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, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
1) THE ANNOUNCEMENTS
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
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.
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.
And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God.31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.
Luke 2 8-12
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
These passages tell God’s plan. A virgin will conceive, bear a son, who will rule forever, named Jesus, to save the people from their sins. The first people God presented our Savior was to lowly shepherds.
2) THE BIRTH
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
Matthew 1:18-25, 2:1
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus. Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea…
Jesus is born just as the announcements prophesied. Virgin born, born in Bethlehem, laid in a manger, alone. From the perspective of man, this was all logical. Mary and Joseph were poor, from a non-descript village, questionable parents, among thousands of other pilgrims coming in for the taxation. Why would anyone care about them? We will see tomorrow that many did care. They were not alone. And this baby was destined to change the world!
Jesus birth also pictured His life. The swaddling clothes picture His death. The manger pictures His ministry where He had no place to lay His head. The travel Jesus parents made was indicative of His ministry of preaching from city to city.
God had a plan. The babe in the manger is the Savior of the world and more importantly of you and I. Do you know Him? If not, today would be a perfect time to repent of your sins and by faith accept Jesus offer of salvation.
3) THE PRAISE OF THE HEAVENLY HOST, SHEPHERDS, SIMEON, AND ANNA
Luke 2:13-14 The Heavenly Host
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Luke 2:15-20 The Shepherds
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
Luke 2:25-32 Simeon’s Praise
And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
Luke 2:36-38 Anna’s Thanksgiving
And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
God made His first revelation of Jesus to the lowliest class of people, the shepherds. The message of salvation was for all people. They went and told others of what they had seen and heard.
Simeon waited patiently for the coming of the Lord. He was promised he would not see death till he saw Jesus. The Holy Spirit reveals Jesus to him and he rejoices and praises God.
Anna, a widow for 84 years, who served God faithfully in the temple, sees Jesus and gives thanks.
What does the birth of Christ mean to you? Is a time of rejoicing, praise, and worship, or an excuse to party, buy gifts, and take a day off of work? It is an important question. If Jesus birth, life, death, and resurrection mean nothing or very little to you, you might want to consider your salvation.
Salvation is not just naming Christ, but living as He would have lived. His character, empathy, love, grace, should be qualities we should see in fellow believers. We should be students of the Bible for knowledge and for practical everyday living. The Bible is our guidebook on how to live life. The answers to all life’s questions are answered in God’s Holy Word.
May this Christmas be a time of reflection, renewal, encouragement, and understanding of the real meaning of Christmas. Your eternity is wrapped up in the babe in the manger.
Have a blessed Christmas.
Tom Stearns, WASI Chaplain, 907 715-4001