The Significance of Christmas: the Birth of our Savior


This will take only four minutes to read.

First Century Manger

The past two weeks we have studied the Christmas story as recorded for us by Luke in the second chapter of his gospel. The first week we looked thoroughly at 2:1-3 so that we could understand exactly when in time this event took place, and in doing so we also learned what took Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. Last week we examined vv. 4,5 which gave us a key bit of information about the child to be born: both of his parents were of the house and lineage of King David. After learning this we explored why this is so important. To keep up before reading this article, which will delve into the last two verses of our selected passage, I encourage you to read the first article here, and the second one here.

Today we close our brief study of Christmas, Luke 2:1-7, by taking a closer look at vv. 6 & 7 of our passage.

Luke 2:6,7 (ESV)

“And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”

I hope that you see how careful examination and study (1:3) has allowed Luke to write about one of the most important historical and spiritual events with such simplicity.  He did not get into the theology behind this birth, or even recount all of the prophesies that were just fulfilled. He simply stated, “And she gave birth” (v. 7). Who did she give birth to?

Later, in verse eight, a group of shepherds were “out in the field keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord'” (vv. 8-11)

She gave birth to a Savior. This was the mission of Jesus, right? While Jesus was in the house of Zacchaeus, he says to him, “For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost” (19:10). This was the mission and purpose of the little child Mary wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in that cold manger.

She gave birth to the Son of God. Back in Nazareth before traveling to Bethlehem Mary is visited by the angel Gabriel. He told her, “you will conceive in your womb and bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus. he will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever and of his kingdom there will be no end…the child to be born will be called holy – the Son of God” (1:32-33, 35).

The Son of God, a Savior, came to seek and save the lost. More than that, she gave birth to God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (John 1:1, 14).

In his gospel, Matthew states, “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet [Is. 7:14]: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means God with us)” (Matt. 1:22, 23).

God came to the earth, in human form, “to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10), “that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). This is why we celebrate Christmas. Our Lord God, Jesus Christ, Immanuel, our Savior, came into this world, the world he created (Gen. 1:1; John 1:3), to save those who would believe in him from eternal separation from him (John 3:16; Romans 3:23, 6:23).

I would like to close this article with another passage of scripture that speaks simply to what Luke recorded for us. This passage is found in Philippians chapter two and was written by the Apostle Paul to the church at Philippi. In 2:6-8 Paul says this: “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

This is who was born in the town of Bethlehem, the place of ancestry for his earthly parents and King David, as a result of a decree given by Julius Caesar (Octavian).

Merry Christmas!

This Week’s Memory Verse – Isaiah 9:6 – “A Son is Given”


The verse we are studying this week is another short, simple verse, but one that packs a full punch and a lot of information into one sentence. 
 

Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given; 

and the government shall be upon his shoulder, 

and his name shall be called 

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, 

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

 

Just as last week’s verse, Isaiah 7:14, this verse is helping us to focus our attention on Christ this season. Take a few minutes each day and read this verse. I also encourage you to set aside some time to study the significance contained in the words. What does it mean that the “government will be upon his shoulder?” What is so significant about the four names given to him: “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace?” Who is the “us” referred to?
 

Enjoy this one and share it with your friends and family! Make sure you are subscribed to email updates, below, so that you can read part one of our three part Christmas series (this week we will learn why Bethlehem was so significant).

Last day for Isaiah 7:14 – did you get it memorized?


This past week we had the pleasure to study and reflect on Isaiah 7:14 (below). This verse speaks very clearly to the coming messiah, which is what we celebrate this time of year with the holiday “Christmas.” 
 
I hope that you were able to give this verse some thought. If so, what did you learn? What stood out to you about this passage? Why is it significant that his name is called Immanuel?
 

Isaiah 7:14 (ESV)

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 
Take a few moments to reflect on this verse, then spend some time sharing your observations in the comments. I look forward to discussing this with you!
 
Stop by tomorrow for another verse from the Old Testament that prophesied the coming Messiah. 

Why is the Hypostatic Union of Christ Necessary?


Why is the Hypostatic Union of Christ Necessary

The nature of Christ is a difficult nature to understand. He is two in one. Completely God while at the same time completely man. While this may be hard to understand, this dual nature of Christ was required so that he could accomplish His redemptive work on the cross.

While there are numerous instances in Scripture where it is evident that Jesus was fully human, this author believes that there are two instances that stand out from the rest. These are His birth (Luke 2:1-7) and His death (John 19:31-35). Like the rest of humanity, He was born from a woman. And, like the rest of humanity, He died a physical death.
While Jesus was fully human He was also fully God. John 1:1 and 1:14 state this fact explicitly. Verse one states that “the Word was God” (ESV). Then, in verse fourteen, it states that, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” In addition to this passage, Jesus claimed to be one with the Father (John 10:30).

These facts are referred to as the Hypostatic Union. Stated simply, if such a doctrine can be, through the birth of Jesus His human nature was forever added to His divine nature. This addition of the human nature did not mix with the divine nature, but instead, “[remained] distinct, whole, and unchanged…so that the one person, Jesus Christ, was truly God and truly man.”[1]

With Jesus being both God and man carries enormous weight for the history of God’s

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relationship with man. Man was fallen before God, full of sin and unworthy of being in the presence of God (Romans 3:23). God promised a redeemer to save the world from eternal separation from Him (Genesis 12:1-3). This redeemer was Jesus (Romans 5:9-11). Because Jesus was God and man, He was able to become the one and only human being to live a blameless life before God (Hebrews 7:26) and offer His life as a sacrifice for the entire world (v. 27).

This sacrifice for all could not have been accomplished in any other way. Through His becoming human, He was able to identify with humanity (Hebrews 2:9), remain without sin (4:15), and give His life as a sacrifice for all (9:12), so that all those who would believe in Him can enter into a new relationship with God that is eternal in nature (Romans 5:2).
It is important to realize that in order for the redemptive nature of Christ to be adequate, both natures must remain at one hundred percent each. To make Him more human than God would eradicate His being able to remain blameless. And to make Him more God than human would eradicate His ability to completely self-identify with those He came to save.

Although Scripture is very clear that Jesus is God (John 1:1, 14) there are objections to this view of Christ. The first is Ebionitism, which states that Christ was a man born naturally on whom the Spirit came at his baptism. A fairly simple objection to this view is to restate the verses above. These verses are clear that God became man. Therefore, Christ could not be just man, He is also God.

Another view, Sabellianism, said that Jesus was a second God next to God. A simple objection to this is John 10:30, where Jesus states, “I and the Father are one.” Jesus was one with the Father, not in addition to Him or separate from Him. A third major view was Arianism, which believed Jesus was a subordinate entity to God. While He was subordinate in duty (Matthew 26:39, 42), He was not subordinate in nature (John 17:11).
Christ in His humanity is an example to all humans for how to live our lives. Personally, this author views Christ as an example of what our relationship to our heavenly Father should be like. Jesus was very clear that we are to love God with all of our heart, with all of our soul, and with all of our mind (Matthew 22:37). Alongside of this love, Jesus is a perfect example of doing the will of God because of our love for Him, which requires putting our wishes to the side (Matthew 26:39, 42). With these two examples in mind a life which is glorifying to God is the natural (though not always easy) result.

As can be seen, the nature of Christ is not easy to grasp. But it is the beauty of His dual nature, the Hypostatic Union, and the work that He accomplished because of this union, that offers us eternal life, with Him, if we believe in Him.

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Who is Christmas? – Part 1


Ah, Christmas is here. Well, the actual day is not but the season sure is. Ever since Black Friday it seems that traffic has been worse and stores have been incredibly crowded. ‘Tis the season, right? So why all of this shopping, why all the lights and obnoxious blow up things in your neighbor’s front yard, why are we singing Christmas songs in church, why is everything red and green? Who started all of this?

Who is Christmas - Part 1 "The Middle of the Story"This time of year is wonderful. For me it brings memories of reading Christmas stories while sitting on the couch in my parents family room. I can remember hearing the cold wind blowing outside and have fond memories of playing in the snow. Those were the days. Since then I have become smarter and stay inside when it snows outside. Nonetheless, this is a happy time of year filled with warm memories.

But why?

Well, the short answer, Jesus. Such a sunday school answer but it is so true. The reason for all of this hub-bub is Jesus. More accurately it is God coming to earth in human form (don’t just glaze over that…think about it). So who was Jesus that he has this day designated to himself thousands of years after he walked on our dusty planet?

Jesus was Human.

Flesh and bones. He had an actual stomach, heart, two kidneys, a brain, eyes, ears, etc. He had what we have, a human body. He had a family, just like you and I. His siblings mocked him (John 7:1-5), and at one point in his time on earth his family even thought he was going a little crazy in the head (Mark 3:20). Sound familiar? He also had a great sense of humor (look at Mark 6:45-51 and John 8:1-11), which is refreshing to see, and became frustrated one time or another (John 9:17-19). I have a sense of humor, become frustrated, have a family, my brother mocks me every once in a while (and I him), and I’m sure my family has scratched their heads while thinking of me a few times. What is great about all of this, Jesus had this too! He was human through and through. (More examples you can relate to: he became hungry (Matt. 4:2), slept (Luke 8:23), cried (John 11:35), and sweat (Luke 22:44)).

Jesus was God.

There is so much to that statement that your head just might implode if you think about it too long. So don’t. We can read it in the Bible and believe it, but to wrap out heads around it will take more than a simple reading of scripture. But, even though it is hard for our minds to comprehend how a human could also be God, it is true (take a look at John 1:1 and John 1:14). And what is great about Jesus is that he said so. One of my favorite statements Jesus made about his deity is found in John 8:58: “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (italics and bold text added, ESV). Abraham is past tense, Jesus is present tense. I love that.

Again, there is so much to unpack with the humanity of Christ and his deity, but this introduction should be enough to remind you of why we celebrate Christmas and who is behind it. And his time on earth is just the middle of the story, just scratches the surface at how complex He is and was. Part 2 – “The Beginning and the End and the Beginning” will show you exactly HOW human he was and HOW God he was and is today.

Thoughts? Questions? Comments? Converse below in the comments.