For the last several years, I have been bringing Christmas messages focused on Matthew 1 and 2 as I have ministered in various churches. In the process, I have become amazed at the vast Scriptural and historical background that must be mined in order to grasp the full significance of these extremely familiar passages.
I certainly have not yet exhausted the meaning of this magnificent text, but I have become absolutely fascinated with so many aspects of it.
The first issue that confronts us in chapter two is the character and history of Herod the Great. Then there are those “wise men from the East” (v. 1).1 It is astonishing to realize the incredible depth of understanding that we can gain regarding these men from the books of Esther and, especially, Daniel (see, for instance, Est. 1:13 and Dan. 2:48; 5:11). There is also the nature of the “star” (v. 2), which I believe was God’s manifestation of His presence among His people by displaying the Shekinah glory.
But at the center of this pivotal chapter, we find the first Christmas “gifts,” given by the magi to the Christ child, whom they had “worshiped” (v. 11).
These gifts have been the object of endless fascination, not to mention spiritualization or allegorization. They are often approached with a warm, devotional appeal. Rarely, however, have we really “searched the Scriptures” (Acts 17:11) in an attempt to understand all that we can about these very intriguing Christmas presents.
"Not only can people reveal boredom 'with the same message,' but preachers can fall prey to having a desire to say something unique or different.... Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself. You can rest in the power of the message that you get to declare." - Eric Geiger
CHAPTER 3: THE PURPOSES OF THE INCARNATION.
BY REV. G. CAMPBELL MORGAN, D. D., PASTOR OF WESTMINSTER CHAPEL, LONDON, ENGLAND.
The title of this meditation marks its limitation, and indicates its scope.
Here is no attempt at defense of the statement of the New Testament that “the Word was made flesh.” That is taken for granted as true.
Moreover, here is no attempt to explain the method of the Holy Mystery. That is recognized as Mystery: a fact revealed which is yet beyond human comprehension or explanation.
The scope is that of considering in broad outline the plain teaching of the New Testament as to the purposes of the Incarnation.
Its final limitation is that of its brevity. If, however, it serve to arouse a deeper sense of the wonder of the great central fact of our common Faith, and thus to inspire further meditation, its object will be gained.
The whole teaching of Holy Scripture places the Incarnation at the center of the methods of God with a sinning race.
(Originally posted in 2015.)
The prophet Isaiah was surely the greatest “Christmas Prophet” of the Old Testament. Let us briefly consider two of his most famous Christmas sermons.
One of the great marvels surrounding Jesus’ birth was the fact of His virgin conception.
But how could a virgin be with child and bear a son? Luke explains: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you [Mary], and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35, NKJV). Was this impossible? No, “For with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37).
Not only was it not impossible, it was predicted 700 years before by Isaiah. He received the message that Christ, the Messiah, would be one Person with two natures—divine and human.
At a time of great crisis for Israel, the house of David was given a great promise:
Then he said, “Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son [i.e., fully human], and shall call His name Immanuel [i.e., God with us, fully divine]” (Isa. 7:13, 14).
In the very next chapter, the prophet is told that the God of Israel is “Immanuel” (Isa. 8:8; cf. v. 10).
"While kataluma (which is most often translated as “inn”) can be used to refer to a hotel-type lodging, it can also just refer to the upper room of a house....And when the baby came, he was laid in a manger on the main level of the home, since there was no more space for anyone to lay down in the upper room" - C.Leaders