For unto us a Child is born,

Posted on January 8, 2017

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[And] Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace

The words above are from the Old Testament, the Book of Isaiah, Chapter 9, verse 6, the New King James Version.

It is, of course, a prophecy from one of the most beloved prophets of the Hebrew people, Isaiah (circa 8th and 7th centuries BC or BCE) telling us of the eventual coming of a son from the House of David to restore Israel and deliver all humankind from sin and death.

Jump ahead about seven centuries to the time of Caesar Augustus (63 BC or BCE-14 AD or CE), the man who elevated Rome to the status of Empire. In a small corner of the eastern Roman Empire, in the old Jewish kingdom of Judaea, Isaiah’s prophecy came to pass. It was recorded in detail in the Books of Matthew and Luke, two of the four Gospels, or biographies of the life of Jesus Christ.

And it began in a most unkinglike fashion. The Jews were expecting their deliverer, the Messiah, to arrive at least on a white horse in shining armor. If you haven’t heard how God delivered on his promise lately, let’s turn to the Book of Luke.

God sent his angel Gabriel to a virgin, named Mary, engaged to a carpenter, named Joseph.

The angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.  Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.  And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. (Luke 1: 28-35)

Then Mary obeyed God. Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

I cannot improve on Luke’s rendition of the birth of Mary’s child.

“And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.  So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,  to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.  So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2: 1-7)

The first ones to hear this good news, which is the meaning of “gospel,” were some low born shepherds tending their sheep.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.  Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:8-12)

May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always, and especially today when we celebrate his birth. Merry Christmas!

Published as “I bring you good tidings of great joy” Sunday December 25, 2016 in The Tuscaloosa News

 

 

 

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