Updated: Jan 27
It’s Christmastime! People tend to think of the birth of the Messiah as a Christian, Gentile thing, but it’s actually a Jewish thing historically.
To wit, the first people who believed that Jesus (His name in Greek) or Y’shua (His name in Hebrew) was the Jewish Messiah were Jews. Of course they were – Jesus was Jewish. The Messiah was to be a descendent of King David, who was from Bethlehem in Judea. Jesus’ genealogy is given in both Matthew chapter 1 and Luke chapter 3.
These are some of the most important prophesies about the birth of the Jewish Messiah in the Hebrew Scriptures, or the Old Testament:
Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.” (HCSB)
Isaiah 9:6: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (KJV)
Micah 5:2: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” (KJV)
…So the Messiah is one with God, being called Mighty God and Father and Prince. This Messiah will be born by a virgin woman to prove that the baby boy’s Father is God Himself, not a human. How can someone be all of those? Ah, leave it to the greatest and most mysterious poet of all, our creator, God. Astonishing!
How Christmas and Hanukkah Are Connected
This time of year is also the general season of Hanukkah, which moves around based on the lunar calendar. The Festival of Lights (Hanukkah), also called the Feast of Dedication (of the Temple), celebrates a miracle among the Israelites that occurred after the Old Testament was fully written. Ironically, Hanukkah is actually mentioned in the New Testament, in John 10:22-23, as Jesus was in Jerusalem to celebrate Hanukkah:
“And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.” (KJV)
That passage in John chapter 10 continues with people questioning Jesus about being the Messiah:
“Then the Jews surrounded Him and asked, ‘How long are You going to keep us in suspense? If You are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’
“‘I did tell you and you don’t believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name testify about Me. … The Father and I are one.’” (HCSB)
The fact is that Jesus is the only person who isn’t a psycho who has affirmed to be the Jewish Messiah. Everyone else before and after him have been utter goofballs and/or egomaniacs.
But How Do We Know for Sure?
A couple such egomaniacs are even acknowledged in Acts chapter 5, as the Jewish leaders discussed how to handle the ministry of two of Jesus’ disciples:
“A Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law who was respected by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered the men to be taken outside for a little while. He said to them, ‘Men of Israel, be careful about what you’re going to do to these men. Not long ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about 400 men rallied to him. He was killed, and all his partisans were dispersed and came to nothing.
“’After this man, Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and attracted a following. That man also perished, and all his partisans were scattered. And now, I tell you, stay away from these men and leave them alone. For if this plan or this work is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even be found fighting against God.” (HCSB)
All of it reminds me of one of my Dad’s sayings: “God gave you a brain to use it.” An analysis of just these few basic Scripture passages provide the answer. It’s the most important answer you’ll ever hear.
Christmas isn’t really about presents and parties and friends and family, it’s about God entering human history with a triumphant humility that only He can perform – and which was predicted in the Hebrew Scriptures for hundreds of years. The Messiah, Jesus.