The Miracle of Christmas – Part VI
In Matthew 2:7, we see the babe (Christ) in the manger. The coming of this King angered Herod, verses 3-8. The wise men were directed by a star to Bethlehem to worship Him and offer their gifts in verses 9-12. It was not uncommon to bring gifts and offerings to princes and kings.
- Israel (Jacob) brought offerings to His son Joseph in Egypt, Genesis 43:11.
- After King Saul changed his heart and countenance, they brought him no presents, 1 Samuel 10:27, “But the children of Belial said, How shall this man save us? And they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace.”
- The Queen of Sheba brought presents totaling almost $100 million to King Solomon in 1 Kings 10:2, 10. No wonder Solomon proclaimed all honor, gifts, and worship to the King of kings in Psalm 72:10-15.
- Isaiah spoke of gifts as well in chapter 60:6, “The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the LORD.”
Christmas is an appropriate time to give gifts because Jesus is the greatest free gift and Giver of all.
Luke’s Gospel was historical and written especially to the Greek and the thinking man. Its purpose is to present Jesus as the Son of God. It is important to understand that the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were each directed to a particular segment of society.
- Matthew was written to the Jew.
- Mark was written to the Roman.
- Luke was written to the Greek.
The Gospel of Christ was communicated to the world in the Greek language, and God used Alexander the Great to make that possible. Some might like to think that the whole world included the United States of America, but the Greek word is Oikoumene means inhabited earth, and refers to the world of that day.
Caesar Augustus (Octavianus) was the adopted son of Julius Caesar. Augustus was not a name, but a title, and when the Senate presented to him a name such as king or emperor, he was not satisfied. Instead, he chose the title Augustus because it had a religious significance and was an attempt to deify himself or make himself a god. He wanted to be worshipped as a god, yet today nobody reveres or pays taxes to him. It was no accident that Luke mentioned his name. He signed the decree that the whole world should be taxed because he needed the money to raise a mighty army to control his vast empire and to live in luxury himself.
Joseph and Mary left Nazareth in Galilee and went into Judea to Bethlehem, the city of David. It was prophesied that both of them should go to Bethlehem because they were of the house and lineage of David. Augustus signed a tax bill that brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem to register. Little did Augustus realize that this woman was carrying the Son of God in her womb.
It’s amazing that while Augustus has been forgotten, millions still worship Christ and call Him Savior. Caesar Augustus was merely the tool in God’s hand to bring to pass the prophecy in Micah 5:2: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”
God arranged everything that happened, and Luke describes the details, even the manger and swaddling clothes on the Son of God. How perfectly human He was; yet, He was God manifest in the flesh, come into the world as Savior. He retained His Deity but laid aside His glory and took upon Himself humanity.
Notice that verses 13-14 do not speak of the peace which is sought today, but peace to men of good will according to Isaiah 48:22: “There is no peace, saith The Lord, unto the wicked.”
In verses 15-16, the shepherds hurried to Bethlehem and found Mary, Joseph, and the Baby Jesus. They were probably the first to visit the baby since Matthew tells us that the wise men arrived much later. It is certainly not without significance that this great announcement came to these humble Hebrew shepherds “keeping watch over their flock by night.” It illustrates two truths so prevalent in the Bible:
- God chooses the humble rather than the high.
We, with our human nature, would have chosen the wisest and wealthiest in the land to receive such an announcement; but God chose the lowly shepherds, unknown and of small accomplishment as far as the world is concerned. Please read 1 Corinthians 1:26-29.
- God grants His divine favor to those who consciously serve Him in their own proper calling, not to idle dreamers, not to those who will do nothing because they cannot work in their fullest capacity, but to those who do their best in the position in which God’s providence has placed them.
The main thoughts of Luke’s passage are these:
Welcome tidings from the spiritual world—angels
Verses 9-10 says, “They were sore afraid … fear not, I bring you good tidings.” Why have people always been so afraid when it comes to the supernatural? Why have they feared hearing from heaven? Sinners are conscious of their sin and believe that God will deal with them through condemnation, judgment, and punishment.
We would expect punishment from a king whose people attempted to overthrow him. It is for this reason that people expect punishment from God. Instead, God offers peace through His son—“Fear not, I bring you good tidings.”
Welcome tidings of great joy for the Saviour coming into the world
The birth of the “Babe” in Bethlehem—what did it mean?
- It meant deliverance from the bondage of sin.
There was political as well as spiritual demoralization at this time. On that day was born into the world a Savior, a Redeemer, and One who would save the world from the power and penalty of sin.
- It meant the fulfillment of great hope.
- Hope has been fulfilled for those who have long awaited the coming of Messiah, and whatever He was to bring about would now be accomplished.
- Hope that the sin-stricken world would rise from its denial and ignorance of the Savior and of the heavenly Father.
- It meant a restoration of our true position, that the Savior is “Christ the Lord.”
We who have sought to rule ourselves, to be the masters of our own lives and who have suffered so much, are now able to find rest and joy by submitting ourselves to Him who is “The Lord” of all hearts and lives. Then we can have true peace and “great joy.”
Yes, Jesus was born to be King, and the question is, is He your King? Will you have a great and meaningful Christmas this year? Will you always be grateful for and mindful of “The Miracle of Christmas?”
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!
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Bro. Nikoley emigrated from Germany to the United States with his family at age 13. He served full time in the Nevada Air National Guard for six years. At age 32, He was saved, and in 1977, he graduated from Bible College. He pastored for over 31 years, 27 of them at Pomerado Road Baptist Church in Poway, California. Bro. Nikoley has served at Golden State Baptist College in the Bible Department and also as the Student Employment Director since 2007. He and his wife Mary have two children and have been married for 58 years.