Summary: This outline is loaded with both scripture references and insights. It looks into the minds of the Jewish teachers of the Law, and what they were looking for in the Messiah.
A Jewish Perspective on Christmas.
Pastor Eric J. Hanson
The Gospel writers presupposed a lot of knowledge which people no longer have today.
They clearly wrote from a Jewish perspective.
Who is Jesus Christ?:
John 1:1-18 Pre-existence- Public Ministry the “Word” (Logos)
John was a Jewish fisherman. “Memra” (aramaic) means “Word”
1. Sometimes distinct from God, other times the same as God.
(no one tried to solve this paradox.) /John 1:1
2. agent of Creation / vs.3
3. agent of salvation. / vs 12
4. means of the OT theophonies (angel of the Lord or the shekina glory)/ vs. 14.
He dwelt (shekina) among us.
5. agent of revelation of of God. /vs 17-18 (also Hebrews Ch. 1.)
6. means of covenant making. /vs. 17
Everything the Rabbis taught about the “Memra” was fulfilled in JC.
1. The word finally did come
2. The World did not know him
3. His own people did not know Him.
4. Those who receive Him can become the children of God.
Matthew: the line of Joseph. Joseph is in the active role.
Luke: the line of Mary. Mary in active role.
If Jesus was Joseph’s son, he could not be king.
2 requirements to be king a: be a member of the house of David. (Judah)
b: have divine appointment and prophetic sanction. (Israel.)
Matthew skips certain persons and also mentions four women. These four women were all gentiles! Three of them were guilty of sexual sin.
Jechoniah was cursed in Jeremiah 22:24-30 and in verse 30 it is stated that no descendant of his could ever sit on the throne of David. Joseph’s line, therefore, is not the “royal line” of Christ. Jesus is not counted as Joseph’s son in any sense. His claim to the throne comes through Mary.
Luke 3:24-38. No names are skipped here. No women are mentioned here. Only the name of Joseph in verse 24 has no definite article. This way, any ancient middle east reader would know immediately that this is the line of Joseph’s wife, but her name couldn’t appear here. Yes, this is Mary’s line. She was descended from David through Nathan, therefore Jesus qualified to be king through her!
There were many Jews descended from Nathan alive at the time of J. C., so why is He uniquely qualified to be king? Remember qualification #2? Divine Appointment.
Son of David (king) Matthew 1:1
Son of Abraham ( Jew) “
Son of Adam (Man) Luke 3:38
Son of God (is God) “
Luke 1:26-33. Here is the divine appointment of JC. His name “Jesus” is given at this time. This means “savior”. Notice the things he angel says about Jesus.
1. He will be a man (conceived in the womb)
2. He will be the savior (Jesus)
3. He will be great
4. He will be king.
5. His kingdom will never end (fulfills the Davidic covenant)
John the Baptist
Luke ch. 1.
(I Chron. 24) Levites divided into 24 courses to do the Temple for two weeks
Each course had many priests. The priest of the period was chosen by lot.
The special job of the inner temple work was the burning of incense in the Holy Place.
The Rabbis taught that god would kill any priest who burned incense wrongly. They also taught that an angel would appear on the right of the altar first. The angel was there for a totally different purpose. A son at last! John (grace). The forerunner of the messiah who would bring in the age of grace!
They are told to find the baby (8-12) Look in a manger.
Wrapped in “swaddling clothes”. These are burial cloth, no doubt from nearby burial caves. The stable was also in a cave. JC was “born to die”. Verse 21: circumcision on the eighth day. (He had to fulfill the Law perfectly. Here is where this begins.)
The Wise Men
Matthew 2: Wise men (not kings) Basically these are astrologers. We do not know how many of them there were. There were probably a large number such as 50 to 200 of them. These men came because of the appearance of the star of the Lord’s birth. It was a personal star which moved from East to west, later from North to south, then it hovers over a home. This was not a literal star. It was a “radiance or brilliance”. It was in fact the “shekinah” glory of God.
Still, how did they know anything about the Messiah?
They knew because of the book of Daniel 9:24-27. Here the exact number of years are given until the messiah would be born. The Babylonian wise men of Daniel’s day greatly respected him because he got his knowledge directly from God and this saved their lives when the King demanded that they do the impossible! Daniel was not foolishly trying to learn the future from the creation, namely the stars, but from the creator! Many of these men turned to God at that time. The book of numbers was another source of information for them. Numbers 24:17 Balaam here prophesies. Balaam was from Babylonia. (Numbers 22:5 Deut. 23:4) When the unique light appeared, they knew what it meant.