Following is an English transcript of the message from yesterday. I did not include all the scripture due to space.
Read Isaiah 7:10-14; 9:2-7
“Later, the Lord sent this message to King Ahaz: “Ask the Lord your God for a sign of confirmation, Ahaz. Make it as difficult as you want—as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead. ”
But the king refused. “No,” he said, “I will not test the Lord like that.”
Then Isaiah said, “Listen well, you royal family of David! Isn’t it enough to exhaust human patience? Must you exhaust the patience of my God as well?
All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).”
Isaiah 7:10-14 NLT
“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.
You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice. They will rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest and like warriors dividing the plunder.
For you will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders. You will break the oppressor’s rod, just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian. The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire.
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!”
Isaiah 9:2-7 NLT
These are two well-known prophecies concerning the birth of Jesus. They were written about seven hundred years before His birth. The Isaiah 7 prophecy is key because it mentions that the Messiah would be born of a virgin. Of course, this is humanly impossible, but God wanted to use this miracle as a sign that Jesus was His Son.
Understanding the history of mankind and God’s relationship to humanity, we know that man fell into sin and from then on inherited a sinful nature. We also understand that because of God’s design, the sinful nature is passed from the father to the children. Adam’s sinful nature has passed to all of us. This is because of God’s design that men have the responsibility of leadership in the home.
Thus, as a result of God’s design, Jesus could not have had an earthly father and have remained pure and free from the sinful nature. Being born of a virgin is more than a miracle to give us a sign, it was also necessary to keep Jesus pure. His purity was absolutely necessary for His ultimate purpose, which was to be an atoning sacrifice for man.
Let’s look some more at the birth and childhood of Jesus. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John each wrote an account of Jesus’ life. We call these four books the Gospels because they share the Good News of Jesus. However, each man took a different approach in what he chose to record. Mark and John do not write about Jesus’ childhood at all but focus on His years of ministry. Matthew and Luke both record Jesus’ birth and a few other details of His younger years.
Matthew’s Gospel is written to a Jewish audience. His record originally appealed to the common Jewish person; it is still easily understood by the common folk. You will find details throughout the book that are especially important to the Jewish culture. Matthew was concerned with pointing out how Jesus fulfilled the prophecies God gave to the Jewish people over the centuries.
Luke’s Gospel is more of a professional account, focusing on the facts of Jesus’ life as a historical record. Luke himself was an educated man and a doctor. His gospel was an appeal to people of a higher class and appealed to non-Jewish people, as well.
With the different approaches of the two gospels, it is intriguing to see the details highlighted by each and how they agree with one another. Let’s do some comparison between the two accounts.
Matthew chapter one begins with a genealogical record of Joseph and Mary. This would have been hugely important to the Jewish people because they knew that the Messiah would be a son of King David. Matthew proves this up front. Luke only briefly mentions the fact, but it is there that they were descendants of King David.
Let’s read Matthew 1:18-25.
Matthew’s account gives an overview of the time leading up to Jesus’ birth, but he focuses on Joseph’s perspective. Again, this is a very Jewish point of view because God generally worked with the men, given that they were the ones responsible for the homes and the nation. Mary’s experience is a bit in the background in Matthew’s account as a result of that culture. That is not a negative thing. That approach is villainized today because of how God’s design is being turned on its head by modern culture, but we should remember that God chose to work with Israel in this way.
Luke, as a historian, was also concerned with the birth of John the Baptist who was the herald and prophet who prepared the way for Jesus. Luke focuses more on the experiences of the two women Elizabeth and Mary. Something you can notice about Luke’s writing is how he often gives details that would be important or interesting to a doctor.
Let’s read Luke 1:1-80.
In both the Mathew and Luke accounts, we find numerous events that fulfill prophecies made hundreds of years before. These historical records, of the various ancient prophets and of Matthew and Luke, serve as confirmation that God keeps His Word and that Jesus was truly the Son of God.
Both Matthew and Luke emphasize the obedience and righteousness of Joseph and Mary. God did not choose them randomly. He used Joseph and Mary as His servants in this way because of their faithful lives before this point. Both Joseph and Mary appear to have been conscientious people who cared deeply about each other and about God.
Let’s read Luke 2:1-21.
Luke gives more detail about the birth of Jesus than Matthew does. Some key things we can learn are that Jesus was born to common or poor people. Joseph and Mary apparently did not have much. This also proves that we do not need to be great by the world standards in order to be great in God’s eyes. It also shows that God will not automatically give riches and so on to those whom He favors.
We also see that the news of Jesus’ birth was given first to the shepherds who were out in the field with their sheep at night. These were common, working men. There was nothing special about them, but God chose to give the greatest news that man had ever heard to them. Again, this shows that Jesus came for us and for all men. We don’t have to be special according to the world’s standards. God chooses those who are looking and who have open hearts, those people He knows will seek the Lord as these shepherds did.
We will find the next people to discover Jesus’ coming in Luke 2:22-38.
One thing to notice again is that Joseph and Mary offered two birds for their sacrifice at the temple. This was allowed in place of a lamb if the family was too poor to afford a lamb. This shows that Joseph and Mary were indeed poor. Jesus was sent to a lowly family, yet they were great in God’s eyes because of their obedience.
Simeon and Ana were both prophets who had lived in waiting for the Savior to come. God had given Simeon a revelation that he would see the Messiah before he died. At last, after so many years, he received his promise. Similarly, Ana had been faithfully worshipping in the temple for decades and decades. Both of these people were blessed to see the Lord before they died.
This is a lesson for us. God is eager that all men come to know Him. He works hard to show Himself to us. But to those who are looking for Him, He will always, always be found. A large part involved is our own hearts.
Now Matthew includes some events in the story that Luke leaves out. Let’s read Matthew 2:1-15.
This is the story of the wise men who had come to find the new king because of the star they’d seen. These men were from the east, which is modern-day Asia or China. They noticed some odd things in the stars that indicated to them that a great king was born. They came first to Herod, thinking it must be his son.
Herod was a wicked and jealous king. He was very cruel. When he heard there may be a new king born, he immediately wanted to destroy the child. But God directed these wise men away from revealing the location of Jesus.
When the wise men found Joseph and Mary, they were living in a house. Many people today depict the wise men as finding the baby in the manger with the animals. That is not accurate, according to the Bible. Jesus may have been a year or two old by this point. This age is proven by what happens in the next section, which we will get to shortly.
The wise men left three gifts, all gifts for a king. These gifts were surely the greatest valuables Joseph and Mary had ever owned. And they became necessary because Joseph and Mary would suddenly need the money that they could get by selling these gifts.
But before we get to the next section, let’s consider what we can learn from the wise men and Herod. Again, we see that God always shows Himself to those who are seeking Him. I do not understand how these men found Jesus by following the stars, but several places in Scripture, God says that the heavens and the stars speak of Him. Those who are looking for God will find Him. And wise men still seek Jesus.
But Herod was thwarted. He was seeking his own success. God threw a stumbling block in his way, instead. God again spoke to Joseph in a dream and commanded him to flee to another country. They were to live in Egypt until Herod was dead. Joseph could never have afforded to travel to another country and buy a house there to live. But God took care of that by providing the gifts from the wise men.
Let’s read Matthew 2:16-18.
This shows the great cruelty of Herod. When he discovered that the wise men had escaped Bethlehem, he sent soldiers to murder every child that was two years old and younger, all the way to newborns. Can you imagine the horror of those parents as soldiers arrived without warning and killed their children?
This was prophesied by the prophet Jeremiah many hundreds of years before. There was another prophecy in Isaiah that said Jesus was the only one of His generation. Later, Joseph returned with his family to Israel, yet all the children who would have been Jesus’ age were gone. Jesus would have been alone in school, perhaps.
Let’s read Matthew 2:19-23.
Some years later, God revealed to Joseph to return to Israel to the land of the Jews. They did not go back to live in Bethlehem, but found a new town, Galilee. There they were unknown and could raise Jesus in safety.
Let’s read Luke 2:39-52.
Luke also records that Joseph took his family to Nazareth; though, he does not say why. Luke does record the final story we have of Jesus’ childhood. This was when Jesus was twelve years old. In Jewish tradition, this would have been the age that Jesus would have been declared a young man.
As was the custom, the family traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover feast. Because of the nature of the celebration, they often traveled with family. They assumed Jesus was with the other young boys in their group, but on the way home, they discovered he was missing.
That would have been frightening enough for anyone; but, remember that Joseph and Mary had already been to Egypt and now to Nazareth to protect Jesus’ life. They knew God had called Jesus to be the Savior; though, they did not fully understand how or when. Thus, they were terrified to have lost their oldest son.
What we learn from this passage is that even at this young age, Jesus understood who He was. He was already aware that He was Gods’ Son. And even though He was so young, he was able to converse with the religious leaders about the Law of God.
But we learn another thing. Though He realized that He was God’s Son, and though He was of age, Jesus chose to submit in obedience to His parents. He returned to Nazareth with them and was subject to them. Later, when Jesus was thirty years old, we still see He was respectful and caring to His mother.
That is the last of the direct record of Jesus’ childhood, but we do have one more indirect record. Jesus had brothers and sisters. They would, of course, have been the children of Joseph and Mary, so we could think of them as half-brothers to Jesus because Joseph was not His biological father.
We read of this in a few places, including Matthew 13:55, 56 and Mark 3:31, 32.
This is important from a few perspectives. We can know Jesus had a normal childhood. Though, he was without sin and the sinful nature, He would have grown up enjoying family life with little siblings. In all other respects, He would have been a regular child. Thus, we know that Jesus knows how children feel, as well as how adults feel. He was just like us.
It is also important because it proves that both Joseph and Mary were normal people. Matthew points out that Joseph and Mary had sexual relations after Jesus’ birth. Other scriptures prove that Mary had more children. Thus, the great falsehood of the Catholic church that Mary is still a virgin is easily disproved. The Bible itself clearly shows Mary to be a normal woman who had several more children.
Mary was greatly blessed to be chosen to raise Jesus. This blessing was a result of her obedience to God. But she is not a virgin now, and she has no powers beyond any other woman on earth. In fact, she too needed a Savior. She would have chosen Jesus as her King. That is clear from later scriptures.
God chose no other virgins like He chose Mary. And Mary served one purpose: to raise Jesus through His childhood. She then went on to give birth to several more children and raise them. Mary was a good mother just like any mother who obeys God today. But she died and her spirit is waiting for time to end so she can be reunited with the Lord in glory.
The Bible is very clear that the departed souls, including Mary or any other person, cannot help us on earth. There is no person or spirit who can help us, except for Jesus, His holy Spirit, and God the Father. Anything beyond that is a lie and idolatry.
Jesus’ childhood is fascinating. I am convinced God did not save more in record for us because He knew man’s tendency to idolize the wrong things. Rather, the greater record is Jesus’ life and service as an adult, leading to His sacrifice of death and His resurrection.
We can learn lessons from Jesus’ birth and childhood, but it all points us forward to His Lordship. Jesus was a normal child. He is not to be worshipped as an infant, but as the man He grew to be. He is no longer in the manger in Bethlehem; He is on the throne in heaven.
And remember, wise men still seek Jesus.