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A Coming Savior

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Christmas 2022 – Part 1
A Coming Savior!
What Is the Origin of Christmas?
Christmas is a popular December holiday celebrated by large numbers of people all around the world. It has long been known as the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, which occurred over 2,000 years ago. However, not all who celebrate the holiday do so with Jesus’ birth in mind. In fact, there are many traditions associated with Christmas that actually began as a part of pagan culture.
The exact date of Jesus’ birth is unknown, as the Bible does not give specifics as to the dates of either His birth or conception. But in the second century A.D., a Roman Christian historian named Sextus Julius Africanus calculated Jesus’ birthdate to be December 25 (nine months after Africanus believed Jesus was conceived). In spite of the assumptions made in Africanus’s line of thinking, the date was widely accepted.
At that time, Roman culture already celebrated a holiday on December 25: Saturnalia, the winter solstice. This tradition honored Saturn, the god of agriculture, and was celebrated with merriment, feasting, and gift giving. When Rome eventually instituted Christianity as the state religion in the fourth century, the Roman church converted Saturnalia to a Christian holiday in order to commemorate Jesus’ birth. Christians have celebrated it as such ever since.
The question then becomes, “Since Christmas has its origins in pagan traditions, is it acceptable for Christians to celebrate it?” The fact remains that, although Christmas has some associations with a secular holiday, Christians still celebrate it to remember the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It may be a matter of conscience for some. [These individuals choose not to celebrate Christmas, believing that it is a pagan holiday (1 Corinthians 10:23)]. There are many others who believe the holiday has been redeemed due to the deeper meaning it has been given. These individuals continue to celebrate Christmas based on Paul’s words further on in the Scripture verse in 1 Corinthians 10:31.
1 Corinthians 10:23 (AMP)
23All things are legitimate [permissible—and we are free to do anything we please], but not all things are helpful (expedient, profitable, and wholesome). All things are legitimate, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life].
1 Corinthians 10:31 (AMP)
31So then, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you may do, do all for the honor and glory of God.
John 3:16-17 (NIV84)
16“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
These verses are rarely associated with Christmas and the birth of Christ.
God sent his Son into the world.
Isaiah 7:14 (NIV84)
14Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (God with us).
Isaiah’s prophetic career was from 742-701 bc.
The book of Isaiah was written around 700-685 bc.
This prophecy was written hundreds of years before the birth of Christ.
Matthew 1:23 (NIV84)
23"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us."
John 1:1, 14 (NIV84)
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Flesh = σάρξ sarx = one who is or becomes a physical being, living being with flesh; of humans: person, human being.
Two Christological Heresies:
Docetism, 2 ad, held that Jesus was fully divine and only appeared human and only appeared to die on the cross.
The idea that divine beings could appear in human form was common in the ancient world.
Jesus was human; He did not merely appear in human form.
Arianism, 4 ad: Jesus was not eternal and not God by nature, he was a created being.
The Word was not changed when It was made flesh. Let no-one, therefore, believe that the Son of God was changed or transformed into the Son of man; but rather let us believe that He, remaining the Son of God, was made the Son of man, without loss of His divine substance and by a perfect assumption of the human substance. Nor do the words, The Word was God and The Word was made flesh, signify that the Word was made flesh in such a way that It ceased to be God; for in the flesh itself, because the Word was made flesh, Emmanuel, God with us, was born.
Romans 1:18-20 (NIV84)
18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,
19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.
20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
As long as there are godless and wicked men, there will be heresies that deny the truth of God’s Word.
Nearly all of the more than three hundred prophecies have already come true (a few remain for our future). Jesus was all that had been foretold, and so much more.
One mathematician determined that the odds of one person’s fulfilling even sixty specific prophecies are 1 in 1 plus 157 zeros.
Luke 1:26–38 (NIV84)
26In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,
27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
28The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
30But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.
31You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.
32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,
33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
36Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month.
37For nothing is impossible with God.”
38“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
Mary’s submission is a very lovely thing. ‘Whatever God says, I accept.’
Mary had learned to forget the world’s commonest prayer—‘Your will be changed’—and to pray the world’s greatest prayer—‘Your will be done.’
Matthew 1:18–25 (NIV84)
18This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.
19Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
23“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”
24When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.
25But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Joseph was given the assignment of naming the boy that would be born of Mary.
Naming the boy would recognize the child as Joseph’s legal son.
The angel of the Lord told Joseph that the name of the child born of Mary would be Jesus.
Jesus is equivalent to the Old Testament name Joshua. Joshua was the Old Testament personality who led Israel into the Promised Land.
The child that would be born of Mary would be God’s servant to lead people to salvation.
The name “Jesus” or “Joshua” means God is salvation or God is Savior.
In the close of verse twenty-one, the angel gave the purpose of Jesus being born. His purpose would be to save his people from their sins.
Jesus was the only baby ever born with a mission in relation to sin.
Jesus was more than a baby. He was the fulfillment of prophecy. He was the long-awaited Messiah.
Today, we know Joseph’s name because of his faithfulness and obedience in following every instruction that God gave him. In Joseph and in Mary, God selected the only man and the only woman in this world to whom he would entrust his own precious Son.
Galatians 4:4 (NIV84)
4But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law,
Why did Jesus come when He did?
For the first time in history, the Mediterranean world—the cradle of civilization—was unified.
The Romans had constructed their famous Roman roads which would allow God’s messengers to travel safely and more quickly.
Ships were of a quality that they could travel the seas more readily and could be a means to spread the gospel.
There was a relatively calm environment throughout the area due to Pax Romana – the “Roman peace,” which lasted from 27 BC to 180 AD.
The Romans were permissive about religions as long as there wasn’t any trouble, and the Jews paid a punitive tax—fiscus Judaicus.
Greek was the common language. This made it possible for the spread of the gospel without a need for a cumbersome translation.
Micah 5:2 (Legacy Standard Bible)
2“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from everlasting, From the ancient days.”
Micah predicted the birth of Jesus 700 years before it happened.
Matthew 2:1–8 (NIV84)
1After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem
2and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”
3When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.
4When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born.
5“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6“ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’”
7Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.
8He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
Micah’s prophecy of Christ’s birth was so well known that when King Herod sought the location of the Savior’s birth, his royal scholars referred to it.
Bethlehem was where Jacob’s wife, Rachel, was buried. She had died while giving birth to her son, Benjamin.
The widows, Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, left Moab and moved to Bethlehem. Ruth married Boaz, who fathered Obed, who fathered David.
Bethlehem was so small as to be “too little to be among the clans of Judah” (Mic. 5:2). When Joshua allotted towns for the tribe of Judah, Bethlehem was not large enough to be among the 115 cities and towns on the list (cf. Josh. 15:20–63).
In modern terms, Bethlehem wouldn’t merit a single traffic light or sport a single radio station.
As it still is today, Bethlehem was then a small town five or six miles south of Jerusalem, in the fertile hill country of Judea (Judah). It is cradled between two ridges and was located along the main ancient highway from Jerusalem to Egypt.
It was once called Ephrath, or Ephrathah, and is referred to by that name several times in the Old Testament (Gen. 35:16; Ruth 4:11; Ps. 132:6; Mic. 5:2). The town came to be called Bethlehem after the conquest of Canaan under Joshua, its new name meaning “house of bread.”
1 Chronicles 4:4 (NIV84)
4Penuel was the father of Gedor, and Ezer the father of Hushah. These were the descendants of Hur, the firstborn of Ephrathah and father of Bethlehem. (Towns often named after people.)
Who could have dreamed that so unimportant a place would breed a David? Of all the clans of the tribe of Judah, the Ephrathite clan around Bethlehem would hardly supply a respectable army unit at times of tribal levy (similar to the draft of today).
Matthew 2:9–23 (NIV84)
9After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.
10When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.
That the magi were not following the star is clear from the fact that they had to inquire about where Jesus was born. They saw His star in the east, but there is no evidence that it continued to shine or that it led them to Jerusalem.
It was not until they were told of the prophesied birthplace of the Messiah (2:5–6) that the star reappeared and then guided them not only to Bethlehem but to the exact place “where the Child was” (v. 9).
11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
12And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
13When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
14So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt,
15where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” (Hosea 11:1)
16When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.
17Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
18“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” (Jeremiah 31:15)
19After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt
20and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”
21So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.
22But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee,
23and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene.”
V. 23, Because Matthew speaks of the prophets, plural, it seems that several prophets had made this prediction, though it is not specifically recorded in the Old Testament.
Vss. 9-11, The events described in this passage probably occurred several months after Jesus was born.
We see from 2:11 that Jesus’ family was now staying in a house rather than the stable where He was born (Luke 2:7).
Jesus, therefore, would already have been circumcised, and Mary would have completed her period of purification.
Luke 2:21-24 (NIV84)
21On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.
22When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord
23(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord"),
24and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: "a pair of doves or two young pigeons."
A mother was ritually unclean for forty days after bearing a son; on the fortieth day she brought a sacrifice to the temple (Leviticus 12:1–8). Mary’s sacrifice (Luke 2:24) was the smallest permitted, that of a poor person.
The rich were required to bring a lamb; but the poor and middling classes were required to bring either two turtle doves, or two young pigeons.
One was for a burnt-offering, and the other for a sin-offering.
Joseph and Mary offered “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons” instead of the normal lamb, showing that the family was poor.
If this offering was made after the Magi brought their expensive gifts, Joseph and Mary would have offered a lamb.
Matthew 2:15 (NIV84)
15where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
V. 15, So was fulfilled. From infancy the threat of death hung over our Lord. It is apparent that He was born to die, but only at the appointed time. Anyone, who walks in God’s will is immortal until his work is done. The family became refugees from the wrath of Herod and fled to Egypt.
God had said through the prophet Hosea: “Out of Egypt I called My Son” (Hosea 11:1).
The Exodus was a type of Jesus’ return from Egypt with Joseph and Mary. As God had once brought the people of Israel out of Egypt to be His chosen nation, He now had brought out His greater Son to be the Messiah.
Matthew 2:16–18 (NIV84)
16When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.
17Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
18“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”
Vss. 16-18, Liberals have made much of the fact that this incident is not mentioned in any secular source, as if its absence proves it was invented to fulfill the verses Matthew cites from Hosea and Jeremiah. There is no reason the slaughter should have been mentioned in any other ancient writing. Herod would not have recorded it, for it did not paint him in a very good light. Further, Bethlehem was a small town, having no more than one thousand residents (perhaps as few as three hundred, according to some estimates). There would have been no more than a dozen or so young children. In an age of atrocities, the murder of these children would have been merely one additional cruelty and not a particularly striking one at that.
Many prophecies in the Old Testament had two applications—one to some specific event for the Israelites and the second to Christ in the form of typology. This gives us a precedence to see much of Christ in the Old Testament.
Matthew 2:7-11 (NIV84)
7Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.
8He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
9After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.
10When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.
11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
The Magi were wise men, who were counselors to kings. They were not kings.
Scripture also does not state how many there were.
Some assume three, because three gifts were given: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (v. 11)
Gold emphasized Jesus’ royalty: Throughout Scripture, gold is associated with royalty—kings, queens, and princes.
Frankincense emphasized Jesus’ deity: Frankincense was used in the Old Testament not only for royal processions, but also in various offerings to God.
Frankincense usually refers to something related to the worship or service of God (Exodus 30:34; Leviticus 2:1).
Myrrh, emphasizing Jesus’ humanity: Frankincense was associated with the worship of God; myrrh was more associated with the anointing of man.
Myrrh was a valuable spice and perfume used in embalming.
Jesus was presented myrrh as a King in a cradle. However, in Mark 15:23 when Jesus was being hoisted onto the cross, He was offered “wine mixed with myrrh.” So not only was Jesus presented with myrrh as a King in a cradle, He would be offered myrrh as a King on a cross. John 19:38–42 tells us that Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea used myrrh to prepare Jesus’ body for burial in the tomb.
In this gift of myrrh, given soon after Jesus’ birth, we have a foretaste of His impending death. He came for one reason—Jesus was born to die. He came to take the payment and penalty for our sins on Himself. And this shouldn’t be a surprise, for Matthew has already told us through the angel’s announcement that Jesus came to “save His people from their sins” (1:21).
God loved the world so much that He sent His Son to live a life of perfect obedience, a life we couldn’t live, and then to die the death we deserved to die. Jesus then rose from the grave in victory over sin and death, so that whoever believes in Him will never perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).
John 1:1, 14 (NIV84)
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The Word became flesh. Incarnation.
If you ask many Christians, “What is the significance of the incarnation?” They would not know the answer.
We’ll learn this great lesson in Two Weeks!!! (The Lord Willing)
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