Dr. C. S. Lovett's
MARANATHA FAMILY NEWSLETTER
THE REAL CHRISTMAS STORY
Christmas celebrates the most remarkable event in all centuries of human history—the entrance of the eternal God into the world as a baby. That’s astonishing! It occurred precisely on schedule taking place in a remote corner of the Roman empire—Palestine.
There were only two people involved, Joseph and Mary. These two insignificant souls, as far as the world was concerned, were headed for Bethlehem. They had to go there because Caesar Augustus said they must go there and register. This was because he was trying to set up a new plan for equal taxation on an empire-wide basis.
Augustus had no way of knowing he was carrying out the orders of heaven. God had decreed His Son would enter the human race in Bethlehem and it pleased God to use Augustus’ ambitious plan to bring it about.
Who would have ever dreamed that the mighty God Himself would enter this world as a MAN—like us? How and why the eternal God chose to arrive as a baby and endure earthly life as a man is really sacred knowledge, even secret knowledge, especially HOW it’s done.
We begin the story with Mary hearing from God in Luke, Chapter One:
26. Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27. to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
To a despised town in Galilee, God sends an angel to visit a godly young virgin. He has chosen this girl to fill a momentous role in His plan. The girl is Mary.
29. But she was very perplexed at this statement and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. 30. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33. and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”
THE MYSTERY OF CHRIST BEGINS HERE
We see that no human being fathers this pregnancy. As stated in Hebrews, God Himself sires the son born to Mary. “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”? (Hebrews 1:5).
At the same time, another FATHER is mentioned, David, the ancient king of Israel. In the New Testament, Jesus is frequently called the “Son of David” (Matt. 9:27;15:22, etc.). David foresaw that Messiah would be born in His line and one day occupy his throne (Heb. 1:8). In that sense, David is His LEGAL father, with God as His SPIRITUAL father; Father of His soul. His physical birth put Him in the line of David. His human rights (LEGAL) were passed down to him through Joseph.
34. Mary said to the angel, “How can this be since I am a virgin?” 35. The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason, the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.”
Based on what we know of God, we accept Jesus’ birth as being completely supernatural. It had to be, for there was no way for Joseph to pass deity onto anyone. Only God could bring forth a son equipped with the divine nature. You and I are not born with it. To be a man, Jesus also needed human nature which could only be acquired by the natural birth process from someone already in the human stream. Mary was chosen to provide Jesus with a physical body and human nature (Heb. 10:5).
38. And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
So as the legal descendant of David, Jesus is the rightful heir to the throne of Israel.
Let’s look at Luke, Chapter Two:
4. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, 5. in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. 6. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. 7. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths and laid Him in a manger [feed trough for animals], because there was no room for them in the inn.
We should not think of this INN as a motel with accommodations for travelers. There were such inns, and there is a special Greek word for those inns. But the word used here means walled enclosure where people would leave livestock for the night. It was a sort of cow motel. But there was no room even in this cattle enclosure.
There was always water and straw for cattle, but no accommodation for people. Mary and Joseph, now desperate for a place to have their baby, had to settle for an outbuilding where not even cattle were stored; a tack room, perhaps. Think about it! The God of Glory arriving in a feed trough!
The shepherds were in the fields taking care of their flocks. An angel tells them the Messiah has been born and where they might find Him. So they go, and God uses them for a special task—to encourage Mary. When they tell her what the angels said about her baby, it is very comforting, and since their circumstances are dire, she needs assurance that things on are track with God.
THE GIFT OF THE MAGI
Now in Matthew, Chapter Two, we read:
1. Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the King, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 2. “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.”
This was shocking news to King Herod. He’d been threatened by someone born King of the Jews. He thought he was the king of the Jews. Sounds like a competitor is arriving on the scene. Even more scary when well-to-do astrologers would travel this far seeking such a king.
Herod was one of the most evil and cruel monsters of ancient times. He became king over Judea in B.C. 40. He was an Edomite, appointed to the throne by the Romans. This appointment was a sign that Messiah was at hand. A scriptural signal. In Genesis 49:10 we are told that the “royal scepter would not depart from Judah” until the coming of Messiah. Well, the scepter departed from Judah in B.C. 40 when Herod ascended the throne.
3. When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet.”
The shepherds’ testimony spread like wildfire. This was astounding news. The moment this news reached Herod; he sprang into action. A Jewish deliverer, backed by the power of heaven, could mean the end of his reign. He quickly convened the great council and demanded rulers to tell him where the child was born. The council responds immediately, quoting the prophecy of Micah. Now Herod has what he wants, the name of the city where this future deliverer was born.
7. Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. 8. 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.”
Herod needed two pieces of information: (1) He needed the CITY where the child was born, which he got from the theologians of the Council. And (2) He needed to know the TIME the star appeared. In saying he wanted to worship the child, the evil king sought only to deceive and use the astrologers for his own ends. He wants to kill this threat to his throne.
9. After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. 10. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
It’s a good thing the Jewish council didn’t act on Micah’s prophecy and go marching off to Bethlehem. Had they found the baby, Herod would have learned of it. So it was in God’s plan that only the Astrologers should find the child.
When the astrologers saw the place, their joy was boundless. It meant their journey would end in success, and they could go back home. They had a job to do too.
11. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary, His mother, and they fell to the ground and worshipped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
It was the custom in the East, when approaching a king to always present gifts. Does it not add wonder to the event when the BABY is seen receiving such magnificent gifts, and gifts from noble strangers with their faces bowed to the ground?
Thus, we have shepherds bringing assurance to Mary and astrologers bringing money for their trip to Egypt. Just think, these unsaved astrologers opened their treasures and presented them to baby Jesus. In their hearts, they wanted to offer gifts to Him even though He was just a baby. If those heathens do that for Him, what should we give Him? What ought we bring to Him this Christmas?
Well, there is only one thing He wants—US. We were made for Him. Made like Him. We alone can thrill His heart. No one else can do that. That’s why His delight is in us. So how do we give ourselves to Him? We do it with commitment. And what do we commit?
I suggest we commit to spending some time with Him in His Word each day. Then that will trigger some action on our part. When I refer to action, I mean to leave a Gospel tract someplace without anyone seeing you do it. Those two things would thrill His heart more than gold spilling from the sacks of those astrologers.
KEEP CHRIST IN YOUR CHRISTMAS!
C. S. Lovett
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(For more information about leaving tracts and sharing your faith, see Dr. Lovett’s book, WITNESSING MADE EASY, available on Amazon.com.)
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