Monday—Read Matthew 1:1 in the New Testament. The Gospel writer Matthew begins Jesus’ lineage with Abraham. Matthew’s account of Jesus likely was written for people with a Jewish background. For them, Abraham was the central patriarch of their faith. Abraham was the one who received God’s call to go to a place he’d never seen, where he would become the father of a great people. Through these people God would make his light known to the whole world. Why is it important to link Jesus to this man?
Tuesday—Read Matthew 1:2-16 in the New Testament. In Jewish culture of the first century a man’s lineage was traced through his father’s line, recognizing Joseph as the “adoptive” father of Jesus. Women were regarded as being inconsequential in lineages, other than being birth mothers. Yet Matthew makes a point of identifying four women (verses 3, 5, 6, 16.) In a world in which legitimacy only happened by way of men, why would Matthew make a point of including women? What does that say about people whom the world around us would regard as largely useless and insignificant?
Wednesday—Read Isaiah 53:2-9 in the Old Testament. Centuries before Jesus was born, at a time when God’s people had drifted far from God and faced imminent destruction, the prophet Isaiah wrote these words. Inspired by God’s Spirit he spoke of a servant of God who would one day suffer on behalf of God’s people. It’s not a pretty picture. Many believe this would become a description of Jesus. If you ask Jesus into your life, you invite this beaten and defeated figure. How do you feel about that; accepting not Jesus just the victorious, but Jesus the crushed?
Thursday—Read Luke 2:8-14 in the New Testament. Right after the shepherds got the message not to be afraid, they were told good news of great joy had come to ALL people. Throughout his gospel Luke stresses the impact of Jesus on both those inside the Jewish faith AND those outside of this group. For many, this made the good news of Jesus scandalous. Did that mean he was good news for faithful people and for unfaithful people, for the religious folks and the nonbelievers, for the saints and the sinners, for the good and the bad? What do you think that means now?
Friday—Read John 1:1-8 in the New Testament. While Matthew and Luke spoke of Jesus’ birth as a story, John presents it in the language of philosophy (popular in the Greek-speaking world at that time) and imagery. He spoke of the arrival of Jesus as light coming into the world; light that darkness did not, cannot, and will not overcome. John capitalized on the fact that the smallest candle light has the power to push back the deepest darkness. Who do you know who needs light in the darkness? Where do you need Jesus’ light in your life?