Summary: The way Jesus came into the world and the events surrounding that first Christmas affirms so much of what we believe as Christians.
A Savior Is Born
1. This is a true story. Freddie and John were fortunate enough to have a season ticket to watch Chelsea soccer in the UK. They could not help noticing that there was always a spare seat next (B14) to them and they had a friend who would love to buy a season ticket, especially if all three could have seats together.
One half-time Freddie went to the ticket office and asked if they could by buy the season ticket for B14. The official said that unfortunately the ticket had been sold. Nevertheless, week after week the seat was still empty.
Then on the Day after Christmas, much to Freddie and Eddie's amazement the seat was taken for the first time that season. John could not resist asking the newcomer, 'Where have you been all season'. “Don't ask,” he said, “the wife bought the season ticket back last summer, and kept it for a surprise Christmas present.”
[source: funny-jokes.com, Americanized]
2. In like manner, many people miss the meaning of Christmas. Celebrating the birth of Jesus is something we as believers should appreciate.
Main Idea: The way Jesus came into the world and the events surrounding that first Christmas affirms so much of what we believe as Christians.
I. God’s PROVIDENCE: Joseph and Mary Summoned to Bethlehem (1-5)
Providence means that God has not abandoned the world that he created, but rather works within that creation to manage all things according to the “immutable counsel of His own will” (Westminster Confession of Faith, V, i). [theopedia.org]
A. The emperor’s decree was in the HAND of God (1)
B. Joseph probably owned PROPERTY in Bethlehem because it was the family homestead (3-4).
1. Joseph and Mary and much of Nazareth had moved from Bethlehem; we have some pottery evidence to that effect.
C. It was important that they be in Bethlehem to fulfill the PROPHECY.
D. Men’s decrees and God’s providence can be impossible to SEPARATE from our perspective.
This is why we have a hard time knowing what is good in the long term. If Hitler had been killed, a saner leader would have taken over & the Nazis would have won. If Stalin was not bi-polar, he would have vetoed the creation of the State of Israel.
II. KENOSIS: Jesus, the Promised Messiah, Was Born in a Barn/Stable (6-7)
Philippians 2:5-8, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied [kenosis] himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Kenosis: “The term kenosis comes from the Greek word for the doctrine of Christ’s self-emptying in His incarnation. The kenosis was a self-renunciation, not an emptying Himself of deity nor an exchange of deity for humanity. Philippians 2:7 tells us that Jesus “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men." Jesus did not cease to be God during His earthly ministry. But He did set aside His heavenly glory of a face-to-face relationship with God. He also set aside His independent authority. During His earthly ministry, Christ completely submitted Himself to the will of the Father.” [gotquestions.org]
How God the Son humbled and emptied Himself is demonstrated by his birth and His first visitors. The shepherds first coming, Magi second.
A. Understood as a CAVE, at least since the early second century.
B. The INN was full.
Holman Bible Dictionary, “ee' rewth) Part of a place name meaning, “hospitality” (Jeremiah 41:17) translated differently—KJV: “habitation of Chimham”; NAS, NRSV: “Geruth Chimham”; REB: “Kimham's holding.” Fugitives stopped there near Bethlehem on their way to Egypt fleeing from Ishmael, who had killed Gedaliah, whom Babylon had appointed governor of Judah after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. It apparently designated an inn or lodging place near Bethlehem. It may have represented the first stop across the border from Judah into Egyptian-controlled territory.”
1. This land had been given to Chimham by DAVID (2 Samuels 19:32-40).
2. It was a place to accommodate a number of TRAVELERS (Jeremiah 41:17).
C. The first Christmas present was wrapped, LITERALLY.
III. REVELATION: God Informs the Shepherds of Jesus’ Birth (8-12)
The term revelation deals with how God has revealed himself to humanity, or in other words, how he has made himself known. Theologians generally distinguish God's revelation in two ways: General, and Special revelation. [theopedia.org]
A. The shepherds were completely caught OFF GUARD.
• What time of year was this? Cannot be sure
B. The glory of the Lord could be what we call the SHEKINAH.