The Truth About Jesus’ Birth
I. The world, at this time of year, turns its attention to the birth of Jesus
A. The secular world sees opportunity to profit
B. The denominations moan about how their holiday is being secularized
C. And the real problem is that almost no one is interested in the truth
II. From the beginning of the world there were hints that a special child would be born
A. From the time of man’s fall - Genesis 3:15
1. The fact that this child would be a seed of woman hints at a special birth
B. Isaiah 7:14 - Born of a virgin (no man involved)
1. But that child’s name was “God with us”
C. He would descend from the lineage of David - Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15
D. This ruler would be born in Bethlehem - Micah 5:2
E. An obscure prophesy announced that children would be slaughtered - Jeremiah 31:15
F. Most of the prophesies that we just read were written over 500 years before the birth of Jesus.
1. Some are much older.
2. We have copies of these books that date 200 years before the birth of Jesus.
G. The birth of Jesus is a significant event. But the problem is that man is unable to leave a good story alone. Over the years it has been embellished to the point that the truth is lost in the myths that surround the events.
III. The events
A. Gabriel announces the selection of Mary - Luke 1:26-38
1. David was promised a permanent kingdom - II Samuel 7:11-16
2. It was to be fulfilled in this special child - Isaiah 9:6-7
3. The name of the child, Jesus, is a form of the name Joshua. It means “Savior.” It was not unique to this child, but it had a unique meaning in regards to what this child would accomplish in his life.
B. Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth - Luke 1:39-45
1. Elizabeth is six months pregnant in her old age with John
2. The visit lasted three months - Luke 1:56
a. This makes it unlikely that Joseph could be the father
b. Nor, while in the home of her cousin could the father be any other man.
C. A three months, the pregnancy shows. After return home to Nazareth, Joseph is upset that his wife-to-be is pregnant - Matthew 1:18-25
1. Instead of quietly divorcing her, he marries her
D. A decree for a census went out - Luke 2:1-5
1. The requirement that enrollment for the census had to take place in a person’s ancestral home must have caused quite a disturbance across the empire. Everyone would be traveling
2. It would not have been a great time for Mary to travel as she was near the end of her pregnancy.
E. The inn was full in Bethlehem, so the couple stayed in the stable and there the son of God was born in the lowest of conditions - Luke 2:6-7
F. The birth is announced to shepherds - Luke 2:8-20
1. The fact that the shepherds were spending the nights in the fields with their sheep tells us that Jesus’ birth occurred during the warm months in Israel.
2. No one knows when Jesus was born, but December is very unlikely.
3. By the way, shepherds are devoted to their flock. It would take a significant event to get them to leave them as possible prey.
4. Notice that the towns folk were impressed by the shepherd’s story.
G. Circumcision and naming - Luke 2:21
H. Presentation at the temple - Luke 2:22-24
1. This would occur when Jesus was 40 days old - Leviticus 12:2-4
2. Two offerings were required - Leviticus 12:6
3. If the couple was poor, a substitution was allowed - Leviticus 12:8
I. Simeon’s testimony - Luke 2:25-35
1. Simeon’s testimony was witnessed by Anna - Luke 2:36-38
2. She made sure others knew that salvation had come
J. The wise men’s testimony - Matthew 2:1-12
1. Here the myth’s abound
2. The number of men are not stated, only that three types of gifts were given
a. Yet men have numbered them as three, made up names for them and even have written stories about their background.
3. The star they saw was not in the east, but the men were in the east when they saw the star and they followed it to the west
a. Notice too that the star was not a natural event. They followed it from the east to the west, but after leaving Jerusalem, they followed it to Bethlehem, which is due south. This star moved
b. Stars are overhead, but you don’t see a star directly over a single home. If I picked a star straight above this building, and then when over to downtown Omaha, it would still look like it was straight up.
c. Only the wise men noticed the star.
4. It did not happen shortly after Jesus birth because by then Joseph and Mary were living in a house. Since their residence changed, it probably occurred after their return from the presentation in Jerusalem.
5. The star they saw did not shine over the manger, but over the house where Jesus lived.
K. Flight into Egypt - Matthew 2:13-18
1. Notice that based on the time the wise men told Herod, Herod ordered all male children two years and younger to be killed. Assuming that Herod wanted a margin of safety, we can assume Jesus was about a year old at the time of the wise men’s visit.
a. Note that Herod’s action showed that he believed the wise men’s report
b. Notice too that Herod consulted the Scriptures to locate the town of new king’s birth.
c. Note as well, that Herod’s belief was firm enough to risk the possible revolt that his action might have caused.
2. From history, we know that Herod was basically insane during his later years. He killed many of his own children and near relatives in fear that some would attempt to overthrow him. Nearing death, he ordered many prominent Jews into jail with orders that when he died, they were to be executed so there would be no rejoicing when Herod died.
3. Herod’s rule is dated between 37 to 4 B.C. Hence, Jesus was born sometime before 4 B.C., probably between 7 and 5 B.C.
4. The gifts of the wise men would have financed the family’s flight and life in Egypt during this time.
L. Return from Egypt - Matthew 2:19-23
IV. Think about the interleaving testimony presented
A. Could Joseph have fathered the child and was just covering up his sin?
1. Mary wasn’t present.
2. It doesn’t explain the other events
3. Why did Joseph consider divorcing Mary? Obviously he didn’t believe he was the father of the child.
B. Why would shepherds abandon their sheep in the night to go into town?
1. The explanation of seeing angels does explain the action.
C. The prophecies by Elizabeth who knew before Mary showed, Simeon who happened to met the couple, and Anna who was a known prophetess of God.
D. The actions of the wise men and Herod
E. All show that this was not mere happen chance, but fulfillment of prophecy
V. Yet, as we continue through the New Testament, all emphasis is placed on the death of Jesus.
A. The birth was significant, else the death could not take place
B. The birth showed God’s hand in the history of man
C. The birth showed that Jesus was not an ordinary man
D. Yet, nowhere are Christians asked to celebrate Jesus’ birth
1. The date is not mentioned, so when are we to do it?
2. How are we to keep this so-called religious holiday?
E. The Lord’s Supper was instituted to remember Jesus’ death
1. We are told when to keep it.
2. We are told how to keep it.
3. We are told why we must keep it.
F. Christmas is nothing more than a man-made holiday filled with man-made traditions and man-made myths.
1. Like many myths it originates in fact, but the facts are quickly left behind.
2. The holiday pulls us away from the true meaning of Jesus’ birth