Dec 24 2023 Christmas - The Great Reversal

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Isaiah – The prophecy has 2 fulfillments – 1 immediately following – and the word, virgin has a double meaning as well – virgin= young woman – but also means virgin, like, the virgin Mary…

Luke 2: In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world 3 And everyone went to their own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.

Going through the Christmas story – it is interesting to note how often David is mentioned. Jesus is a different king from David – He is the ultimate King.

City of David/House of David/Line of David – Born is the King of Israel.

In the New Testament – in the Gospels, Jesus is often called the Son of David. Then, Paul, in his epistles, in his most important summaries of the gospel – he begins with Jesus, the descendant of David. That is really important and we can tuck that away for a few minutes.

5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Cindy was reading a thread this week – the discussion – if Joseph was from Bethlehem – why did none of his family members have them in his house? When she said that – I said, Yay! This is exactly what I am talking about – it doesn’t tell us in the text – but I think that they probably DID stay with a relative.

We are used to is saying “no room in the inn” – but I like this translation – I believe it is more accurate. Don’t think VRBO vacation house – but more of an old-fashioned Bed and Breakfast – where the family had a house but had a room to rent out. That is what archeologists have told us – Joseph and Mary are travelling at practically full-term – and you would go slower – and Joseph would not have gotten his Airbnb registration – and they show up and the guest room is full. Probably a mom/dad and 8 kids in this spare room half the size of my office. Think of it as an attached garage – they would have a stable attached to the house – and they might even bring in some of the animals – donkey – but sheep would be out in the fields.

Mary has the baby there. Manger is probably a feeding trough.

That is that – it fits into a design pattern – Jeff already mentioned it – a thread that runs throughout the Bible – the last being first – Jesus coming to be with the lowly. This ties back to David:

Think of David the king – and Saul is disqualified – and Samuel goes to the least house in the tribe of Judah – The family of Jesse… Are there no other sons? David wasn’t even invited by his dad to the most important day in the history of the family!

And the story of Jesus is just a fulfillment of every way that God works – God had Christmas work out to teach us all this stuff about what it means to be God.

There is another design pattern – you can research on your own.

Bethlehem seems to have issues in the Bible – there is one story in the Old Testament – outside of Passover – is the best depiction of the gospel in the Old testament. The story of Ruth. Ruth is mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus.

There was a famine - Naomi has to leave and go to Moab – you are not supposed to go there! Why did they have to do that? There was a lack of hospitality and grace in Bethlehem.

They leave the land and after the sons marrying Moabite women (known as being sexual predators) – and Ruth returns with her.

Ruth lives out the gospel in front of the people of Bethlehem and it is an amazing story of grace. But the grace is offered by the Moabite. Even Boaz has to say – O my! You are so far beyond me – Who am I that YOU should show such grace? That is what God has done for us.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

Good news = gospel! “For all the people” – so this Jewish baby who is born the Messiah is not just the savior of the Jews – He is the savior of ALL people. Everyone who wishes to be saved can be saved through the baby born in that stable – and one can only be saved through Jesus – no other way.

Luke 1:51 he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.

This is the great reversal that Jeff mentioned. And part of that Great Reversal – to bring down the rich – we don’t like that… the first shall be last… and the last shall be first – and that is the kind of God we serve. I have found, in our serving of God, we like certain aspects of God! But the other side of the coin sometimes is not as comfortable.

For us, the gospel, as we know and understand it is good news of great joy.

But a lot of people don’t see it that way. I think, part of the reason is that, somehow, we (not just us, but Christians in general) – have not made it clear that salvation is in Jesus. We make it sound like salvation is in Christianity! It became a religion.

And even with the story – of all that is going on in Israel/Gaza – to say that salvation is found in a Jewish Beby born 2000 years ago – that is not accepted. Do we turn it into something to make it more acceptable? To make it a nice, sentimental story? It is NOT that. It is a story of hatred and violence.

OR – do we change the way we engage the world with the story. Choose this way.

Luke 2: 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger

The strips of cloth – we think they didn’t have clothes! But no, that is how every baby was clothed

A baby has been born! Go and you will find him! Wrapped in a snugly! And then the sky opens up – and these shepherds see into heaven! Think about that! It was like heaven and earth just split! And that is exactly what happened.

." 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."

I’ve been studying Genesis 1 – preparing for a class. The Garden was where heaven and earth met. Every area below was not for God, and above was not for humans, but there is this place where heaven and earth meet – and that place is Jesus – and all of a sudden, it was like a portal opened up.

There is peace with humans and God through Jesus – and God’s favor rests because of Jesus.

Luke 2: 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

When we hear and understand the Christmas story as good news of great joy for all the people – when that grabs ahold of us – we cannot help but tell the story. It should just be – we are telling a story that is good news of great joy for every person we encounter. Every individual that we encounter, we have good news of great joy for them.


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