The Birth of Jesus

This week’s scripture reading –  Matthew 1:18:25

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just [man,] and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. * (on this wise – in this manner) * (espoused – engaged) * (before they came together – prior to sexual relations) * (publick – public) * (privily – privately)

Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS. * (bidden – told) * (knew her not – prior to sexual relations, thus fulfilling the virgin birth)

Culmination of Key Events

Many people ask what is the story of Jesus’ birth and what was special about Jesus’ birth? Well, the Gospel according to Matthew answers the question of what Bible verse is the birth of Jesus and to some degree when was Jesus born? Some even query what is the real name of Jesus and Matthew records the facts about the birth of Jesus in his opening account by calling him Jesus Christ.

Matthew illustrates the miraculous birth of Jesus, with the divine now born into humanity, and declared to be, God with us. This particular account from scripture is the culmination of many noteworthy events all coming together in perfect unison. First is the godly intercession – that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost; second is the angelic being – the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream; third is the ancient prophet – that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet; and fourth is the unwavering obedience of Joseph – did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him.

These events are all then further amplified by the angel Gabriel’s declaration of Jesus from another gospel account in Luke 1:32-33, He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. As the virgin Mary questioned the angel on how these things shall be, since she had not known a man, the angel proceeded to declare in Luke 1:35, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. 

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2:11

Now after a period of time, Luke’s account also continues to record the angel of the the Lord now coming before the shepherds who were watching their flock by night and announcing this glorious message to them from Luke 2:10b-11, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. As if this were not overwhelming enough for the humble shepherds, Luke then records the magnificent proclamation from heaven in Luke 2:13-14, 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, good will toward men. Finally, to bring further harmony with all of these events, the apostle John writes this remarkable portrayal of the Father and the Son in John 1:14, And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth. Bringing all of these verses together truly illustrates the miraculous birth of Jesus in world history.

Here then is the only begotten Son (John 3:16), declared to be the Son of God (Luke 1:35), and coming to us from eternity past as recorded in Micah 5:2, But 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. The manifestation of Jesus Christ in physical human form, along with his proclamation as the Messiah (John 4:26), all proved to be most astonishing for some, and yet very troublesome for others, much as it still does today. Consider just three accounts from what people said of him during that time, Matt. 8:27, …what manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him! Matt. 9:33b, …and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel. John 7:46b, …never man spake like this man. 

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh. 

1 Timothy 3:16

History in the Making

The birth of Jesus truly represents a point in time never repeated in history. Here, the Son of God is manifested in human fleshly form, being fully God and fully man at the same time. This incredible mysterious fusion between God and man was referenced by Paul, the most prolific writer of letters in the New Testament, as noted in 1 Tim. 3:16, And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh.  Paul further wrote of this divine nature encompassed within humanity in Phil. 2:6-10, Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. This miraculous event, where the Son of God, who for eternity past, dwelt in the heavens, was implicitly referenced in Old Testament scriptures, has now come down to earth manifest in human form.

Several verses in this study on the birth of Jesus lend support to both the heavenly and earthly presence of Jesus, such as when he spoke to unbelieving and skeptical Jews in John 8:23,  …Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. John the Baptist also noted the dual existence of Jesus in John 3:31, He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. Another most notable comment further illustrating this same point was made by Jesus while speaking to an inquisitive ruler of the Jews named Nicodemus in John 3:31, And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, [even] the Son of man which is in heaven. Later on when Jesus was debating with the Jews, he also made the bold claim found in John 8:58, …Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. The Jews of course knew this statement was denoting eternal existence, for they then took up stones to cast at him over his supposed blasphemy as noted in John 8:59.

and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Matthew 1:21

Key Points

The point of this week’s study on the birth of Jesus is quite remarkable in that the Son of God has now come to earth, but not so much as we may think of him with great omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience; rather he came more as a mere human, subject to all of its frailties, temptations and emotions, yet humble in spirit, and still subject to the ancient Mosaic law. As these Bible studies continue, we will see that while Jesus was fully human, he was still fully God as demonstrated through the power of his preaching, teaching and healing. The New Testament saga therefore begins with great drama and discourse as Jesus makes his debut onto the earthly landscape in human presence. To think that the Son of God, once walked this earth, as you and I do, is a truly remarkable, quite incomprehensible moment in history. 

Jewish Leader Rebel

But there were peculiar circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus. Despite the marvel, astonishment and wonder from the multitudes, the birth of Jesus and his ministry was a troubling and perplexing issue for the religious leaders of the Jews. Here they were awaiting their Messiah but they could not come to terms with Jesus fulfilling such a divinely ordained role, since they perceived him as just a mere common man who resided within the local community, as noted in Matt. 13:53-57.

And it came to pass, [that] when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this [man] this wisdom, and [these] mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this [man] all these things? And they were offended in him. 

As such, the rulers of the Jews were threatened over Jesus who claimed to exist before their own descendants centuries before and who performed countless miracles upon both people and nature. We will soon realize though in this study on the birth of Jesus that he turned their religious ideology upside down (Matt. 23:13-29) and challenged their long standing, self-imposed traditions, which became more important than the ordained law of Moses as received from the Lord.

As readers seek to learn more about the story of the birth of Jesus, consider this astonishing statement from the last book of scripture recorded from Rev. 1:7-8, Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they [also] which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. No person could ever make such a bold, unequivocal, all encompassing proclamation of everlasting deity, unless of course, they were God themselves.

Add to this, the ancient prophet’s harmonized writings from centuries before in Is. 9:6, For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. This may raise the question of how was God born in the Bible but it also answers it by identifying him as everlasting, meaning eternal. While the fleshly presence of Jesus may have had a physical birth, his eternal indwelling spirit has alway existed as noted in Ps. 90:2b, …even from everlasting to everlasting, thou are God.

Concluding Thoughts

To close off this Bible Study on the birth of Jesus summary this was indeed not a short story of the birth of Jesus nor was it the birth of Jesus for kids or the birth of Jesus movie. Our culture today often views Jesus as a quant little baby born in a manger, with perhaps a few sheep by his side. This is often called the Nativity scene. Little consideration is given to him thereafter, but that was simply his foray onto the world’s stage in physical human form. Many scripture references were provided for this purpose and to demonstrate the amazing congruence of prophecy as written by the ancients.

Perhaps at this time, it should give us pause for thought, on just who Jesus is in our life. If he is merely a baby born in a manger, then it simply makes for a nice heartwarming story to read over Christmas. But, if he is truly the person described in scripture, as seen in these passages, one must then ask what his purpose was for coming to earth in the first place. As these Bible studies progress, it is with sincere hope that readers will find that it will ultimately lead them back to the angel of the Lord’s declaration from above, …he shall save his people from their sins.  

I [am] he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, [even] I, [am] the LORD; and beside me [there is] no saviour.

Isaiah 43:10b-11

Bearing the title of Saviour in scripture is indicative that Jesus was no ordinary person. Recall also when the angel of the Lord spoke to shepherds pronouncing the birth of Jesus; he was not only declared Saviour, but also Lord (Luke 2:11). If Jesus then is both Lord and Saviour, this then brings us back to the ancient prophet’s writings in Is. 43:10b-11, I [am] he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, [even] I, [am] the LORD; and beside me [there is] no saviour. With such a bold proclamation now coming to light, perhaps it is time to consider who Jesus really is, for he shall indeed, save his people from their sins. 

Stay in touch for next week’s Bible Study and learn more about the role of the Holy Ghost, Mary and Joseph during the birth of Jesus as this exciting event unfolds before us in history.

Bible Study Questions

  1. Why do you think it was necessary for God to send his only begotten Son to earth in the form of a human?
  2. What are some life lessons we can learn from Mary’s obedience to God’s will under unusual circumstances?
  3. Why do you think the religious leaders were offended in the teaching and preaching of Jesus?
  4. What were the four key events that came together during this week’s scripture reading?
  5. What did it mean when the angel of the Lord proclaimed that Jesus would save his people from their sins?
  6. What do the words Christ and Lord signify for Jesus as proclaimed by the angel of the Lord?
  7. Why did the ancient prophet describe the miraculous birth of Jesus with the phrase, God with us?

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