Bible Studies, The Gospels

The Christmas Story

Circumstances of Jesus’ birth explained to Joseph in Matthew 1:18-25.

Sometimes when we grow up around the Christmas story we have to be careful of two things:  first that we do not realize how unbelievable these events are and second that we do not just see them as stories and rank it up there with the Night Before Christmas poem.  Many atheist often use the argument that a first century person could have been fooled by these things, but a 21st century man knows better than to believe in a virgin birth.

However, that is not true.  They knew in the first century just as well as we do in the 21st century of how babies are made.  We might know more details, but they one plus nothing does not equal something.  However, this is exactly what God wants us to see here.  He wants us to see that His son came into this world in a way that only God can make happen.  From the very beginning, Jesus was fulfilling prophecies foretold about Him and God was showing in Him how miraculous He was.

Not only do we see proof of this in John the Baptist not believing an angel that was sent to him, but we also see that Joseph did not believe this news until an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.  God is constantly showing us that there is something special about this birth.

Now in verse 19 we see that character of Joseph.  Betrothed partners were referred to as husband and “wife” (v. 20), though they were not yet considered to be married, and having sexual relations during that period was considered immoral.  Sexual unfaithfulness during betrothal was considered adultery, and under the Mosaic Law carried the death penalty by stoning.  Joseph intended to maintain his personal righteousness, yet he desired to show compassion even though Mary appeared to be an adulteress.

Birth of Jesus in Luke 2:1-21.

Here we see that God uses Rome to accomplish His goal of fulfilling all of the prophecies about Jesus so that the Jews would have no excuse in not believing in Him as Lord, Savior, and Treasure.  Jesus had to be born in Bethlehem because that is what the prophecies foretold in Micah 5:2.  Therefore, if Rome had not had a census during this time, they would have had the child in Nazareth.

We see in this passages that Luke confirms that Jesus has the right heritage: he is born of pious Davidic parents in the city that the Old Testament promised would be the birthplace of a ruler.  The chance of a census had made it happen.  Rome was an unconscious agent in God’s work.  The profane decree of a census had yielded a divine event.  A stable was the Messiah’s firth throne room.  Bethlehem may be a little town and the baby may have a humble birth, but God’s presence behind the birth makes this event one of the greatest in all history.

Now we see that the first people that get to share in this glorious work of the coming of the messiah, is not the priests, not kings, not wise men, but shepherds. So not only has the God of all the universe come down from heaven where the angels worshipped him, we see that he was not born into a rich family, but a poor carpenter family, he did not come in the comfort of home, but in a cave, we see that he did not have a nice royal bed, but was wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a feeding troth, and we see his first visitors were not devote religious men or kings, but shepherds.

Two ideas are clear in the birth of Jesus.  First, that God is in control of these events, and God’s Word comes to pass just as he promised.  Here is the note of assurance for Luke’s reader.  God can be believed.  Joy surrounds all the events, whether it be in the angelic call to glorify God or in the shepherds’ praise.  All are to share in the joy of Jesus’ coming.  These are special events; God’s hand is actively and uniquely at work.  Just as the heavens rejoice, so should the earth.

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