Since the Old Testament writings God had not spoken to man for over 400 years since the last prophet. But He is faithful and keeps his promises and can do the expected in an unexpected way.
If God wanted man to know him he would have to communicate with mankind. Since we do not have the capability to contact him or know him on our own, he would have to take the initiative.
The Bible says in Rom.3:10 "There is none righteous, no, not one there is none who understands. There is none who seek after God."
If God wanted man to comprehend and see the invisible infinite God he would of necessity need to be seen, heard or touched. This life and revelation was declared in a unique way by his son.
I John 1:1-4 "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life 2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us 3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.
John the apostle describes what he and the others close to Jesus experienced.
To our ears To our ears = He spoke words of life Jesus was profound yet simple he had perfect words for every situation. Proverbs says every word of God is pure . It was truth not as the religious leaders who invented their our interpretation He spoke differently it was with authority you have heard it said but I say to you. They heard the words of eternal life Jesus said my words are spirit and they are life. If we hear his words and apply them they will change our life to be more like his.
The spiritual life he spoke of was practical not only for the hereafter. He met the deepest needs of our heart as well as our body when he fed 5,000
To our eyes To our eyes = means they gazed intently with awe. They saw a living example of deity that their own forefathers described. The eternal creator walking among them but hidden behind flesh. They learned what God was like by watching him, how He conducted himself with people. They saw the compassion of God in his mercy as well as his strictness towards those who misrepresented what he said.
They watched him control nature asking themselves as he calmed the waters what manner of man is this?
They watched his reaction toward death he treated it not as a friend but as an enemy. He cried over it and rejoiced when life was brought back.
Our hands have handled = Our hands have handled = They were able to touch him and he touched them. John who writes this was the one who laid his head on his chest to be close to him. they experienced an openness a kindness a gentleness unlike any other. They lived with him as they traveled they were his family they shared food with him. so many times we try to prove his deity when we forget he was fully human as well, this is what makes known the mystery God was manifested in the flesh.
The light shined in a dark place and the darkness comprehended it not.
The word of life, the message is the person. Unlike other religions and teachers like Buddha, Confucius , Baha'u'llah or Mohammed. They taught about their own perception of God. Christ revealed God in all his glory and truth, as he was God the invisible spirit who came as man. this is what he is communicating to us today that occurred when they were alive.
His purpose was to give us joy life more abundantly a quality of life that is not dictated by our circumstances but one that has victory over anything the world sets before us. A contentment that is supernatural. Also his purpose was give us fellowship with himself.
This is the God mankind is seeking. He didnt come to earth to enforce authority but to bridge the gap. He came in meekness and humility not dont you know who I am, Im God obey me!
The story starts with a visitation, and a miracle. God begins his promise of the messiah with a righteous family. Luke 1:5-17 Zecharias and Elizabeth were righteous before God blameless in the commandments faithful in their serving him. They were also very old with no children as Elizabeth was barren. Because of this fact they were looked down upon in their culture, since having no children meant you did not have Gods blessing. But this was not so with God. Elizabeth who longed for a child for so many years was barren and was old enough not to consider this any longer; as her husband served as priest their prayers were answered. Mary, Elizabeth's relative who was also a servant, young and engaged to be married receives a child unexpectedly as well 6 moths after her.
In vs.8-9 Luke records tells us that Zecharias was serving as the priest when the lot fell on him to burn coals. In 1 Chron. 24 King David took the tribe of Levi and divided them into 24 groups each having a turn to serve in the temple ( every year 26 people took 2 weeks to serve) ever since the 2 sons of Aaron died they tied a rope around the ankle of those entering the holy place just in case something went wrong they could pull them out.
The Rabbis developed a story- if the incense put on the coals was not acceptable, just before the priest would die an angel would appear to their right . This is what we see takes place with Zacharias.
Luke 1:11-12 "Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense.12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him." He is fearful and thinks his time is up, that he offered strange fire or did something wrong.
This will be the first of a number of angelic appearances that would herald the savior and the gospel to man.
Luke 1:13 "But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John."
It was Zecharias prayer to have a child, here he is ministering with incense a symbol of prayer and the angel tells him his prayer was heard and will be answered. His sons name will be called John which means favor or grace of Yahweh.
Names in the Hebrew can have great significance, Zecharias name means the Lord remembers, Elizabeth his wifes name means oath of God or promise.
vs.14 John will bring joy and gladness. Jesus called John the greatest prophet to ever live. He will be the voice crying out in the wilderness preparing the people to receive their Messiah. He alone had this privilege.
Vs.15 this child will be unusual in that he will be filled with the Spirit from the womb. He was chosen for ministry and will have Gods presence from the beginning. He will be a Nazarite which is to be separate to God like Samson and Samuel (Judg.13:5,14; 1 Sam.1:11).
Luke 1:17 "He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, 'to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,' and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." John labored in the Spirit and power of the former prophet by calling people to repentance and preparing them for the salvation that Christ would later bring.
He will minister in the same function and office as Elijah turning people back to each other in the family as well as to God through repentance . He was to bring as community of believers together to be ready for the Lords appearance through their baptism of repentance. The baptismal rites meaning was to identify someone with a person, a people or a message. John would express all three. A people- a remnant unto God. His message-one of repentance. And the person -who would be identified as the Messiah through his baptism. In which he was revealed to Israel by a voice from God saying this is my beloved Son in whom Im well pleased and the Holy Spirit coming in a visible form descending like a dove. Interesting that a dove is faithful to its mate for a life time.
Luke 1:18-19 And Zacharias said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years."19 And the angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings.
Zecharias expresses doubt to the angels promise by asking how this is possible since both he and his wife are to old. He is made mute until the time of his birth because he did not accept the good news in faith.
Vs.22 he comes out of the temple not speaking and everyone was amazed he was still alive being inside the temple so long and they realized he had some kind of spiritual experience inside.
Vs.26-28 after 6 months the same angel is sent to Nazareth to a virgin , Mary who is engaged to be married to Joseph, of the house of David. It is here where we have the biblical account of the choosing of the one who will bear the son of God who will come from heaven.
Luke 1:28-33 And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!"29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.30 Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.31 "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.32 "He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.33 "And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end."
vs.28 she is greeted as one who is favored above all other woman chosen to carry one from eternity past. Her own creator.
Vs.31 The promise is that she will become pregnant and bring forth the one who will be salvation. Isa.7:14 God will be with us on earth.
Vs.32-33 he will be called the son of the most high, inheriting the throne of David. Isa.9:6 his kingdom will have no end speaking of what he began at his first advent and the fulfillment at his 2nd advent with him personally being here to rule.
In the fullness of time God sends forth his son from heaven to earth. in 2 Cor.8:9 about him" being rich , yet for your sakes he became poor, so that through his poverty you might become rich".
From having full control being rich beyond measure he put aside all that he once had and operated from dependency upon the father as any other human who would follow God. His ministry was one of humility submitted to the fathers will. Coming not as an angel to redeem angels but as a man flesh and blood to rescue mankind. How far of a descent was this for his rescue?
Phil. 2:5 "Who being in the form of God did not consider it robbery to be equal with God. 7: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: notice that the one he is describing first existed in the nature of God and then discarded his reputation taking on the form (nature ) , another form of a servant, being made a man. The same one who was in the form of God made himself of no reputation. The phrase "the form of a servant" is identical in its content of "the form of God". The former "form" asserting all that makes God who he is, he existed in. The later "form" being all that makes one a servant he was.
In becoming a man something changed since he was not in a servant role to the Father before he became man. This was a change of position not a change in nature. He as God could not empty himself of his essential nature since unchangeableness is part of this. All his attributes are eternal so he could not eliminate any but he could put them aside in using them as he entered time and space.
This was not an emptying of his deity, as a substance change of nature but a putting aside of his position. The deity of the Son in no ways ceased because of his taking on a human form. By giving up his independent use of his divine attributes he became a slave depending mostly on the H. Spirit for his strength and the Father for his instructions. When one becomes a servant they do not give up their skills but submit to another in a higher position.
Luke 1:34-38 Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?"
This wording indicates her not knowing her husband in sexual union. What is extraordinary and supernatural to man is ordinary to God.
vs.35 And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.36 "Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 "For with God nothing will be impossible."38 Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her."
It will be by the holy Spirits power covering and protecting her that the Son of God can be born. Son of God, the only begotten son, meaning to be absolutely unique having the very nature of God himself. The Holy Spirit who is God protected his sinlessness as God the Son entered the womb and the egg of Mary brought to life by the Holy Spirit . He took upon himself a human nature in addition to his divine nature he already existed in. Jesus was the real son of Mary, being the son of man and he was the real son of the Father, being the son of God from eternity. The mystery is eternity becoming subject to time ,deity united with humanity an unnatural but not an impossible union.
The means of the incarnation involved the Holy Spirit. When Mary asked how can this be since she was a virgin and had no sexual relations with a man for this to be possible. Gabriels reply was the H. Spirit will overshadow her, it will be a miraculous conception unlike any other, not a miraculous birth.
The question arises of Mary's not understanding this being possible. Why was Zacharias punished being made mute and she was not? This was a event that never took place in the history of mankind, to ask how this is possible was not a doubt but a genuine not understanding Gods ability for the miraculous. Zacharias knew of God making older people who were barren fruitful, such as with Abraham and Sarah. He was priest who knew better.
A promise from God is always going to be kept-- but it will come in his timing because his purposes are always perfect. Gal 4:4-5 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Things were about to change in Israel. The son who existed in heaven was sent to earth by the Father on a short term mission that would have everlasting affects.
The virgin birth is unique as Jesus took on a new nature, a human one. In like fashion we all are barren and empty until we are spiritually reborn regenerated from Gods holy Spirit. We take on a new spiritual nature. Marys birth was a physical one where ours is a spiritual one, both are miracles. The greater of course being that God took on the nature of man to physically walk among us.
Matt. 1:18-21 "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. "And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us." Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.
Isa. 9:6 tells us a child would be born, this refers to his birth and humanity. It also says a son will be given, this refers to his nature as deity since he already was God the Son in His pre-existence. He is sent from heaven as the son. So he had a change of state from the position of God ruling to a position of a servant as a human. He took on the very existence in which what was exclusive to human beings, this now became his own experience.
vs.38 Mary submits to what she does not understand for the Lord to accomplish his purpose, she then visits Elizabeth stays with her for 3 months (v.39-56).
Luke 1:46-49 And Mary said: "My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name."
Luke.2:1 Tells us Israel was under Roman occupation. They are looking for a deliverer they expect a Messiah to lead an overthrow of the Roman government. Mary and Joseph are to register in their own city of birth because of a decree of Ceasar Augustus.
V.4 Bethlehem is called the house of bread (David's house) the bread of life came from heaven (Jn.6) and is born in the house of bread Mic.5:2.
V.6 "So it was, while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered." We see that Mary did not give birth immediately but they had waited for her to go into labor.
V.7 they are turned away from the inn because of a massive influx of people registering and are forced to bring him to the only shelter in the area, a manger which has animals. The inn keeper turned them down, if only he knew that he missed the birth of his Messiah.
V.8 shepherds in the field (Dec.25? winters can sometimes be mild) are privileged to the first appearance of the angel announcing the good news outside the
family. Why did the
angels first reveal this message to shepherds and not to others? Because they
were in charge of the flocks, the shepherds took care of the lambs that were to
be used in the temple for sacrifice, above all the people shepherds can be
trusted. This is why God picked David, He was a shepherd that became king.
Shepherds have a heart for the flock and know how to care for them, God sees
this translated to people. It was David in Ps.23 who said, the Lord is my
shepherd as he walked through troubles that threatened his life. David gives us
meaning in God concern for us in our trials. Jesus is called the chief shepherd
and we are called His sheep and lambs in Scripture in reference to his guidance
and protection as he gathers us together. This shepherd became a lamb to
identify with his sheep that he was to guide on earth to heavenly kingdom.
Vs.9 the glory of the Lord the visible manifestation of Gods presence appears. They fear (like Israel at Mt. Sinai when God came down in glory on the mountain, they did not want to come near it). Now instead, the angel is directing them to come near and see what has happened, to behold him. Angels break out singing praises, Glory to God, Peace is given to those who God is well pleased with, those who repent. These shepherds wont miss the first Christmas. The age of grace is going to be instituted. Salvation has come as a free gift.
Luke 2:11-12 "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."12 "And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."
A king, a savior is born unannounced to the important people of the world. He's not presented to the governments and rulers but to humble servants. What do they see when they visit the manger a baby that looks like any other, but he is the creator, the king of kings come to earth.
A sign is given, a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths. What kind of sign is this? Well these cloths were burial cloths that were left in caves outside the city. The sign of his birth would prophecy his death. The Jews buried people in caves. They didnt have separate buildings for animals. The sign was where he was born, it will be the same way he will also be buried. His birth was one of humiliation, to be born with only two human witnesses, among the animals without the comfort of a home. His death will be an exaltation as he will be buried in a rich mans cave, a transition which will eventually put him be back in his position he previously had in heaven.
The typology is
noticeable as Jesus being the last Adam was born among the animals that were
named by Adam, Adam was brought from the earth among the animals having the
honor to name them and rule over them. Paul
explains the dichotomy further in1 Cor. 15:47 The first man was of the earth,
made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.
The shepherds hurry to the manger,
His place of birth and stare at this newborn innocent child who would one day be
beaten to a pulp and die for them. The
little hands that held onto its mothers like any other newborn would one day
have spikes driven through them. He would die the same way He entered the world,
in a completely selfless act innocent of what he was accused of.
vs.17-20 the shepherds quickly go into the town Bethlehem they will tell everyone what they saw and heard .
vs. 19 Mary kept all these things to herself treasuring them secretly not understanding the full extent of this event. The shepherds went away glorifying god and telling others. They were the first evangelists telling the people the message the angels gave.
His coming birth was announced to shepherds in the field guarding their flocks by the angel Gabriel. Not out loud in the town square or published in the newspapers although it was in scripture. If any one of us were to choose where we would be born it certainly would not be among the poor and with animals especially if we were royalty. Wed choose a mansion with the best doctors available surrounded by our royal subjects. Wed announce our arrival by advertising. Instead, God's style was picking a remote but righteous family, making a unmarried woman pregnant without a man involved.
had been waiting in Jerusalem assured by the Holy Spirit to see seen the
salvation of the Lord before he died .
is the first person Jesus is brought to, as Mary was confined basically to the
cave. Lev. 12:2-4-- on the eighth day Jesus was circumcised.
According to Lev 12:4 'She shall then continue in the blood of her
purification thirty-three days.
participation of the holy things were not allowed, this signified that our
original corruption. For the days up until the circumcision Mary was unable to
have contact with others.
the Hebrews a mother was required to remain at home for about forty days after
the birth of a male child So it was
on the fortieth day, after the circumcision she was able to go to the temple and
bring a poor households offering of two pigeons. Christ's parents
were so poor that they were not able to bring a lamb for a burnt-offering
destroying the myth that Jesus was affluent.
She presented herself with her baby for their purification in the Temple.
There she met Simeon and the prophetess Anna and heard their thanksgiving and
the circumcision that was the token of the Abrahamic covenant Christ would not
have been permitted to enter either synagogue or temple, and no Jew would have
listened to him preach.
will always lead those by the spirit that have been walking by the spirit to see
the great things he will do. Luke 2:27-32 So he[Simeon] came by the Spirit
into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him
according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God
and said: Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according
to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation Which You have
prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the
Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.
nations were to receive the revelation because we are all in the same
The Savior is Jesus-our salvation is in a person.
After Jesus was circumcised and Mary sacrificed because of her being unclean, after her purification time they went to the temple to dedicate the first born of the womb to the Lord and brought him to Simeon. He had been looking for the salvation to come to Israel
Luke 2:30-33 "For my eyes have seen Your salvation. Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel." And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him."
For 400 hundred years God has been silent with no prophets proclaiming messages to Israel and a baby is born and a child shall lead them. A savior who will not bring salvation by his teachings , not by a church although they point to him. But by himself, salvation of all mankind is in a person Jesus whose name means salvation. Because he will save his people from their sins. He didnt come to restore a temple made in stone but became the living tabernacle in which the glory of God would dwell and reveal himself to people.
Luke 2:34-35 "Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, "Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against ." That sign was the last one given the Israel, the resurrection.
Numbers 24:17 "I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and batter the brow of Moab, and destroy all the sons of tumult." This is a vision which spans over 1,500 years. This star was representative of a person coming from the lineage of Jacob who has glory. Jacob who birthed Israel the nation, Salvation is of the Jews. You can join a religion but only forgiveness of sins (salvation) comes through Israel's Messiah.
The magi saw a star when he was born and it took quite
some time for them to get to Jerusalem. Led
by the spirit they went an inquired of Herod. Herod
gathered the chief priests and scribes to make sure of this event he heard from
their inquiry. When confirmed he like Pharaoh wanted to see the deliverer dead.
So he asked the wisemen to come back and tell him where he is so he might
worship this new king along with them.
In Jn.1:14 he says this glory who is of the Father is now made visible in a new way. "The word became flesh and "dwelt" among us. The word for dwelt in Greek is skeinei which is from the Hebrew mishkhan which is the same root as shekinah , it means to tabernacle as God did in the Old Testament tabernacle. "The word became flesh and tabernacled among us". No longer would God dwell in a temple made with hands but a living temple as the God/man.
This is foretold in several Old Testament Scriptures Isa.9:2" the people that walk in darkness have seen a great light." Isa.60:1"Arise shine for your light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you but the Lord will arise over you, and his glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and the kings to the brightness of your rising."
The apostle John echoes this concept of light Jn.1:4-11 "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.V.5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
gathered the chief priests and scribes to make sure of this event he heard from
their inquiry. When confirmed he like Pharaoh wanted to see the deliverer dead.
So he asked the wise men to come back and tell him where he is so he might
worship this new king along with them.
The world is caught up in the activity of gift giving missing its true meaning. But the real meaning of Christmas is God giving us the gift, not an idea or a philosophy or even a religion. But a savior who is God becoming a man. He reached down to us because of our inability to reach up to him. This was a radical rescue mission, to give his life for those who mostly didnt care for him or his message. But for the joy set before him he endured the cross. We, you were that joy!
He didnt promise peace as we hear from those today. Lets unite the world and have no conflicts it was peace with God, a bridging of separation.
As Christians we celebrate his death and resurrection because of what he rescued us from. Those who dont understand cant celebrate his birth.
Hes come for all. Hes not God of only the Christians he is Christ lord of Lords and king of kings of all people. He can be your Lord also. He is Merciful, compassionate, gracious, loving and will treat you as his child.
He will never fail you even if you fail him. How do I know this? He keeps His promises, He's kept everyone so far, even if they were written thousands of years before. He is the only one to rise from the dead and is able to erase your guilt and sin. How can anyone reject this? Let Him give you the best gift possible this Christmas, Hmself and all that He is.
Have Merry Christmas
Have Jesus one