The Miracle Birth (Christmas)
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This week we will look to the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ of Nazareth born in Bethlehem. More precisely, we will look to the events and the players surrounding Jesus’ birth. I believe the people that God chose for His Son’s birth and how the story unfolds tells us a lot about THE nature of God. It tells us a lot about the one who came to save us, Jesus.
(you have full permission to copy this video/notes and reuse it for a group of any size, if you have a vimeo account here’s the link for easy downloading: http://vimeo.com/38782745)
download the pdf: Who Is Jesus Sessions #2
The key players:
- King Herod
– to tell the story we’ll be focusing on 2 books of the Bible this week, Matthew and Luke.
– There are 66 books of the bible in total, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. The bible is separated “old” and “new” based on the coming of Christ, with the OT taking place before the birth of Christ and the NT from his birth – on.
– Interestingly, the Gregorian calendar that we follow is also based on Jesus’ birth, with BC short for ‘Before Christ’ and AD a Latin phrase which fully reads: ‘Anno Domini Nostri Lesu Christi’, or ‘In the year of our Lord Jesus Christ’. So, currently it is the year 2011 AD, or in other words, two thousand and eleven years since the birth of Christ. Imagine a man whose birth the calendar marks as the standard, year one. I’d say that you can make a case for the influence of this ‘world-changer’.
– Of the 27 books of the NT, 4 are called gospels and focus on Jesus’ life and message, one is called Acts and tells the story of the first church following Jesus’ death and resurrection, after that are many books comprised of letters written to these churches from a missionary named Paul, as well as Jesus’ disciples and others, and the final book speaks of things yet to come and it’s called the book of Revelation. These are the books that make up the NT of the Bible.
– The books that we’re focusing on today, Matthew and Luke, are 2 of the 4 gospels of Jesus’ life. Matthew was a direct follower of Jesus Christ, as was the gospel of John from our main text last session. They were among the 12 disciples of Jesus who spent the most intimate moments with him. Luke, our other text today, was not one of the 12 disciples of Jesus. He was a physician who lived at the time of Jesus. He acted as a reporter in collecting many eyewitness accounts to complete his book. In many respects Luke is the most detailed account of the 4 gospels. He was an educated man and his writing reflects that. Listen to the opening paragraph of his book.
Luke 1:1-4 – skip to vs 26-38
Mary: What can we learn about the nature of God from her?
1. She was afraid in the presence of the angel of God. The angel assured her that she had found favor in God’s eyes and did not have to fear. But, this does not hold true for everyone. People who have not found favor in God’s eyes have every reason to be afraid if and when they encounter the almighty.
2. She was humble, ‘the Lord’s servant’ she said, with no great expectations or misconceptions of her greatness before God. Does this give us insight into Jesus? Yes. Read Philippians 2:1-11 (from last week)
3. She was a virgin!!!!!!!!! If that doesn’t move you than you have heard this story too many times! ‘
How can this be for I am not?’ God’s reply, ‘I AM, NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR ME.’
Shepherds: The greatest celestial light show wasted on nobodies.
– the song of the Angels – ‘the Heavenly Hosts’
– “glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth, peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
– Once again, similar to the message that Mary received, PEACE was AVAILABLE – remedy to fear – but not to all, only to those on whom God’s favor rested.
Joseph: Devastating news, the one he loved was seemingly unfaithful.
– he could have sent her out into the streets and announced to the city her unfaithfulness. It was customary to humiliate her so that she would go the rest of her life single, with a mark of disgrace on her. None would go near her. He was even in his right by the laws of the land to have her stoned, executed for her crime.
– BUT even before the angel told Joseph in a dream that this was of God, he deeply loved Mary and wanted to divorce her secretly, so as not to disgrace her! WOW! He loved Mary so much that even though it seemed she had betrayed him, at risk of his own personal reputation, he would sacrifice for her. This is the definition of Grace displayed so perfectly in Joseph – God’s choice for Jesus’ earthly father.
– Keep in mind that Joseph was not a Christian – per se, all he knows are the laws of the Jewish people but God had woven the truth of grace in his heart, a truth to fulfill the law.
Does this line up with the nature of God? Yes. Romans 5:5-8
(we’ll expand on this in the weeks to come)
Wisemen or ‘MAGI’ from the EAST worship Jesus!
– this hits home with many student dynamics on our university campus.
– FIRST, Magi were the scientists of their day – astronomers – they were respected. I like that these scientists of their day observe a ‘supernatural event’, one that can’t be explained by natural science. Instead of being skeptics, they acknowledge the source of this miracle, in so doing acknowledge their inability to reconcile it, and worship him!
– SECOND, they are from the EAST and they receive a dream from God. I have heard many stories of Muslims from the East who receive dreams from God. In these dreams Jesus reveals Himself as the Son of God. In the evening they were followers of Allah, followers of Mohammad’s teachings, but in the morning, they are followers of JESUS CHRIST!
Let’s finish –Matthew 2:13-18
King Herod: Afraid of a baby!
– notice all the prophesies fulfilled
- the Virgin will be with child
- the baby will be born in Bethlehem
- God’s son will escape to Egypt for safety
- Many children will die in this time
These prophets writing hundreds, sometimes-even thousands of years earlier were bang-on! How can this be explained except that God gave them the words to write and is in control of making it happen?
– Anyway the point is King Herod’s reaction. He was so insecure about his earthly reign that when he heard a new king was born he had all the children slaughtered. He was afraid of a baby! Imagine, if you can, the devastation he caused in his insecurity!
– BUT this illustrates very clearly the two reactions people have when faced with Jesus. Some are like the Shepherds, the most common and lowly men in their time, who rejoiced at the news of a coming Savior. Many are like King Herod, who lashed out at the announcing of a king.
– In ETERNITY – a time after this – there will be a reversal of roles. These shepherds will be kings, and King Herod will be tossed out to a place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
In God’s Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven, the first will be last and the last will be first. That’s next week…
Jesus: the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand