christmas-bible1This is a study I presented a few years ago.  I pulled from several sources including John MacArthur, David Jeremiah, and others in my research.  It is in outline form and I hope it may prove to be useful as you consider The Wonder And Beauty Of Christmas…

The Wonder And Beauty Of Christmas

  Christmas is the second most wonderful holiday for Christians with the first being the celebration of Christ’s resurrection.  The purpose of this study is to teach the wonder and beauty of the coming of Christ, the fulfillment of Old Covenant promises which provides salvation for all who believe.

 The Heart Of Christmas (Isaiah 7:14).  The Essential Nature Of The Virgin Birth.  No sin nature since he was born of God.  Perfect in every way (Heb 4:15).  The “Second Adam” (1 Cor 15:45).  Thus the perfect sacrifice for sin.

Why Is The Virgin Birth So Important?  (Is 7:14)  

   No other fact is more important in Christmas.  Without the virgin birth, Christmas has no meaning.  Jesus’ birth had to occur the way Scripture predicts.  The Pharisees knew of Jesus’ birth (Is 7:14Jer 31:22).  Some taught that the birth of the Messiah would be different from all other conceptions of man (Some Rabbis said, “Messiah is to have no earthly father,” and “The birth of Messiah will be without defect.  The birth of Messiah will be like that of no other man” and “The birth of Messiah will be like the dew of the Lord as drops on the grass without action of man.” {MacArthur}).  Even though they knew, they called him illegitimate (Jn 8:4148).  Peter knew better (Mt 16:13-17).  The Greek word in Matthew 1:23 can only mean a virgin.

The Messages Of Christmas

   “God With Us” (Mt 1:23).  The Promise “I will never leave nor forsake you” (Heb 13:5).  “If I do not go, the comforter will not come” (Jn 14:1616:7)

The Titles Of The Messiah (Isaiah 9:6)

   The Messiah Came To Earth “A son will be given…”  Completely human yet without sin (Heb 4:15).  A Divine Gift: The first gift of Christmas was from God.  Preexistent deity, given…  (Phil 2:6-7).

His Future Kingdom “The government will rest on his shoulders…”

   The Messiah is sovereign.  His reign will be total and complete.  His kingdom operates through His people (Lk 17:20-21Mt 6:33).

The Characteristics Of His Kingdom (MacArthur)

   No Confusion: “Wonderful Counselor.”  Ja 1:5, The Holy Spirit.  No Chaos: “Mighty God.”  Heb 1:8; 1 Cor 14:33.  He brings order to chaos.  No Complexity: “Eternal Father.” Heb 1:10-12; Is 46:10, 59:1; Ro 8:28.  No Conflicts: “Prince of Peace.” Jn 14:27; Lk 2:14; Phil 4:7.

Knots In The Family Tree: Four Outcasts In Christ’s Lineage.  

   The hope of Christmas is that all people can be accepted by God.   Mt 1:1-17 & Lk 3:23-28 are not contradictory accounts of Jesus’ blood line.  Matthew follows Joseph lineage & Luke follows Mary’s lineage.

   Tamar (Mt 1:3 w/ Gen 38:7-18). Liar, Prostitute, Incest.  Surely we serve a God of grace!  Rahab (Mt 1:5 w/ Josh 6:17, 25; Heb 11:31). Canaanite, Traitor, Prostitute. An example of faith in God in spite of past.  Ruth (Mt 1:5 w/ Gen 19:30-38 & Deut 23:3).  A Gentile, an outcast, unacceptable to Jews. She still found grace in God’s sight.  Bathsheba (Mt 1:6 w/ 2 Sam 11).  Adulteress.  Found grace in God’s kingdom.  This shows God’s love and forgiveness (Mt 9:13, Lk 7:34, Mt 1:21, Heb 7:25).

God’s Timing Is Perfect! (Gal 4:4)  What is the “fullness of time?” (MacArthur)

   Politically.  The Roman Empire was at it’s zenith.  There were no wars because of Pax Romana.  There was an international road system which provided for an easy spread of the Gospel.

   Culturally.  There was one universal language that all people spoke, Greek.  This is the language of the common man, the language in which the New Covenant was written.

   Spiritually.  The world was diverse but open.  Religion was freely practiced and examined around the world.  People were open to the truth that Jesus brought to the world for salvation.  There was never before, nor would ever be again, a more opportune time for the Messiah to come into the world.

People Who Missed Christmas

   Herod (Mt 2:1-8). He was not ignorant, he had full knowledge, but he was jealous & maybe fearful (2:3). He didn’t want competition for his throne & was ruthless in his protection of power. Killed two sons for plotting against him. Had a distinguished citizen killed when he died so there would be weeping. Had baby boys 2 & under killed in an attempt to kill the Messiah. People miss Christmas because of attempts to protect their own life’s goals (Lk 19:14).

   Religious Leaders (Mt 2:4-6).  They knew about the Messiah’s birth, yet they were indifferent. They were self sufficient and in need of nothing in their eyes.  Likewise, many today have intellectual knowledge about Jesus, but see no need to honor Christ.

   The People Of Jerusalem (Lk 2:8-20).  Of all the people in the area, only the shepherds of Bethlehem worshipped Christ. Many people are never even told of Christ & thus miss Christmas.

   The Inn Keeper (Lk 2:7). He had no knowledge of the great event he would miss on this special night. No midwives, no family, no friends.  Mary may have been all alone.  Joseph a first time father.  Mary gave birth, wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger.  Like millions today, the Inn Keeper missed Christmas because he was preoccupied (Lk 2:1-6).

   Joseph’s Family (Lk 2:1-5).  Joseph’s own family missed Christmas!  Joseph went to Bethlehem because that was where his family resided.  He therefore knew, as was related to, people in the city.  But, probably because Mary was pregnant & not yet married, Joseph’s family didn’t/wouldn’t take them in.  That is why Joseph looked for a place in the inn.  Since Joseph’s family wouldn’t allow them to stay with them, they too missed the birth of The Messiah!

 Who Were The Magi? (“Wise Men” KJV)? (Mt 2:1-2)

Misconceptions: (Derived from songs).  We don’t know how many there were (“We three …”).  We don’t know they were kings (“We three kings…”).  They probably weren’t kings.  We don’t know if they were oriental (“..of orient are…”).  We don’t know if they rode camels (But they probably did).  We don’t know their names (Caspar, Balthazar, Melchior).

What we do know:  They showed up and knew of the Messiah.  They gave gifts, they left.  They were called Magi.  

Magi in the Old Covenant:  They were practiced in sorcery (See Dan 4:7 & 5:7, thus “Magic”).  Their laws & practices were known during Bible times.  Laws of the Medes & Persians (Thus the term “Magistrate”).  This is probably their location, Iraq. They were Daniel’s adversaries (Dan 1:5-7).  Daniel became their leader (Dan 2:48).  Knowing Daniel’s character, he most certainly taught them the Scriptures.  From Daniel’s teachings being handed down through generations, they could have ascertained the time of the Messiah’s birth.  See Dan 6:8, 12, 15 for their laws being mentioned.  Also  Dan 1:20, 2:2, 4:7, 5:11.

Magi in the birth NarrativeThey were not present at his birth (Mary was alone).  They may have arrived as much as 2 years after his actual birth (Mt 2:16).  They found him in a house, not a manger (Mt 2:11).  They returned to their homeland without a word (Mt 2:12).  {Click here for a message I wrote tying Daniel with the Magi and the gifts given to Jesus.}

What Is The Significance Of The Gifts? (MacArthur).  

   Gold: A gift fit for a king.  A gift given to royalty.  Frankincense: An expensive fragrance.  Used in Temple worship (Lev 2:2).  The gift given to, or by, a priest.  Myrrh: A substance used in embalming the dead (Jn 19:39).  When mixed with wine it had an analgesic effect.  When Christ was crucified he was offered wine mixed with myrrh (Mk 15:23), which he refused.  Each gift speaks to a portion of Christ’s life: Gold (King), Frankincense (Priest), Myrrh (Death & resurrection).

What Was The Star?  (Mt 2:1-11)

   What kind of astrological phenomena was this?  It was not a comet.  They are not consistent with specific locations (over a house).  It was not Jupiter.  It is not bright enough to lead as we read about in Scripture.  The Magi may have known of Num 24:17.  We simply don’t know anything other than what the Scriptures says. It is most closely related to the shekinah glory of God (Ex 13:21).

Study Conclusion:  The beauty of the Christmas story is this:  God became man to glorify God by dying on a cross in order to pay for the sins of every person who would believe in him.  The greatest gift ever given was Jesus, by God, to mankind.  Jesus then gave his life so that our sins would be forgiven.  We must be good stewards of his gift so that others may know the salvation of God.

Miscellaneous Christmas Thoughts…

Do Angels Sing?  One of our favorite songs of Christmas is “Hark The Herald Angels Sing.”  But the Scripture only tells us that they SAID “Glory to God in the highest…” (Lk 2:13-14).  There are only two instances in the Bible where we are told of angels singing.  The first is found in two places (Job 38:7 & Is 14:12) which was before the fall of Satan, before sin entered into history.  The second in found in Revelation 5:8-10 in heaven.  Angels sang before the fall of man, and will sing again when the curse is removed.  Until that time we are not told of angels singing. (David Jeremiah)

When was the first Christmas?  We really don’t know for sure.  Our traditional date is taken from the Roman holiday called Saturnalia, the pagan observance of the unconquered sun.  In 336 Emperor Constantine declared Christ’s birthday an official holiday.  Many Christians of that day condemned this practice, but it has endured to our time as the traditional observance of when Christ was born.  Jesus was most likely born in middle spring to early fall, but the exact date is not known.  (Click here for an excellent treatment on when Jesus was born by Ray Pritchard)

The Rest Of The Story Of The Christmas Flower. (Paul Harvey)  Joel was a born on March 2, 1779 in Charleston S.C., just three years after the American Revolution.  He was educated at home and abroad in England.  At the young age of 31 he became the U.S. diplomat to Buenos Aries and Chile initiating diplomatic relations with those states.  In 1816 he was elected to the South Carolina legislature and two years later to the U.S. House of Representatives.  In 1825 he gave up his seat to become the first minister to Mexico, a country he had toured earlier in his life.  In 1837 he was appointed by President Martin Van Buren as the Secretary of War.   Joel was well traveled and enjoyed many cultural hobbies that included the fine arts, agriculture, and botany.  While he was serving in Mexico he came across a beautiful flower of red that grew wild.  Because of his contributions to so many areas of botany, he was honored by having this flower named after him.  Thus, Joel Robert Poinsett was the one after whom the Poinsettia was named.

Who Is Christ? (Copied)  Some say he was just a good teacher, but teachers don’t claim to be God.  Some say he was merely a good example, but good examples don’t mingle with prostitutes and sinners.  Some say he was a mad man, but mad men don’t speak the way he spoke.   Some say he was a crazed fanatic, but fanatics don’t draw children or attract men of intellect like Paul to follow them.  Some say he was a religious phony, but phonies don’t rise from the dead.  Some say he was only a phantom, but phantoms can’t give their flesh & blood to be crucified.  Some say he was only a myth, but myths don’t set the calendar for history.  Jesus is the Christ, the Savior, Lord, the Son of the living God, and the gates of hell will not prevail against him!


John MacArthur, God With Us, Zondervan, 1989.