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Jesus' Birth in Bethlehem, Part 2

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
December 16, 2020 3:00 am

Jesus' Birth in Bethlehem, Part 2

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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Nine months of past since Gabriel's announcement, Mary is full-term and she in this passage gives birth to the baby Jesus is like any other, and every other child was not like any other child is like every other bird lands in the pandemic related hassles this year. Perhaps you're a bit discouraged by all the chaos and even if the true meaning of Christmas is not lost on you these days get so busy it's possible your attention isn't always where you'd like it to be, well, you're not alone. And so the goal for today's grace to you is to help cut through some of the holiday clutter and focus your thoughts on the profound and joyful truths of the Christmas story, here's John MacArthur continuing his study, the promise of Christmas. Luke chapter 2. Luke is one of the four Gospel writers. One of the four writers who tell the story of Jesus Christ. This is what he says in chapter 2, the first seven verses. Now it came about in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.

This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria, and all were proceeding to register for the census everyone to his own city and Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was with child and it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth and she gave birth to her firstborn son and she wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the in that last statement.

There was no room for them in the end, has become a very familiar part of Christmas lore and it really is not legend it is fact is that text indicates we've all seen no vacancy signs posted outside motels and sometimes I suppose we've seen no vacancy signs when we didn't want to see them. There was a certain level of desperation. It was very late. The kids were in need of a place to sleep in the town was crowded and the no vacancy sign spelled for us a very serious potential situation. Well, as far as Joseph and Mary were concerned, their circumstances made the no vacancy sign in Bethlehem all the more severe since Mary was about to deliver a baby. This young couple, Joseph probably being 14 or 15, Mary 13 or 14 years of age. Two of them had journeyed about 85 to 90 miles from their home in Nazareth and gone through land was literally filled with sacred memories.

Memories which they would have because they knew the Old Testament history in the Old Testament stories, Shiloh would greet them where Hannah came to pray for a child before the Lord. And then there was Gill gal where her son, Samuel sat to judge Israel they may have passed through the valley of Baca which the psalmist had sown the road perhaps would wind past Bethel, with all its patriarchal memories and Rhema where Jeremiah pictured Rachel weeping for her children and then they would climb up a little bit to Gibeon, where Solomon worshiped and finally they would come to the great metropolis of Jerusalem and passing through Jerusalem would go by Mount Moriah by the hill of Zion Cross the top of that mountain that plateau, in which Jerusalem sits about 6 miles further, they would come to the village of Bethlehem Bethlehem the town of Ruth and Boaz, Bethlehem, the place where Jacob's first love, Rachel died and was buried, and even the taxi drivers will point to the right as you go from Jerusalem to Bethlehem and say that's Rachel's tomb. Bethlehem was most notably the town where David was born. David, the greatest king that Israel had ever known David, the great ancestor of royalty out of whose loins eventually would come the Messiah. The great king of all kings who would rule over a kingdom in Israel that would extend across the face of the earth and would last forever. When they came to Bethlehem says in verse seven there was no room for them nine months pregnant in a matter of a few days to deliver a baby no place to stay. No relatives waiting with a warm home. It was late fall or early winter nobody to care for this little couple no room for them and that note certainly is symbolic of the future for Jesus.

Seems to me that as far as Jesus is concerned, there still a no vacancy sign hanging on the world before we look however at the young couple.

Let me go back in the text a little bit because there's so much more here that we need to understand reviewing briefly a startling event happened back in chapter 1 verse 26 in the sixth month of the pregnancy of Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist and Angel came by the name of Gabriel to a city in Galilee. Galilee is the northern part of the land of Israel. It was Nazareth and it really was not town this messenger from God. Gabriel came to Nazareth, which was a nondescript kind of off the beaten track blue-collar town, and in that town. The angel came directly to a virgin. As I said, probably a 13-year-old girl. She had been betrothed or engaged to a young man whose name was Joseph. Joseph was a descendent of David.

The virgin's name was married to a nondescript town to nondescript family to an obscure girl came Gabriel and this is what Gabriel said hail favored one, the Lord is with you course, she was greatly troubled with the statement Pondering what kind of salutation.

This might be nobody's seen an angel in literally 400+ years, perhaps 500 years until an angel appeared to Zacharias and Elizabeth and this was the same angel Gabriel whose appearing again. She is afraid the angel says don't be afraid. Verse 31. The angel says you will conceive in your womb, you will bear a son, you shall name him Jesus. That's the announcement from God to you. You're going to have a baby and your baby will be Jesus.

Jesus means Savior and he will save his people from their sins is Matthew records.

It further.

The baby is described in verse 32 he will be great. He will be called the son of the most high, the most Thai's term for God L Elian he will be called the son of God, the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David.

He will reign over the house of Jacob forever in his kingdom will have no end. It'll have no limit, and will have no and Juergen have a baby your baby is going to be the son of God as well as your son. He is going to be David's error he is going to rain over the throne that was promised to David and his reign will have no limit and no end.

Of course, this young girl, Mary said to the angel, how can this be, since I'm a virgin.

This is impossible. The angel said here's how it's going to happen. Verse 35. The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the most high will overshadow you and for that reason, the holy offspring shall be called the son of God. In other words, going to be a miraculous conception God is going to plant life in you without a man.

Verse 37.

Nothing is impossible with God's of the promise it come to this young girl that she was going to be the mother of a baby even though she was a virgin baby would be miraculously conceived by God baby would be the son of God God in human flesh when Mary appeared soon after this to be pregnant, and Joseph, to whom she was engaged found out about it. He was shocked. He was stunned because there was no explanation for her pregnancy humanly than that she had had a relationship with someone else.

Joseph knew her to be a godly young girl, a righteous young girl he was shaken by the fact that she was pregnant and I was trying to decide what to do whether to divorce her to break the engagement, covenant, or whether to stone her to death for this sin.

When an angel appeared to him is recorded in Matthew chapter 1 and said to him, don't be afraid to take her as your wife, because that which is conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit that she's going to bring forth a child named Jesus and this child is going to be Jesus because he will save his people from their sins. And further, his name will be Emmanuelle which means God with us and Joseph got the message from the angel that she was with child by the Holy Spirit to bring into the world the king the Savior God in human flesh. Now when you come to Luke two the prophecy has come to pass nine months of past since Gabriel's announcement, Mary is full-term and she in this passage gives birth to the baby Jesus now is Luke tells us the story of the birth which is very simply told the beginning of verse seven and she gave birth. That's it. Another one of those classic understatements, and she gave birth. Nothing particular about that birth. Of note was like any other, and every other birth.

The child was not like any other child. The birth was like every other birth and will look at that in a moment. Luke wanting us to grasp the significance of what's going on provides for us as any good historian does a setting for this event. The event is verse seven she gave birth.

The setting is what enriches it and informs it and he he works his way down starts with the world setting and then a national setting and then a personal setting. First we learn the role that the larger world played in this. Then the role that is uniquely designed by God for the nation Israel and then the particular circumstances of the couple in Bethlehem and the birth of the baby and so we get the big picture narrowed down to the little picture so that we can grasp in every perspective the wonderful solemn richness of this remarkable unheard of event but stern to the second setting the national setting. Luke is concerned now to move from the world scene to the land of Israel itself. And so in verses four and five, he says, and Joseph also went up from Galilee, from more literally in the Greek act out of the city of Nazareth, where they live to Judea. That's the lower portion of Israel to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem. Probably a term meaning house of bread. He went there because he was of the house and family of David in order to register along with Mary was engaged to him and was with child.

This gets us into the context of the land of Israel were out of the Roman Empire were away from Quirinius, and Caesar Augustus were now talking about Galilee Nazareth Judea the city of David Bethlehem, etc. were now looking at the nation Israel and the nation Israel is connected to Scripture, God gave to the Jews. The Scripture and the Scripture was very, very specific about where the Messiah was to be born was a prophet by the name of Micah and in his prophecy.

Micah chapter 5 in verse two. This is what we read. But as for you, Bethlehem, Ephrata. If you go back to Genesis 3519 not the go there just in your mind if you go there. Genesis 3519. You will find this village was called Ephrata originally later became known as Bethlehem. And so the prophet identifies it by both names Bethlehem Ephrata.

He says you are little among the clans of Judah or too little to be among the clans of Judah. This couple way to translate that. In other words, it's insignificant. It was always a very small place insignificant, but from you. Micah 521 will go forth for me to be ruler in Israel, you're going to give birth to a ruler can't be David that he's talking of, even though David was born there because David had been born 300 years before this. David was born a thousand years before the Messiah. Micah's prophecy was 700 years before the Messiah. So here we are Micah's talking 700 years before the birth of Messiah. He says a one will go forth for me to be ruler in Israel. You see how to know it's the Messiah, because the says his goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity. He is an eternal being. There will be a ruler born in Bethlehem who has been alive forever. This very specific prophecy is appearances are from long ago, from eternity and eternally existing one will become ruler born in Bethlehem born in Bethel so Luke wants us to understand that she never interesting enough, he never mentions the prophecy of Micah Luke never refers to the prophecy of Micah doesn't say anything about it but every Jew who was waiting for the Messiah knew the prophecy of Micah.

It was an unmistakable prophecy unmistakable and Matthew does mention it in Matthew chapter 2 Matthew says it has been written by the prophet, and you, Bethlehem, and so forth out of you shall come forth a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.

They knew that Bethlehem was to be the place of Messiah. They who knew their Old Testament and waited for the redemption of Israel.

Luke doesn't need to mention it.

It was crystal clear. Besides Matthew specifically mentions it, but it becomes very important because when Caesar Augustus put the census in motion. The end result of that was this young couple were going to be in Bethlehem and because of the date established they were going to be there at the very moment when that child was born. They went there in the ninth month of her pregnancy, and so Joseph went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, to Judea, by the way, going up. Look at a map to see Galilee appear you see Judea down here. You think that's up what's up on the page on the map. Geographically, Galilee is lower than Bethlehem.

In fact, Nazareth sits up on a hill at the north part of the plaintiff Israel on the Valley of Megiddo. And you would go down into the valley of the plane and then you would start a slow climb to about 2564 feet or so to where Bethlehem is almost on the same hill as Jerusalem. So that's why it says he went up he went up to the city of David. It says up to the city of David Judea is the southern region city of David is called Bethlehem.

It says I want to take him to hear that because I want you to to be mistaken about your understanding of this to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem if you go to the Old Testament and you read the city of David. If you're looking for example in second Samuel chapter 5 and elsewhere you read about the city of David in the Old Testament, the city of David refers to the hill of Zion in Jerusalem where David sat as King.

In fact, you will if you talk to historian or a guide in Israel. They even call this section of Mount Zion which is a little bit to the south of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem that they call that hill of Zion, the city of David, the city of Jerusalem was the larger city. The city of David was the place where David reigned and ruled on Mount Zion.

It was the city of David within the city of Jerusalem, so when you reading in the Old Testament about the city of David. It's referring to the Mount Zion were David reigned. But here he tells us the city of David. He is referring to is called Bethlehem that also is a city of David, it's not the city worry reigned. It's the city where he was born. That too is a city of David. He was born in Bethlehem now Bethlehem is a set was a pretty obscure place, but there was a man living there identified in first Samuel 16 as Jesse the Bethlehem light and in first Samuel 16 God goes to Samuel and he says like I'm I've had it was Saul. He's history Saul's out. I have a pronounced a curse on his line so forth. And he says to Samuel, so that have to get a new King. I want you to go the Bethlehem, because as a man there by the name of Jesse, the Bethlehem light and I'm going to pick one of his sons as it turned out they got everybody all shined up and polished and all the sun stood in line and God picked the most unlikely one.

The baby boy the family David but he was a son of Jesse, the Bethlehem might first Samuel 16 now it's important then, since Micah said the Messiah is going to be born in Bethlehem that the Messiah be born in Bethlehem and so God uses Caesar Augustus uses Herod all the political machinations work together and here comes Joseph down to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem and he goes there because he was of the house and family of David as we learned earlier in chapter 1 a versus so 25 and 26.

He was a descendent of David. Mary was also a descendent of David. That's important, through Mary, Jesus got royal blood through his father Joseph, who was his who is not his physical father but was his earthly father.

He got the right to be the ruler and so they went down to register because they were supposed to register in the house of their ancestors.

And again I remind you all of this is perfect in the plan of God providentially getting them exactly where they need to be because the Messiah was son of David, and was to be born in the city of David, the prophet said so in order to fulfill that prophecy that couple had to be there. And God made sure they were verse five says they went to register for the census along with Mary was engaged to him and was with child really a fearful thing for a 15-year-old and a 13-year-old or so to take such a trip.

Under such circumstances. Historians have struggled over this issue of along with Mary wasn't required that she go to register one of the been enough for a father to register for his his wife and his family. We really don't know the answer that we don't know whether she needed to register or not. We don't know whether was required to have her signature or whether it was required to have her indicate some properties or some ancestry or whatever we don't know that.

But we do know this, that, upon being pregnant. She knew there was only one person in the world who understand her condition must've been difficult to explain to her mother and her father how all of a sudden a 13-year-old girl appears pregnant and she's never had a relationship with a man and everybody is suspicious that she's lying would've been hard enough for parents to even understand that, let alone strangers and outsiders. One can only imagine the gossip, which must've gone on the certain amount of shame which she must've had to bear. I don't think there's any way in the world. The Joseph who had to make the trip to register whatever of gone without her on the it was a way for him to take her out of that environment, which was very difficult for her and it's also for certain that he wanted to be there when that little life came into the world. He knew what was going on. He knew she was pregnant with the son of God was about to say you know I got a business trip. You might have the son of God while I'm gone. I don't think so.

I really don't think so.

I think this is one you don't want to miss. He knew he knew this was Jesus and save his people from their sins because the angel told him that he know this is Emmanuel, God with us.

He knew what Gabriel told Mary how many times it Mary rehearsed that conversation I can imagine when he first found out she was pregnant. She so what's like this. Joseph Gabriel came and told me I was going to be impregnated by God. Sure how many times did she have to tell them that will probably a lot of times until the angel finally appeared to him and told him the story and now he knew exactly what was going on. They had to go worldly conditions, press them to go was in any way he was going without her. So forced journey to Bethlehem was necessary for the word of God to be fulfilled. Bethlehem was the place because that was their lineage. That was the place they needed to be as that was the home of David, the great King that again would ensure by virtue of Scripture not only the decree of Caesar, but by virtue of Scripture God move them there, filled clear statement of the prophet Micah, this is grace to you with John MacArthur.

Thanks for being with us. John has been our featured speaker since 1969. He's also Chancellor of the Masters University in seminary and his current study is titled the promise of Christmas John considering that both the prophets Isaiah and Micah prophesied very specific details about the birth of the Messiah and considering the numerous details about Christ that are found throughout the Old Testament. It's amazing isn't it that so many people. In fact, virtually the entire nation of Israel missed Christ's identity. They had these prophecies. What accounts for so much ignorance when there was actually quite a bit of information about the Messiah that's that's an easy question to answer. What accounts for so much ignorance is that men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil because they are blinded by their fallenness that are blinded by their soon the natural man cannot understand the things of God are foolishness to him.

Paul says that in addition to natural blindness, sinful blindness, the love of sin, the love of darkness. There are blinded by the God of this world who blinds them even more so, how many times have I preached on Isaiah 53, at which his third there's just no way around that fact that Isaiah 53 is describing Jesus.

Now there were even some people are wet to Israel and read that sections of Isaiah 53 the Jewish people and said who is that and universally also.

That's Jesus. Did you know that was in the Old Testament. No, because they are not allowed to read Isaiah 53 in the synagogue. But how can people ignore truth again. He was in the world. The world was made by him. The world know I'm not him at his own his own received him not. Why Jesus said basically they loved darkness rather than light, they don't want to acknowledge their sin and need of a Savior.

And I think that was the indictment that our Lord gave over the people of Israel. You don't need a Savior.

You think you need a king. You need a Savior and they killed him for saying that, and that's still a reality even among Jewish people do not looking for a Savior, the looking for a king. They think they're already in his care trip, a lot of church people as well that that is true as well, but it's so important understand who Christ is and I want to mention the one perfect life book.

If you really want the story of Christ, straight from God. This is a blending of Matthew Mark Luke and John into one narrative an incredible experience really a day in my life goes by that I don't interact with this book because there's so much profound revelation of Christ in the four Gospels blended together great Christmas gift. If you want one perfect life or another resource and have it before Christmas, you'll need to choose second day shipping when you place your orders or go online to place your Christmas order today.

Order a copy of one perfect life. You might even want to order MacArthur study Bible, but get one perfect life and see if you don't want to order more to give friends yes and friend.

Our customer service team can help make sure you get your gift before Christmas to order one perfect life, or maybe also a MacArthur study Bible for a loved one call or go online and place your order today. Our toll-free number is 855 grace that 805 five grace and again, you can still get your gift before Christmas. Just talk to a customer service representative. She will help you get the right shipping option in our number one more time 855 Grace Can Pl. your order online and be sure to choose the second day shipping option web address is Jide GT and when you get in touch. Let us know how John's teaching is strengthening you spiritually. Perhaps your family has been encouraged by the daily devotionals on GT or maybe someone you know has come to faith in Christ. After hearing one of these broadcast. We love to hear those stories to email us at or drop a note in the mail to Grace to you. Box 4000 panorama city, CA 91412 now for John MacArthur and the staff. I'm Phil Johnson. Keep in mind you can watch grace to you television this Sunday on DirecTV channel 378 or check your local listings for channel times and be here tomorrow for another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on race

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