A reading of Luke 1:24—38, 2:1-20: “Now, after those days, (Zacharias’) wife Elizabeth conceived, and she hid herself five months, saying, ‘Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.’ Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’ But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. 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. And He will reign over the House of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.’ Then, Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know (or have not known) a man?’ 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. 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. For with God nothing will be impossible.’ Then Mary said, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.'”
And from Luke 2: “And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manager.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.’ So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven that the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.”
So, why was Jesus Christ born? Being good Christians, we first would answer that question by explaining our human inability to attain righteousness by overcoming our original sin or our conduct of sin, and by noting the deity and humanity of Christ, and His sacrifice and atonement for our sins, enabling us to be born again to life eternal, once and for all:
- Romans 5:10-21: (“For if we when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned – (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act, the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.”
- Luke 4:17-19: “And (when in the synagogue in Nazareth, after the temptation in the desert) He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.'”
- John 10:10: “I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly. [Jesus died that we might live, which He could only do by destroying the works of the devil (sin and its wages, death), which is why he was manifested: I John 3:8]
And the Holy Spirit today would also have us see and learn that Jesus lived among us as a man not only for our forgiveness by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8), and for eternal life (see above Scriptures), but that He also lived among us as a man, to show and equip us to live on earth as productive citizens of God’s eternal kingdom, as effective soldiers in His army, as skilled ambassadors, as royal priests, as kings, as prophets, as a worthy and pure bride. Thus we see today from the Holy Spirit, five things to enable us to live life and live it more abundantly (five reasons beyond salvation for which Jesus was born):
- That from the beginning of His earthly ministry, Jesus walked with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:16-17: “And when He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'”)
- That we would see the value of so well knowing God’s Word that we could know always how to use God’s Word to confront and deny the enemy and his temptations [II Tim. 3: 16-17 (“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (BJ: even mankind was “naturally” good, he would need no instruction in righteousness), that the man of God might be made complete (BJ: being saved does not make you complete – that is what maturity does, i.e., obtaining and applying instruction in righteousness), thoroughly equipped for every good work. (BJ: that is what we do between being born again and experiencing the first death.”); Luke 4:1-13 (In the temptations, each time Jesus replied with Scripture as the foundation for his confrontation of the temptation and his rejection of it: vv. 4, 8 and 12: [v. 4 – “It is written (Deut 8:3), Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.”); v. 8 – “Get behind me Satan! For it is written (Deut 6:13, 10:20), You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.”) v. 12 – “It has been said (Deut 6:16), ‘you shall not tempt the Lord your God.'”
- That we would understand God’s sovereignty and the resulting command of obedience [Garden of Gethsemane – Luke 22:39-44 (“Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. When He came to the place, He said to them, ‘Pray that you may not enter into temptation.’ And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me, nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”); ref. Mark 14:34 (Jesus: “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.”]
- That we would understand that we, too, were created by God for His divine purposes, Jeremiah 1:5; Psalm 139:13 and ff.; Isaiah 43:1-7, and for good works that He has prepared beforehand for us to walk in.
- That we too might learn how to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice as a reasonable service to God (Romans 12:2 (“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”; I Cor. 9:27 (“But I discipline by body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”)
History now enables us to see today not just the time of Jesus birth, and but to see Him in the little manger, and not just to see His youth in the carpenter’s shop and in the temple, and visualizing playing with Him (can’t you imagine what a good friend Jesus would have been as a boy – not a bully, not jealous, not deceitful, not manipulative, not arrogant). But we also see Him as a young man of miracles from wine to resurrection, and as a brave young man confronting malicious authorities and accepting God’s destiny on the cross for Him, placing His faith, as we are called to do, in the goodness of God’s plan for him – resurrection, and the use of that plan (Romans 8:28) to make all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.
So, we can only, fully, answer that question, why was Jesus born, by understanding His death, and the life He lived between His birth and death, and in that we can know His role in the creation, in forgiveness, in resurrection, in judgment, in righteousness, in the New Jerusalem, in life truly eternal. Jesus, the prototype in birth, life and death!
And in so doing, we understand that God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16) and the birth of Christ leaves us with a question, a big question: do you so love God that you will allow yourself to be equipped for His ministry, that you will be, each of you, a productive citizen of God’s eternal kingdom, an effective soldier in His army, a skilled ambassador, a royal priest, a king in His calling, a prophet, a worthy and pure bride?
Christmastime is the celebration and remembrance of the birth of Christ, the sharing of gifts in symbolic sharing of God’s love by loving our neighbors and our family and friends. The birth of Christ gives us answers to all the questions of life, but raises questions of whether we are man enough, woman enough, and child enough, to accept those answers, and to set aside our self – love, in order to love God as much as He loves us. Like Mary so often did, ponder these things in your hearts, and be sure you let God know, every day, how much you love Him in your words, thoughts, and conduct, all flowing from your heart. You don’t have to show God the money (remember the old movie, “Show Me the Money”– He really doesn’t care about that, but He wants you to show Him your love, and you can’t fake that or borrow it, it just “is” and, to answer a question once raised by a famous American politician, God knows what “is” is!!
Pastor Gene joins me in wishing and praying for each one of you a joyous season of reminder, of remembrance, of rejoicing in the reality that Jesus Christ “is” Who He says He is – the Son of God, the promised Messiah, the Mediator of reconciliation between God and Man. And in these things we all share and can truly celebrate this season. Merry Christmas!