(12/24) Today as we continue our series “Who Is God?” we’re in Luke chapter 2 verses 1 through 7, looking at the birth of Jesus.
We’ll start out with what did God say and do? What does it mean? And how does that change us?
In light of what God says and does, what does that mean for us today? Lets read together in Luke’s Gospel at chapter two…
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him
in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. NIV
1. What did God say?
Well, as we get into the story of the birth of Jesus, I want to tell you that there are basically two threads that weave together through the whole Bible: promise and fulfillment.
Most of the Old Testament fits under the category of promise, and then the New Testament is the record of the fulfillment of that promise in the person of Jesus Christ. And so the birth of Jesus is the fulfillment of a series of promises, also called prophesies, that were given hundreds and some thousands of years in advance.
God, who is sovereign over the future, tells us exactly what his plan is for human history and the role that Jesus plays in our history. Of course, a number of prophecies could be shared, but I’ll share with you just two that are particularly relevant to our study of Luke chapter 2. The first is in Isaiah 7:14, written roughly seven hundred years
before Jesus was born: God says through the prophet Isaiah, "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel."
God says, the answer to the human sin problem is Immanuel. It’s a title, a designation, which means God is with us. So God is coming into human history. God is coming to visit our planet and to be with His people. How will we know who this Immanuel is?
God tells us to look for a virgin mother. The virgin will give birth to a son. There’s your sign!
The second prophesy that I want to share with you is in Micah 5:2, written about four hundred years before the birth of Jesus: "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times" which in Hebrew meant "from
eternity." And from these and other promises, the expectation was that a savior is coming. A deliverer, a redeemer, a hero, who will be God among us. He’ll be born of a virgin as a son in the little town of Bethlehem. And everyone was anticipating this miraculous visitation from God.
All of that is fulfilled in the birth of Jesus in Luke 2:1-7.
2. What did God do?
Now Luke who tells us this Gospel was an intelligent man… a doctor who was sponsored by a wealthy man named Theophilus to do a historical investigation into the person of Jesus. Luke records for us here the life and works of Jesus from the testimony of those who were actually there. And so he would have interviewed Mary and others who knew and grew up
with the Lord Jesus. He tells us here that the issues surrounding Jesus are in fact historical.
And the first person that he introduces us to is Caesar Augustus. He was a real historical figure and the adopted son of Julius Caesar. Now Caesar was actually his granduncle and he adopted Caesar Augustus so that he could succeed him as ruler. So Luke gives us this historical point in history that Jesus was born.
So at this time Caesar Augustus was ruling and working for him was a governor called Quirinius. But to be more specific Luke writes "This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria." When Jesus was born this is what is going on with the ruler, Caesar Augustus, and Quirinius, his right-hand man at this specific historical
point in time.
Now Luke has already introduced us to Mary but now we meet Joseph. He is the guy hoping to marry the girl of his dreams, when God shows up. He’s engaged to this young girl, when the angel Gabriel announces that the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 will be fulfilled in her. "The virgin will be with child."
Now Joseph is of the family line of David and so being a descendant of Bethlehem, they plan a road trip, but by this time Mary is very pregnant! So they make the journey and God in his sovereignty, gets this couple from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Despite all the bumps in the road and the ride on the donkey, they actually arrive in Bethlehem where Mary
gives birth to Jesus fulfilling Micah’s prophecy that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem.
So that is the historical truth, those are the characters, and behind all of this… is God at work.
3. What does it mean?
But you know these historical facts aren’t important, they’re not useful, unless we proceed from the historical to the theological. Unless we grasp what it means? What is God accomplishing and achieving through the birth of Jesus?
To answer that I’ll give you one word: incarnation. It’s a Latin word that means, "in flesh."
Larry King was once asked, "If you could interview anyone in the history of the world, who would it be?" He said, "Jesus Christ." That’s a good answer isn’t it?
Then they asked Larry, "If you could ask him one question, what would that be?"
Larry said, and I quote, "I would like to ask him if he was indeed virgin born. The answer to that question would define history for me." Larry King is not often right, but in this case he was right. The virgin birth defines history.
And by that I mean, the incarnation, God in flesh. That God, who is spirit (John 4:24), took upon himself human flesh and came as the human being, the Lord Jesus Christ. It comes from John’s Gospel…. "In the beginning was the Word" (John 1:1) …that’s the second member of the Trinity… one God… three persons… Father, Son, and Spirit. "In the beginning
was the Word… and if you jump down to John 1:14, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us."
He was with God in the beginning, the Word, was with God the Father, he was God, and he was Creator. He was there in the beginning where Genesis says everything was made. The One who is the eternal God, became the man Jesus Christ. That’s what incarnation means. The Creator entered His creation. God who is Spirit took upon human flesh. That’s what it
means to call him Immanuel, "God with us" (Matt 1:23).
This is important, because there are non-negotiables that all Christians need to believe to be Christians. And this is one of them… if Jesus’ mom wasn’t a virgin, then the Bible is not true. But the Bible keeps saying that the virgin would be with child. Isaiah says it… Gabriel says it… and Mary says it....
So if Jesus’ mom wasn’t a virgin, it means she was a lying tramp… it means that Jesus is just a normal guy… it means that Scripture is unfulfilled… it means that we’re still waiting for the virgin to give birth to our Messiah in Bethlehem. Our sins aren’t forgiven and our Savior hasn’t come!
You see the virgin birth in fulfillment of Scripture changes everything.
4. How does it change us?
But what does this possibly have to do with our lives? How does it change us?
Well first, because, Jesus is like us. Hebrews 4:15-16 says, "We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time
What this means is that none of us can look at Jesus and say, "You don’t understand what it is to grow up, to be a teenager, to be rejected, to have your friends betray you. You don’t know what it’s like to work a dead-end job. You don’t know what’s it like to be homeless. You don’t know what it’s like to be poor. You don’t know what it’s like to be
mocked, lied about, beaten, abused, suffering or dying." Jesus would say, "Actually, I do and I’m your high priest."
As your High Priest he says he can sympathize. So, when you’re suffering, you’re hurting, you’re struggling, you’re tempted, you can talk to Jesus. You see, we have a God who gets it… He understands… because we have a real God with a name and a face. And what Jesus says is that we can come to him any time we have need and he’ll give us grace. He
sympathizes with us. And He understands us.
But if Jesus was just like us, that in and of itself wouldn’t be helpful would it? But he’s also unlike us. Jesus is also unlike us. Hebrews 7:26 says, we have a high priest, "who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens," that’s where he’s at today, ruling and reigning.
Here’s how Jesus is different than us: he never sinned. Was he tempted? Yes, you’ll see it later in Luke chapter 4. He was tempted, but He didn’t sin. This is where he’s different than us. Every time he was tempted he remained holy. He said yes to the will of the Father and no to the temptation of the world. So, what this means is when we’re tempted to
sin we can run to Jesus and he can say, "I know how to get you around this. I avoided this one myself." And when we do sin we can still run to Jesus.
Yet this time He says, "I said no to that sin, I died for your sin, I’ll forgive you, I’ll get you out of the mess you’re in, and change your life so you don’t go back and do it anymore." And that’s what he does. He changes people. He’s unlike us in that he is without sin. Jesus lived the life we should have lived and haven’t, and he died the death
that we should have died and won’t… if our faith is in him.
And that changes everything!
Do you believe it? By faith have you connected with Jesus? Have you connected with your High Priest?
If so, you enjoy this wonderful experience that Jesus came to make us like him. He came to take away our sin and to give us his righteousness… to take away our condemnation and give us his salvation… to take away our separation from the Father and to give us his reconciliation with the Father.
That is why there are not multiple ways to God, there’s only one way, and that is through the man Christ Jesus. Christ, who is God with us, reconciled us to the Father, dealt with our sin problem, and restored us to our place in eternity. So it’s not about morality, spirituality, good works, reincarnation, trying harder, or doing better. It’s about
Jesus. You’ll hear it all the time here at Christ’s Community, it’s all about Jesus. You need Jesus, because He is your mediator… He is your priest. You don’t rise up to God. God comes down to you. It’s not about what we do. It’s about what he does to make us acceptable in the sight of the Father.
He changes everything!
This is amazing as we consider all that Jesus did.
Jesus comes to the world, to the culture, to the sinners, to the pain, to the hardship, to the idolatry, he goes to the demon possessed, the outcast, the poor, the marginalized, the fornicators, the adulterers, the alcoholics, the abusers, the proud, the arrogant, the rich, and he gets in… he gets involved.
And that’s why Paul writes, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship" (Romans 12:1).
Jesus changes us and we just want to worship. We’re excited about Jesus. We love Jesus. We want other people to meet Jesus. We want to live like Jesus, for Jesus, through Jesus, to Jesus. And it works itself out in our lives in worship. It is praise, thanksgiving, prayer, trust, just enjoying the person and work of Jesus.
That’s why we love justice and mercy… that’s why we care for the unborn, the poor, and the needy… That’s why we serve the single mother, the widow, the orphan, and the elderly. The reason why we do good works… and we want to serve… and we want to love… and we want to pray… and we want to speak… and we want to care is not so that we’d be acceptable in
God’s sight but because Jesus has already made us acceptable in God’s sight. He is Immanuel, God with us, and by grace he is Immanuel in us. And it is the life of Christ through us that we want to shine forth to all the earth.
It cost him his life. He gave it all. We enjoy the benefits, so we worship Him and we serve.
Jesus said, "Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them" (John 13:17)
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