As Christmas approaches, I love to watch kids get excited! Their little hearts pound and their eyes widen with wonder as we read the Christmas story and re-create the manger scene for them. They marvel at the surrounding animals, the magnificent star over the manger and the Angel that told the Good News to the shepherds. But all kids know, baby Jesus is the One wrapped in swaddling clothes laying in the manger. They rush up to grab, touch, kiss and hug any baby Jesus they can find.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matt 19:14) NIV
How precious and heart-warming to see a child kiss the baby Jesus. Teach them that this Baby grew and became strong; He was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him (Matt 2:40). Jesus grew to be the Savior of the world.
Of the Gospel writers, only Matthew and Luke wrote about the birth of Jesus. Matthew was a Jewish tax collector for the Roman government who was chosen by Jesus to be one of the Twelve Apostles. Matthew was corrupt at first but radically changed after meeting Jesus. He left the promises of pleasure and wealth to follow Jesus for the promise of eternal life. Being a tax collector, you could say he would be an expert at keeping precise and thorough records, yet he chose to give very little detail about the birth of Jesus. The story contains only eight verses from conception to birth. He made no mention of the manger, just the town of Bethlehem, King Herod’s attempt to kill Him, and the Magi who sought to worship Him.
Perhaps Matthew was more focused on the Jesus he knew, the One who radically changed his life, not a baby, but the Son of God. After all everyone is born into the world the same way except for Jesus. The fact that His mother was a virgin, and He was conceived through the Power of the Holy Spirit was the highlight Matthew wanted the reader to remember. His more detailed accounts were focused on the parables, messages and miracles of Jesus. He shared details of Jesus’ final weeks during His betrayal, trials, crucifixion, burial and resurrection. Matthew also ended with the call to evangelize and baptize the world.
Luke was a Greek who was educated as a physician. He was the only Gentile, Christian writer of the New Testament. He was not an Apostle, nor did he live in the time of Jesus. As the Apostle Paul’s scribe, he gave us a very detailed account of the birth of Jesus through research and interviews. He wrote of Gabriel telling the virgin, Mary, that God had found favor with her. How she would give birth to a Son and give Him the name Jesus. Luke explained the reason for traveling from Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem, the town of David. Luke mentioned the inn and the Baby wrapped in cloths lying in the manger. He also wrote of the Angel with a great company of the Heavenly Host who could not keep from rejoicing and bringing the news to the chosen recipients, simple shepherds! He detailed many events of Jesus’ life that brought to light some of the mysteries that may have been issues for the Jews and Gentiles. He wrote for the Jews and the Gentiles to read and believe that He indeed came to be the Light for the Gentiles as well (Isaiah 49:6).
Whether you read Matthew or Luke, one thing is consistent throughout: Jesus came as a baby, born through the virgin, Mary, of the lineage of David in Bethlehem as foretold in the scriptures. The birth might not have taken place in a stable or a cave. It could have been the upper room of a relative’s home. The innkeeper is never really mentioned. The Magi did not visit a baby Jesus in a manger, but a child under the age of two living in His parent’s house. December is most likely not the month in which Jesus was born. I personally do not believe that He was born in December at all, but as some scholars and historians believe sometime in September. If in fact He was born in September, being conceived by the Holy Spirit puts His conception date possibly in December! Are we celebrating the Word becoming flesh at the exact moment of life?
No matter the location or month in history of His birth, our hearts are warmed when we see the Christmas plays recreating the manger scene. We want to ponder all of these events and the humbleness of His birth as Mary did (Luke 2:19). Remember Jesus humbly came into the earth so he could humbly die.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal Life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17) NIV
May we humbly take the focus off ourselves this Christmas season and remember the birth of our Savior, Jesus, as written in the scriptures of Isaiah:
For to us a child is born, to us a child is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6-7) NIV
Merry Christmas to you and your family!!!