Just to review from Monday’s post, here is what I started it with….
I was amazed this past weekend as I shared a cute Jesus birth trivia game with the women in our Bible study. I had taken the quiz a couple of years ago, and was surprised how many questions I got wrong. After all, I read my Bible daily, and I must have read the Matthew and Luke versions of this story hundreds of time. Here are some of the questions. Without opening your Bible to look, answer these for yourself, and then look up the stories in Matthew 1:18 -2:18 and Luke 2:1-39. Let me know how many you missed. Don’t be embarrassed, I’ve already taken the embarrassment award.
If you did not read the questions, just stop and read them, then come back. I am going to share the answers, and a discussion on what this means for you and I.
Here are the answers: 1. – Bethlehem, 2.- None of the above (no innkeeper or inn was even mentioned), 3. – None (no mention of any animals at all), 4. – No one really knows (all we know from the Bible is that they had to go to Nazareth. We are not given any details on the trip.), 5. – We don’t know (most people think it was three because there were three gifts given, but the actual number or wise men, themselves, was not mentioned.), 6. – In a house – (the Bible actually tells us the wise men found the family in a house in Bethlehem.) 7. – The star moved ahead of them and then stopped. (This actually happened. For an interesting study on this go to http://www.BethlehemStar.com, or you can see the video about his research on YouTube. Just search for “Bethlehem Star”.), 8. – Caesar Augustus wanted a census done. So, each family had to return to the city of the father’s birth. In Joseph’s case, this was Bethlehem.)
It was humbling to see how many I missed. I would have considered myself pretty well-educated on the birth of Christ, but now I have come to realize that without realizing it, I have allowed the world’s version of Christ’s birth to override the Biblical version. Sure I understand that it was very likely that Mary rode something to Bethlehem. She was 9 months pregnant after all.
In the effort to make the story of Christ’s birth into a cohesive story, we have given it a full, audience satisfying story with a beginning, climax, ending, and having an antagonist and a hero both, and finally adding some sparkle for entertainment purposes. Out of this school plays have been performed in and out of churches, movies have been made, and all sorts of television shows have been made. The story of Jesus’ birth sells when the story line is filled in.
What is really important here? Is it important to know how Mary and Joseph got to Bethlehem or that the birth of Christ there met the conditions of one of the prophesies.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2)
Is it important that we know what animals were in the stable, or that there ever were animals, or is it more important to know that the king, of whom the prophets had spoken hundreds of years before, had been born.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
Is it important to know Jesus was found by the wise men in a house, or is it more important to know that he was born in Bethlehem, was taken to Egypt when Herod was killing the baby boys in Bethlehem, just as the prophets foretold?
Just as the mothers of Israel and Judah watched their sons be killed or taken as captives, mothers in Bethlehem watched their babies be killed.
This is what the Lord says:
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
mourning and great weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.” (Jeremiah 31:15)
Joseph, warned by an angel to flee to Egypt to escape the killing of Jesus, fled there and remained there until Herod had died. He then returned from Egypt with Mary and Jesus and resettled in Nazareth.
“When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.” (Hosea 1:1)
There are over 324 prophesies fulfilled by Jesus, and according to Peter Stoner, in his book, Science Speaks, the probability of that almost beyond our comprehension. It is so like God to do things in such a way, that we cannot explain how it is possible. Here is just a taste of the information found in his book.
The chance of one single man fulfilling only 48 Messianic prophecies found in the Tantkh (Old Testament) would be 1 in 10ᶺ157 – to understand, that would be like the chance of finding, on the very first attempt, one specific electron out of all the electrons in all the known mas of the entire universe! I followed by 157 zeros. Yeshua however, fulfilled not just 48 Messianic prophesies – he fulfilled more than 324 individual prophesies written by the prophets concerning the Messiah!
So, while we make the story of the birth of Jesus Christ of Nazareth into a cute story, and dramatic movies, let us not forget that it was a miracle of God’s own making, and humbly kneel in prayer, praising and thanking God for the only gift that really matters both now and for eternity.
But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:3-33)
Praises to God Almighty.
We lift up our prayers of thanksgiving.
We bow down before the throne that started as a manger.
We share the good news of your Son, our Savior, with all the world.
Let your peace, love, and joy fill the hearts of people everywhere this Christmas.