Christmas Verses – Matthew 2:1-8

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; For out of you shall come forth a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’” Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” Matthew 2:1-8.

These magi may have been the Babylonian or Persian remnants of Daniel’s following from 500 years earlier. They follow a star, looking back to Balaam’s prophecy in Numbers 24:17. Herod the king wants the child put to death, but hides it by saying he wants to worship the king. The chief priests and scribes know about Micah 5:2, and apply it to the Messiah. They were not ignorant of OT prophecies, but read them through the hermeneutical lens that Messiah would be a warrior king, not suffering servant.

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Christmas Verses – John 1:1-5

Jesus took on humanity in the incarnation, but the person of the eternal Son of God has always existed with the Father. Nowhere in Scripture is this more clearly communicated than in John’s Gospel:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1:1-5.

Here we learn that Jesus (the Word made flesh, v. 14) was in the beginning with God, and was God. This shows the unity and diversity within the Triune God: God is one in essence, and yet three persons. Jesus possesses all the totality of the divine nature (Colossians 2:9), and yet is distinct from God the Father.

Jesus was also actively involved in creation (“all things came into being by Him”). He is pictured here as true life and light, bringing life and light to all, and shining light into a dark world. Jesus’ entrance into the world in His birth was the coming of God among men in a human person, bringing life and light, now available to all. The words of the familiar Christmas hymn “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” show the divine and human natures of Christ united in one person. Ponder the words of the second verse especially:

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King,
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
join the triumph of the skies;
with th’ angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King!”

Christ, by highest heaven adored;
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
late in time behold him come,
offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail th’ incarnate Deity,
pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King!”

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
born that we no more may die,
born to raise us from the earth,
born to give us second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King!”

Christmas Verses – Isaiah 9:6-7

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.” Isaiah 9:6-7.

These wonderful verses, given 700 years before Jesus’ birth, predict the coming of the Messiah and the ultimate fulfillment of the promise of an everlasting kingdom made to David. The child born would have divine titles, showing His connection to and empowerment by God.

In Jesus’ birth this promise finds its ultimate focus. Christmas means the kingdom promised by God is coming near in the person of its king, Jesus the Messiah.

Christmas Verses – Isaiah 7:14

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

The sign of Immanuel would have been for King Ahaz of Judah to know the Lord was with him, protecting him.

The promise of the child Immanuel meant God would deliver His people from their oppressors. In Christ, who is the final fulfillment of this prophecy, God has promised to deliver His people from their ultimate oppressor, the very sin that resides within them.

The coming of Christ is the coming of a Deliverer, a Savior.

Christmas Verses – 2 Samuel 7:12-16

“When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.” 2 Sam. 7:12-16.

These are some amazing promises made to David that applied first to 1) Solomon and 2) Davidic kings of Judah, but 3) ultimately, to Jesus the Messiah, Israel’s one true king. The birth of Jesus is the birth of the last and final Davidic king. The kingdom of this king is an everlasting kingdom that will endure forever.

Christmas is a reminder that God always keeps His promises. A promise made to David around 1000 BC was fulfilled in a sense in the coming of Jesus a thousand years later, and will be fulfilled in a final sense when Jesus returns (at present, three thousand years after David lived).

God has also promised through His word, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9). Have you been cleansed from your sin through faith in Jesus?

We can thank God today that He is a God who keeps all His promises.

Christmas Verses – Numbers 24:17

As the Israelites wandered through the desert from Egypt to the Promised Land, Balak of Moab hires Balaam son of Beor to curse the people. However, in his attempts to curse Israel, he ends up blessing them and prophesying about their future. In one passage Balamm predicts:

“I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near;
A star shall come forth from Jacob,
And a scepter shall rise from Israel,
And shall crush through the forehead of Moab,
And tear down all the sons of Sheth.” Numbers 24:17.

At the time Israel had no land and no king besides God. Yet even in their infancy God had already predetermined that a ruler would come who would destroy Moab as a warrior king. This prophecy looks for that ruler to come from the tribe of Judah within the nation of Israel.

Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of this prophecy in that He is the Messiah from the tribe of Judah of the people of Israel. His birth was announced to wise men from the east by a brilliant star shining in the sky, guiding them to the newborn king. One day, when He returns from heaven, He will conquer as a warrior king and set up a kingdom on earth that will have no end.

The Enduring Value of the Participatory Lord’s Supper

CommunionI grew up in a Bible-believing church that celebrated the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ once each week in a meeting called “The Lord’s Supper.” It was also know in our family as “The Breaking of Bread” or the “First Meeting.” The meeting is unlike communion services in mainline evangelical churches in that it is a service where men who have trusted in Jesus Christ can stand up sporadically and share something about their Savior from their heart. I heard a lot about the importance of that meeting growing up, often from within the meeting itself. Many people over the years have testified about its’ significance in their life. Some have identified it as the main reason they choose to fellowship at a particular local church. Others qualify that service as the most important hour of their week.

Many have written about the biblical foundation for the participatory Lord’s Supper. That is not the purpose of this article, though it is an area of continued need. Neither do I intend to make sweeping generalizations about the churches that employ this kind of a service, as seems to be popular among some today. In what follows, I simply want to offer seven reasons why I value the Lord’s Supper. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, as if I could in a few words encompass the immeasurable worth of remembering the Savior in this way. While these reasons are very close to my heart, they are in no way exclusive to myself alone. I hope in reading them you also will be moved to marvel at the manifold wisdom of our Lord Jesus Christ for instituting this remembrance meal. Continue reading