Bethlehem today is a thriving town, inhabited mostly by Christian Arabs (in name if not in fact). But, in the time of Christ, it was a tiny, insignificant town, known only for the fact that it had once been King David’s hometown. How was it that Jesus Christ, Son of God and King of the Universe would choose to be born here in a lowly cow stall?
10 days ago I stood on the very spot where Christ is reputed to have been born. Less than a mile away in Shepherd’s field where the angels appeared to announce His birth. Evidence seems to authenticate the site. Perhaps Mary led the early Apostles to the spot where she gave birth to the Savior. They revered it as a holy place.
Rome desecrated the spot and built a pagan temple thereafter 70 A.D. The Byzantines built a church there in the 4th century which still stands to this day. If not here, it was certainly somewhere nearby. Exactly what took place there? [Published with permission from Dr. Arnold Lastinger]
1. The Christmas Promise
A. The first promise about God’s Messiah is much older than the Old Testament itself, (Genesis 3:15)
B. Throughout the ages that followed God renewed this original promise time and again through His Prophets, (Isaiah 7:14; Hosea 11:1; Micah 5:2)
C. The Old Testament has only 39 books. But it contains at least 400 prophecies about the unborn Messiah.
2. The Christmas Provision
A. Announced to Mary in Luke 1:26-35 and confirmed to Elizabeth in Luke 1:39-45 (baby leaped for joy!). Again confirmed to Joseph in Matthew 1:18-25.
B. Note how God moved the powers that be to bring His Word to pass in Luke 2:1-7 (Caesar Augustus was prompted to take a census at precisely this point in time! Joseph just happened to be from Bethlehem!)
C. Verified to the Shepherds by the Angels in Luke 2:8-16. Worshiped by the Wise Men in Matthew 2:1-11 and commended by the Father God at his baptism in Matthew 3:13-17.
3. The Christmas Providence
A. The penalty for fornication was stoning: Mary could have been stoned to death and her unborn child would have died along with her, but God moved Joseph to take her to be his wife. (Matthew 1:18ff)
B. Now, a second time Satan tries to take Jesus’ life through Herod’s decree but God sent angels to warn Joseph, (Matthew 2:13-16)
C. The only hope of our salvation would have been lost and our souls with it if not for the divine providence mentioned in the Bible.
4. The Point of Christmas
A. What did Jesus stand to gain personally? Could He be any more God than He already was? Could He have become any more wealthy? Did He need anyone’s acclaim?
B. He did it simply because He loved you and He wanted to provide a means for your salvation. “…You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause, I was born, and for this, cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth…” (John 18:37)
C. It can be truthfully said of Jesus, “He was born to die!” for He came to die for your sins and mine, (Mark 10:45).
Conclusion and Invitation
A. The Bible says that God loved the world even to the extreme extent of sacrificing his son so that none shall perish but have eternal life, (John 3:16).
B. Jesus was the greatest gift ever given for the Bible says that the man who lays down his life for his friends is the only sign of genuine love, (John 15:13).
C. Jesus loved you and me so much He suffered and died a horrible death. In return, I’m asking you to give your life back to Him tonight, (Romans 10:13).
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