The Nativity in the Gospels of Matthew, Luke and John
by Art Schnatterly
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This is the Advent Season, the time when we celebrate the birth of a King, a Savior. It is a wonderful time of year.
During this time, we will read of the birth of Jesus, the Nativity, from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. While there is so much contained in these Gospels surrounding this miraculous event, I’ll repeat only a portion here (taken from the KJV):
18Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
19Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.
20But 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.
21And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23Behold, 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.
24Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
25And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS. (Matthew 1:18-25)
1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David
5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7And 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)
We are, as Christians, quite familiar with these passages. The beauty of the KJV is unsurpassed.
But we don’t recognize the Nativity as readily in the Gospel of John. It’s there, but with a very different emphasis:
6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
8He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
9That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
10He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
11He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
13Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
14And 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. (John 1:6-14)
Like most of his Gospel, John does not get bogged down in the details of the event. Instead he focuses on the nature and purpose of the nativity, or more correctly, the incarnation of Jesus.
The word incarnation comes from the Latin in = in or into and carnis = flesh. So, incarnation means “to make into flesh” or “to become flesh”.
The incarnation is a fundamental theological teaching of orthodox (Nicene) Christianity, based on its understanding of the New Testament. The incarnation represents the belief that Jesus, who is the non-created second (person) of the triune God, took on a human body and nature and became both man and God.
In the Incarnation, as traditionally defined, the divine nature of the Son was joined but not mixed with human nature in one divine Person, Jesus Christ, who was both “truly God and truly man”. The Incarnation is commemorated and celebrated each year at Christmas. ((Wikipedia)
John gives us such an important message about the dual nature of Jesus. May we all remember this during the Christmas Season.
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