Lessons from the Birth of Christ

By

Date written: October 24th, 2002
Scripture ref: Matthew 1:18-25

SUBJECT: Life of Christ

TITLE: Lessons from the Birth of Christ

PROPOSITION: In this lesson we will set forth three significant lessons from Matthew’s account of the birth of Christ, namely: 1) God keeps his promises, 2) Obedience leads to salvation, 3) Jesus is the Messiah.

OBJECTIVES: Each hearer should be able to state why these lessons are taught from the birth of Christ and give examples.

AIM: To show that God’s will cannot be thwarted as long as men are willing to do their part in the process of salvation.

INTRODUCTION:

1. Read: Matthew 1:18-25

2. About the Text:

1) The narrative of the birth of Christ, like any other narrative of the life of Christ, is instructive.

2) Matthew’s great purpose in these early verses of his gospel account is to show that Jesus, even in his infant state, fulfilled the prophesies of the Old Testament.

3) The evidence that Matthew presents should lead one to the conclusion that Jesus is the Son of God and the long awaited Messiah of the Jewish nation.

3. Regarding the birth of Christ

1) This lesson is not being presented due to the time of year.

2) God has no expectation for his people to celebrate the birthday of Christ.

a. To set aside one specific day of the year to celebrate the birthday of Christ is not harmonious with the Christian life.

b. Celebrating the birthday of Christ on one specific day of the year sends the message that only in that time of the year is it important to have the spirit of Christ and that is a dangerous and false message.

c. Rather, we should live everyday of our lives in the knowledge that God sent His Son Jesus.

3) So we wish to set forth a study of the birth of Christ.

a. Not because of the time of the year.

b. Not because studying the birth of Christ holds a more holy place in the scriptures.

c. Not because the world around us expects us to honor the birthday of Christ.

d. But simply because it is part of God’s word and deserves our equal attention as any other part of God’s word would deserve our attention.

e. Simply because it is part of the commitment a gospel preacher should have to preach “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).

4. Ref. to S, T, P, O, and A.

DISCUSSION: There are three lessons regarding our salvation that we need to observe from Matthew’s account of the birth of Christ.

I.   God keeps his promises of salvation. God kept his promise that Jesus would be . . .

1. Born of a virgin.

1) We find this prophecy stated in Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

2) Matthew states in regard to this prophecy, “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Matthew1:22-23).

3) The angel told Mary, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35).

4) Matthew takes great care to let us know that this happened . . .

a. Before Mary and Joseph “came together” (1:18).

b. And that Joseph “knew her not” until after Jesus was born (1:25).

5) Notice all of the things that could have mitigated against Mary’s claim of a virgin birth.

a. Joseph could have put her away.

b. Mary could have been less than a pure woman.

c. Joseph and Mary could have behaved in an unseemly way.

d. Joseph could have had a physical relationship with her.

e. Mary could have been rejected by her family (cousin Elizabeth, etc.).

f. But God provided a way to ensure that all of these mitigating factors would be baseless.

g. How did he do this? He gave His word and He used people whom He knew would be obedient to His word.

6) God promised that the Messiah would be born of a virgin and He was born that way because God saw to it that all of the details were taken care of.

2. Born in the city of Bethlehem.

1) In Micah 5:2 we read, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

2) Matthew himself does not directly quote this prophecy, but through the inquiry of Herod, the prophecy arises.

a. All of the Jewish teachers of the day knew from what city the Messiah would come. Matthew records this.

b. “And when he (Herod) had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.”

3) Again, we find that this is not something that Matthew is just inventing, but something that all understood to be the case.

a. Notice that it was due to the journey of the wise men that this inquiry occurred.

b. That the prophecy came up through an independent inquiry.

c. All of the chief priests and scribes of the people understood the application of the prophecy.

d. That Herod was convinced that this was going to happen by reason of the prophecy.

4) Notice the things that could have mitigated against this prophecy.

a. Joseph and Mary could have been born in a different location.

b. Caesar could have chosen not to institute the census at this particular time.

c. Joseph and Mary could have chosen to stay home and not go to Bethlehem for the census.

d. Mary could have had the child en route to Bethlehem.

e. The timing of the conception of Jesus.

f. There could have been injury to Mary.

5) But God promised that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem and God saw to it that everything that needed to be done to fulfill that promise was done.

3. Called out of Egypt.

1) We read this prophecy in Hosea 11:1 “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.”

2) Matthew writes, “And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.” (2:15).

3) Notice some actual and some possible mitigating circumstances that surrounded the flight to Egypt.

a. Herod was king at this particular time-a jealous and evil man.

b. The wise men, unknowing of Herod’s character, inquired of Herod where the child would be.

c. Herod deceitfully tries to get the wise men to tell him where the child is.

d. The wise men could have reported back to Herod.

e. When the wise men don’t report to Herod, he murders all of the children under the age of two years and younger in an effort to get Jesus as well.

f. Joseph and Mary could have stayed in Bethlehem a while longer.

g. Joseph could have ignored the warning of the angel.

4) Even with these circumstances threatening the child, God’s promises hold true. Evil men cannot thwart the purposes of God. God’s promise that the Messiah would come out of Egypt was kept in the midst of decisions that were made by wicked and evil men.

4. God keeps his promises!

1) We can depend upon the promises of God.

2) In Isaiah 55:11 we read, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”

3) The angel said at the announcement of the conception of Jesus, “For no word from God shall be void of power.” (Luke 1:37).

4) We can have great confidence in the word of God.

5) Notice that God’s promises here depended upon the obedience of individuals.

a. Mary had to be obedient to her husband.

b. Joseph had to be obedient to the just laws of the land.

c. The wise men were obedient to God’s message to them.

d. God’s promises of salvation are conditional upon man’s obedience.

6) If God so kept his promises amidst all of these circumstances in bringing the birth of the Savior, then how much more will He keep His promises in ensuring that our salvation will be completed as well if we submit to His will and are obedient to Him?

II.  Obedience leads to salvation.

1. Joseph was obedient to the command of the angel.

1) The angel said, “Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she shall bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name JESUS; for it is he that shall save his people from their sins. Now all this is come to pass, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, And they shall call his name Immanuel; which is, being interpreted, God with us.” (Matthew 1:20-23).

2) Notice Joseph’s response, “And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took unto him his wife; and knew her not till she had brought forth a son: and he called his name JESUS.” (Matthew 1:24, 25).

3) Joseph was obedient in doing the following:

a. Taking Mary to be his wife.

b. Calling the name of the child Jesus.

c. Not having physical relations with Mary until after the birth of Jesus.

d. The text says, he “did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.”

4) Do we view the commands of the Lord in the same light?

a. Had Joseph failed to obey the command of God, what terrible consequences would have occurred.

b. What great things of God do we undo when we fail to keep his commands?

5) As a result of Joseph’s obedience, salvation was brought to mankind through Jesus!

6) We are offered salvation through obedience today as well.

a. Hebrews 5:8, 9 reads, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;”

b. John 3:36 ASV “He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life; but he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.”

2. Joseph and Mary were obedient to the law of the land.

1) Luke explains that Caesar declared that an enrollment should be made for all people (Luke 2:1-4).

2) In obedience to Caesar’s command, Joseph and Mary go to Bethlehem.

a. They were obedient in that they BOTH went.

b. They were obedient in that they did not seek to find an excuse NOT to go.

c. They were obedient in that they went to the city of Bethlehem to be enrolled and not to some other city.

3) Do we take the Lord’s commands to be obedient to our government as seriously as Joseph and Mary took this command?

a. Paul writes, “Let every soul be in subjection to the higher powers: for there is no power but of God; and the {powers} that be are ordained of God. Therefore he that resisteth the power, withstandeth the ordinance of God: and they that withstand shall receive to themselves judgment.” (Romans 13:1, 2).

b. Peter writes, “Be subject to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as sent by him for vengeance on evil-doers and for praise to them that do well. For so is the will of God, that by well-doing ye should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:” (1 Peter 2:13-15).

3. The wise men were obedient to God’s warning.

1) Matthew 2:12 records, “And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.”

2) The wise men were obedient.

a. They did not return to Herod.

b. They did not even send word to Herod.

c. They left and returned a different direction so that Herod would not know how to get to Jesus.

d. What if the wise men would have half-way obeyed God?

e. What if they had reasoned and said, you know, we can obey God and still keep Herod happy too.

f. In this we learn that full and complete obedience is required.

g. It is not enough to just be obedient to the specifics, we must be obedient for the right reasons as well.

3) We must be obedient today for the right reasons as well.

a. We must seek to obey God fully.

b. When God gives a reason for obedience, we must obey believing in that reason.

c. There are many today who believe that they must “obey” God, but not for the reasons that God gives.

d. They believe in baptism for obedience, but not for salvation.

e. This is not true obedience. For when we obey out of some other reason than the reason God gives, we are not obeying. We are just going through the motions without any conviction about it.

f. Isaiah 50:10 reads, “Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.”

g. Obedience involves not merely action, but TRUST in God.

4. Joseph and Mary were obedient in fleeing to Egypt.

1) Matthew records, “And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.” (Matthew 2:13-15).

2) Joseph and Mary were obedient.

a. Joseph immediately arose after the warning.

b. He took them “by night” and departed.

c. He took them into Egypt as the angel had commanded.

d. He stayed in Egypt until the threat had passed and he received word from God to return to Israel.

3) Does our obedience have the staying power that Joseph’s had?

a. Do we see the urgency in our need to obey God that Joseph saw? 2 Corinthians 6:2 “Now is the day of salvation.”

b. Do we see the specific nature of God’s authority that Joseph saw? Colossians3:17

c. Do we remain constant in our obedience to God? “…be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Revelation 2:10.

III. Jesus is the Messiah of salvation.

1. The testimony of the Holy Spirit.

1) The Holy Spirit inspired Matthew to write the text.

2) He sent the angel to speak to Joseph and the wise men.

3) He was responsible for the conception of Jesus.

2. The testimony of the angel.

1) That the Holy Spirit has conceived this child. (1:20).

2) That the name of the child would be Jesus-savior. (1:21).

3) That the child would save his people from their sins. (1:21)

4) That this was in fulfillment of the prophecy. (1:22)

5) That Jesus would be born of a virgin (1:23).

6) That Jesus would be called Immanuel (1:23).

3. The testimony of the name “Joshua” and “Immanuel.”

1) The name Jesus in Hebrew is Joshua and means savior.

2) The name Immanuel means “God with us.”

4. The testimony of JosEphesians

1) He heard the word of God (1:24).

2) He kept Mary to himself for his wife. (1:24)

3) He named the child according to the word of the angel-Jesus. (1:25)

4) He lived in such a way to be obedient to God so as to protect the child.

5. The testimony of Mary.

1) She submitted to the will of the Holy Spirit.

2) She was obedient to her husband.

3) She was obedient to the government.

6. The testimony of the star.

1) The star appeared in the sky east of the wise men to indicate the birth of the savior. (2:2)

2) The star disappeared when in the presence of Herod. (2:2)

3) The star reappeared when out of the presence of Herod. (2:9)

4) The text says regarding the star, “the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.” (2:9)

7. The testimony of the wise men.

1) They said, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” (2:2)

2) It says when they saw the star reappear again, “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” (2:10)

3) They sought for and found the one who was born “King of the Jews.” (2:2)

4) The wise men “worshipped” Jesus. (2:11)

5) The wise men offered gifts to Jesus of “gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” (2:11)

6) They refused to return or to send word to Herod regarding the location of the child. (2:12)

8. The testimony of the chief priests and scribes.

1) They said in answer to Herod’s question, “In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.” (2:5, 6).

9. The testimony of the prophets.

1) Isaiah testified of the nature of Jesus birth-of a virgin. (Isaiah 7:14).

2) Micah testified of the place of Jesus birth-the city of Bethlehem. (Micah 5:2)

3) Hosea testified of the protection of Jesus birth-to come out of Egypt. (Hosea 11:1)

10.The testimony of Matthew himself.

1) That he as a historian verified these things.

2) That he as an apostle wrote these things.

3) That he as inspired by the Holy Spirit wrote these things.

11.Even the testimony of Herod.

1) Herod asked the chief priests and the scribes where the Messiah would be born.

2) When Herod found out the location and the time he acted in a murderous but believing way.

3) He did not want someone to challenge his throne.

12.No less than these eleven avenues of testimony present themselves to us in regard to the birth of Christ.

1) Each avenue of testimony builds the case that Jesus is the Messiah.

2) Each avenue of testimony directly supports Jesus claim to be the Savior of the world.

CONCLUSION:

1. We have noticed three specific lessons from the birth of Christ

1) God keeps his promises.

2) Obedience leads to salvation.

3) Jesus is the savior.

2. Invitation

1) Have you considered the birth of Christ?

2) If you are a Christian,

a. Have you considered that God saves us only through our obedience to his will?

b. Have you continued to be obedient to God in your life?

c. You can change the disobedient course of your life today and be faithful to him.

3) If you are not a Christian this morning . . .

a. Consider that God sent his Son Jesus so that you could have eternal life.

b. Consider that we must hear Jesus as he is the Son of God.

c. Consider that Jesus has given a plan whereby all men may be saved through his sacrifice.

a) Hear the word; Romans 10:17 “Faith comes by hearing . . .”

b) Believe with all your heart; Hebrews 11:6 “For without faith it is impossible . . . .”

c) Repent of your sins (Acts 17:30).

d) Confess Jesus as the Son of God (Matthew 16:16).

e) Be Baptized for the remission of your sins (Mark 16:15,16).

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