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Christmas: The Jesus Story
by Lance Bailey
12/08/03
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For Christmas, I wanted to do a special piece on Jesus. This holiday season, we will be celebrating Jesus' birth, along with hanging lights, decorating the tree, shopping, exchanging presents, candy canes, and maybe even enjoying some snow. Of course, we'll hear the standard "Story of Baby Jesus." Most of us can probably recite the basic account by heart, but how many of us know the whole story? And what is the whole story?

I decided to center this article around a question: when does the story of Jesus actually begin? Obviously, the story begins with the accounts of the Gospels. Each varies in the starting point of reference, but the definitive version of the Birth is found in Luke. Luke's account starts with the birth of John the Baptist to parents Zechariah and Elizabeth. The birth is foretold to Zechariah by the angel Gabriel. Six months later, the angel visits Elizabeth's relative Mary in Nazareth, and informs her that she will give birth to Jesus. Mary goes to visit her relative Elizabeth, and the two babies, who are most likely distant cousins, meet each other for the first time- in utero. Elizabeth's baby "leeps" in the womb upon meeting Jesus. The next time they meet will be in the desert.

And that is the basic start of Luke's account of Jesus' birth. But the great prophet Isaiah foretells of both John and Jesus' birth, hundreds of years earlier.

Isaiah 7:14 "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." and, Isaiah 9:6 "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

Of John the Baptist:

Isaiah 40:3 "A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God."

And other prophets foretold the town he would be born in, events of his life, and the circumstances of his death. Great men called by the Lord to signal the coming of Christ. These words were put on paper and stone hundreds of years beforehand, so we would know that the Bible is truth. Prophecy is God's signature. So, it is clear that the whole story of Christmas starts way before the Gospel accounts.

Micah 5:2 "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times."

Zechariah 9:9 "Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey."

Zechariah 11:13 "And the LORD said to me, "Throw it to the potter"- the handsome price at which they priced me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD to the potter."

Psalm 22:16-18 "Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing."


In addition to prophesy, Jesus is foreshadowed all through the Old Testament. The Passover is a clear foreshadowing of Jesus and the cross.

Exodus 12:1-13 "The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, "This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. Do not eat the meat raw or cooked in water, but roast it over the fire- head, legs and inner parts. Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD's Passover. "On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn- both men and animals- and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD . The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

It becomes clear that this is a foreshadowing of Jesus once you understand that God is redeeming, or purchasing, His chosen people. He purchases the Israelites with the blood of the firstborn of everything in the Egyptian kingdom.
The crucifixion is a symbolic, figurative, and literal repeat of Passover. This time, Jesus is the Lamb. He is without defect. He is the Redeemer. This time around he purchases us with HIS BLOOD. Even the blood on the doorway is repeated symbolically. As the blood is spread on the side and top boards of the door, we see the shape of the cross. By accepting Jesus, we are redeemed, forever- led to the Promise Land.

The same sort of symbolism can be seen in the book of Ruth. Boaz is Ruth's kinsman-redeemer. Being a close relative, he redeems her after no one else will. Ruth lays at his feet on the threshing floor while he sleeps. This is also a foreshadowing of the cross. See, the cross is God's threshing floor. That is where God separates the chaff from the grain- the sheep from the goats. The threshing floor is "where it all happens."
Jesus was nailed to the cross between two criminals- a sheep and a goat. One criminal mocked him to his face as they hung there. The other asked for mercy.
Jesus is our kinsman-redeemer. By having walked with us as a man, Jesus can understand what we face as humans- by doing so, Jesus became our relative or kinsman in a figurative sense, and of course, He is our redeemer. And through the book of Ruth, we can see that salvation is made available to EVERYONE who is willing to accept Jesus.
Ruth is a foreigner- a Moabite. She marries Boaz who is a direct descendant of Abraham. Ruth gives Boaz a son Obed, who has a son named Jesse, who has a son who will become King David, and the line continues on up to Joseph's son Jesus. Ruth was a foreigner but she was righteous, and she is one of the many people who play a role in the story of Jesus.

A friend of mine suggests that the ram that is caught in the bushes as Abraham is being tested is also Jesus.

Genesis 22:0-14 "When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!"
"Here I am," he replied.
"Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son."
Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided."

You can spot other examples within the Text that symbolize Jesus. The dove is another example. After the Great Flood, Noah sends out a raven. It does not return. Then God sends out the dove. It returns empty-beaked. Noah waits seven days, then sends it out again. This time it returns with an olive branch. Jesus is that dove symbolically. Twice he is sent- twice he returns. When Jesus returns during the second coming, he will return amid great turmoil, upheavel, and chaos. Still, the final result is peace- the symbol of that olive branch. And it is interesting to note that the time between the two dove sorties are one week. The same amount of time as it took God to create the whole world. A world's amount of time. It has been a world's amount of time since Jesus died for our sins.
But, if you really want to start at the very beginning of the Christmas story, open your Bible to Genesis 1.

Genesis 1:1-3 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.

Jesus is that light. Jesus said it Himself.

John 8:12 "When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

The Apostle Paul saw the light:
Acts 22:6 "About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me."

Acts 22:9 "My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me."

Jesus is the Light. Jesus is also the word of God. We know him by his name Jesus, but he is also the light, and he is the word of God. Sometimes the text tells us, "The Lord said." That means the Lord said. Other times we hear the word of God. This is again Jesus- the word of God, before he was incarnated as Jesus the savior.

Genesis 15:1-5 "After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward. " But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD , what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?" And Abram said, "You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir." Then the word of the LORD came to him: "This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir." He took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars-if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."

The Bible makes clear distinctions between the word of God, and God personally talking as in "The Lord Said." We read through the text real fast and we have a tendancy to overlook these details. Once we start to see Jesus in this new LIGHT, we see how long he has been with us in this world. Longer than we can ever imagine.

Micah 5:2 "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times."

Jesus makes another appearance during the covenant with Abram. This time He is manifested as a torch:
Genesis 15:12 "As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Then the LORD said to him, "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure." When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, "To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates- the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites."
Highlight this part:

"When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said..."

God is the firepot or fire- Jesus is the blazing torch- the light. The torch gives light. Jesus is the light. The same light that Paul saw on the road to Damascus. The light that guided the Magi. The light that shines on the very world we share.
Merry Christmas to all of you. May your holiday season be blessed with Christ's brilliant shining light. Let There be Light!


Job 33:28-30 "He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I will live to enjoy the light.' "God does all these things to a man- twice, even three times- to turn back his soul from the pit, that the light of life may shine on him."

Isaiah 9:2 "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned."

Luke 2:30-32 "For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."


by Charles Lance Bailey 2003
http://www.lamarpoint.com
"leading people to Jesus Christ"

(scripture quotes - NIV)




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