“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just [man,] and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.”Matthew 1:18:25
Matthew illustrates the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ often called the nativity of Jesus or nativity of Christ, with the divine now born into humanity, declared to be God with us. This particular account from scripture is the culmination of many noteworthy events all coming together in perfect harmony. First there is the godly intercession – “that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost”; second there is the angelic being – “the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream;” third there is the ancient prophet – “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet”; and fourth there is the unwavering obedience of Joseph – “…did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him.”
This represents a remarkable intersection in history between God, angels, prophets and people in presenting the Messiah to the world. All these events were further amplified by the angel Gabriel’s declaration about Jesus in the gospel account, “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” [Luke 1:32-33] Here we can see the eternal attributes of deity coming forth pertaining to Jesus with phrases like Son of the Highest, reign… forever, …his kingdom there shall be no end.
During this unique encounter with the angel Gabriel, the virgin Mary no doubt questioned how these things shall be, since she had not known a man. The angel then proceeded to declare that, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” [Luke 1:35] This was most astonishing in that Mary miraculously conceived a child through the power of God himself making this indeed the most unique conception in human history. In this study, we will see how many Bible verses on the nativity of Jesus all come together in harmony.
After some period of time, Luke’s account continued to record the angel of the Lord now coming before shepherds out in a field. These shepherds were watching their flock at night and the angel announced this glorious message to them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” [Luke 2:10b-11] Take careful note of that designation of deity with the phrase, the Lord, for the Jews would only have known of the Lord from the Old Testament [Is. 45:5].
As if this were not overwhelming enough for the humble shepherds, Luke then records the magnificent proclamation from heaven that took place in the next few verses, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” [Luke 2:13-14] Needless to say, the shepherds took heed of the words from the angel of the Lord and went to discover for themselves the child called Christ the Lord along with Mary in Bethlehem.
Father and the Son
Finally, to culminate all these events, the apostle John wrote this wonderful portrayal of the Father and the Son, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.” [John 1:14] In summary therefore, bringing all these verses together truly helps to illustrate the miraculous birth of Jesus based on accounts and records from scripture. In just a few paragraphs, biblical references were drawn from Matthew, Luke and John to present the arrival of the Messiah before the world.
Here then is the only begotten Son [John 3:16], declared to be the Son of God [Luke 1:35], and coming to us from eternity past, “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.” [Micah 5:2] Note once again, the eternal nature being attributed to Jesus Christ the Lord with the term everlasting in this verse.
God in the Flesh
The manifestation of Jesus Christ in physical human form, along with his proclamation as the Messiah [John 4:26], all proved to be most astonishing for some, and yet very troublesome for others, much as it still does today. Consider just three accounts of how people described him during that period in time, “…what manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!” [Matt. 8:27] “…and the multitudes marveled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel.” [Matt. 9:33b] and finally, “…never man spake like this man.” [John 7:46b]
The birth of Jesus Christ represents a point in time never repeated before in history. The Son of God was manifested in human fleshly form, being fully God and yet fully man at the same time. This incredible and mysterious fusion between God and man was referenced by Paul, the most prolific writer of letters in the New Testament as he stated, “…without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh.” [1 Tim. 3:16] This is miraculously containing the infinite eternal nature of God within the finite mortal nature of man.
Continuing on with Paul’s letters, he further wrote of this divine nature being encompassed within humanity, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 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.” [Phil. 2:6-10] This astonishing event, where the Son of God, who for eternity past, dwelt in the heavens, was implicitly referenced in Old Testament scriptures, has now come down to earth manifest in human form!
Several verses in scripture lend support to both the heavenly and earthly presence of Jesus. Consider when he spoke to unbelieving and skeptical Jews and told them, “…Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.” [John 8:23] Or when John the Baptist noted the dual presence of Jesus, “He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.” [John 3:31]
Another compelling comment further illustrating the omnipresence of Jesus was made by him while speaking with an inquisitive ruler of the Jews named Nicodemus. In this passage Jesus claimed, “…no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, [even] the Son of man which is in heaven.” [John 3:31] Later on when Jesus was debating with the Jews, he also made the bold claim of existing before anyone as he said, “…Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” [John 8:58] The Jews of course knew this statement was denoting eternal existence and apparent blasphemy because it was further noted about them that they, “Then took they up stones to cast at him:” [John 8:59]
God comes to Us
The point of this week’s study on the birth of Jesus is quite remarkable in that the Son of God has now come to earth, but not so much as we may think of him with great omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience; rather he came more as a mere human, subject to all of its frailties, temptations and emotions, yet humble in spirit, and still subject to the ancient Mosaic law. As these Bible studies continue, we will see that while Jesus was fully human, he was still fully God as demonstrated through the power of his preaching, teaching and healing. The New Testament saga therefore begins with great drama and discourse as Jesus makes his debut onto the earthly stage in human presence. To think that the Son of God, once walked this earth in human form, as you and I do, is a truly remarkable, quite incomprehensible moment in history.
Despite all this scriptural evidence, there were peculiar circumstances surrounding the life of Jesus on earth. Aside from the marvel, astonishment and wonder from the multitudes, the birth of Jesus and his subsequent ministry were troubling and perplexing for the religious leaders of the Jews. Here they were awaiting their Messiah but they could not come to terms with Jesus fulfilling such a divinely ordained role since they perceived him as just a mere common man who resided within the local community,
“And it came to pass, [that] when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this [man] this wisdom, and [these] mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this [man] all these things? And they were offended in him.” [Matt. 13:53-57]
As such, the rulers of the Jews were threatened over Jesus who claimed to exist centuries before their own descendants and who performed countless miracles upon both people and nature. We will soon realize though in future Bible studies that he turned their religious ideology upside down and challenged their long standing, self-imposed traditions, which became more important to them than the ordained law of Moses as received from the Lord. [Matt. 23:13-29]
Jesus is Lord
As readers seek to learn more about the birth of Jesus, consider this astonishing statement describing him from the last book in scripture, “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they [also] which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” [Rev. 1:7-8] No person could ever make such a bold, unequivocal, all encompassing proclamation of everlasting deity, unless of course, he is God and God alone.
Add to this, the ancient prophet’s congruent writings from centuries before, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” [Is. 9:6] While the fleshly presence of Jesus may have been associated with a physical birth, his eternal indwelling spirit has always existed, “…even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” [Ps. 90:2b]
Jesus in your Life
Let us close off this Bible study on the birth of Jesus with some contemplative thought. Our culture today often views Jesus as a quant little baby born in a manger, perhaps with a few sheep by his side and some wise men. This is often called the Nativity scene. Little consideration is given to him thereafter, but that was simply his foray onto the world’s stage in physical human form. Many references were provided for this purpose in demonstration of the incredible accuracy and harmony of scripture from the ancient prophets in the Old Testament to the apostles of Jesus in the New Testament.
Perhaps at this time, it should give us some pause for thought, on just who Jesus is in our own life. If he is merely a baby born in a manger, then it will simply make for a nice heartwarming story to read over Christmas. But, if he is truly the person described in scripture as seen in these passages, one must then ask what his purpose was for coming to earth in the first place. As these Bible studies progress, it is with sincere hope that readers will ultimately find themselves going back to the angel of the Lord’s declaration from above; “he shall save his people from their sins.”
Lord and Saviour
Bearing the title of Saviour in scripture is evidence that Jesus was no ordinary person. Recall also when the angel of the Lord spoke to shepherds pronouncing the birth of Jesus; he was not only declared Saviour, but also Lord [Luke 2:11]. Therefore, if Jesus is both Lord and Saviour, this then brings us right back to the ancient prophet’s writings from Old Testament scripture, “I [am] he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, [even] I, [am] the LORD; and beside me [there is] no saviour.” [Is. 43:10b-11] With such a bold proclamation now coming to light, perhaps it is time to consider who Jesus really is in your own life, for he shall indeed, save people from their sins.
Be sure to read next week’s Bible Study to learn more about the role of the Holy Ghost, Mary and Joseph during the birth of Jesus as this exciting event unfolds before us in history.
Bible Study Questions
- Why do you think it was necessary for God to send his only begotten Son to earth in the form of a human?
- What are some life lessons we can learn from Mary’s obedience to God’s will under such unusual circumstances?
- Why do you think the religious leaders were offended in the teaching and preaching of Jesus?
- What were the four key events that came together during this week’s scripture reading?
- What did it mean when the angel of the Lord proclaimed that Jesus would save his people from their sins?
- What do the words Christ and Lord signify for Jesus as proclaimed by the angel of the Lord?
- Why did the ancient prophet describe the miraculous birth of Jesus with the phrase, God with us?
WORD GUIDE – * (on this wise – in this manner) * (espoused – engaged) * (before they came together – prior to sexual relations) * (publick – public) * (privily – privately) * (behold – see) * (thou – you) (bidden – told or command) * (knew her not – prior to sexual relations, thus fulfilling the virgin birth) * (whence – older term for when) * (insomuch – in as much) * (omni words – all power, all presence, all knowing) * (spake – spoke)