Bible commentaries – Dec. 22, 2019
Explore the Bible
Matthew 1:18-25; Numbers 21:6-9
I was rather confused when one of my co-workers told me she was taking her children to see a live nativity. They were not Christians and celebrated Christmas only as a secular holiday. My co-worker thought the nativity was a sweet scene from the life of the historical Jesus. However, she rejected the real reason for the season.
The birth of Jesus was more than historical. Author and theologian, J.I. Packer said, “It is here, in the thing that happened at the first Christmas, that the profoundest and most unfathomable depths of the Christian revelation lie.” This baby is God’s salvation.
The Apostle Matthew says, “The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way…” (Matt. 1:18). Matthew explains that what had been conceived in Mary was by the Holy Spirit. This is why Joseph is to accept this miracle and not divorce his betrothed. The angel told Joseph to name the child “Jesus” because “He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). This is Jesus’ legal name. The word “Christ” is significant. It is not Jesus’ last name. The word “Christ” means “Messiah” or “Anointed One.” Matthew explains that Jesus’ birth is the fulfillment of prophecy (Isa. 7:14). There are approximately 332 distinct Old Testament prophecies that are fulfilled in Christ. This is not just another baby; He came to be the Savior of the world.
Numbers 21:6-9 provides an illustration of how God saves. The Israelites complained about having no bread or water and they didn’t like the food. God sent poisonous snakes as judgment. People were bitten and died. When the people asked Moses to intercede for them, he did. God instructed Moses to make a bronze snake and mount it on a pole. Whenever someone in the camp was bitten by a snake, they were to look at the bronze snake on the pole and they would be healed.
Jesus would apply this story to His own life as His being lifted up on the cross to provide eternal life (John 3:14-16). The Bethlehem babe was and is the salvation of the world.
Bible Studies for Life
Is Jesus God?
The lyrics in Mark Lowry’s song, “Mary Did You Know,” pose some interesting questions. Mary couldn’t have known the answers to most of them. The rhetorical questions in the song are for our contemplation. A couple of questions in the lyrics are intriguing and Mary probably knew the answers to them. When Mary kissed the face of Jesus, did she know she was kissing the face of God? Also, when Mary held Jesus in her arms, did she know she was holding the great “I Am?” In other words, did she know that baby Jesus was God?
The angel Gabriel appears to Mary and announces she has found favor with God but she is troubled by this greeting and encounter (Luke 1:28-29). Gabriel tells her not to fear and announces, “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call His name Jesus” (Luke 1:31). Gabriel expounds about this child, quoting messianic prophecies. Mary’s mind was still back where he said she would conceive and give birth. She asks, “How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?” (Luke 1:34).
The birth of Jesus was natural like any other birth. However, the conception of our Lord was like no other, it was supernatural, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35). This was a divine miracle.
Luke gives further evidence for Jesus’ divinity. Jesus’ name means, “the Lord is salvation.” Jesus would be both fully human and fully God. As Mary’s son, He is fully human. As the Son of the Most High, He is the Son of God. He will also be a king by inheriting the throne and reigning over the house of Jacob. He will return one day and establish His kingdom and it will have no end. Jesus is God. Her response to all this was simple and humble surrender (Luke 1:38).
God brought humanity and divinity together in Mary’s womb. Mary delivered God’s Christmas gift to the world. This Christmas, include Jesus in your gift giving.
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