Christmas: A Second Glance and Some Beautiful Symbology Part I

Isaiah 9:6King James Version (KJV)

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting, The Prince of Peace.

During Sunday School as well as the church’s beautiful Fantasia Noel Christmas service, seven elements of the Christmas Story spoke right to my heart. Those seven things were:

  • Matthew – The Tax Collector as a Historian
  • Virgin Conception 
  • Joseph – Man of Faith
  •  Jesus’ Name – Emmanuel
  • The Manger  – Symbol in Livestock
  • Shepherds – Heavenly Proclamation & Foreshadowing of Jesus’ Role
  • Star  & The Magi  

Upon closer inspection of each of these aspects, the account of Christ’s birth becomes a truly heart warming, awe inspiring account as it portrays both the significance and beauty to be found in miracles.There are no coincidences. 

  1. Matthew The Tax Collector – Writing as a Historian

Matthew 9:9King James Version (KJV)

And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.

Matthew was one of the original twelve in which Jesus called to be his disciples. He was not well loved or regarded among his own people. For Matthew’s station was that of a tax collector. Men with this profession were perhaps seen much as we might see the character of the Sheriff of Nottingham in the well known fiction, Robin Hood.

Taking a closer look at Matthew though, we can see that he was not a humble shepherd, fisherman, or craftsman. Matthew, much like Saul (who later became Paul) , was a man who had a certain reputation and stature.   He was a man who had been educated in more than just banking and accounts. Matthew was a scholar and a philosopher. More or less, he was well educated in documenting or the recording of things exactly as they happened.

More Reading:

Levi The Tax Collector – Matthew The Disciple  

Levi – Matthew As A Tax Collector, Author, and Historian

So one could say, this in and of itself reflects some of the very nature and ability of the Gospel authors.

 

2. The Virgin Conception – Mary a Disbelieving Mother To Be, and the Miracle of Jesus

Mary, when she was told of what was to come, was in disbelief. She, like so many of us, had to ask  questions such as ‘why’ and ‘how’ as the things she was told just simply, logically, could not be. Virgins do not give birth. Having not known a man intimately, Mary could not see how conception was possible. 

Luke 1:26-38King James Version (KJV)

26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 3Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. 36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing shall be impossible. 38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

When presented good news, even the simplest of blessings, aren’t we Marys ?  Being told after months of chemo that cancer is gone, or that after years of trying to conceive that a child is coming….it can all seem so unbelievable can’t it? This is how Mary surely felt being told that she was to give birth through conception by the Holy Spirit. 

The miracle did not end there. Jesus Christ, born of the virgin Mary, and conceived of the Holy Spirit was the very spirit of God in living flesh. There is no other person that has been born or that has walked the earth that was divinely conceived, let alone both holy and yet human.  God in His great love, took on a human shell so that He might truly walk among us and be as one of us!

John 1:14 King James Version (KJV)

14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

1 Timothy 2:5King James Version (KJV)

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus

Jesus lived as we did. He hungered. He thirsted. Jesus had friends. He had enemies. He faced persecution. He wept. Jesus also was injured and like each of us, He was tempted to sin. Only Jesus never gave in to it. 

Matthew 4:1-11King James Version (KJV)

Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

Hebrews 4:14-16King James Version (KJV)

14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

3. Joseph – The Man Who Was An  Example of Faith Tested

Joseph was an godly man. He was a man of character, and when he learned of Mary’s pregnancy, he did what any man would have done in his situation…he questioned it. Like Mary, Joseph had a hard time accepting the idea that Mary might be with child and yet somehow have remained pure. It just simply was not done in the time. There was only one way to conceive, that was through sexual intimacy. 

This matter weighed rather heavily upon Joseph too as he lived in a world and community in which such question of infidelity could prove deadly. Marriage was a very serious commitment in those times, far much more so than it is today. Engagements were lengthy, and often a year long in duration. To break sacred vows could have many bad results. If a spouse was not stoned to death for their unfaithfulness, they would be excommunicated from both the synagogue as well as community. So in a way, it was like one was dying physically, emotionally, or spiritually. 

Joseph, being merciful, sought to disclose the matter and keep the affair private.

Matthew 1:19King James Version (KJV)

19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.

Yet, just as Mary did, Joseph when having  been given a vision revealing Mary as pure…he put his faith in God. Joseph took on the calling of parenthood , father, mentor, protector, and husband. 

Matthew 1:20 King James Version (KJV)

20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

In placing his trust in God too,  Joseph fulfilled prophesy when he took Mary as his wife. For in doing so, he also claimed Jesus as his son. Thus, Jesus was born into the line of David.

Matthew 1:1-17King James Version (KJV)

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa; And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias; And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias; 10 And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias;  11 And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon: 12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel; 13 And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor; 14 And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud; 15 And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob; 16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. 17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.

Micah 5:1-2 New International Version (NIV)

A Promised Ruler From Bethlehem

[a]Marshal your troops now, city of troops,
    for a siege is laid against us.
They will strike Israel’s ruler
    on the cheek with a rod.

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    though you are small among the clans[b] 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.”

4. Jesus’ Name – Emmanuel

There are no accidents. There are no mistakes. The selection in the name of the baby to be conceived by the Holy Ghost after hundreds of years of silence from God too can be no coincidence. The Messiah’s name, were we to look to the very root, was a well penned love letter from God. For God not only brought His Son to live and walk among us. He gave this same son to die for all mankind. God’s love for His creation ran and runs deep. Deeper than any of us could imagine. For Christ’s birth, life, ministry, and death ….while they each were to act as a beacon in which to guide as to Him, the very first of which that came…came in the form of our Savior’s name.

Emmanuel…

Matthew 1:22-23King James Version (KJV)

22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Hebrew Origins of Jesus’ Name

 

What a powerful thing, the simplest of elements can be….the influence or role of a person… the situations thrust upon them…and a little faith…it can all go such a long way. I encourage you to think about these things this Christmas. 

May God Bless You This Day…

 

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