Author: Ron Graham
In the last week of every year, people celebrate the birth of Jesus. They tell again the story of Jesus's birth in Bethlehem —apparently in a stable— and how he was laid in a feed trough and visited by wise men and shepherds.
Whilst we should remember and tell this story all through the year, it makes sense to preach about the subject at year's end when it is on people's minds. In this lesson we ask, “Who was born in Bethlehem?” Who was this Jesus, this baby born to Mary and laid in a trough for a crib? We find three answers to that question.
An angel of God appeared to Mary while she was still a virgin. The angel told Mary that she would be with child of the Holy Spirit. The angel declared that this child would be the Son of God. "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High" (Luke 1:32).
Mary questioned the angel as to how she could be with child when she was still a virgin. The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:31-32,35).
This teaches us that Jesus was God's unique Son. He grew in the womb and was born in the same natural way as all human children. However he was conceived in a different manner to any other human child, making him unique.
When we confess that he is the Son of God, we are acknowledging our belief in the Bethlehem story that Jesus was born of a virgin, and was the Word become flesh (John 1:1,14).
As we leave the story in Luke 1, we notice something else that the angel declared about the holy child. "The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever. His kingdom will have no end" (Luke 1:32-33).
On the night of Jesus's birth, an angel appeared to some shepherds camped in the fields watching their flocks. The angel spoke to them. "I bring you good news of great joy for all people. Today in the city of David there has been born for you a Saviour who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:10-11).
This Christ or Messiah had been promised by the prophets for centuries. Now at last the Messiah had come. Long ago God had promised David that one of his descendants would sit on his throne and reign over God's people (Acts 2:30).
When we confess that Jesus is the Christ, we acknowledge that the child born in Bethlehem is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is now reigning over the kingdom of heaven (1Tim 6:14-16).
The name Jesus means "The Lord Saves" and the reason Jesus was born is that he might be the Saviour of the world. He said, "The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10).
The book of Hebrews has this important statement: "Although he was a Son, he learned obedience from the things which he suffered. And having been made perfect he became to all those who obey him the source of eternal salvation, being designated by God as a priest according to the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 5:8-10).
Melchizedek was both king and priest in Salem (Genesis 14:18). Jesus could be both king and priest in heaven and earth, and the source of eternal salvation, because he came "to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Hebrews 9:26).
It is this fact that makes the Bethlehem story so much more meaningful. When we confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh, we acknowledge that the flesh and blood of that little baby was purposed to be sacrificed as our only means of salvation (1John 2:1-2).