|Messages By Ovid Need|
There are two high holy days in our calendar, the Birth of Christ, and His resurrection. Even though we are not commanded to remember His birth, it is well worth remembering. It should be a time of rejoicing because of the Gift of God to His creatures.
We want to look at a few things from Dr. Luke's account of this birth. Dr. Luke goes into great detail of every aspect of the life of the Lord Jesus here on this earth, starting with His birth.
In chapter one, Luke gives us the account of the birth of the forerunner of Christ, John. He was born to Jesus' mother's cousin, Elizabeth, making them second cousins.
This is not the Apostle John, but John the Baptist. (And no, he is not the start of the Baptist Church. To say this is heresy among most Baptist.) John's dad's name was Zacharias, who was a priest. His mother was of the line of Aaron. When the promise of the son was made to Azcharias was made, he did not believe it and v. 18, he asked for a sing. His sign was that he would not be able to talk until John was born.
The prophecy to Mary the mother of Jesus, is given in 1:26-35. Notice what Mary says in v. 34. Unlike her cousin's husband who questioned god, she did not question God. She only asked, How can this be? Mary's song of rejoicing is recorded by Luke, vs. 46-55. Then things come to pass just as the angel said in 2:1-7, which we want to look at.
I. The first thing we want to look at is the time of His birth.
The fullness of time was now come, when God would send forth His only begotten Son, made of a woman, and made under the law. The prophecy foretold that He would be born at Bethlehem. Luke gives us the account of this fulfillment.
Daniel foretold the time when this would be, 2:44.
This was the fourth monarchy of Nebuchadnezzar's image which he saw in this chapter. As with the three previous world powers, this power of Rome was a world-wide power. The most powerful and influential ruler ever of Rome was Augustus Caesar. During his reign, Rome was at the height of its power. Caesar was considered god on earth. All the rulers from him on were compared to him. The Senate had deified Augustus because of his exploits on the battle field, and they had issued the decrees that there was no other name under heaven whereby men must be saved, save Caesar Augustus. Emperor worship was at its height in Augustus, with only little Judea exempt from actual idol worship of the Emperor.
Rome's power extended further than any power ever before or since. It covered the whole earth, called all the world in v. 1.
As we see from Daniel, this was the days of these kings, when the King of kings should come forth. He would set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed. The King is born, He ascended on high, and He rules today over all the earth.
2. V. 2. The time of his birth was the time when Judea had become a province of the great Roman empire. Judea was a tributary to Rome. Here in chapter 2, we see that all the world was to be taxed. This included the Jews. Jerusalem had been taken by Rome about 60 years previously. Even though the church or the religious affairs of the nation had been left in the hands of the Jews, civil government was ruled by Rome as a province from Syria. This was the first taxing of Judea. This was the first time this mark of servitude was enforced.
Gen 49:10, now, Jacob's dying prophecy is fulfilled. Shiloh must come to set up His kingdom, and He comes into a captive nation which is for the very first time, partaking in the mark of that captivity. They are being numbered and taxed.
3. There is a third thing about this time which saw the birth of the King. There was world-wide peace. But this peace was an uneasy peace. It was kept by the might of Rome. Into this time, the Prince of Peace is born. He would rule the hearts of men, not with a sword but with the love of God, based upon conversion and obedience to the Lord. This is the Prince of Peace which will cause men to beat their swords into plough-shares. He works on the heart, which alone can bring peace and good will to mankind.
II. We have seen a little about the time of the King's birth. Now a little about the place.
Micah 5:2 It was at Bethlehem as foretold by the Prophets. When questioned by the evil king Herod, the scribes told him this, Mt. 2:5, 6. The common people who heard Him speak also understood this, Jn. 7:42.
There were two locations identified as the city of David. We read this in 2 Sam. 5:7 Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David. This is the city of Jerusalem, which in Christ's day was the center of great wealth and religious learning.
Luke 2:4, Bethlehem is identified as the city of David.
Christ did not chose to be born in Jerusalem amidst all the worldly splendor and glory. Rather He chose to be born at Bethlehem.
2 Cor. 8:9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. He chose to be born in poverty, so he could identify with those in poverty.
Phil 2:7 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. He chose to be born in humility, so he could shepherd his people.
He 2:17-18 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. He rules as a Shepherd those in need of His loving care.
Luke 1:33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 1 Pet 3:22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him. He rules the true Mt. Zion, the church.
In addition, the name Bethlehem is significant. It means house of bread. John 6:26-41.. What better place for the Bread which came down from heaven to be born than in the house of bread?
Now, a word about Mary. Luke 2:1, when it came time for Christ to be born, the divine Providence of God moved the heathen god, Augustus Caesar. to decree that all the world be taxed. They had to give their names to the proper officers, be registered and enrolled according to their families. The primary purpose of this taxing was not to raise money, but to identify everyone. The tax was not much more than a token of Rome's authority over the world.
Undoubtedly Caesar's purpose was pride, asserting his total control over the entire world. He sought to prove the power of his control. But the Providence of God had another purpose. When men feel they are working out their purposes, God is being glorified.
The whole world was being forced to submit to Caesar's every whim. Why? So Mary and Joseph would have to come down from the city of Nazareth in the land of Galilee, and go to Bethlehem, Lk. 1:26. The whole nation must prove their lineage. Why? So Mary and Joseph would prove their lineage to David, vs. 4, 5.
We could safely assume that only the house of David had to go to the city of their father. Knowing the pride and power of Rome, and the conflict they continually had with the Jews, we could say that the purpose of Rome in numbering the house of David was to keep track of its strength. David was the great king, with the promise of another king to arise from this tribe. Therefore, Rome would keep a close eye on this tribe.
Therefore, the virgin Mary was brought to Bethlehem, v. 5, with her husband. She had to be here, and she is. I'm also sure that neither were aware at the time that they were fulfilling prophecy. They were concerned about the tax and the numbering.
By Joseph and Mary being required to come here and prove their birth, this proves the lineage of Christ to His father David, from the files of pagan Rome itself. The official files of Rome were used in earlier days of the church to prove the lineage of Christ.
Even this fulfilled prophecy, Isa. 49:7, prophesied that He would be a servant of rulers. Thus, at his very birth, he is born a tributary of Caesar. He indeed took upon Himself the form of a servant.
III. We have looked at the time of His birth, the place of His birth, now the circumstances of his birth.
V. 7, He was indeed her firstborn son, but Mary nor Joseph had anything to leave her firstborn except the poverty of this world.
The first thing we see here is that he was born just like every other person to ever enter this world, except the first man, Adam. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes, just like all newborn babies of His day.
Next, though he was born like everyone else, there were several things that were quite different.
He was born at, not in a inn. The son of David, heir to the throne of David his father, could not find room in the inn in the city of David. He had no friends nor acquaintances which could take him in.
He was born at, not in a inn, because they were turned away. But Christ promises that he will not turn away any that come to Him, Jn 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. His house will never be too full to take another, and another and another. He welcomes all who will come to him, for the price of their room has already been paid.
Have you come to Christ?
Next, He was born in a stable, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, because there was no room in the inn. The word swaddling clothes signifies torn cloth. His new born clothing was ragged and torn.
This shows us the poverty of his parents, the hardness of the age into which he was born (who would turn away a woman who was on the verge of delivering her firstborn child?), and the humiliation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was a helpless out-cast infant, who's parents loved him and shepherds worshiped him.
Here we see the contempt which God has for all the world's glory.
John 1:11, 12 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
If our Lord was rejected by the wise of this world, how can we expect them to receive us?
The good news is that because His own people rejected Him, salvation is come to the gentiles. Have you received the finished work of Christ? Have you trusted Him to pay the debt for your sin?
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