- Norma Boeckler has a Christmas birthday - December 22nd.
- Carl and Lynda Roper celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this year.
Hymn #81 O Jesus Christ, Thy Manger Is
The First Gospel
Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
KJV Isaiah 40:1 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. 2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD'S hand double for all her sins. 3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: 5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. 6 The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: 7 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. 8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. 9 O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!
The Place of Jesus’ Birth
KJV Micah 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
Hymn# 102 O Come All Ye Faithful
KJV Isaiah 9:2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
KJV Isaiah 7:10 Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying, 11 Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. 12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD. 13 And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. 16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.
KJV Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
Hymn#109 While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks
KJV Matthew 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
KJV Luke 2:1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
The Angels' Song
KJV Luke 2:1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
1. It is written in Haggai 2:6-7, that God says: “I will shake the heavens; and the precious things of all nations shall come.” This is fulfilled today, for the heavens were shaken, that is, the angels in the heavens sang praises to God. And the earth was shaken, that is, the people on the earth were agitated; one journeying to this city, another to that throughout the whole land, as the Gospel tells us. It was not a violent, bloody uprising, but rather a peaceable one awakened by God who is the God of peace.
The Virgin birth of Jesus is a great proclamation, where God became man and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. His divine nature is often denied by the scoffers, which makes people a little wary of emphasizing His human nature. Nothing illustrates this more than His birth.
Joseph and Mary had to be obedient to the Roman Empire for Jesus to be born in Bethlehem, which has two names - House of Bread, and Fruitful. The name Bread reminds us of Jesus being the Bread of Life, and the manna coming down from Heaven. It all goes together.
When Moses asked for food for the Israelites, God gave them manna - bread from Heaven - feed them and keep them alive. Jesus called Himself the Bread of Life.
If Joseph and Mary had disobeyed the government, or events had turned out differently, the Bethlehem prophesy would have be wrong. But it was not.
The journey they took was difficult, far more than we imagine, because Mary was close to term and walking uphill. If they had a beast of burden, that would have helped, but the fruit trees did not bow down to feed her, as the Roman Catholic myths claim.
The entire emphasis is upon the way God works among the humble, to shame the great, powerful, and wise, who gain all their glory on earth.
Even today, people wonder, "Why does no one notice what is being done in quiet humility to glorify God?" That is the way it was and always will be. People appreciate what matters least in the long run. They glorify the fleeting, the material, the temporary. They ignore the eternal.
But this paradox, a seeming contradiction, is shown us with the birth of Jesus so that we see - it was that way then and will always be, so that fact encourages us to realize that God knows all and rewards in secret. Often His greatest rewards and miracles go without being noticed at all by unbelievers, scoffers, and apostates - that is their punishment.
Every year I see a post about thanking the people who are working on Christmas:
- Emergency personnel
- The military.
For this to happen, all of world history had to form the events making the prophesies come true:
We should not overlook the frequent title of Jesus - Son of David, which was the same as saying Messiah, Anointed-with-Oil King, or Christ, the Greek version of the same title.
David's Kingdom came upglued after Solomon and began a long decline, which included the long Babylonian Exile and the Return.
When Alexander the Great rose about 300 BC, his conquests included Israel in the trophies collected.
When the Maccabeean Revolt took back Israel for the Jews in 165 BC, many rejoiced and treated Judas Maccabeus as the Messiah, the Son of David. But that did not last.
By 60 BC, the Roman Empire was asked to be peacekeepers in Israel, which led to Herod, the non-Jew becoming the the head of the shattered, battered remnant state of Israel. The prophesy was fulfilled, the throne had departed from the House of David. The Messiah would come. The Star would appear.
So when we read about that little shepherd boy David, coming from Bethlehem, I ask children, "Why does that matter?" Because Jesus was born in that tiny town, due to David being from that town. And that fulfilled the Old Testament Promises, but far beyond what the people expected.
8. The Evangelist shows how, when they arrived at Bethlehem, they were the most insignificant and despised, so that they had to make way for others until they were obliged to take refuge in a stable, to share with the cattle, lodging, table, bed chamber and bed, while many a wicked man sat at the head in the hotels and was honored as lord. No one noticed or was conscious of what God was doing in that stable. He lets the large houses and costly apartments remain empty, lets their inhabitants eat, drink and be merry; but this comfort and treasure are hidden from them. O what a dark night this was for Bethlehem, that was not conscious of that glorious light!
See how God shows that he utterly disregards what the world is, has or desires; and furthermore, that the world shows how little it knows or notices what God is, has and does.
9. See, this is the first picture with which Christ puts the world to shame and exposes all it does and knows. It shows that the world’s greatest wisdom is foolishness, her best actions are wrong and her greatest treasures are misfortunes. What had Bethlehem when it did not have Christ? What have they now who at that time had enough? What do Joseph and Mary lack now, although at that time they had no room to sleep comfortably?
11. But the birth itself is still more pitiful. There was no one to take pity on this young wife who was for the first time to give birth to a child; no one to take to heart her condition that she, a stranger, did not have the least thing a mother needs in a birth-night. There she is without any preparation, without either light or fire, alone in the darkness, without any one offering her service as is customary for women to do at such times. Every thing is in commotion in the inn, there is a swarming of guests from all parts of the country, no one thinks of this poor woman. It is also possible that she did not expect the event so soon, else she would probably have remained at Nazareth.
5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
I remember a New Testament "scholar," a rationalist, saying, "There is no record of a tax." In fact, many of the problems associated with this have been addressed. One is the loss of 99% of all ancient history - and we should be grateful for that! Beyond that point, there are many special taxations and tributes mentioned at that time. Many times people get stuck on names, because people have more than one name, or on other facts.
Scoffers never mention that every single detail where we have a historical record is 100% in agreement with the Word of God. Luther sensed that long ago. Centuries of archaeology have shown him to have been correct. The Bible judges all books.
Jesus was born with more neglect than any of us can imagine. We are used to hospitals, doulas, midwives, painkillers, special rooms and clothes, attendants, helpers, prepared food.
But this birth was special. Jesus was born without sin. The Immaculate Concept applies to Mary - not Jesus - as most know. The Immaculate Conception was part of the Mary mythology that developed in the Middle Ages.
The Virgin Birth is Biblical, and the Two Natures in Christ mean that Jesus could be tempted and could sin, but did not sin because of His divine nature and will.
We are born with sinful natures, which reveal themselves at all times. We want the bigger piece of pie, the greater praise, the better life, whatever suits us at the time. That Old Adam is tamed but never conquered as long as we live. As Luther said, we live - always repentant, always forgiven through faith.
Jesus' birth swallows up ours, as Luther says, so His birth becomes ours. Whatever blessings we have come through Him - from the forgiveness of sin to eternal life, and all the fruits of the Gospel in our lives.
38. In the third place, it is shown by the light that shined around the shepherds, which teaches that here there must be an entirely different light than that of human reason. Moreover, when St. Luke says, Gloria Dei, the glory of God, shone around them, he calls that light a brightness, or the glory of God. Why does he say that? In order to call attention to the mystery and reveal the character of the Gospel. For while the Gospel is a heavenly light that teaches nothing more than Christ, in whom God’s grace is given to us and all human merit is entirely cast aside, it exalts only the glory of God, so that henceforth no one may be able to boast of his own power; but must give God the glory, that it is of his love and goodness alone that we are saved through Christ.
See, the divine honor, the divine glory, is the light in the Gospel, which shines around us from heaven through the apostles and their followers who preach the Gospel. The angel here was in the place of all the preachers of the Gospel, and the shepherds in the place of all the hearers, as we shall see. For this reason the Gospel can tolerate no other teaching besides its own; for the teaching of men is earthly light and human glory; it exalt the honor and praise of men, and makes souls to glory in their own works; while the Gospel glories in Christ, in God’s grace and goodness, and teaches us to boast of and confide in Christ.
Hymn # 646 Silent Night
Luke 2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
The Prayers and Benediction
Hymns # 87 Joy to the World