Journey to Bethlehem

“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son…”
Galatians 4:4a
“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son…”
Hebrews 1:1-2

God spoke through the prophet Malachi and told of a messenger to come.

God was silent for over 400 years. Israel waited.

Then God acted, and the journey to Bethlehem began….

God sends an angel to Jerusalem to speak to a priest in the temple, and that angel reaches back through the centuries for the last words of Malachi to tell Zacharias of the coming birth of John.

God sends the angel Gabriel to Mary to tell her she will bear Jesus, the Son of God—and Mary hurries to visit Zacharias and Elizabeth.

God sends an angel to Joseph to tell him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife—and Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem.

God sends an angel to shepherds to announce the birth of the Savior, Christ the Lord. A multitude of angels appear—and the shepherds go to the manger of Bethlehem.

God sets a star in the heavens to tell the Magi that the King of Israel is born—and they set out for Judea, and then on to Bethlehem.

Stunning news and hard travels. Lives upended in shock and in wonder.

God sent them all on a journey to Bethlehem.

For God, Himself, was making a journey to Bethlehem.

“…Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”
Philippians 2:5b–7

This is the backstory of Christmas—the journey of Jesus Christ to Bethlehem.

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.”
2 Corinthians 8:9

In a sermon on Philippians 2:5-8, The Humiliation of Christ, John MacArthur said:

“…Though He gave up the full expression of his heavenly glory and the full enjoyment of it, though He gave up independent authority and exercise of His own will and learned obedience, though He gave up the prerogatives to express all of the majesty of all of His attributes which He could have done, by the way, and though He gave up personal riches for the poverty of this world and though He gave up a favorable relationship with God when He was made sin, listen to me, He never ceased to be God, never. He remained fully God. He remained fully God….

“…He became man…truly human, really human. Didn’t stop being God. And He didn’t take on some body. He isn’t God in a body, He is God-man…All of the essence of humanity…”1

Why did Jesus do this? Why?

“Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”
Hebrews 2:14–17

And you know what? The word δούλου (doulou) in Philippians 2:7 quoted above is not bond-servant—it’s slave.

“Think of it! The only begotten Son of God took on the form of a slave (Phil. 2:7), so that the slaves of sin might become both slaves of righteousness and sons of God!”2

If you’re reading this, and you have not believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, I invite you, too, to journey to Bethlehem and learn of Jesus. The angel announced the shepherds,

“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
Luke 2:10b-11

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plains,
And the mountains in reply
Echo back their joyous strains.

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be,
Which inspire your heavenly song?

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Come to Bethlehem and see
Him whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

See, within a manger laid,
Jesus, Lord of heaven and earth,
Lend your voices, lend your aid
To proclaim the Saviour’s birth!

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Come to Bethlehem and see!

__________
Nativity Silhouette: FreeFoto.com
The story of the birth of Jesus Christ is recorded in Matthew 1–2 and Luke 1–2:38.
1John MacArthur, “The Humiliation of Christ.” This article originally appeared here at at Grace to You. I highly recommend reading this wonderful sermon!
“Thou Who Wast Rich Beyond All Splendour,” Don Reece, soloist. For the story behind this hymn, please see my post by the same name, “Thou Who Wast Rich Beyond All Splendour.”
2John MacArthur, Slave (Thomas Nelson, Nashville TN: 2010) 175.
There are several English versions of the lyrics of Angels We Have Heard On High. These are from The Hymns And Carols of Christmas and the Worship and Service Hymnal, Hope Publishing Company, 1957.

Copyright ©2012–2016 Iwana Carpenter

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