Merry And Bright
As I prepared for Christmas I could only prepare on the days that I felt good. I was having the most aggressive chemotherapy and my last one of six would be the day after Christmas. THis had been a very different Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thanksgiving was not at my house and I did not cook. This was the first year I did not have a big Christmas party, I did not have four Christmas trees and I did not put out a lot of decorations. That Christmas Eve I sat in church listening to the Christmas songs as I had every Christmas. When we sing Silent Night and the lights are dimmed I watched the candle light dance to the music. I could hear the song echoing throughout the sanctuary. The dark room filled with light. Just as the light had shown for me during a dark time in my life. Though my life was different - one thing remained the same. God.
That year was a reminder of how imperfect the first Christmas was. The circumstance was definitely not perfect with Mary's pregnancy before marriage. The location in a stable was not perfect. The bed was not perfect for the new baby - a manger. Even the timing of his birth was not perfect. During the census. To us, it looks imperfect. But Gods circumstance, location, bed and the timing was perfect. Luke 2: 7, "...and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them."
Why was Jesus born of a virgin birth? We needed this "circumstance" of Mary and Joseph not being married to show that this was supernatural. This was divine. From he beginning of Jesus' human life, He was set apart from humans. Luke 1: 34, "'How will this be,' Mary asked the angel, 'since I am a virgin?'” His supernatural conception and birth, his supernatural resurrection from the dead showed the supernatural work of His Father. Humanity is shown that we cannot save ourselves. Only through Jesus who was fully human and fully divine in one person. OF the billions of births throughout history, only one person entered the world through a virgin birth. Although it defies our rationalism a recent survey found that 79% of Americans believe in the virgin birth, and even more surprisingly, 27% of self-proclaimed non-Christians affirm the doctrine. 1 Timothy 2: 5, "For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus..."
Why was Jesus born in a manger. Manger translated to a feeding trough. In that part of the world animals were kept in caves and the feeding troughs were made out of stone. Jesus was probably born in a cave in Bethlehem and laid in a stone trough. This would show humility and accessibility. He was wrapped in swaddling cloths like any peasant of that time. He was laid in a feeding trough. Jesus would be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father. Isaiah 9: 6, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Humility was how Jesus lived his whole life and ministry. When He died He was buried in a borrowed grave - another cave.
Why would he be born in Bethlehem? The short answer is because the Old Testament Prophet Micah prophesied that the birth of Jesus would take place in Bethlehem. Micah 5: 2, "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
A census was ordered by Caesar Augustus and this was a first. The Roman government wanted to make sure everyone in the Empire was paying their taxes correctly. Luke 2, 1, "In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world." Caesar Augustus had tried to make himself a god. The tax bill he signed would make every man and woman, peasants, living in Nazareth, to journey to Bethlehem to enroll. It was critical that Joseph and Mary go to Bethlehem, their own city, so they would be there when the Messiah was born so the prophecy of Micah would come to pass. Now we know, but Caesar Augustus did not, that God let him be moved by the Spirit to do exactly what he did to get the result God wanted. God knew exactly when Jesus would be born! Even though Caesar Augustus was ignorant of the Word of God, he was a main player in bringing the prophecy to pass which shows the supernatural work of Almighty God!
The virgin birth, no room at the inn and the census were no surprises to God. He planned it that way. It was the perfect birth! Matthew 19: 26, "With God all things are possible."