Three Parts Of The Christmas Story. The Virgin The Stable The Wise Men. 1. The Virgin Birth. Matthew 1.18-25:
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The Wise Men
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.
“20But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” 21 "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.“ 22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
23 "BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, "GOD WITH US.“ 24 And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, 25 but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.”
"Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7.14
"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. 7There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom …” Isaiah 9.6-7
Israel was promised a “child”, a “son” that would be born of a virgin as a “sign”:
The child’s names would include:
“Immanuel” - God with us
“Prince of Peace”
The Divine plan was for God Himself to enter into human history -- to enter the human story, the human drama
God Himself would come to intervene in man’s situation, into our own situations, to save us “from their sins” (Matthew 1.21)
Christian salvation is about God reaching out to us & entering into our lives
Angels told both Joseph & Mary the child’s name was to be “Jesus” (Grk: “ee-ay-sooce”)
It is the Greek form of Hebrew name “Yeshua” (which is derived from two words – “Yaweh” & “Yasha” or “God saves” – “Joshua”)
Jesus would be “God in the flesh” & He would come to “save” His people
God came into human history literally then & God comes into our lives to change our personal history & the trajectory of our lives, if we allow Him to
Only God can really “save” & deliver us from sin – both it’s price & its effects
God personally wants to help us
“Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. 2 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,
5 in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. 6 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
The Roman-occupied & oppressed people group did what they were told
Circumstances forced Mary & Joseph to have their child in a barn with animals
After Jesus birth, Mary lays Him in a “manger”
“Manger” – most often translated as “stall” in OT & NT (Proverbs 14.4, Luke 13.15, etc.)
Jesus is born into the “ordinary”, to a young couple, not very well off
Jesus did not “done a cape” like Superman, but came into the ordinary (even though He was the Son of God & to be the Savior of mankind)
Jesus did not transform His “stall” into a mansion, even though He could have
Jesus intentionally became like you and me
His goal was to change the ordinary circumstances we face to serve God’s purpose
The goal of Jesus is not to take us out of life, but to cause everyday life to have lasting meaning & purpose
Jesus comes into our lives to save & shape us “in & through our circumstances”, not out of
We all have our “stalls”, our situations, our mundane 9-5 existences, our jobs, that are like “stalls” we “muck out”
We remember the “manger” or the stall only because of who was in it
Our lives can serve an eternal purpose, because of who we let in
Our “mundane” & “ordinary” lives (“stalls”) can have an eternal influence on those around us, when we let Jesus in & live for Him
We remember the “stall” because Jesus completed the assignment God had for Him
Matthew 2:1-12: “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 2 "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.“ 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.”
5 They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: 6 'AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH, ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH; FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.'“ 7 Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared.
8And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.“ 9 After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was.
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.”
Jesus’ birth was foretold to Gentiles also
Different people groups seem to know Balaam’s prophecy: “…A star shall come forth from Jacob, A scepter shall rise from Israel, And shall crush through the forehead of Moab, And tear down all the sons of Sheth.” Numbers 24.17
Many times, before the gospel is preached, people groups have prophecies about a Savior
The Maji were men of both knowledge & means (having gold & costly perfumes)
They left their homes & land, traveling significant distance to see & “worship” Jesus
The word “worship” also means to “kneel” or to “fall down before”
The Maji had knowledge & money, and yet desired to yield these things to the Lord
You see in the Maji 2 kinds of knowledge, both natural & spiritual. Their desire to worship Jesus demonstrated natural knowledge yielding to spiritual knowledge.
They brought the most valued things to man, giving them to Jesus & bowing before God-in-the-flesh
We live in an age that often worships both knowledge & money, the very things that the Maji brought to “kneel” before Christ
What do we value? Can we bring the most valued things in our lives & cause them to “bend the knee” to serve & worship Christ?
Are we willing to let the “little ‘g’ gods” in our lives bow their knee to Jesus?
“The world through its wisdom does not know God” (1Corinthians 1.21) -- yet through the gospel we can know God
What we worship, serve & value ultimately shapes the course of our lives. We choose what we value, worship & serve.
One day “every knee shall bow” and acknowledge that “Jesus is Lord” – the Maji just did it early & so can we
God literally comes into the lives of ordinary people to change their history & to save us
God comes into our ordinary “stalls” to cause our lives to have lasting value & legacy
We have the privilege of “bending the knee” of the valued things of this world (intellect & money) to serve the only One who is truly worthy of our lives, our worship & our service