The promise of the LORD’s birth was made and fulfilled by God Himself.
HYMN: OH, COME ALL YE FAITHFUL
TEXT: Luke 2:1-20
The birth of the LORD Jesus Christ is generally celebrated all over the world. Most countries have set aside December 25th of every year as the day to commemorate His birth. In many countries (especially in the
western world, that day is observed as a public holiday. Usually commemoration of the LORD’s birth christened Christmas is done by most people (and sometimes countries) with pomp and pageantry. Homes,
streets, shops, etc. are decorated. In the business world, it is also a time of boom. More goods are brought into the market and sales increase. Because of the upsurge in business activities during the period, some critics say that the Christmas celebration has been or is being commercialized. Nevertheless, the fact of the LORD’s birth is a reality. It is fact of the holy scriptures and also a fact of human historical records and writings. The events surrounding His birth were also real. Therefore, while there is joy in celebrating the birth of the LORD, the significance or purpose of that birth must not be ignored. He was born, lived, died, rose again and is alive today and forevermore to deliver man from sin and its consequences. It is common for people generally to celebrate Christmas without pondering in their hearts the significance of the LORD’S birth. Hence the aim of this lesson is to emphasize what the birth of the LORD means to believers and to the entire world.
The objectives of this study are:
1. To know that God Himself promised the birth of His Son.
2. To know that the LORD Jesus was born of a virgin.
3. To understand the significance of the virgin birth.
4. To know some of the events surrounding His birth.
5. To understand the purpose of His birth.
6. To know whether it is right or wrong to celebrate Christmas.
7. To know the “best” Christmas an individual can have and
1. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES ON THE BIRTH OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST?
The first reference is the Holy scriptures to the birth of the LORD Jesus was in Genesis – the first book of the Bible. God declared in Genesis 3:15 while passing judgment on Satan after the fall of man: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel.” Thus, at the beginning God made it known that someone whose birth will have nothing to do with man but only of the woman will come to earth to redeem man. This promise made in Genesis was repeatedly revealed in scriptures to prophets of God. In blessing his children, Jacob prophesied concerning Judah. “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a law giver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be”, Genesis 49;10. Shiloh is an epithet of the Messiah and can have no other meaning. Moses also told the children of Israel – “The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren like unto me; unto Him ye shall hearken…I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put My words in His mouth; and He shall speak unto them all that I command Him. And it shall come to pass that whosoever will not hearken unto My words which He shall speak in My name, I will require it of him”, Deuteronomy 18:15-19. Also, Isaiah 7:14 says, “Therefore the LORD Himself shall give you a sign; “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Finally, Micha 5:2 reveals “But thou Bethlehem Ephrathah,though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto Me that is to be Ruler of Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” Therefore, we conclude that the scriptures are full of prophets concerning the birth of the LORD Jesus Christ. The promise of His was given by God the Father, revealed to the prophets and actualized in Bethlehem of Judah.
2. HOW WAS THE PROMISE OF GOD IN GENESIS FULFILLED AND WHAT LESSONS DO WE DRAW
FROM THE FULFILLMENT?
At God’s appointed time for the fulfillment of His promise, He sent Angel Gabriel to a virgin named Mary who lived in Nazareth, a city of Galilee, Luke 1:26-27. To Mary’s question on how this will happen since she had not known a man, angel Gabriel replied, “…The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore, also that holy thing which hall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God”, Luke 1:35. Mary believed the word of God, Luke 1:38. Also, about the time the LORD Jesus was to be born, a decree came from Caesar Augustus, the governor, calling for a census of the people. This made Mary to come to Bethlehem. While in Bethlehem, “…the days were accomplished that she should be delivered, and she brought forth her first Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the Inn, Luke 2:6-7.
The birth of the LORD Jesus in Bethlehem reveals to us that God delights in fulfilling His promises, “to the letter.” The prophet had declared that the Governor who would rule Israel would come from the small city, Micah 5:2. Furthermore, God’s interest in humility is seen in the birth of the Messiah in a manger. He, the Creator of the world chose to be born in a Manger. It is also significant that when He the owner of the world came to the earth there was no room for Him in the inn. The Owner of all things had no place. Yet that did not hinder Him from fulfilling His promise. We must learn from God’s example. Let us put on humility in our relationship with God and our fellow human beings. We should not become part of the intrigues in today’s world so as to put ourselves in vantage position. Rather, let us humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God and He (alone) will exalt us in due time, 1 Peter 5:6 Thus, God fulfilled His promise concerning the birth of His Son. Our God is always faithful and keeps His promises. Whatever He has promised the believer, He will certainly fulfill. The counsel to each of us is to patiently wait on Him for the fulfillment of His promises in our lives.
3. WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE VIRGIN BIRTH OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST?
As revealed in Genesis, man through disobedience, severed his relationship with God. The sinful nature inherited in Adam passed on from generation to generation of mankind. This makes every man a sinner and truly as declared in the Bible – “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”, Romans 3:23. It would therefore be impossible for a sinful man to save man. Hence, God declared the serpent (the devil) that the seed of the woman would bruise his head, Genesis 3:15. In other words, God Himself made an arrangement whereby someone whose birth will not involve man will defeat Satan and rescue man from the dominion of the devil. Therefore, in God’s redemption plan, he came down Himself to be born of a virgin thus fulfilling the prophecy in Genesis 3:15. The Lord Jesus Christ is therefore the seed of the woman. Unlike all the other men, (conceived and born in iniquity), the LORD Jesus Christ was born sinless and lived a sinless life. This is why He is the only one Who can save man. The virgin is therefore very significant, it is the pivot upon which the redemption plan rests. The doctrine of the virgin birth of the LORD remains true and must not be compromised by today’s believers.
4. GIVE AN ACCOUNT OF SOME OF THE EVENTS FOLLOWING HIS BIRTH.
Luke 2:8-20; Matthew 2:1-10
An angel of the LORD announced the birth of the LORD Jesus to a company of shepherds who were watching over their flock by night. “The angel’s message was simple – do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the LORD…”, Luke 2:10-12. The angel was later joined by a multitude of the heavenly host who sang praises to God. When the angel/heavenly host departed, the shepherds came to Bethlehem and found things as the angel had told them. Similarly, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem after the LORD Jesus was born and asked, “where is He who has been born king of the Jews for we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” On hearing this, king Herod was disturbed and asked where Christ will be born. It was confirmed to him that prophetically; the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. King Herod then requested the wise men go and see things for themselves and report back to him. The wise men came to Bethlehem and “saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh”, Matthew 2:11. However, the wisemen were warned by God not to return to King Herod. When Herod waited and they didn’t come, he gave adecree that all children below the
age of 2 should be killed. Meanwhile God saved the life of the newborn child by appearing to Joseph in a dream and asking him to take the Child and His mother into Egypt. The movement into Egypt was also a fulfillment of scripture, Matthew 2:15; Hosea 11:1. They returned to Israel after the death of Herod. Each of the above events had their significance. The announcement of the birth to shepherds, wisemen and their movement into Egypt pointed to the fact the Messiah had come for all – rich, poor, educated, illiterate, Jew, Gentile, etc. In His birth, He identified with all; in His life He identified with all, His death and
resurrection were for all.
5. WHAT WAS THE PURPOSE OF THE LORD’S BIRTH?
Many celebrate Christmas without actually appreciating the very purpose or essence of His birth. As revealed in scripture, He was born to save man form his sins, Matthew 1:21. In the birth of the LORD Jesus Christ, God put on flesh so as to redeem man. Hence in prophesy, one of His names was given as Emmanuel – God with us. John the Baptist testified of Him as the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world, John 1:29. The LORD Jesus testified of Himself as the One who has come to reveal the Father to the world. He also testified of Himself as the One who has come to destroy all the works of the devil. Luke 4;18-19 reveal clearly the purpose of the LORD’s birth. In those scriptures the LORD Himself declared. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, the recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the LORD.” It is clear, therefore, that He was born to redeem man.
6. SHOULD A CHRISTIAN CELEBRATE THE LORD’S BIRTH?
There are several arguments for and against the celebration of the LORD’s birth. Two extremes are manifest in these arguments. There is the argument that the LORD was not born in December and therefore no need to celebrate His birth in December. The other argues that the Christmas celebration was fixed for December to replace a pagan festival in the Old Roman Empire. According to this school of thought, this was done to make Christianity attractive to the Roman pagans. It is necessary to state that the issue is not the correctness of the date of His birth. The important thing is the fact of His birth which is attested to by Biblical records. Also, rather than become a thing to worry and debate in Christendom, it ought to be a thing of joy that pagan festivals gave way to celebration of the LORD’s birth in the Old Roman Empire. Therefore, if celebrating the LORD’s birth meant that the pagan gods were being done away with, then Christians in the Old Roman Empire may have seen the celebration of the LORD’s birth as evangelical
outreach to the people.
7. WHICH IS THE BEST CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION AN INDIVIDUAL CAN HAVE?
While it is being suggested that commemorating the LORD’s birth is not wrong, it is important to mention that how we celebrate the LORD’s birth matters. It is not a period of drinking and getting drunk, committing adultery, fornication, etc., or exploiting others commercially. It ought to be a period of sober reflection on the purpose of the LORD’s birth. This is why an individual should spend the Christmas period examining himself whether his life has been lived in consonance with the purpose of the LORD’s birth. As an individual celebrates Christmas, he should ask himself whether he knows the LORD as his LORD and personal SAVIOR. The best Christmas an individual can therefore have is the day the LORD is born into their life that becomes their own: Christmas day”.
DAILY LIVING APPLICATION
That the LORD Jesus was born remains a fact of the holy scriptures as well as human historical records. In commemorating His birth, the purpose of His birth must never be ignored. He came as the lamb of God to take away our sins and to destroy all the works of the devil. Christmas period should therefore rather be a time to meditate on the purpose of His birth than a time spent in having wild parties, sexual immorality, smoking, drinking and getting drunk etc. it is a time to re-dedicate out lives to Him and serve Him with renewed commitment and zeal. If you are not born again, today can be your own Christmas day, that is the day the LORD is born into your life as an individual.
John 3:17 “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.”
Mon: The promise of His birth.
Tue: Prophecies concerning His
Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Micah 5:2
Wed: The message of angel
Thu: The Birth of the LORD.
Fri: Announcement to the
Sat: Visit by the shepherds and
Luke 2:15-20; Matthew 2:1-12