It’s that time of the year again. “Christmas” time, the season of giving, x-mas. Whatever we want to call it, it is a time of the year that most people around the world celebrate in one form or another. According to “church” tradition, we associate this time of the year with the birth of Jesus and therefore we tend to celebrate this historic event on December 25th each year.
There are a lot of theories about why we have come to celebrate the birth of Jesus on the 25th of December and historians and theologians alike have tried to determine the exact date of Jesus’s birth. However there is still not a 100% sure answer to this question. But this is not what this post is about. Instead I would like to consider the significance of the birth of Jesus as it relates to all mankind.
The renewal of your mind:
These days when I engage believers I remind them of the fundamental truth of the Christian journey:
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
The Christian journey is all about renewing your mind to discern (determine) and conform to the will of God. And this is my challenge to everyone who reads this post and visits this site. My hope is that you would be like the Berean believers who “received the word with all eagerness, examining the scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
Contrary to popular belief, examining the scriptures is not considered anti-faith our doubt. The eagerness of the berean believers was expressed in their examination of the scriptures. I want to encourage you to do the same. Examine the scriptures and if you find that these things are so, renew your mind so that your lives may be transformed in accordance with the will of God. I pray that we might be a generation not driven by blind-faith but anchored on the unshakable truth of God’s word.
The Birth of Jesus:
Like I mentioned earlier in today’s post we will be taking a look at the birth of Jesus and what it means for us. We will be studying the account in the Gospel according to Luke, specifically focusing on Luke 2:10-14. However, we will be looking at verses 1 through 9 for context and verses 15 through 21 for application. Let’s start with verse 1-7 (As we set the context I suggest you grab your own bible and follow along):
Verses 1-5: In the year of Jesus’ birth Caesar Augustus decreed that there be a census whereby all the inhabitants of the known world be registered. This caused Joseph—the father of Jesus and of the lineage of King David—to take Jesus and Mary to Bethlehem—the city of David—since each had to be registered in his own town. Now to an outsider these events might appear like coincidence but to the people of God these events are preordained providence. It was prophesied that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) and that he would be from the line of David (Jeremiah 22:5). These confluence of events caused these prophecies to be fulfilled.
Verses 6-7: While they were in Bethlehem Mary—still a virgin—gave birth to Jesus. This too fulfilled a prophecy which said “behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).
Verse 7: When Mary had finished giving birth to Jesus she wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger—that is a long trough from which horses or cattle feed—because there was no place for him in the inn. How sad is that. Jesus is the savior of the world and yet the “world” didn’t have place for him”. And why? Because “the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” (John 3:19).
Verse 7: An important thing to note about the circumstances in which Jesus was born is this: it did not determine his identity. Jesus was still the son of God, King of King, savior of the world etc. while he was laying in that manger. We can learn from this. Our circumstance don’t determine our identity or worth. We are who God says we are! (more on this in future posts)
When we consider the events leading up to Jesus’ birth (the census leading them to Bethlehem), the circumstances surrounding his birth (Mary being a virgin, Joseph being from the lineage of David) and the fact that these things were prophesied hundreds of years beforehand, what does that make you feel and think?
Personally for me…it makes me cry out: How great is our God! Why? Because fulfilled prophecy points to a sovereign, faithful God who acts over, inside and outside of time to bring His will to pass. Knowing that our God is faithful and able to do just what he said he would gives my faith an unbelievable boost and I hope it has a similar effect on you as you read these truths.
You see from the outset when we consider the birth of Jesus our gaze and focus is drawn to God the Father as the protagonist in this epic story. It’s all about him! I’m confident that this truth will be affirmed as we work through the verses to come.
Let’s journey on because it only gets better!
Verses 8-9: In Verse 8-9a we see an angel of the Lord appearing to shepherds as they tend their flock by night (I love that song lo!). And as the glory of the Lord shone around them the shepherds were filled with fear. Why? I think the reason they were filled with fear is the same reason Isaiah was filled with fear when he saw a vision of God (Isaiah. 6), you remember that encounter right? The one where God asks: “Whom shall I send and whom shall go?” and Isaiah replies “Here am I! Send me”.
Well before those epic words, when Isaiah first sees God in his splendor, he is gripped with fear and he says; “Woe is me! For I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts!” (Is.6:5) You see when a sinful creature comes in contact with a righteous holy Creator-God, the natural response is fear. This is why Adam and Eve hid themselves from God after they fell from grace in Genesis 3:8.
When confronted with God’s holiness and righteousness we are made painfully aware of our sinfulness and unrighteousness. At least this is how it should be. If this is not true for you then I dare to suggest that you do not yet grasp the depth of your sinful condition and therefore you are unable to grasp the depth of God’s holy righteousness! If this is the case then I pray that this truth might dawn on you now because “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:10).
If the things we considered this far makes sense to you I want to suggest that you take a moment to thank God for his faithfulness as shown through the fulfillment of prophecy and ask God to show you the depths of your sin so that you might experience the depths of his righteousness. Remember the purpose of our study is transformation not information!