Dr. E. Dale Locke
Christmas Candlelight Service
- Are you the kind of person who enjoys surprises or not? Tell why you feel the way you do about surprises.
- Read Isaiah 9:2 and 6
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned…. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
In these verses, the Prophet Isaiah was talking about Jesus, even though this was written about 700 years before Jesus was born. Discuss each aspect of this prophecy that Jesus fulfilled.
- Read Matthew 1:18-25:
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Imagine what it would have been like to have been Joseph. Talk about how you would have felt in this situation.
- What does it say about Joseph that he decided “to divorce Mary quietly” rather than the customary response to this situation at that time, which would have been to have her killed by stoning?
- Joseph’s life teaches us that what we practice in the days of peace and serenity will carry us in the days of conflict and chaos.
What are some habits that you practice in good times to prepare yourself for difficult times?
- This story reveals three surprises about Jesus:
Surprise…Jesus is God, and He is with you!
We call this idea the “incarnation” – meaning that God took on human flesh in order to live here among us. Jesus is still here with you now. What are the implications of this for your life? How could it help you with the challenges you are currently facing?
- It is beyond our understanding to fully grasp how Jesus could have been both God and human at the same time. What are some things Jesus had to give up in order to become human?
Surprise…Jesus is God, and He understands you!
Read Hebrews 4:14-16:
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are– yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
- What helps Jesus understand us so well? How does it feel to know that Jesus understands you?
Surprise…Jesus is God, and He will forgive you.
- Matthew 1:21 tells that Jesus came to save people from their sins. Why do we need saving? What impact does sin have on us?
- What does it feel like to be completely forgiven for something you did wrong? Ask Jesus to forgive you for the ways you’ve messed up in life. You can be certain that He will.