12-19-2020 Oh, Blessed Night
Mark and John don’t spend much time talking about the birth of Jesus but focus on the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. Both declare John (the Baptist) as the one who is paving the way for the Messiah. John baptizes with water for the remission for those who have confessed and repented their sins but the one who comes after him is mightier.
Matthew adds the time when the magi came upon the scene bringing their gifts to the young child, apparently still living in Bethlehem, after which Joseph takes his family go to Egypt until Herod’s death (Mat. 2:1-23). Interesting to note the Greek word used to designate Jesus, the ‘young child’, is paidion which translates infant, half-grown child, child or even an immature Christian (hmmmm, I wonder how many Christians today are still paidions?). Also note that the magi had been following the star for about two years. This is indicated when Herod saw that he was mocked and ordered all children under two years of age to be slaughtered (Matt. 2:7-16). Then Matthew chapter three introduces John the Baptist then spends the next twenty-five chapters on the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Okay, but we’re not focusing on events before His birth, the ministry of Jesus or His death and resurrection right now other than to mention them. We’re not going into the ‘natural’ lineage of Jesus other than that Matthew goes through the generations beginning with Abraham and ending with Jesus (Matt. 1:2-16). Luke begins with Jesus going back to Adam, whom he calls the son of God (Luke 3:23-38). We are going to talk about His birth into this physical world and how we can relate to it.
Luke gives a little more detail surrounding the birth of Jesus than the other gospel writers. After all Luke was a physician and most likely accustomed to detail. Luke declares that he has a clear understanding of these things, as he’s writing to Theophilus, so that he (Theo) will know the ‘true deal’ (Luke 1:1-4). We don’t read anything about Luke (per se) in the gospels but the book of Acts is addressed to the same Theophilus as the gospel of Luke. (hint, hint)
We are starting with Joseph taking his very pregnant wife, Mary, to Bethlehem, for he was a descendant of David and Caesar decreed all return to the city of their fathers for taxation. Bethlehem is the city of David (Luke 2:4). So it was there Mary gave birth to her first born son, in a manger.
Let’s look at some of the Greek words used here. (GR phatne – 5336, a food trough or stall) and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes (GR sparganoo – 4683, strips of torn cloth)(vs 1-7). Our Lord wasn’t born into this world in a warm hospital, a fancy hotel room or even back home where friends or family could help but a place for animals and in a trough for animal feed. Jesus did not enter our world with a lot of ‘fanfare’! Could one get a more humble beginning?
The shepherds (Luke 2:8-20)
But our focus is on what related to the shepherds’ experience.
There some shepherds were watching over their flocks by night. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord came upon them. (Now I don’t know if he came to them on the ground our hovered over them in the air), nonetheless, the glory of the Lord shone around him and the shepherds. Imagine how you might feel if a ‘man’ suddenly appeared and a great and glorious light surrounded you. Yep, they shivered in their boots! They were greatly afraid.
The angel had a message “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which is meant for all people. For this day, in the city of David, a Savior is born who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign to you that you shall find him wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.”
Now,, the Greek word for Christ is Christo (5547 – Messiah, Christ) which derives from chrio (GR 5548 – which is to anoint, as to rub with oil). So this babe is anointed to be Savior. So who has anointed this babe? Jesus spoke to the people from the book of Isaiah “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He has anointed Me to preach to gospel to the poor, He has sent Me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, restore sight to the blind, to set at liberty, those who are bruised and to preach the acceptable year of the Lord” He closed the book, looked at the people land then said “This day, this scripture is fulfilled in your ears (Luke 4:18-21”. Jesus, Himself, declared that the Father has anointed Him. (go back and read Gen. 1:1 & John 1:1 – in the beginning God …, in the beginning was the Word …
Back to the shepherds. As soon as the angel finished speaking, the heavens were filled with a heavenly host (countless number) praising God saying “Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good will towards men.” Now, these guys were in the air! Filling the sky! Can you imagine how awesome this must have been?
Watching ‘Touched by an angel’, at the end of the show, the angels (usually Monica or Tess) always reveal themselves as such at which time a bright light shines down upon the angel from up above, often draping the angel down around the shoulders (or more). If you have seen the show, imagine the sky full of angels surrounded by a light a hundred times brighter.
(probably) As soon as they had composed themselves, the shepherds hurried to Bethlehem and found Joseph, Mary and the babe and upon seeing this, they couldn’t wait to go tell other people about it. The people, whom the shepherds told, wondered about what the shepherds had told them and May kept these things and pondered about them in her heart. Now, here, I’m not clear whether the shepherds came back to where Mary and Joseph were or if they, then, returned to their fields, but irregardless they returned glorifying and praising God.
The shepherds saw our Savior lying in a manger and recognized and glorified God. How did we feel when we first let Jesus into our hearts? Even now, do we glorify our heavenly Father for the things He does for us?
Paul encountered twelve men on the road to Ephesus. Realizing that they had only been baptized in John’s baptism (water), Paul then baptized them in the name of Jesus, laid hands on them and they received the Holy Ghost. These guys couldn’t wait to go tell others about their experience (Acts 19:1-8).
Is there truly a perspective in this for us today?
A Messiah had been prophesied for Israel for centuries before the birth of Jesus so when they were told the Messiah was come, those who believed got excited. Unfortunately, we know that like the scribes and Pharisees and even those in Nazareth, don’t all receive Jesus (Matt. 13:57-58 & 15:8-9). Not everybody gets excited.
The shepherds did get excited about the birth of Jesus. The apostles & disciples got excited when the Holy Ghost came upon them (Acts 2:1-20).
How excited do we get when Father does something for us? Big or little, where are our testimonies to God’s goodness?
Are we feeling the presence of our Lord in our own lives?
Are we seeing a tendency for great joy here?
I’ve mentioned this in the past but when I write the blog, I can feel the Lord’s Spirit rising up within me. I don’t normally recognize this condition until I go to get up from my chair, then I’m all weak-kneed and I feel like the apostles from the upper room. If anyone saw me, they would probably say the same thing about me as they did back then, “Is he drunk?” Now, I’m not unique. Just focused on what my Lord is doing at the time. Even though I would like to, I can’t be like that all the time. I would be no good to anyone – not even myself. My brain is working fine but my legs & body are liked cooked spaghetti. (is there an older fart around to help me stand up?)
My computer is down in the basement and everything else is upstairs. I have to laugh at myself when I try to get back upstairs after working on the blog. I literally have to crawl back up the stairs on all fours! I feeeeel goooood, but I laugh because I think of what someone else might think if they saw me.
Did I mention that when we experience the Lord, we should experience great peace and joy? I speak for myself, nothing else really matters until I’ve come down from this state of euphoria. There is consolation, hope, no fear, I like to just sit back and bask in that feeling. What’d I say? I feeeeeel goooood!
So how does the birth of Jesus impact us today? See for yourself. Experience it for yourself!