In the Gospel of Luke the author looks back on events with the purpose of setting things in order. You see, something quite miraculous had happened; something that was not expected, and in the end changed the world. Luke begins his record by stating that he has undertaken the task of setting things in order for all that had been accomplished so that the most excellent Theophilus1 would have a full understanding of the events that surrounded Jesus’ life. Unlike other historical records, Luke’s was different because he was writing about a wonderful work that God had done; a work that would forever change the relationship of men to God and would bring about the downfall of our enemy, Satan; a work that was wholly unexpected from man’s point of view, for Luke’s history tells of something that no man could have ever thought possible. God came to be in the flesh.
So stunning was this new event, that not even the spirit beings could understand it. …which none of the princes of this age knew. For if, assuming it is true, they knew, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory2. How could the God who created the universe be in the form of a man who is created a little lower than the angels? You had made Him for a short time a little lower than the angels, You have crowned Him with a proper opinion and honor… 3 This was nothing they had seen before, even though many of times the spirit beings had been with the Son of God when He manifested Himself to men as the Messenger of the Lord4. This time was different, because now, one of the persons of the Godhead was in the form of a little child.
Luke begins his account just before this miraculous birth was about to happen. According to Scripture, something had to occur before Christ would come to Israel. The prophet Isaiah informed Israel nearly eight hundred years earlier that there would be a voice in the wilderness crying, “Make straight the way of the Lord”5. Now was the time of the forerunner’s birth.
Zacharias was a priest who was righteous before God, for he and his wife Elizabeth had walked in the commandments and ordinances of the Lord; however, they did not have a child and were far past the years in which it was even possible, although they continued to supplicate6 for one7. In the normal order of things, Zacharias was to fulfill his service in the temple and as the lot fell he was given the task of burning incense when he went into the temple of the Lord8. For many hundreds of years the priests had done this service, all in their time, morning and night9. This time was no different as far as any man could tell. However, when Zacharias entered the temple, at the side of the altar a messenger from the Lord stood10. Zacharias was overcome by fear when he saw the messenger, but the messenger told him not to fear, for his supplications unto the Lord had been heard and his wife would bear a son whom they would call John11, even though such a name would go against tradition. Why? You see, John was no ordinary child, God was going to use him to bringing joy to many. He would not drink of wine nor strong drink; rather, he would be mentally filled by the Holy Spirit even from His mother’s womb and many of the sons of Israel would be turned back to the Lord through his ministry; a ministry that was to prepare the people for the coming of the Lord! The time had come. The prophecies were being fulfilled. The Messiah was coming!
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy with the John, the messenger Gabriel was sent by the Lord to a city in Galilee named Nazareth. He was not coming to Zacharias again; rather, he was sent to a young woman who was espoused to a man named Joseph of the house of David12. Mary, the name of the young woman, was troubled by the appearance of the messenger, who said, “Rejoice! Favored one. The Lord is with you”.
What manner of salutation was this?
As Mary pondered the messenger’s words, he spoke again, “Do not fear Mary, for you have found favor with God, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son whom you will call Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High and God will give Him the throne of His father David.”13
Having found favor in the eyes of the Lord, God gave King David a promise during his reign, for he was a man who sought after the heart of God14. God promised that He would rise up a son to David who would sit upon his throne15. His son would be called wonderful counselor, almighty God, the father of an age, prince of peace. He will save His people from their sins and there will be no end to His kingdom16.
All of Israel knew of this prophecy and hoped for the day when their Messiah would come; a day when they would be free from their enemies; a day when they would have all God had promised them. What a wonderful message to hear, that you will be the one who bears the Messiah. But wait! There is a problem. How could this be possible? Mary was perplexed and said to the messenger, “How will this come to be since I have not known a man? “7 Gabriel then revealed to her that the Holy Spirit would come upon her, for the Holy Thing that she would bear will be called the Son of God18.
The child that grew in Mary’s womb was no ordinary human. Yes it had a soul and spirit just as all humans do, but God the Son supplied its person. The second Person of the Godhead took on the outward form of a servant and was found in the likeness of a man19. He would personally fulfill the promise to David and sit upon his Throne. The Messiah that Israel had waited so long for was none other than God Himself.
Unknown to any man or spirit being, the Godhead determined before They created anything that God the Son would take on the outward form of a man20. As an expression of love, God the Father gave His one of a kind, unique Son to the world, and all those who believe in Him will be given eternal life21. For God, who at various times and in many ways, spoke to Israel through the prophet, now, in the last days would speak through His Son, who would be the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His substance22.
Why is God offering eternal life? You see, thousands of years ago Adam disobeyed God and as a result all mankind came under judgment23. On top of that, Adam passed on not only the judgment, but also the affect the trespass had upon his nature; therefore, all men are under slavery to a nature that is bent towards doing things that lack in character. Although Adam sinned, Eve, who was with Adam when he sinned, was thoroughly deceived by Satan who used a serpent to get her to disobey God and eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil24. As a result, both Eve, the serpent, and Satan were given specific punishments. The significant part about the punishments is that within them God promised Satan that the seed of a woman would crush his head25. Since the nature of Adam is passed on to all of his decedents, all men are under condemnation26. This was a problem. How could a savior come from man if all are condemned? Ah, but God did not say the He would come from the seed of man, rather, from the seed of the woman. Jesus was born of a virgin27. Since the seed of the man was not involved in the birth of Jesus, he was not under the condemnation that all men shared in as a result of coming from Adam; therefore, He could save man.
Now, Gabriel is announcing to a virgin, espoused to a descendant of David, that she will give birth to a son through the work of the Holy Spirit, to fulfill God’s promise and bring salvation to mankind. You see, nothing is impossible with God, for even Mary’s cousin Elizabeth was with child, a woman that Mary knew was past the age of being able to bear a child28. What could Mary’s response be? Before her is a messenger from the Lord telling her that she would be the one to bear the Messiah, the savior of her people. What an incredible privilege!
Oh, but there is yet another problem. Mary is espoused to Joseph. And to man’s knowledge there is only one way for a woman to become pregnant. Mary was found with child before their marriage was complete. Infidelity, even as a fiancé, was totally unacceptable and was often punishable by death. However, Joseph was a just man and did not wish to publicly disgrace Mary; therefore, he had determined to release her privately29. However, while he pondered on this thought a messenger from the Lord appeared to him in a dream saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that thing which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit and she will bring forth a son and you will call His name Jesus, for He will save his people from their sins.” 30
All of this was done so that the prophecy would be fulfilled. Behold a virgin will be with child and will bring forth a son and they will call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Joseph did as the messenger of the Lord had instructed him and took Mary to be his wife. Only, neither of them truly understood how much of an impact this child would have upon all mankind.
In one expression of love to the whole world, God gave His one of a kind, unique Son; a child that was born of a virgin, of the seed of a woman, not under condemnation, and none other than God the Son, the second person of the Godhead. Although God the Son existed in the outward form of God, he did not regard an equal outward manifestation of His Deity with God the Father as something to be grasped, but emptied Himself of His appearance and received the appearance of a slave, coming to be in the likeness of man, and found in an appearance according as a man31. He was no less God, but now He had taken on the outward appearance of a man and was living among men as one of them. So much so, that he was about to be born, just like a man.
During Mary’s pregnancy, Caesar Augustus made a decree that the inhabited world would be registered32. As a result of this census, all were to go to their own city, the city of their kinsmen, to be counted. Since Joseph was of the linage of David, he and Mary had to go to Bethlehem, the city of David33.
During their stay in Bethlehem, Mary’s time had come for delivery. The Son of God was on the verge of coming into the world. However, as a result of the census, there was no place left in Bethlehem. All of the rooms in the inns were taken; therefore, the king of Israel, the Messiah who would save His people and sit upon the throne of His father David, who would have a kingdom that would never end, was born and laid in a stall; a place where animals ate, not where kings slept34.
This was not what Israel was expecting. They were expecting the Messiah to march into Israel in glory as a king and defeat their enemies once and for all.
Although many had turned from their expectation of the Messiah, there were still some who continued to take God at His Word. Of these were some who knew of a prophecy of old that at the time of the Messiah a star would be seen in the heavens and had kept a watchful eye on the heavens to see when the King of Israel would be born, for the Magi were those who studied the stars and knew them well35.
Now, on the night of Jesus’ birth there were shepherds in the field tending their flocks. Suddenly a messenger from the Lord appeared! The glory of the Lord was shining all around them, which caused them great fear; however, the messenger spoke and reassured them that they need not fear, for he was bringing them a message of great joy. This very day in the city of David a savior was born, one who would be called Christ the Lord36. What a truly wonderful message this was; a tiding of great joy not just to the Jews, but to all people.
As a sign to the shepherds, they would find a young infant wrapped in cloth, lying in a manger37. Suddenly, as the messenger was speaking to the shepherds a multitude of heavenly hosts appeared praising God saying, “Glory in the highest to God, and on earth peace among men of good pleasure.38” This would have been a massive and spectacular event for these shepherds. Not only did a messenger of the Lord appear, but the hosts or armies of heavens appeared glorifying God, so many angels giving God glory for what He has done; a work that would bring peace to all those in whom God had good pleasure.
After all of this was done the shepherds said among themselves, “Let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing which has come to past, which the Lord has made known to us39“. With haste they began their journey to Bethlehem, the city the prophecies foretold was where the King of Israel would be born, where they found the child just as the messenger had told them. After the shepherds had seen the child, they told all about what they had seen and heard and returned glorifying and praising God40.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem during the reign of Herod41 . The Magi who had seen the star that signified the coming of the King of Israel traveled to Judea to seek Him out. As they traveled through the countryside to find the child, they were asking where the king of the Jews was located. Herod become aware of their inquiring and was troubled to hear of this new king for he was appointed king by the ruling Romans and a king of the Jews would pose a great threat to his authority. Therefore, Herod called together the scribes and chief priests of the people and demanded to know where the Messiah would be born42. They quickly informed him that according to the prophecies, He would be born in Bethlehem in the land of Judea. So Herod spoke with the Magi secretly to find out when this star appeared and sent them to Bethlehem to seek out the child, asking them to come and tell him when they had found Him so that he could go and worship Him also43.
As the Magi left to continue their search for the child the star, which they had seen in the east, was before them until it came to stand over where the child was living44. As they entered the house and saw the child with Mary, they fell down and worshiped Him. Here is the child, the one promised so long ago, the Messiah, the King, the Savior of the Jews. Out of respect for who Jesus is the Magi presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Gifts fit for a king! Although they had no real idea of the impact that this child would have on all mankind, what a wonderful journey this had been, they found the King!
What a gift! What an expression of love! During this time of year we have set aside a day to remember the gift that God so graciously gave the whole world. God became flesh, and dwelt among us. Man beheld the glory of the one of a kind, unique Son of God, full of grace and truth45; a grace and truth that had never been known prior to His birth. And through Him the whole world is truly blessed, for it is only by Him that salvation has come to men46.
The birth of Christ was for the Jews. He was their promised Messiah. Through Him God would bring about all that He had promised Israel: the land and the prosperity. It is also through Jesus that God would save the Jews from their sins. However, the Jews rejected Him. He came unto His own things and His own people rejected him47. As a result, salvation is offered to all men. They stumbled, but not that they should fall; rather, so that salvation would come to the Gentiles48.
As we go about this Christmas season, let us remember that it was this gift that God gave to the world, the gift of His unique, one of a kind, Son that is the reason we take time to celebrate. As we give gifts and share with family and others, may we keep our minds focused on who we are in Christ, for in Christ all things have become new49, for in Christ God expresses His love towards us constantly50. The one act of love that God showed the world so long ago made all this possible51. Since this one act of love was so great, imagine what things He has in store for you, the ones that He loves. A love so great, that we are called the sons of God52.
Salvation comes by faith through grace alone. Grace is God’s attitude whereby He gives a benefit without consideration of merit. For those of you who are seeking how to be saved, this benefit is also being extended to you. God is not looking at whether or not you deserve salvation; He is freely offering salvation to you. What do you need to do to be saved? Simply take God at His word. Faith is always based upon a promise; it is the substance of that which is hoped for, the evidence of accomplished deed not seen53. The promise that God has given is that if we believe that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures we will be saved54.
If you believe, you are saved. You do not have to give God anything in exchange for salvation. He freely gives salvation to you. No prayer, confession of your sins, or saying He is the Lord of your life is required to obtain salvation. He already paid the debt. All He asks for in exchange is that you just take Him at His Word.
Believe and you will be saved!
1 Friend of God
2 1 Corinthians 2:8
3 Hebrews 2:7, 9
4 Exodus 3:2; Judges 2:4
5 Isaiah 40:3
6 Cry out for help
7 Luke 1:6, 7
8 Luke 1:8, 9
9 Exodus 30:7, 8
10 Luke 1:11
11 Luke 1:12, 13
12 Luke 1:27
13 Luke 1:30-33
14 Acts 13:22
15 2 Samuel 7:12 – 17
16 Isaiah 9:6, 7; Matthew 1:21
17 Luke 1:34
18 Luke 1:35
19 Philippians 2:6-8
20 1 Peter 1:20
21 John 3:16
22 Hebrews 1:1-3
23 Romans 5:18
24 1 Timothy 2:14
25 Genesis 3:15
26 Genesis 5:3
27 Luke 1:34, 35
28 Luke 1:36
29 Matthew 1:19
30 Matthew 1:20
31 Philippians 2:6-8
32 Luke 2:1
33 Luke 2:3 – 5
34 Luke 2:6, 7
35 Numbers 24:17
36 Luke 2:8-11
37 Luke 2:12
38 Luke 2:13, 14
40 Luke 2:17-20
41 Matthew 2:1
42 Matthew 2:4
43 Matthew 2:7, 8
44 Matthew 2:9
45 John 1:14
46 Acts 4:12
47 John 1:11
48 Romans 11:11
49 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore since someone is in Christ; a new creation, old things have passed away, behold all things have become new
50 2 Corinthians 13:14; Romans 5:5; 8:39
51 1 John 4:9
52 1 John 3:1
53 Hebrews 11:1
54 1 Corinthians 15:1-4