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Jesus' Birth: The Story of Christmas

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Christmas nativity scene, stable in Bethlehem, Jesus's birth story

This season, let us take some time each day to learn more about the reason we celebrate the Christmas holiday.

 

Through our study of God's Word, we will witness one of the greatest historical events ever recorded.

 

We will focus our minds as we meditate on these eyewitness accounts and worship songs praising the One Who is truly "God with us" who came to save us eternally.

 

We will quiet our souls as we sit in awe of this holy Baby born miraculously of a virgin in the tiny town of Bethlehem.

 

Most of all we will come to better know and love the One Who is truly God's gift to us at Christmas and always.

Day 1: Read Luke 1:26-38

*For more insight on who Elizabeth was and the baby she was carrying see also Luke 1:5-23

*Note the name of the angel who appeared to both Zechariah (in v.19) and Mary (in v.26).

*Who was Mary engaged to and who was his important ancestor noted in v.27? 

It is important to remember this ancestor because the Messiah would have to come from this family line as predicted in Old Testament prophecies hundreds of years earlier. Note how this is re-emphasized in v.32. Now look at Isaiah 9:6-7 to see this prophecy and Matthew 1 verses 1, 6 and 16 to see it fulfilled. (Also seen in Luke 3:23 and 32)

*Why was Mary chosen in Luke 1:30? And what monumental task was she given in verse 31? How would this miracle occur as explained in verses 34-35? Note her willing submission to God’s will in v.38. Do you consider yourself to be open and submissive to God’s Word and will like Mary was?

*Verse 37 tells why Mary, and we as well, can be fully open and trusting of our God--even in the most unlikely circumstances. Take comfort in this promise today.

 

(Optional: Each day a traditional Christmas carol is included which is related to the day’s Bible reading. If you choose, find a recording of the song and use it for reflection and worship to enhance your celebration of this Christmas season.) 

 

For reflection and worship: “Mary, Did You Know?”

 

Day 2: Read Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 2:1-7

*Reading the same accounts in different Gospels provides different details and insights. Today’s reading in Matthew gives more information on the events surrounding the birth of Christ Jesus. What are some of your initial observations in comparing the Matthew and Luke accounts?

*Today’s reading also provides more insight into Joseph’s perspective on the situation. We see an angel reassure him that this plan is from God in Matthew 1:20, but take special note of Joseph’s ancestor also noted in this verse. It is also noted in Luke 2:4. This is the same person we saw listed in our previous day’s reading and shows how Joseph--as well as Mary, through her marriage to Joseph--were both descendants of this important man just as prophesied in the Old Testament. 

*In Matthew 1:21, the Messiah is given a name. What important meaning does this verse say that His name holds?

*Compare Matthew 1:23 with Isaiah 7:14. Here another name is listed for Jesus. This is the prophetic name given for the Messiah, the Christ. What is this name and what does it mean? Noting the two names given and their respective meanings, what is the significance for us when putting them together? (God with us + the LORD saves.) This connection shows the amazing promise and truth that we celebrate at Christmas. Christ Jesus came to earth to live among us and to provide our eternal salvation. Meditate on the significance of His names and how it impacts you now and for eternity.

 

For reflection and worship (choose one or several): 

“O Come, O Come Emmanuel”

“Away in a Manger”

“O Holy Night”

“Silent Night”

 

Day 3: Read Luke 2:8-20

*Today’s account is an amazing example of the glory and worship of our Lord and Savior Jesus. Spend some time meditating especially on verses 9-14 and imagine the scene as the shepherds must have experienced it. How would you have responded if you had been there and witnessed what they did? 

*Note where Jesus was born in verse 11. We also saw this location mentioned in our previous day’s reading in Luke 2:4. The Messiah was prophesied to be born here about 700 years before his birth actually occurred!! See Micah 5:2-4 for this prophecy and yet another confirmation that Jesus Christ truly was the Promised One.

*In verses 16 and 20 we see that what the angels reported to the shepherds was true. What was their response in verses 17 and 20? Spend some time today, like the shepherds, being amazed and awed at our promise-keeping, Holy God, and praise Him for sending our Savior Jesus.

 

For reflection and worship (choose one or several): 

“Angels We Have Heard on High”

“O Little Town of Bethlehem”

“What Child is This?”

 

Day 4: Read Matthew 2:1-12

*In our previous day’s reading we noted some of the first visitors to see baby Jesus. Today we see more people coming to see the newborn King.

*Who is the earthly king of Judea at this time (see v.1)?

*Who comes to Jerusalem and what do they inquire about in verses 1-2? What led them there and why did they come?

*In verse 3 we see this earthly king getting upset to hear of a potential threat to his kingship. How does he respond in verse 4? Note that verses 5-6 repeat the location of the Messiah’s birth that we explored previously and that was prophesied in the Old Testament. Knowing that Jesus fulfilled every prophecy ever written about Him should increase our faith and trust in Who He is and in all that He has done and promised.

*Verses 7-8 tell us what the king instructed the wise men to do and why he wanted them to do it. But verse 12 tells us that his motives were not to be trusted. 

*Verses 9-11 detail the journey of these men. How did God lead them to Jesus and what was their response to Him when they found Him? Take special note of the three gifts these men brought for Jesus in verse 11. Gold would signify His kingship, frankincense His priesthood as He stands before God on our behalf, and myrrh would foretell of His death for our sins. This Christmas and always may our response to Jesus be one of honor and worship like the wise men did here. Take some time to bow before our Lord and Savior today.

 

For reflection and worship:

“We Three Kings” 

 

Day 5: Read Matthew 2:13-23

*Our previous reading showed that King Herod may have had plans other than worship for Jesus. Today in verse 13 we see what those plans were. How did God warn Joseph? 

*Where did they go as noted in verses 13-14? This location fulfills another prophecy about Jesus. See Hosea 11:1 to see it predicted in the Old Testament.

*Verses 16-18 show Herod’s maniacal response and the prophecy that this event fulfilled. As tragic as this was, it shows that every prophesied event surrounding Christ’s birth came true just as it was foretold, confirming the truth of God’s Word. (See Jeremiah 31:15 to see this prophecy given in the Old Testament.)

*After the death of King Herod, Joseph takes his family back to Israel. What town do they end up in as told in verse 23? Here we see, too, that this fulfills yet another prophecy about Jesus. (Note: although this is not a direct Old Testament quote, it most likely refers to the Hebrew word “netser” spelled NZR and meaning “branch” or “sprout” as noted in Isaiah 11:1. The “Branch” was a common term for the Messiah. The Isaiah verse also refers to “a shoot from the stump of Jesse” and Jesse was the father of David, all confirming Jesus’ family line.)

 

For reflection and worship:

“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” 

 

Day 6: Read Luke 2:21-39

*Today’s reading focuses on Jesus being presented in the temple after His birth. How old was He at this point and what event did He experience? (see v. 21) Note how this is the time that He is named as prophesied before His birth.

*In verses 22-24 it talks about the purification requirements after childbirth. These were given to the Israelites back in Leviticus (see chapter 12 especially v.8 for details). Exodus 13:2 tells how the firstborn male should be dedicated to the LORD.

*In Luke 2:25 we meet a man named Simeon. What was he like and what was extra special about him, including the incredible promise he had received in v.26?

*Verses 27-28 show this promise fulfilled--yet another promise of God pointing to the Messiah Jesus. Meditate on verses 29-32 as Simeon praises God for this revelation of the Savior that he was privileged to witness personally. Can you remember the time you first “met” the Savior Jesus? What was your response?

*After Simeon sees and praises Jesus, he makes a prophecy of his own about this child in verses 34-35. For those of us who know how Jesus’ life proceeds, can you see how this prophecy was also fulfilled in His death and resurrection as well as how differently people respond to Him even today?

*Verses 36-38 show yet another person in the temple--Anna, a prophetess--who was awaiting the Messiah. She too gave witness to who Jesus was. Only Jesus has fulfilled every prophecy ever written about Him, and eyewitnesses testified to this truth time and time again. Jesus came to do God the Father’s will by bringing us salvation. Reread v.40 to see how He began to carry out His mission here on earth.

 

For reflection and worship:

“Joy to the World” 

 

Day 7: Read Galatians 4:4-7

*As we have seen in all our previous readings, Jesus fulfilled all of the prophecies concerning His birth and earthly mission. This study has focused on only a fraction of them (as there are many, many more throughout the Old Testament). However, even if these were the only prophecies He had fulfilled, statistically speaking this is a miraculous feat that no other person on earth could ever accomplish. This fact alone should give us confidence to trust in Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior, Messiah and Lord as we celebrate His birth again this season. Verse 4 explains this event as it was fulfilled and verse 5 tells us why it needed to be done.

*Verses 6 and 7 give some amazing promises. Who are these promises for? Do you know for certain that you are a child of God? Romans 8:9 tells us one way we can know. Look back to Luke 2:25 to see this truth as described of Simeon. The Holy Spirit was upon him. Read John 1:12 to see how you can be counted as one of God’s children.

*Many people think that they are accepted by God by doing “good works” or trying to earn His favor and the promise of heaven by being a “good person”. But the Bible tells us in today’s reading, Galatians 4:5 that we were once “slaves to the law” and the Father sent His Son Jesus to buy our freedom through His death for our sin and His resurrection from the dead, triumphing over death forever. Jesus lived a perfect life and fulfilled all righteousness as we have seen. Unlike us, Jesus NEVER sinned. That is why only His sacrifice is acceptable to a perfect and holy God. Therefore, by accepting HIS righteousness on our behalf, (and not just “hoping that we are good enough”), we receive His Holy Spirit and become God’s child forever. With Jesus as our Brother and Savior, Lord and God, we share the same Father and are truly His children forever. Galatians 4:7 tells us we are also His heir, meaning we share in the promise of the riches of heaven that Jesus earned for us forever!! And THAT is why we have such a great reason to celebrate His birth this Christmas season and always!! “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Merry Christmas and God’s blessings to you and your family!!

 

For reflection and worship:

“O Come all Ye Faithful”

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