God had been silent for a long time with His people. It had been almost 400 years since the last prophet had spoken His Word to them. Faithful Jews clung to prophesy from Scripture while waiting for the Promised Messiah to come.
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:13-14 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 (ESV) But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Micah 5:2 (ESV)
We are told in the book of Luke that “the angel Gabriel was sent… 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”…. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” … “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy— Luke 1:26-35 (ESV)
This same angel appeared to Joseph to announce his role in raising this special child.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet Isaiah. Mary was quite pregnant when she and Joseph were required to travel approximately 80 miles to Bethlehem, their ancestral home for a census. There were many other travelers pouring into the tiny town and no room left at the Inn by the time they got there. The Innkeeper offered shelter in the barn. At least it would be warm.
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:8-14(ESV)
All of heaven was celebrating! The first people to get the birth announcement were a band of scruffy, smelly shepherds. And they left their flocks and ran into town, searching for this special child in an odd place. Babies were not usually found in animal feeding troughs. They found Him and told everyone what the angels had proclaimed. These shepherds celebrated all the way back home. Several others would celebrate the arrival of Jesus the long awaited Messiah, but many did not understand.
What does it all mean for us today? God himself stepped out of eternity to be born like every other baby. Jesus Himself was the first Christmas gift! He lived 33 years on earth and taught about the love of The Father. Although innocent – He died on a cross for our sin – rose again three days later having victory over death to offer us His free gift of salvation and eternal life. That is worth celebrating!
Joseph and Mary’s Boy – by Alabama
Everyone’s invited, the celebration’s planned
The gift is just what’s in your heart
And not what’s in your hand…
And who’s the one we need to thank
And who’s the party for
And who’s the one responsible for all this peace and joy
And who deserves the credit for the blessings we enjoy
The Christ Child born in Bethlehem
Joseph and Mary’s boy