I have been meditating recently on all the components of the Christmas Story, and here are some of my thoughts…
1. The Ancestors: (Matthew 1:2-16; Luke 3:23-38):
When we start to read the story of Christ in Matthew, we begin with the list of “begats”, and the account in Luke ends with a list of “was the son ofs”. Have you ever wondered why those lists of ancestors are there? I know they are there for a reason – lineage is important! The Messiah was prophesied to come from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10), and from the lineage of David (Isaiah 11:1). These lists of “begats” prove that both Joseph and Mary were of the lineage of David. To me, it shows that God was orchestrating from the beginning, from Adam, a lineage all the way down to Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father, and to Mary, His mother. I found it fascinating in Luke 3, when Jesus was baptized, and God the Father said, “Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased”, and then goes on to talk about all the other sons: “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, ich was the son of Heli”. So, Jesus “was supposed” or assumed by most to be the son of Joseph, and Joseph was the son(-in-law) of Heli. Thus proving that both Jesus’ earthly father and mother were from the lineage of David. We know that Joseph really was not His biological father, the Holy Spirit is, so it is important that His mother is from that same lineage, too.
2. The Angels: (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:11, 1:26, 2:13)
Angels have appeared as messengers singly, and sometimes in pairs throughout the Bible. A single angel (Gabriel) told Zaccharias about his son, John. A single angel (Gabriel) told Mary the news that she would give birth to God’s Son! A single angel told Joseph the truth about his espoused wife’s pregnancy. BUT, when the greatest event to happen on earth was being proclaimed, the WHOLE SKY was filled with “a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Christ the LORD was born in the City of David!!
3. The Town: Bethlehem: (Micah 5:2: Luke 2:4,11)
The name Bethlehem means “House of Bread”, it is the town where the first king of Israel, David, was born and raised, and where he was anointed to be king. Thus, its being referred to as “The City of David”. It is in the land of Judea. The prophet Micah said that the Messiah would be born in the little town of Bethlehem. And, Jacob (Israel) buried his beloved wife, Rachel in Bethlehem. It is also where the passover lambs were raised, the first-born, perfect males who would be sacrificed at the Temple at Passover – to remember when God passed over the homes of those Israelites who had the blood of the Lamb on their doorposts. (Kinda gives you the glory bumps, doesn’t it?). Bethlehem is a little town with BIG meaning.
4. The Virgin Mary: (Luke 1:28, 38, 47, 48)
Mary does not say much, but what is said about her speaks volumes. “Highly favored…the Lord is with thee…blessed among women…” She was espoused to Joseph, sort of an engagement period where the marriage had not yet been consummated, but they were in a binding contract that could only be ended by divorce (“putting away” which Joseph considered in Matthew 1:19) usually for sexual immorality (“fornication”). This special young lady is told that she will be impregnated by the Holy Ghost and that the child she would bear is the Son of God. She responds humbly, reverently, and obediently – I think that every devoted young Jewish girl in those days wondered if they would be the virgin spoken of in Isaiah 7:14 who would bear the Son of God – Immanuel! I wonder if Jewish girls today still wonder the same?? Mary was the chosen vessel, although she herself was still a sinner in need of a Savior, she said, “my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour”. When Elizabeth confirmed what the angel had told her about the baby, Mary said, “from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” I don’t think she fully understood what was going on, but the Bible tells us that “Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart” – She was thinking hard on all of this! She was a wise young woman.
5. The Cousin, Elisabeth: (Luke 1:6, 7, 18, 41-45)
Mary’s cousin Elisabeth also experienced a miraculous conception, she was “well stricken in years” when God placed John the Baptist in her previously barren womb. The Bible speaks highly of this godly lady “righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless”. At first, she may have been curious, she may have heard rumors that Mary was with child, and was waiting for Mary to arrive so she could find out the truth. But she was filled with the Holy spirit when she met with Mary face-to-face, because He revealed to her that Mary’s baby was the Lord. She learned from her husband’s mistakes and said to Mary, “…blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.” Elisabeth was a wise older woman.
6. The Husband, Joseph: (Matthew 1:19-25;
Joseph was also a very special man. He was just, kind, humble, and obedient to the Lord. The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly what transpired when Mary broke the news to Joseph that she was with child, but you can just imagine the thoughts that went through his mind – she said it was the Holy Ghost, but, really?! He could have had her stoned, but the scripture says, “Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily”. What a guy!! And to add to this – imagine a young groom looking forward to his wedding night as any man would – an angel came to him and told him that he could not know her as his wife until after the child is born. But Joseph, being a godly man, obeyed, he went through with the marriage, and “And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son”. Joseph was a wise man.
7. The Shepherds: (Luke 2:8-18)
I LOVE that the amazing announcement was not made at the Temple, or at the Palace, but to shepherds, ordinary people, just going about their ordinary lives. Now, these shepherds did have a special job, they took care of the Passover lambs – those perfect first-born males who would be sacrificed at the Temple at Passover – and THAT gives me the glory bumps too! The angel came and told them that they had good tidings of great joy for ALL people. And those shepherds hurried to Bethlehem to see what the angels had described. Imagine! The very first people to hear the news that Christ the Savior is born – they who went and worshiped Him in that humble stable – they saw the Bread of Life, in the House of Bread, laying in a feed trough (a server of bread)! I don’t think that is a coincidence! Then those Shepherds couldn’t wait to run out and around the town telling everyone they saw that Christ the Savior is born!! They were some wise shepherds.
8. Roman Rulers: Caesar Augustus and Herod: (Luke 2:1, Matt. 2:1-8, 12-15)
God even used heathen, evil men to bring His plan to fruition. Caesar Augustus got them to Bethlehem to fulfill Micah’s prophesy (Micah 5:2), and Herod got them to Egypt to fulfill Hosea’s prophesy (Hosea 11:1). This gives me comfort in this world to know that even evil rulers are under God’s control. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” (Proverbs 21:1).
The wisdom of man is foolishness to God.
9. The Magi, the Wise Men: (Matthew 2:1-13)
These wise men from the East had studied many things, they knew enough about the Hebrew scriptures to know that when the special star appeared that the King of the Jews was born! They hurried to Jerusalem with their entourage and asked the current King of the Jews – Herod – where the baby was?! Herod didn’t know – What star?? What baby?? The Wise men went on, led by the star to Bethlehem, and worshiped the young child, the Lord Jesus. They brought Him gifts fit for a King – Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. They were truly wise men who sought out the Lord Jesus, and wise men still seek Him.
10. The Baby Jesus – Immanuel:
And then there is our Lord Jesus Christ, Immanuel, God with us. It still blows my mind that God Himself, the Helper of the helpless, laid aside His glory in Heaven, and took on the form of one of the most helpless creatures on the earth – a baby human being. Not only did He become a helpless human, but instead of being born in a palace or temple, where we would expect the King of Glory to be born, He chose to be born in a humble stable, in a humble feed trough, to humble people, and His first visitors were humble shepherds. “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself…” (Philippians 2:8). The baby in the manger did not stay a baby, though, He is the Savior, the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
This Christmas I am filled anew with the wonder of it all. Jesus came down from Heaven to live a short, perfect, life on earth so that He could be the perfect sacrifice for our sins. He was born to die for us. Hallelujah, What a Savior!
Merry Christmas, and blessings for the New Year!
~Graced and Grateful Grammy
I wonder as I wander out under the sky, How Jesus the Saviour did come for to die
For poor on’ry people like you and like I; I wonder as I wander out under the sky.