Read Matthew 1:18 - 2:12

18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"—which means, "God with us."

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."

3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5 "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:

6 "'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;

for out of you will come a ruler

who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'"

7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."

9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. (NIV)

As we are near the end of the year and approaching that wonderful time of Christmas, I thought we would spent the time between now and Christmas looking at the Christmas story and some of the characters in in and what are they trying to tell us about this Jesus.

We find a birth narrative in only two of the four Gospels.  Mark and John do not really touch on the wonder of Christ’s birth.  But when we look at the passages in Matthew and Luke, we find two very different stories told.  Each emphasizing a different aspect of the story.  IN Matthew, there is drama between Mary and Joseph about possible divorce.  We see drama in Jesus’ life being threatened.  And we have these wonderful characters from the East, the wise men.

We shall see in Luke that there is also drama, but the drama is no room for the Christ child.  Instead of wise men, there are shepherds.  And there is no threat to Jesus’s life that day other than the elements that so many other poor families faced.

So let us begin with Matthew.  Next week we will look at Luke and then we will look at the characters in the Bible as to who they represent.

Matthew was a Jew.  And even though he was a Tax Collector, he had a Jewish heart and wanted to write to show that Jesus came for the Jews.  So the birth story always points to this being seen as of God and predicted by God through the prophets.

It begins with the drama over Joseph quietly divorcing Mary.  An angel comes to Joseph, whom Matthew describes as a ‘righteous” man.  And the angel tells Joseph that the child will be the child is a product of the Holy Spirit.  This is important because one of the functions of the Holy Spirit was to bring God’s truth to Man.  Jesus would later claim to the truth.  And the Holy Spirit was what enabled people to see God’s truth.  Jesus would open the eyes of many.

And we then get the fulfillment of the prophecy too, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"—which means, ‘God with us.’”  Matthew wants to paint a portrait of a birth choreographed by God and implemented by God.

So he then includes the visit of the Magi with many believe did not happen until Jesus was closer to two years old.  The clues for this are that Mathew says they entered the home of Mary and Joseph, not a temporary dwelling.  And the fact that Herod had all the children 2 and under killed.  If it was immediate, they would have only killed the 1 and under.  That second year means a lot.

But this entry by the maji causes quite a stir in Jerusalem.  And Matthew wants to point out that this Jesus is not simply the messiah, but the ultimate King.  Where is the one born king of the Jews? was the request.  And we know from writing during that time that the Jews had an increased expectation of a different king being born.  So Matthew was speaking to the Jews that this Jesus was and is that King.

This Christmas season, we all have a story to tell about the Christ child and what accepting that person of Christ as your Savior means to each.  Mathew found a person who restored him.  He went from hated tax collector to disciple of Christ to using his skill in writing to pen a document that neatly 2000 years later touches people’s lives and changed them.  We never know how far a ripple with travel in a pond.  But unless we make the ripple, it goes no where.  Do not be ashamed of your story and there is someone waiting to hear it.  Share it as God opens the doors.  Share in the way you live and talk to people.  Share in the way you give of yourself.  Share your Christmas story.

Blessings and Peace

Pastor Harry