7. Birth of Jesus Christ- Matt. 1:18-25, Luke 2:1-7
-When Joseph finds out his wife to be is pregnant he planned to put her away secretly, not wanting to disgrace her (or possibly have her executed under Jewish law as an adulterer). But an angel of the Lord appeared to him, just like Mary and Zacharias, and told him to not be afraid to take her as his wife because of His supernatural conception by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20). This happened in a dream, and it was revealed to Joseph that this One would be called Jesus (God saves) because He would save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). This was fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy concerning a virgin birth and God coming to be with mankind (Matthew 1:23, Isaiah 7:14; 9:6). Joseph awoke and did just as the angel commanded and took Mary as his wife, but he kept her a virgin until she gave birth to Jesus Christ. *Application* This passage reveals Joseph’s love for his espoused wife and his obedience to the word of the Lord. He could have been rightfully upset with the situation and publicly humiliated her. The society that they lived in would not tolerate a perceived indiscretion like this and it could have left her alone in raising God’s only son. Instead, Joseph remained calm and didn’t want to embarrass his beloved. In time he got the message from the angel and had perfect understanding, by faith, of the things that God was up to. We also need to remain calm in the face of obstacles and things we can’t quite comprehend. Wait upon the Lord to reveal His plan and direction in the course of your life (Psalm 25:3).
-The scene shifts to Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem Ephrathah (Micah 5:2). Joseph and Mary must go there because of their Davidic ancestry to participate in a census decreed from the Roman government by Caesar Augustus for all the inhibited earth (Luke 2:1). Luke gives us incredible detail of these events in his historical biography. Jesus was wrapped in grave clothes (esparganosen in Greek, swaddling or grave clothes, Luke 2:7, 12). This had prophetic implications for His destiny as He was the lamb slain from the foundation of the world for the sins of mankind (Revelation 13:8). He was laid in a manger in the animal stable because there was no room for His family in the inn because of the swollen population of the town in light of the census (Luke 2:7). *Application* I visited this site upon my recent trip to Israel. This stable was actually in a cave cut out of rock in a mountainous area (far from the wooden barn type representations you often see at Christmas). Our God chose to come to us in the most humble of ways. He emptied Himself for our benefit and deliverance (Philippians 2:5-8).
-Verse to Memorize: Matthew 1:21
8. Angels announce Christ’s birth to shepherds- Luke 2:8-20
-In the same region there were shepherds tending their sheep by night out in the fields. Suddenly an angel appeared to them with the glory of the Lord and frightened them greatly, but the angel told them to not be afraid because he brings good news of great joy, which will be for all people (Luke 2:10). The angel announces the birth of Christ Jesus in Bethlehem, the city of David, with a sign of Him being found in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger (Luke 2:12). Suddenly there were with the angel a multitude of heavenly hosts praising the Lord and singing, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased (Luke 2:14).” They hurried to Bethlehem and found the Messiah just as had been told to them and they made known the statement, which had been revealed to them from Heaven’s messenger. This was causing wonder and amazement by all, but Mary treasured these things in her heart and pondered on them (Luke 2:19). The shepherds returned glorifying and praising the Lord for all they had heard and seen (Luke 2:20).
-It is amazing and prophetic how the Lord chose to reveal His angels to the shepherds. These were probably sheep that were being raised for the Temple sacrifices in nearby Jerusalem (Bethlehem is only over a mountain or two from the Holy City about 8 miles south). Jesus would be the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world some 33 years later in Jerusalem just outside its gates on Calvary’s cross. The excitement of seeing this revelation consumed the shepherds and they went in haste to spread the news after they had seen the Christ Child.
-*Application* Are we in a hurry to spread the good news we have in Christ Jesus? We should have every bit the enthusiasm for our Lord that they had. He has done great things for us in transforming us into His image. Share the message of Christ Jesus with everyone! It is good news and peace for mankind.
-Verse to Memorize: Luke 2:10
9. Star of Bethlehem- Matt. 2:1-2
-The magi see the star in the west from their eastern location and venture toward Bethlehem, which they know from the prophecies (perhaps revealed by Daniel and others in the Babylonian deportation). They arrive in Jerusalem looking for the Child because they have come to worship Him (Matthew 2:2).
-*Application* These were astronomers from a foreign land that came based on previous knowledge somehow to the place where God visited earth. Our God is so good He even places signs in the sky for the entire world to see His plan for the Messiah Savior. The King is announced in more ways than one!
-Verse to Memorize- Matthew 2:2