A Different Merry Christmas Story
The Angel, Mary, and Joseph Introduction
Gabriel, Mary, and Joseph - The Beginning
Welcome to a different story about the soon coming King whom we celebrate His birth this Christmas, His actual birth being sometime in the late September/early October timeframe, as I have published on several previous occasions.
It has been proven from historical records that Mary conceived “before they (she and Joseph) had relations.” Quite honestly Joseph’s initial reaction since he had not had sexual relations with Mary was to quietly divorce her since the custom of the day was even though they were not married yet, in the eyes of God they were since they were betrothed. Joseph in no way did not want to expose Mary to public ridicule.
Gabriel, in a vivid dream, told Joseph of her virginity and that the male child she was conceiving was the long-awaited Messiah, who would save Israel's people from their sins. Gabriel letting Joseph know that the Holy Spirit had originated the conception indicated to him, and to us thousands of years later, of the supernatural nature of the event we are celebrating.
Mary, Joseph, and the Shepherd's
The Conception, Birth, the Shepherds, and a Bonus Historical Note
Why was Jesus born of a virgin? One answer is to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14: "Behold the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."
We know much of what we know from the former tax collector, turned New Testament writer, Matthew. We also know historically that Mary remained a virgin during and after the conception and even during the period of His birth. (Matthew 1.18-23)
Then there is this: (Luke 1:31-33) And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom, there shall be no end.
In the mountainous lands outside of Bethlehem were shepherds in the field, assigned to keep watch over the lambs which were destined to be sacrificed during the time of the Passover. An angel of YaHVah appeared to them with the glory of the Lord shining around them lighting up the surrounding hills. They were filled with fear initially, as we would be as well. Here is the way Dr. Luke described the shepherds, angel, and the worship of the Baby:
(Luke 2:10-17) The angel said to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in the manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill among those with whom He is pleased!” So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child."
Luke's writing is so beautiful and descriptive of a person of his education. Matthew's writing is as well.
Bonus Historical Note:
Let me ask you a question? Did Jesus ever actually sit on David's throne during his earthly ministry? He couldn't have. It did not exist. Jeconiah was the last of David's line to sit on the throne as you may recall. (Remember, the blood curse on his line.) (Jeremiah 22:30) Herod, appointed by the Romans, was an Edomite ("Idumean"). He wasn't even Jewish.
Where is the Lord now? Jesus is sitting on His Father's Throne. When will the Lord sit on David's throne? Will the promise that Gabriel announced to Mary also be fulfilled? Yes, it will, and I believe it may be sooner than we think.
Where was the Messiah Really Born?
The residence where Jesus was born was called a Migdal Eder, a tall structure on the northside of Bethlehem where designated priests were “keeping watch over their flock.” We know of the tower from Micah, the Hebrew prophet who also told of the Messiah's birth in Bethlehem.
“And you, O Tower of the Flock (in Hebrew Migdal Eder), the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, unto you shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem” (Micah 4.8). Not just any flock or shepherds, but those who kept them were specifically educated for the royal task of watching them. These were the lambs that were to be sacrificed in the Temple. The shepherds knew exactly where to go as the Luke 2 passage indicates.
Hearing that Yeshua was born in Bethlehem would routinely trigger an image of the Lamb of YaHVah, who takes away the sins of the world going all the way back to the beginning with Adam in Genesis 3. Now it is easy to envision one of Luke’s listeners saying, “Certainly the Lamb of YaHVah would originate in Bethlehem; all the lambs for sacrifice come from here.” It would be so easy for them to envision this, but harder for us to see this imagery.
From the Torah, we know the twice-daily offering of a male lamb known as the timid meaning continual (Numbers 28.3). The lamb was offered up as the first and last offering of each day. Scripturally, it is the only sacrifice that strictly called for a male lamb without spot or blemish that could not be replaced.
It almost brings a tear to my eye to think that it is His birth we celebrate as our lamb without spot or blemish that went to the cross in our place. But for now, He is a little Baby being tended by His mother Mary.
They Were Amazed
The Shepherds Were Amazed!
After seeing the newborn Messiah that would forgive the sins of the world the shepherds went out and spread the word of the birth where ever they went being the first to do so. They were amazed or ethaumasan. This attitude sharply contrasting with the religious leaders of the time who did not take the time or effort to confirm the birth for themselves even though the arrival of the Messiah was predicted in the Scriptures. (Matthew 2.5)
Amazement at the proclamation of His birth is the theme of amazement throughout the Book of Luke (Greek Έκπληξη or “to be amazed or to be astonished”) The theme occurs in Luke 1.21, 1.63, 2:18, 2:33, 4:22, 8.25, 9:43, 11:14, 11:38, 20:26 24:12. As you can see Luke used the theme liberally.
There were two other Greek words for amazement used by Luke (see Luke 2:48). Think about it. Of all of the women in Israel at the time, Mary was chosen as the mother of the Messiah! The shepherds returned glorifying and praising God, as did the angels (see Luke 2:13-14).
What are we are doing some two thousand years later? I would hope you and your family are as amazed as the shepherds were when they first saw the newborn Baby. We cannot serve two masters. Make sure it is Jesus Christ you are worshiping this Christmas and not the allure of commercialism which is a sticky idol...
Mary and Joseph Circumcise the Baby
Mary and Joseph’s Offering and Presentation of Jesus to the Lord (Luke 2.22-38)
After this, Mary and Joseph, as was the custom, carried out the announcement of the newborn per Gabriel who had come to her before Baby’s conception (Luke 1:31) and to Joseph after the conception (Matthew 1:18-21). The name was given to them was Jesus, quite fitting because the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua means “Yahweh is Salvation” (cf. Matthew 1.21).
As was the Jewish custom of the day Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day this perhaps in Bethlehem. (Leviticus 12.3) They also offered their newborn to God some 33 days later as well (Exodus 13.2, 12), and brought the offering for Mary’s purification after the miraculous childbirth (Leviticus 12.1-8).
They were showing with their offering that they were a poor couple who could not afford to buy a newborn lamb. So, they brought a pair of doves or pigeons which was all they could afford. They traveled from Bethlehem to Jerusalem for the presentation and purification at the Temple.
The Prophecies Concerning Jesus
The Prophecies of Simeon and Anna
Simeon’s Blessing and Prophecy of the Family
Simeon was a devout (Greek Αφοσιωμένος or dikaios, devoted, staunch, ευσεβής, pious, godly) man led by the Holy Spirit who had a word from God that he would not die till he had seen the Messiah. Unlike the other religious leaders of Israel, he was waiting with anticipation that the Messiah was the One who would bring redemption to the nation. (Luke 2: 34-35) Simeon noted that the Messiah was the source of salvation not only for the nation of Israel and Jewish people but for the Gentile people of the world as well. Luke mentions this many times in the Gospel of Luke.
Mary and Joseph marveled at the scope of the prophecy even to Gentles. Simeon revealed to them both that Jesus would be opposed and that Mary would be hurt greatly. In some translations, it says “her grief would be like a sword piercing her soul” (Luke 2.25-35). Her son would cause the fall and rise of many in Israel. Jesus taught during His ministry that the only way to the kingdom was to follow Him. The ones who did receive salvation would “rise” and the one who did not believe Him would not receive salvation would “fall.” Simeon told her these consequences would reveal what people thought about her Son.
Anna the Prophetess (Luke 2:36-38)
This Godly woman from the prophetic tradition continued the work Simeon had begun. Anna was 84 years young at the time. She had devoted her entire life to the Lord’s service in the Temple since her husband’s death years before. She announced to all who were around that the redemption of Jerusalem was at hand (cf. Luke 2.25) and the nation’s Messiah had come. The word about Jesus was likely being spread throughout the entire city as people either believed or disbelieved the words of the old prophet and the widow prophetess, much like today also.
To end our discussion, Mary and Joseph returned to Bethlehem with Jesus which was a trek on foot of some 65 miles north of Jerusalem where Jesus grew up. I will briefly note here that Luke omitted the historical time in Egypt from his account (re. Matthew 2.13-21) since it was not his purpose to show the early rejection of the Messiah. You will recall He was first rejected in Nazareth after Jesus publicly declared that He was the Messiah. The preparation for His ministry took place in that town as He continued to grow up. Another story for another time. God’s blessing and Merry Christmas!
This is an entirely new way of looking at Christmas. To get this published I had to do it this way. I hope you and your family have a great Christmas and New Year.
As Christians today we tend to fight the ongoing secularization of the holidays. Some have rejected anything to do with them. Some say they are not Biblically ordained. The Lord's Supper is the only exception in the New Testament and doesn't really ordain another Christian holiday. But it does not prohibit it either, and as my former teacher, the late Dr. Chuck Missler, says, "under grace Christians are free to honor different days if they wish."
Those families who want to keep Christ as the center of Christmas may find it easier to do so by studying the various symbols used to celebrate Christ's birth through the ages and use them in retaining the uniqueness inherent in the mystery of the incarnation: the birth of the Son of God.
This Christmas, remember the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh presented by the Magi. (Matthew 2:11) These prophetic gifts celebrated his deity, priesthood, and death. However, when He returns to establish His kingdom, He will be presented only with gold and frankincense. (Isaiah 60:6) There will be no myrrh, which represents death: His death is now two thousand years behind Him.
Let's make this season a real celebration. What are you giving Him this Christmas? Is there something in your life He would like to see you part with? Perhaps your heart?
Does This Article Cover Something New on The Christmas Story?
Something New on the Christmas Story?
Chuck Missler - The Christmas Story
© 2019 Gary E Hill