Jesus Is Born
Jesus Is Born—Luke 1 & 2
An angel appeared to a young virgin, an elderly couple was expecting a child, Cesar decided to call a census and shepherds were watching their flocks by night.
Life went on as normal.
Men and women were getting married. Shop keepers were opening and closing their stores every day. Governors were governing.
What does divine intervention look like? What happens when God steps in to our lives?
First, it is not noticed by many.
An angel appeared to Zechariah and told him his wife Elizabeth would have a child. This was noticed by some. First, there was a delay in Zechariah’s return from his service in the Holy place. Only one priest entered the Holy of Holies once a year and his activities while in the Holy of Holies were carefully prescribed. Any delay was cause for concern. So, the people waited anxiously for Zechariah to come back out from his service in the Holy place.
Then when he came out, he could not speak. He was mute.
Because of these two things, those present knew that something had happened.
An angel also appeared to Mary. No one knew about this unless Mary told them.
Not many people notice when God intervenes.
Also, not many believe. There is always another explanation.
Joseph apparently did not believe Mary. We do not know what Mary told Joseph, but we are told that he was going to break their engagement quietly when he found out she was pregnant. God stepped in and had an angel tell Joseph. To his great credit, Joseph believed the angel and thus also Mary.
Mary’s pregnancy was not national news. It would have been if people would have believed that she was a virgin, but the fact that she was pregnant was proof that she was not a virgin in their minds.
When Luke set out to make a record of the things that occurred he said, “Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write a careful account for you, most honorable Theophilus, so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught.”[i] (Luke 1:3-4, NLT)
Notice he is writing a careful account so that we can be certain of the truth. John also wrote so that we can believe, (John 20:31) but many do not believe.
Many scoff at our belief.
What about Mary? Do you suppose that the people around her would have scoffed if she maintained she was a virgin with her belly protruding, obviously pregnant?
When God intervenes; not many notice, not many believe and many are engaged in more important things.
I said that Mary’s pregnancy was not national news. Those that made national news were engaged in things that seemed much more important than the events in the lives of a single family from Nazareth.
Take Quirinius for example. He was governor of Syria. He was important. And yet, if he were not mentioned by name in Luke’s account I would not know his name. I cannot even name the governor of Syria Today. Actually, Syria has a president and I looked him up on Google, but as important as he is - he does not figure very large in my daily life.
The Roman emperor, Augustus, was a news maker. He was a history maker, and those who are interested in history can read about him to this day. He was much too important to take note of a baby born in a far off vassal state.
However, Augustus was not too important to issue a decree requiring a census. When the emperor needs money he collects taxes. There are important things to be done; roads to be built, battles to be fought, water, sewer and sanitation to take care of, important things like that.
God used these events and people, but Divine intervention did not happen through these important events and through these important people.
For those who are waiting and watching it is easy to notice, easy to believe and nothing could be more important.
The important people played a role of which they were unaware. If Cesar had not decreed a census, Mary would have had her child at home in Nazareth. Such a thing never entered into the mind of Cesar. His decisions were based on his own concerns and desires.
In this case, Divine intervention was the ordering of events. In the normal working out of daily life, seemingly unrelated details were coming together for God’s plan. It had been prophesied the promised Messiah would be called a Nazarene, or so Matthew interprets it in Matthew 2:23. And at the same time, it was prophesied that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem.
As for prophesy, there were many that were fulfilled.
It was prophesied that the Messiah would spend some time in Egypt. It was prophesied that the mothers of Bethlehem would weep and refuse to be comforted. These prophesies were fulfilled through the megalomania of Herod.
These prophesies described the madness of evil and sin, but Divine intervention was not found in these. Divine intervention occurred in spite of the evil intentions of sin twisted humanity.
Most of humanity had no idea that something important was happening. And yet Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth and Zechariah knew that something incredible was taking place.
The wise men from the east had figured something out. The stars in the sky gave enough of a signal that they were able to figure out that something incredible was happening.
Simeon was a devout and righteous man. He knew immediately that God had stepped in to save mankind.
Anna was a prophet and she also recognized, believed and took to telling everyone who would listen.
For those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, divine intervention is easy to see and recognize.
We tend to look to great people and scientific facts as our basis for determining what to believe and what is important.
Science is observation. It does not disprove the virgin birth. It can only observe that Mary did not have relations with a man, and yet she was pregnant. We start with the assumption that this cannot happen. This is the most common problem with belief in Divine intervention. We should not be naïve or gullible, but neither should we be callus or hard-hearted. Science is important, but it is not God. We do not know everything. We are in a constant state of discovery, and this is the role of science. When God intervenes, it is by nature outside the purview of science. By all means, gather all the facts, but do not explain away facts because it is “impossible.”
Also, great people are not God. Everyone tends to have heroes. For some, it is Dr. Phil or Oprah. For me there has been a progression. I like preachers. In my high school and college years it was John MacArthur. Then it was Chuck Swindoll . Then it was John Piper. Now, the only one I still listen to when I have a chance is Swindoll. Do not misunderstand me. These are great men, but they are just men. I have found that it is okay to disagree with them on any subject if I find the Bible teaches differently.
God chooses and elevates people, but they are just people. The one to look to is God.
Look at the people God chooses.
There were shepherds that kept sheep on the hills outside of Bethlehem. It was to these common laboring men that the hosts of heaven made their announcement.
The baby was born of noble people. Joseph and Mary were descendants of David, an ancient and noble king whose line carried the promise of a throne. Joseph and Mary were also common people. Joseph was a carpenter, and his family was the family of a carpenter.
It is the Baby born of these noble, common people that we worship today as Savior and Lord.
Look with me at the announcement that the angel made to the shepherds:
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:8-12, NLT)
“…good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!
The Scriptures tell us that He is “God with us.”
This was and is the most significant Divine intervention ever and He was born in a cow’s home and used the cow’s feeding trough for a bed, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Isaiah says, “Who has believed our message? To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm?” (Isaiah 53:1, NLT)
He was talking about this birth of the Baby in the manger. This birth was the Lord revealing His powerful arm.
1 Corinthians 1:26-31 says:
Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.
God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the LORD.” (NLT)
What do you consider important? Is there a man or men you are following? Are you too busy to notice what God is doing?
For those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, divine intervention is easy to see and recognize.
Do you see it in the Baby born in Bethlehem? Do you see it in the shepherds and the wise men? Do you see it in and through you in your daily life?
[i] Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible: New Living Translation. Copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.