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 – Matthew 1:18-25

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her, desired to put her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.” Now all this took place that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took her as his wife, and kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus. Matthew 1:18-25.

In these verses an angel (Gabriel? we don’t know) appears to Joseph to stop him from divorcing Mary. In doing so, he tells Joseph about the son Mary will bear, and that He would save His people from their sins. Matthew then tells us readers that this fulfills the words of Isaiah 7:14. Jesus is “God with us.” Joseph demonstrates his faith in the Lord in that he gets up and does what the angel commands, taking Mary as his wife.

Jesus is a Savior who delivers His people from their sin. Jesus is Immanuel: God (in the person of the eternal Son) with us.

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 – Hosea 11:1

“When Israel was a youth I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son.” Hosea 11:1.

There is much debate about how this verse relates to the birth of the Messiah in its original context, or whether Matthew adds new meaning to this verse. I think it best to see in the name Israel the concept of corporate solidarity: what is true for the nation of Israel as a whole is true for the perfect Israelite, the Messiah. Jesus’ personal history, then, mirrors Israel’s history in that He was taken down into Egypt in His youth and then came up out of Egypt later. Jesus also would be God’s chosen one to deliver His people from their sins, a greater deliverance even then when God delivered His people from Egypt.

Matthew uses this text to point to Jesus’ Messianic connections and His identity with His people. Remember, the name Jesus means “He will save His people from their sin,” (Matt. 1:21). Jesus is Savior first for Israel, and then for all people everywhere.

Perhaps Matthew also uses this text to make clear that Jesus is the Son of God. As the Son of God, He is the descendant of David, the divine ruler with the right to power and authority.