ďBIRTH OF THE SON OF GODĒ
1. I trust and hope that you kids have your very best Christmas ever next Wednesday. And my desire is that this chapel message will help you prepare to have the best Christmas youíve ever had.
2. Before we turn to Godís Word, what do you think about what the world is doing with our observance of Christmas? I mean, how do you like it when someone decides to celebrate the birthday of one of your family members, but they do so in a manner and in a way that is offensive to the one whose birthday is being celebrated?
3. Christmas is our observance of the birth of our personal Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And Iím not sure that I appreciate very much the notion of men and women who personally reject Him and use His name only to swear and make jokes using His birthday as an excuse to get stinking drunk.
4. I donít mind if people who donít know me celebrate my birthday by trying to honor me. But I really resent people using my birthday as an occasion to practice those sorts of sin and debauchery that I have gone on record as opposing.
5. And Iím sure that the Lord Jesus finds greatly offensive people using His birthday as an excuse to commit the very sins that He was born into this world to eventually die for.
6. With that said, letís turn to Luke chapter 2 and discover all over again the Biblical truth surrounding the Saviorís birth, truth thatís always been here, but truth that a surprising number of people completely ignore.
1A. IN LUKE 2.1-7 WE ARE TOLD OF THE PLACE OF HIS BIRTH
1B. As To The Location, Luke Informs Us Of The Details In Verses 1-6.
Letís break these six verses into bite-sized pieces.
1C. Verse 1 & 2
1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
1D. Scholars and archaeologists long ago discovered that when the taxation occurred during the governorship of Cyrenius the Lord Jesus Christ would have had to have been about 15 years old. And donít you know that this was a great blow to the integrity of the Bible in the minds of a great many people?
2D. But in the late 1800s a British scholar discovered conclusive evidence that showed that this fellow Cyrenius occupied the office of governor over Syria on two different occasions. And, sure enough, the first time that he was the governor there was a taxation which corresponds to the time in which Christ was actually born.
3D. So much for those who thought that the integrity of the Bible was suspect. Amen? Given enough time, the scientists usually catch up with and agree with the Word of God.
2C. Verse 3
ďAnd all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.Ē
1D. Years ago I read that it was the manner of the Romans to allow each province and governed area to gather taxes in the way which seemed best to them. And quite frequently they allowed private businessmen to collect the taxes. As long as Rome received her money she was happy.
2D. But to the consternation of the Romans, the Jews began to collect taxes in such a way as to reinforce their ancient national pride, which the Romans would just as soon have had removed.
3D. Jewish authorities required all Jews to go to the city of their tribal ancestry. In this way their sense of nationalism would be strengthened instead of weakened. And though the Romans did not enjoy this provision, they did not, apparently, oppose it.
3C. Verse 4-6
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
1D. Joseph and Mary both had to journey to Bethlehem, for two reasons. Even if she wasnít betrothed to Joseph she would have had to go to Bethlehem, since she, too, was a descendent of David. But since she is Josephís espoused wife, she must go with him to register for taxation.
2D. Now remember, though Joseph and Mary were legally married, their marriage was not consummated. Consummation does not a marriage make, but the eyes of the law of the land.
3D. Also remember, though the Bible does not directly say, these two people did not travel to Bethlehem alone together. There had to be a considerable number of people from the more prosperous region of Galilee who had originally come from economically depressed Judea, and especially Bethlehem.
4D. Besides which, in order for Joseph and Mary to maintain the testimony of her virginity, though she was with Child, they had to carefully abstain from the very appearance of evil that traveling alone together without benefit of chaperon would have accomplished. Not to mention the danger of traveling alone in that bandit-plagued country.
5D. It was while they were in Bethlehem that Mary delivered her Son, the Son of God. Now, at this point, I might say that I donít know whether or not Joseph or Mary were expert in Old Testament Scriptures, but it really doesnít matter in this regard, since God is.
6D. You see, in Micah 5.2 there is written a prophecy which Micah recorded more than 500 years before the event which took place in Bethlehem that night. Letís turn to Micah and read: ďBut thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.Ē
7D. There is absolutely no doubt among Jewish and Christian Bible scholars that Micah is forecasting the birthplace of the Messiah to be Bethlehem of Judea, the city of David.
8D. Isnít it interesting? There are two cities of David in the Bible. And of the two God chose little Bethlehem instead of big Jerusalem to be the city of David favored to be the birthplace of His only begotten Son.
9D. Interesting also is the fact that God placed it in the heart and mind of Augustus Caesar to tax the known world at that particular time. ďThe kingís heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will,Ē Proverbs 21.1.
10D. Had the taxation not occurred I doubt very much that that poor couple would have made that costly and time consuming journey during the last days of her pregnancy to arrive at the right place and at the right time to fulfill prophecy.
11D. But God did put it in Caesarís mind, and He still does move behind the scenes in such ways, His unseen but all-powerful hand accomplishing the things which He has purposed to come to pass.
2B. In Verse 7 Luke Informs Us Regarding The Accommodations
ďAnd she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.Ē
1C. What information is given to us by Luke in this short sentence! And itís information that is all too often misinterpreted.
2C. Think about it, kids. God enters into the affairs of men and Luke records, ďAnd she brought forth her first-born son....Ē
3C. You would expect the King of kings and Lord of lords to be attended to by glorious maids and nurses, but the Bible says that Mary wrapped Him in swaddling clothes herself. Not silk and velvet, which befits the King, but ordinary cloth. And the significance of the swaddling clothes? Some have said that it portends His burial. And, truly, the Son of God did come to this earth to die for manís sin. Amen?
4C. Placed upon a royal throne? Laid within a royal crib? No. The Son of God was placed in a manger. Whatís a manger? Itís a trough or a groove dug out of the floor in which animal feed was placed.
5C. ďBecause there was no room for them in the inn.Ē
1D. Please take note of that word ďinn.Ē This Greek word translated by the word ďinnĒ is used only two other times in the New Testament, Mark 14.14 and Luke 22.11: ďAnd wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?Ē ďAnd ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?Ē
2D. In both passages it refers to the second floor single room that was quite common to residences of that day. Certainly, nothing resembling a motel or place where rooms were rented out for money is in view with this word.
3D. Now, turn to Luke 10.34, where the good Samaritan takes the injured man who was set upon by thieves to an ďinnĒ: ďAnd went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.Ē Please understand that the Greek word found in Luke 2.7, Mark 14.14 and Luke 22.11 is the Greek word katalumati. This word, however, which refers to a place of business in which rooms are normally rented out for money, is pronounced pandoceion.
4D. Letís pass out a picture that describes the situation in Bethlehem on the night that the Savior was born to the virgin girl named Mary. Understanding that they probably responded to the cultural imperative of staying with someone who was in some way related to them in this town of their ancestry, the problem Mary faced was that there were so many of the house and lineage of David in Bethlehem for the taxation that the guest room on the second story of this particular dwelling was already occupied.
5D. This being the case, and with no other place in that tiny village where they could reasonably expect to spend the night, I think that Mary gave birth to the Christ Child on the floor of the main room of the house, as drawn here, and then placed her Child, now wrapped in swaddling clothes, in this trough dug out of the floor.
6D. With the side view of the house showing that there were normally two floor levels, one for the people and one for the animals at a considerably lower level, the trough, the manger if you will, would have been as shown in the picture for the purpose of feeding the animals.
7D. Imagine the Creator of the universe spending His first night, after experiencing human birth, in such a humble place as that manger. What condescension!
2A. THAT WAS THE PLACE OF HIS BIRTH. NOW WE SEE THE PRAISE OF HIS BIRTH
1B. Verse 8
ďAnd there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.Ē
1C. This is the verse which virtually guarantees that the Lord Jesus Christ was not born on December 25th.
1D. In Palestine there are two rainy seasons. One is in the spring and one is in the winter. This is the early and latter rain mentioned in Scripture. Generally speaking, flocks of sheep were not grazed out in the country during these rainy seasons and shepherds, consequently, would not be out there with them. Instead, during the rainy seasons the flocks were kept in pens.
2D. What that means is that the events described in verse 8 on the night of our Lordís birth, occurred almost certainly in the Fall and not in the rainy season of Winter. The dry Fall would place the birth of the Lord Jesus in the neighborhood of October.
2C. If this information panics you, it shouldnít. Remember that most of the religious holidays observed in Christendom are holdovers from Roman Catholicism. And December 25th, particularly, was adopted by Rome as the ďofficialĒ birth date of Christ because it coincided with an annual pagan holy day.
3C. Another reason to avoid panic is because the Bible doesnít give us the exact day of our Lordís birth. If it were important for us to know exactly when He was born it would be recorded in the Bible.
4C. You may be asking yourself, ďWhy is he telling us these things?Ē For three very good reasons:
1D. First, because these things are true. And the Bible believing Christian need never be afraid of the truth.
2D. Second, what if Jehovahís Witnesses come to your door some day and prove to you that Jesus could not have been born on December 25th? It might destroy your faith for no good reason. But if you realize that your faith does not depend upon the date of His birth but upon the fact of His birth, death, burial and resurrection......youíll weather the storm.
3D. Third, so you will know why Armenians, who have never bought into anything Roman Catholic, oftentimes celebrate Christmas in January instead of December.
4D. I tell you these things to prepare you and to equip you to serve Christ as strong and durable soldiers of the cross.
2B. Verse 9
ďAnd, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.Ē
1C. Isnít it just like God to send an angel to shepherds, men whose lives focused upon delivering and raising little lambs, to tell them of the Lamb which has just been born of Mary in Bethlehem?
2C. These shepherds, being Jewish men, were given the visible sign of the Lordís glory to remove all doubts about the source of information they were about to receive, as well as to convince them that the messenger they were observing actually came from God.
3B. Verse 10
ďAnd the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.Ē
1C. It seems that whenever an angel of God appears to men or communicates to men, the angelís appearance frightens them. Then their fears need to be put to rest. So, if someone tells you that he saw Jesus, but he doesnít mention how scared he was, you will know for sure he is lying.
2C. Notice the scope of the good news which this angel is about to share. He uses the phrase ďall people.Ē Thus, we see that from the very beginning of our Lordís stay on this planet His goal was to make salvation available to all kinds of people. That this would be a source of great joy is the obvious result of such good news.
4B. Verse 11
ďFor unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.Ē
1C. We donít know for sure that Christ was born at night, as the nativity scenes always depict His birth. It could be that God simply allowed some time to pass after His birth for Mary to rest, to tend to her young Child, and to become modest and presentable again. What does occur at night is the delivery of this message to the shepherds.
2C. The place where He was born is told; the purpose of our Lord is also told. He is the Savior. He is also the Messiah, which informs us that He is indeed the promised One for whom these shepherds, and many other Jews, were waiting for so long.
5B. Verse 12
ďAnd this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.Ē
1C. The sign is not specifically that He would be wrapped in swaddling clothes, in all probability. It was that he was lying in a manger which was unusual.
2C. This was what narrowed down the shepherdís field of search. You could probably find a dozen babies in Bethlehem wrapped in swaddling clothes at any point in time on such a night so long ago. But how many of those babies could be found in a manger? Only Him.
6B. Verse 13 & 14
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
1C. It seems almost as if the angels in heaven couldnít hold it in any longer. They just had to break in a song of praise and adoration because thatís what they were created for, and they knew it. The Bible says thatís what we were created for, too, but few of us realize it.
2C. Notice what the results of Christís birth will be. To God there will be great glory. To man, here on earth, there will be peace and good will. Letís examine our side of the situation.
1D. First, there will be peace with God. This, according to Romans 5.1, comes about when a person places his faith and trust in Christís death, burial and resurrection for his sake.
2D. After there is peace with God, that is, when the war of rebellion against Godís authority is over, the peace of God can be experienced. This is actually the peace of heart that the Lord makes possible for the believer. And this can only occur when your sins are forgiven and your heart is right with God.
3D. Then, when our Lord comes again to set up His kingdom, there will be peace among men. And how will this come about? It will be the direct result of the intolerance that the Prince of Peace has for war. The Lord Jesus simply will not allow war among men when while He rules. But it wonít be just the absence of war. There will also be good will toward men.
7B. Verse 15
ďAnd it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.Ē
1C. Obviously the shepherds couldn't leave while the angels were talking to them and praising God. That would be rude. So they waited until the angels departed and then they went to see those things which the Lord brought to pass.
2C. Their journey probably wasnít all that far. It may even have been less than a mile or two. But how appropriate that shepherds of Israel go see the newly born Lamb of God.
8B. Verse 16
ďAnd they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.Ē
1C. Can you imagine what most people would think if you told them that Godís Son was lying in a feed trough? They wouldnít believe you, thatís for sure.
2C. If those shepherds were like most people these days who call themselves Christians, they would have felt frustrated at the inconvenience, they would take note of the kind of clothes Joseph and Mary were wearing, they would take note of the kind of cloth the Infant was wrapped in, they would object to the kind of nursery He was kept in, and they would certainly take exception to having to worship without the proper amount of climate control and air conditioning.
3C. Want to know why these shepherds didnít notice such things? Itís because they were more interested in looking upon the Person of Christ than upon the physical surroundings. Would to God more people were like them. Amen? Too many Christians notice the clock and the thermometer and the carpet, but pay no notice of the Savior.
9B. Verse 17
ďAnd when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.Ē
1C. Were these men told to go and tell others? No. Why do you suppose they went and told others? And why was it that throughout the earthly ministry of Christ men went and told others when they were not commanded to do so?
2C. Kids, itís my conviction that the so-called Great Commission of Matthew 28.18-20 isnít a commission at all. Itís a Great Permission.
3C. Beginning here and going all throughout the Gospels we will see men and women who are eager to share the Good News about Christ. Men and women who didnít need to be told. They just went.
4C. And as we continue our study through the Life and Lessons of Christ on Wednesday nights, be very sure that I will point out to you those individuals who, despite being told not to tell of Christ, were so full of joy that they went and told folks anyway.
5C. Thatís what prompted these shepherds to tell what they knew to be true. Thatís what prompts our soul winners to tell what they know to be true.
10B. Verse 18
ďAnd all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.Ē
1C. Did the shepherds have an impact upon those that they told? Yes, they did. I wonder how many people would remember, years later, what these shepherds had told them this one night?
2C. Donít you know that when the Lord began His public ministry and raised the dead and healed folks and taught the multitudes the old people remarked to themselves, ďI wonder if Heís the one Who was the baby that shepherd told me about so many years ago?Ē
11B. Verse 19
ďBut Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.Ē
1C. A very unusual woman, this young Mary. Truly blessed of God, she nevertheless maintains a steady head on her shoulders and approaches these situations in a very mature and spiritual way.
2C. I have always wondered just how she pondered these things in her heart. I canít help but think that through all of the hoopla Mary realizes that her life will be a life of extreme pain. She knows that there will be many who will accuse her of fornication unjustly, and there is nothing she can do about it. No doubt sheís already experienced some of it. But she realizes that she must sit quietly and allow God to vindicate her at last.
12B. Verse 20
ďAnd the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.Ē
1C. The shepherds return to their flocks to keep watch over them. But they were glorifying God for what they had heard and seen.
2C. Notice the phrase, ďas it was told unto them.Ē This is a very important phrase which sheds light on an important truth.
3C. Did they evaluate the words of the angel in light of what they saw? Or, did they evaluate what they saw in terms of what they were told by the angel?
4C. It was the latter, wasn't it? They walked away comprehending the real meaning of Christmas because their starting point in understanding what they saw was Godís revelation of truth to them.
5C. In the same manner, young people, you will only understand what Christmas means when your starting point is the truth of Godís Word.
1. I hope each of you has a wonderful Christmas. And I hope that the time weíve spent in Godís Word in that portion of Scripture which tells us what Christmas is all about will be a help to you.
2. Christmas is not all about family. Christmas is not all about good feelings. Christmas is not all about sentimentality. Christmas is not all about presents. Christmas is not all about lots of good food.
3. Despite the fact that most of mankind is confused on this point, Christmas is actually about the birth of the Son of God.