Genesis 12:1-3; 2 Samuel 7:4-5, 11b-13; Matthew 1:1 – Born a Descendant of Abraham and David
There are many things about our faith that are facts of history: Jesus was really born, Jesus really died in the city of Jerusalem, Jesus really rose from the dead. Those are facts of history, no question about it. But then there are other aspects of our faith which are just as true, but regarding which we have only God’s promises. For example, I can’t take your blood sample and prove to you that your sins are forgiven. I can’t scientifically do an experiment to prove to you that when you die, you’ll go to heaven. I can’t logically or scientifically analyze the Lord’s Supper or Baptism and prove that they are powerful acts of God. I can’t prove it; all I have is…God’s Word, His promises. So, how can we count on these things? We need to know that God keeps His promises! We need to know that when God says something, it happens! So, let’s look at some of these promises…first as to Jesus’ lineage:
Over and over again in the OT and even when we get to the NT there are a bunch of genealogies with strange and hard to pronounce names. We hear things like: Boaz was the father of Obed, Obed the father of Jesse, Jesse the father of David, etc. Sometimes we can kind of glaze over these things and wonder, “What’s the point of all these names?”
The point is actually hugely wonderful for our faith. God promised that the Savior would be born from a specific family line: Abraham’s, God further narrowed that promise to the family of David. Why? So that when the Savior was born we’d be able to recognize Him as the One whom God promised. And what do we find out? “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham.” God’s promise is true! Jesus is the one, Jesus is the Savior. God’s Word is true!
Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23, Luke 1:29-38 – Born of a Virgin
People who live in the world know how this world generally works. You throw a ball in the air and… it will come down, that’s the way it is. Water a plant and it will grow, don’t water it and it won’t. A man and a woman, a male and a female are needed in order for babies to be conceived. That’s just how it works. What’s obvious here is that Mary knew where babies came from. She knew the laws of nature well enough to know when they were broken. So she rightly asked, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
And we can relate to her question too, can’t we? How often don’t we come up against situations in life which seem impossible? How often don’t we ask? “How will this work, God? How can I handle this? How will I make it through this? It seems impossible.”
And the angel reminded Mary and reminds us of a very important truth, “Nothing is impossible with God.” And perhaps we see another miracle here: Against all the odds, Mary believed it! And it happened just like God said and promised some 700 years earlier: the virgin became pregnant and had a baby! God’s promise prevailed! It’s true! And what about God’s other promises that go against nature? God’s promise that our sins are forgiven? True! God’s promise to work all things out for our good? True! God’s promise to be with you always? True! For nothing is impossible with God!
Micah 5:2, Luke 2:4-5, Matthew 2:3-5 – Born in Bethlehem
Can you picture it? A Roman historian records for us: Caesar Augustus walks into the Roman Forum is pacing before the bachelors of Rome and then explodes: “You’re murdering our future!” In his view they aren’t “fathering their descendants.” So, he enacts laws to give certain advantages to those who settle down and have babies. And then later perhaps to find out whether or not his laws are working he begins a project that later he would label as 8th on his bucket list of his life’s 35 accomplishments: a census of the entire Roman world.
And what had God promised some 700 years earlier? That the Savior would be born in…Bethlehem. But, Mary and Joseph lived up in Nazareth. How will we get Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem at just the right time so that Jesus will be born in the right place? Caesar’s census “forced” Mary and Joseph to travel to Bethlehem at just the right time. Coincidence? Or, maybe, just maybe, might God be ruling all of history – including unbelieving world rulers – for the good of His people and to accomplish His promises?
You know, the world can often seem like a crazy place. We have world events that can trouble us, national events, things that happen in our own community or our own lives. We can easily get nervous, afraid, angry, frustrated.
But today our eyes turn to Bethlehem: we have a God who rules all of history. And He does so for the good of His people and to fulfill His promises. Which means, He rules history for your good! Hear that prophecy of Bethlehem and see its fulfillment and see God’s ruling hand!
Isaiah 53:2, Luke 2:6-7 – Born in Lowliness
This is really a wonder of wonders. This is God. This is God who stands in all majesty, might, and glory. This is the One by whom and through whom and for whom all of this creation exists. Why should he care about us? Why should He be mindful of us? What do you care about that ant crawling on the floor? And yet He came! And He came into our world so ugly with sin, so full of problems and perversity. And He didn’t just come, but He came so lowly. The prophet said, “Like a tender shoot…like a root out of dry ground,” so tender, so frail, so lowly. Not in beauty or majesty that we should be wowed by his outward appearance in anyway. The King of all creation and where will we look for Him? If we look for him in palaces, in centers of power, in government offices, we won’t find him, a lowly maiden is His mother. If we look for him in large homes and magnificent mansions, we won’t find him there either, a manger, a feeding trough, is his first resting place and even that, even that he has to borrow from cattle!
Power? Majesty? Might? No, He comes so small, so gentle, so lowly. Martin Luther once said, “There’s nothing to be afraid of in a baby.” He didn’t have to, but he chose to come so lowly. He didn’t come just for the high and mighty, he didn’t come just for the wise and learned, rich and famous, no, He came for all, He came for you and me. He came not to frighten us with His power and majesty and might, but so small, so gentle, so lowly to woo us, to win us, to draw us to Himself with his amazing compassion, awesome grace, and forgiving love. For He came for one purpose: to rescues us from our sins! That’s a wow! That’s a wonder!
Isaiah 9:6-7, Luke 2:10-11 – Born For You!
But is it all for me? Is this Savior really meant to be for me? I mean, I know who I am, I know what I’ve done, I know what I’ve failed to do, I know the guilt of sins past that’s always ready to haunt me, I know my shame, the ugliness of my sin. Is it for me? Is it for you?
Isn’t it interesting to see the prophet’s words or to hear the angel’s announcement? Isaiah could have said, “A child is born; a son is given.” But he doesn’t. He says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.” The angel could have said, “I bring good news of great joy that will be for all the people” or in verse 11 “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born.” But it doesn’t say that! It says, “I bring YOU good news of great joy” “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you”! Why?
It’s as if the angel so wants these shepherds to believe this that he just keeps on saying, “This is for you! This is for you! This is for you! And so it is with your God today! This isn’t just “religious talk.” This isn’t just for those “church-going folk.” This isn’t just theoretical. No.
Instead, it’s “for you!” God wants YOU to know that YOUR sins are forgiven. God wants YOU to know that there is a place in heaven for YOU! God wants YOU to know that He loves YOU! God wants YOU to know that this baby, wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger, is YOUR Savior! Why was Jesus born? He was born to save! He was born to save YOU!