Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Exploring the birth of Christ--what it means to us today.

“When Christ came into the world, he said,

‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,

but a body have you prepared for me;

in burnt offerings and sin offerings

you have taken no pleasure.

Then I said, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,

as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.”’” [1]

The best attested birth in the history of the world is that of Jesus of Nazareth. Though no physician attended the birth, all mankind knows that something momentous occurred under those leaden Judean skies the night He was born. Though no birth certificate is registered in musty files hidden in some political capital, His birth was noted in the annals of Heaven itself. Though no showers honouring the birth of this child were given for the mother, yet the birth was acknowledged by both poor and rich, by rude shepherds and polished magi.

Scofflaws would have us believe that this birth which we celebrate is nothing more than a fable. Modern mockers would relegate this most meaningful event to mere myth much as we have fairy tales about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. The ignorance of such hecklers is revealed when they attempt to discredit the Word of the Living God. They assert that His birth is known to only two writers—Matthew and Luke. Knowledgeable readers realise the fallacy of this position, for the birth of this One is well attested throughout the whole of the written Word.

Among the places where the birth of Messiah is acknowledged is a brief passage in the Hebrews letter. The writer of the letter cites THE FORTIETH PSALM, a prophecy relating to Messiah, in order to present the biblical faith of Christians as seen through the eyes of Messiah. I recommend to you that the verses of our text have ever presented Christmas according to Jesus.

THE CHRIST DID COME INTO THE WORLD. The first truth attested in this passage is that Christ did come into the world. A man named Jesus of Nazareth did walk the dusty Judean roads. He did preach a message of righteousness, calling men to faith in the Living God. Those who knew Him best received Him as the promised Messiah.

John says of Jesus, “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” [JOHN 1:11]. The Christ was born under the law, a reference to His heritage as a Jew [GALATIANS 4:4]. Jewish society was not unaware of the promised birth; even the chief priests and teachers of the law knew where Messiah was to be born [see MATTHEW 2:3-6]. They knew the timing of His birth! Their knowledge failed to equip them to look for His arrival. They would have been thrilled to receive One who would affirm them and exalt them, but a Saviour who would fulfil prophecy was not at all welcome.

You need to know that if the Christ has not come He shall never come. The whole of the Old Testament points to His coming. From the protoevangelium to the last prophetic word delivered by Malachi, God points to the coming of His Anointed One. The whole account of humanity narrows and narrows to a point finer than the point of a spear until it focuses on a young Jewish girl.

When our first parents sinned and plunged the race into rebellion, God in mercy promised that the Seed of the Woman would crush the serpent’s head [see GENESIS 3:15]. As we trace the promise of God we see His sovereign choice of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob to form the lineage of the Messiah. The lineage of the Christ veers to include Judah [GENESIS 49:10] and through Judah we are introduced to Boaz who married Ruth who bore Obed, the father of Jesse who was the father of David.

David received the promise that the Anointed One would be one of his descendants [2 SAMUEL 7:11b-16]. Carefully, ever so carefully, God superintended the lineage and recorded that lineage in the accounts given in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Joseph was a descendant of David through Solomon [see MATTHEW 1:1-16] and thus any child who bore his name would hold legal claim on the throne of Israel. Mary was also a descendant of David through Nathan [see LUKE 3:23-37] and therefore avoided the curse placed on Jehoiachin, also known as Coniah [see JEREMIAH 22:24-30]. Thus, Jesus of Nazareth had both legal and theological claim to the throne of David.

Any scholar could have verified that the firstborn son of this young woman would hold a strong claim as the Messiah, and the claim was only validated through wedding Joseph. Moreover, the location of the birth of the Anointed One was known to Jewish sages. When Herod asked the chief priest and the teachers of the law where the Christ was to be born, they did not plead for time to return to musty tomes where they might study what had been written. Immediately they responded that the child would be born in Bethlehem, just as the prophet Micah had prophesied in his ancient prophecy [MICAH 5:2]. These scholars even knew the time of His birth, for Daniel had accurately prophesied the time when He would present Himself [DANIEL 9:25, 26].

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