John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
How can we know God? How can we see Him? There is so much deep truth revealed in the first chapter of the Gospel according to John. We find that Jesus existed from eternity along with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. We find that all things were made through Him. And we find that He became the image of God to man.
Paul spoke of this truth also in Colossians 1:15: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” and in verse 19 “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell”. On that first Christmas, God truly came down to man. He walked this earth and did the things that humans do. He ate, drank, slept, worked, and learned. He got dirty and hungry and needed rest like anyone else. He did that for you, so that you could know Him.
God made a way for us to be closer to Him and to see Him. For those who lived during the right period in time, God walked in their midst. For us today, He’s revealed through the Bible, God’s Word. He’s there for us because He was born into humanity that night in Bethlehem. The Christmas story began before time existed.
Luke 2:7 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.
Why does the Bible point out that Mary gave birth to her “firstborn son”? The Bible minces no words, says nothing in vain. Everything has meaning. So why is this phrasing included in the story of Jesus’ birth? We already know from the previous chapter that Mary was to give birth to the Savior though she had never “known” a man. The Holy Spirit was to work in her to conceive the child. Knowing that, we’d know that this was her firstborn. So why mention it?
There are several reasons that this is significant wording. One is that King Herod had heard about this child who was to be born “King of the Jews”. Because he was a paranoid man (He actually killed his own sons because he considered them a threat to his throne), he had all of the firstborn sons of the Jewish people killed. Everyone that he thought could be this “king” was slaughtered. Jesus was a firstborn son, but He escaped the infanticide.
Another significant reason to mention that Jesus was the firstborn is that this is a title given to Him as the Son of God. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation (Colossians 1:15). Now in this case, the word doesn’t actually point to birth order but rather ranking or stature, but we see a picture painted here.
Maybe not lastly, but the last we’ll look at, is the idea that God always required the firstborn animal to be offered as a sacrifice in the Old Testament. The firstborn all belonged to God (Numbers 3:13). Jesus was HIS firstborn, and He offered Him as a sacrifice once and for all. That is why it means something that Jesus was the firstborn in this verse.
Micah 5:2 But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.
There were possibly hundreds of prophecies fulfilled in the birth of Jesus (depends on what scholar you ask). Some who oppose the idea of Jesus being the Son of God or the Messiah refute the prophecies by saying that Jesus knew of them and decided to live His life in a way that would make it seem that they had been fulfilled. But there are some (like the virgin birth!) that Jesus could not have had a hand in when it comes to choosing. How could an unborn child make sure that He was born under a star in the city of David, just like the prophet had foretold?
No, unless that baby was in fact God, there is no way He could have made that happen. Only the Creator who existed from eternity past could orchestrate such a thing. Only the designer of time and space could place Himself into history at just the right time to fulfill every one of those prophecies. Jesus was capable of being born in Bethlehem because He was involved in the planning of such an event.
No matter where it had been that He chose, it would have been part of a sovereign design for the redemption of God’s people. There is no other who has the power to save. That baby born in Bethlehem to a virgin mother and a noble adoptive father would grow in wisdom and in stature, live a sinless life, and die for the sins of the world. He was born in a town of little repute in a stable and died on a hill amongst thieves.
Matthew 1:19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.
Who was Joseph and why is it important? We so often talk about Mary because she is the virgin mother who was chosen by God to bear the Savior. It was Mary who conceived by the Holy Spirit. But Joseph was chosen by God to be part of this story as well.
Joseph was a descendent of David, a requirement for the prophesy of the Messiah to come true. He was the one who was from Bethlehem in Judea, where the Savior was to be born. It was Joseph who had to return there for the census. But why did he bring Mary along with him? He wasn’t required to. Surely one of Mary’s relatives could have cared for her while Joseph made the journey to his hometown. But word had gotten out about this “virgin” who had conceived a child. The pressure was put on Joseph to divorce her, or worse, stone her to death. Joseph likely brought her along to protect her and the child.
But why would he do this? We learn from the Bible that Joseph was a just man. And why should that surprise us? This was to be the man who would play the role of father to the Son of God while he was growing up. Why would God have picked anyone short of a just man who had integrity and character? Mary was chosen with good reason, and so was Joseph. God provided the perfect settings for Jesus to come into the world.
Matthew 1:17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.
It’s no mistake and no coincidence that Matthew chose to begin his Gospel account with the lineage of Jesus. While it may seem insignificant and we may choose to skip past this part of Scripture, every bit of it is intentional. Jesus did not appear out of nowhere. He was born to a specific human mother who was selected personally by God. His earthly father was a man who came from a line of Jews that stretched all the way back to Abraham, the father of the nation of Israel.
It was Abraham who first received a promise from God in the form of a covenant, David with whom God renewed His covenant, and the post-exilic Jews who were told of the Messiah’s coming. Each and every person in the history of Jesus’ genealogy is important as each of them has their own story. Just as you and I are the product of our family line, so too is Jesus the product of His. With the exception, of course, that He’s God.
Matthew’s inclusion of the genealogy shows the importance of the Old Testament to the New. The story of Israel is the story of Jesus. Those people who came before Him matter. God ordained that Jesus be born into a particular family, to a particular mother. But this was not the beginning of Jesus, only the beginning of His mission on earth. Jesus existed long before His birth on Christmas…