when He confirmed it at His trial before the High priest and Pilate. He actually warned His disciples not to tell anyone (John 4:25-26; Mark 8:29-30; Matthew 26:63-64; Mark 14:61-62; Luke 22:67-70).
Jesus performed the miracles He did because the government, power, or dominion rested on His shoulders and He delivered the people from their enemies, as the Scripture has said. What are these enemies Jesus came to deliver humanity from? They’re sins (Matthew 1:21), sicknesses and diseases (Acts 10:38; Matthew 4:23), and all forms of captivity and oppression of the devil, powers that are working against people’s destinies (Isaiah 61:1-2). Jesus was born to deliver us from these enemies. You shall be delivered from any evil power lording it over you in Jesus’ name. The first step is for you to be delivered from the main enemy – sin – by giving your life to Jesus.
The government will rest on His shoulders. According to Ephesians 1:21-23, “Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else in this world or in the world to come. And God has put all things under the authority of Christ, and he gave him this authority for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is filled by Christ, who fills everything everywhere with his presence” (New Living Translation).
The government will rest on His shoulders. And after His resurrection, and before His ascension, He told His disciples, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew28:18 New King James Version). The government is on His shoulders. “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11 New King James Version).
The future Kingdom of God
This brings us to the second fulfillment of the phrase, “The government will rest on his shoulders” at His second coming. At the moment, His kingdom is not yet fully realized. There will be a perfect, full manifestation of the fulfillment of this scripture in the future when Jesus will establish His physical government on the earth, a full-blown kingdom of God, not the present spiritual government established in the hearts of those who believe in Him. At that time, God will create a new heaven and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17, 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1). Jesus will reign on earth and Philippians 2:9-11 will be absolutely fulfilled – every knee shall bow.
Hebrews 2:8 says, “‘You have put all things in subjection under his feet.’ For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him” (New King James Version). Did you see that? Though all things have been put under the feet of Jesus, all has not yet happened; we do not yet see all things put under Him. “For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet” (1 Corinthians 15:25 New King James Version).
Jesus is in Heaven now and He’s not ruling over everything on earth at the moment. But at that time when He will establish His government, the Kingdom of heaven on earth, everything shall be made subject to Him. The government will rest on His shoulder at His second coming. He shall reign fully as the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). His government and its peace shall never end. Halleluiah!
Jesus is coming back. Are you expecting His return? “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:42-44 New King James Version). Luke 12:40 says, “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (New King James Version). Don’t sleep, as others do, but watch and be sober (1 Thessalonians 5:6).
Conclusion: God loves humanity and caused Jesus to be born into this world. Jesus didn’t come to do a partial deliverance. It’s an all-inclusive deliverance. This season, you shall be delivered from sin, sicknesses and diseases and all forms of captivity and oppression of the devil, powers that are working against your destiny in the name of Yeshua. I declare that your enemies shall fall before you in Jesus’ name now and forever. Thank God for the government on the shoulders of Jesus.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you. Merry Christmas!
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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