Good News for All People:
A Saviour is Born
And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” (Luke 2:10)
Stated above is the joyous announcement from angels in heaven to humble shepherds of the birth and life of Jesus Christ. Although we do not know the exact day Jesus was born, his birth is celebrated world-wide on December 25 each year. It is a time, when we gather with family and friends, eat a nice meal, sing songs, read the story of Jesus’s birth from the Bible and exchange gifts.
The story of Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. But nothing about his birth was normal as we know it. It was truly miraculous and still impacts the world today.
Have you ever wondered why our calendar dates back nearly 2,000 years? In the Gregorian calendar, we refer to events before Christ’s birth as B.C. (meaning Before Christ) and the time after Christ as A.D. (Anno Domini which is Latin meaning “in the year of our Lord”).
The story of Jesus’s birth begins in a small town called Nazareth in modern day Israel. An angel from Heaven, who is God’s messenger, appeared with a special message to a young maiden. Mary was a virgin and was startled to receive the news that she would be having a baby. The Holy Spirit of God would enable her to conceive a child miraculously. This child would be the Holy One come from heaven, the Son of God. She simply agreed, saying “Be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38).
Joseph was worried about what to do. He also was a good man and wanted to do the right thing. But he knew that if people heard that Mary was going to have a baby before their wedding, it would cause much shame to both of them. The angel from God told him in a dream to be faithful to Mary and not put her away. The baby boy would be named Jesus, meaning “saviour”, for he would “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Joseph obeyed God and promised Mary that he would not abandon her, but would still marry her. He trusted God to work out the details until that time.
God’s prophets had already foretold many details about the birth of Jesus Christ hundreds of years earlier. These prophecies are also recorded in God’s written Book called the Holy Bible.
The prophet Isaiah, who had lived 700 years earlier, said, “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” (Matthew 1:23).
Another prophet named Micah, who also lived 2,700 years ago said, “But thou Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2).
Truly the entrance of Jesus into the world was no ordinary birth. It was the moment in time when the everlasting God would become a man and come to live on earth. Jesus had always existed in Heaven because He is God. He is the Creator of the World. But because the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, had rebelled against God, they could no longer enjoy His presence. Every child born after them would be born in sin, separated from God. This is why there is so much suffering and death in our world today…it is the consequence of man breaking God’s moral laws. God is holy and without sin. Yet he loves the people he created and wants to have a relationship with each person. But there is no way man can clean his own heart and mind and become pure by his own efforts.
This is why God made a plan to come to earth: thus, we have the virgin birth of Jesus. It was important that when Jesus was born, that he not be born from the physical union of a man and woman…because the sin nature is passed on through the seed of man. Because the Holy Spirit of God overshadowed Mary, and he was born of a virgin, he was born without sin…as the Son of God!
Now let us return to our story. Nine months had passed since Mary was told by the angel that she would have a baby boy. She is about to give birth. But there is a problem! Mary is still living in Nazareth at this time. The prophet Micah said that this special Ruler would be born in a different town called Bethlehem! It just so happened that the Roman government dominated the world at this time. Caesar Augustus wanted to take a census, and thus gave a command that everyone return to the town where they had been born. Because Joseph was from Bethlehem, he and Mary had to travel there to be counted. After they arrived, they discovered that there was no place to stay. An innkeeper told them that they could sleep in a stable with animals. Soon Mary gave birth to Jesus. She wrapped him in old rags and laid him in a manger. A manger is a feeding trough with hay to make a simple cradle for her newborn baby.
Meanwhile, on the hillside nearby, some shepherds were watching their flock of sheep. Suddenly an angel appeared with good news that would be shared with all people. He said “that a Saviour [was born], which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). They could find the baby in a stable in Bethlehem. A multitude of angels then joined him and said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).
The shepherds ran to see this special baby and worshipped him. Afterward, they ran to tell everyone around about the entrance into this world of the God-man named Jesus. But why would his coming be good news to all people? This is what we will learn as we read the stories of individuals who met him.
After the shepherds found Jesus with Joseph and Mary, they excitedly went around the countryside and told everyone that Jesus had been born!
A couple years later, some wiseman from the East, possibly Iran or Iraq, began a journey. They had read the prophecies about a ruler being born in Bethlehem and went to go meet him. When they finally arrived, they worshipped Jesus and gave him gifts - gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
These gifts appropriately represented who Jesus was and what He would accomplish in his life on earth. These were expensive gifts that would be offered to honor a king. These wiseman recognized the high position of Jesus Christ as the King of Kings.
Jesus grew up in the town of Nazareth. His mother married Joseph, who was a carpenter. Jesus grew up in their home and had younger brothers and sisters. At age 30, Jesus began his public ministry and travelled throughout Israel. He demonstrated to many people he met that he was God who had become a man. Jesus is the image of the invisible God.
There are four written records about the life of Jesus written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They each feature a unique aspect of the person of Jesus Christ.
The most unusual purpose of Christ’s birth was that he was born to die. He lived only 33 years, yet had the most important task to perform. As the only pure sinless person to live, he was qualified to die in the place of sinners like you and me. As the Good Shepherd, he gave his life for his sheep. He paid for our sin by shedding his blood and satisfying the debt we owe our holy God. When Jesus hung on the Roman cross, He said the words, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Another man dying next to Jesus realized that Jesus was innocent. He confessed his own sinfulness and asked Christ to remember Him in His kingdom. Jesus promised that He would honor his wish.
Jesus rose again three days later, proving He was God and had power over death. He offers the gift of eternal life to all who will receive it. In the Bible it is written in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” We each must make room in our heart to receive Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. He wants to deliver you from your sin and give you truth, freedom, and hope. But you must understand who He is and the terms for what He demands if you will truly receive this Good News.
Now I want to introduce you to some people that met Jesus personally during his brief life here on earth.