Advent 25: JESUS IS BORN!
“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to 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, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 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 among those with whom he is pleased!”
And the Hits Keep on Coming
First off, Merry Christmas! We’re here. It’s Christmas day. We have been looking forward to this day all year and counting down to it all month. Today is when we get to see everything come together perfectly.
Remember all those prophecies about whose family the Messiah would come through? Well, it’s happening. If you have any doubts, you can see all their names in Matthew 1, where he traces the genealogy all the way down from Abraham to Jesus (or you can listen to Andrew Peterson’s song “Matthew’s Begats”).
Today we get to see all the promises coming together in one glorious birth. We get to see God keeping his word to his people: to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Jesse, Ruth, David, Joseph, Mary, and others. But how does God do it?
You and I both remember that Gabriel appeared to Joseph and Mary, telling them about Jesus, right? And we know that way before that, he promised that the baby would be born in Bethlehem. But did you ever stop and realize that Joseph didn’t even live in Bethlehem? Sure, it’s where his great, great, great grandfather David lived, but that was 1,000 years earlier. It looks like Joseph actually lived about 100 miles from Bethlehem.
So how and why did he get to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus?
You Just Can’t Make This Stuff Up
On the one side, you have a pregnant virgin with an elderly cousin who is also pregnant, both of which have been announced by angels from Heaven.
On the other hand, you have a Pagan ruler who wants to get as much tax money as he can from those he is ruling over.
What do they have in common? God is sovereign over them all. Somehow, God put it in the heart of this Caesar that he needed to tax the people of Israel, and the best way to do this is to get everyone back to their ancestral hometowns so they can be properly registered. And it just so happens that this is the exact time that Mary is getting ready to give birth to her son. No way! Do you realize the odds of this happening? It’s absolutely crazy. Joseph and Mary were not trying to intentionally make sure that the prophecy about the Messiah coming from Bethlehem got fulfilled (they might not have even put it together).
But God was. God orchestrated events so that this pregnant girl would have to make this 100 mile trip at the perfect time in all of history. This is amazing!
And It Came to Pass
So there we have it. God made a way to bring Mary to Bethlehem to give birth to Jesus. You all know the story. They tried to find a hotel to stay in but everything was booked. The only place they could get shelter was a run-down stable.
Let’s not let this go by unnoticed. The eternal God who spoke the universe into existence chose to humble himself to become a human baby. Not only that, but he did not choose a life of wealth and luxury. Instead, he chose to be born in a stable, wrapped in rags, and laid down to sleep in a feeding trough. When Jesus came into the world, he wasn’t greeted by pomp and ceremony. He was greeted by a small group of stinky, smelly shepherds. Even at his birth, he showed us what true humility looks like.
Let’s celebrate today. What an awesome opportunity to spend time with friends and family, to enjoy each other’s company, and to give gifts. But don’t let any of that eclipse the real reason we are rejoicing. We are celebrating the amazing series of miracles that culminated in God becoming a baby boy. And remember, this is only the beginning of the story.
Jesus was born as a baby, but he didn’t stay a baby. Jesus lived the life that we could never live. He followed God’s Word perfectly, and even though he was tempted with every possible temptation, he never sinned. After a perfect life, he gave himself up to be crucified on a cross to take on the penalty for our sin so that we could have his righteousness. He was buried in a borrowed tomb but did not stay dead. On the third day, he rose from the grave, proclaiming his victory over sin, death, and the grave. When we celebrate Christmas, we are celebrating the Gospel.
Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. Christmas gives us an opportunity to respond. If you have never believed in him, I mean really believed, then please do so today. The only explanation for all of these amazing coincidences coming together in the person and work of Jesus Christ is that they aren’t coincidences. All of this was planned out by an eternal, gracious God as a plan to restore our relationship with him and provide for us an eternal salvation. It is because of all of this that we can join with the angels and say,
“Glory to God in the highest,”
Let’s talk about it:
Let’s celebrate today, but don’t forget that it’s not just about friends, family, food, and presents under the tree. The greatest gift that we should think about today is that Jesus came to save us from our sins.
Now let’s go open some presents!
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