On the border of Bethlehem, there was an area where shepherds could be found out in their fields “keeping watch over their flocks by night” (Luke 2:8). One particular night, the glory of the Lord suddenly came and shone round about them as heavenly angelic hosts came upon them with an announcement originating from the Lord: “…I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men…” (Luke 2:10-14).
In that time period, every morning and every evening a lamb was offered up in the Jewish temple. It had to be perfect—without spot or blemish. In order to have enough lambs for the sacrifices, the temple had their own shepherds who cared for the lambs to be used for temple sacrifices. This is significant, because those shepherds, considered the lowest of the low at that time, would have been the first to come and see the Lamb of God, Who was to one day take away the sin of the world.
“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed…And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And 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:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should 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
Mary was most likely only sixteen or seventeen. She found herself in a stable where they kept animals, and there she had to give birth to a child alone. A midwife would usually be present to take the baby and wrap it in swaddling clothes, and to care for it. But it appears that Mary had no help when the time came to deliver the baby. After she gave birth, she wrapped small strips torn from her cloth for burial around the baby, and these became His swaddling cloth. Then Mary laid Him down in a manger (an animal feeding trough) as His cradle.
Mary went to the temple in Jerusalem later to sacrifice two turtledoves as a sin offering, thereby fulfilling a law set by Moses long before. But she didn’t know that a just and a devout man named Simeon was there. He had been waiting for “the Consolation of Israel” (the Messiah), and the Holy Spirit had come upon him earlier and revealed to him that he wouldn’t die until he had seen the Messiah (see Luke 2:25-26). The day that Mary and Joseph brought the baby in to do what was the custom of the Law, the presence of the Holy Spirit instantly filled the temple. Then Simeon took the baby in his arms, blessed God, and said, “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word: for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou have prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32). These things spoken about Jesus amazed Mary and Joseph.
The character of Jesus’ entire life was in line with the manner of His birth. He arrived by a virgin birth and lived a life that was perfectly sinless—a miracle as marvelous as His birth. He’s the only One Who never sinned in a world where “…all have sinned and come short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23). He’s the Son of God, Who took on a new, human nature, and united it with His heavenly nature. And since He was both the true God and also a man, He could relate to the true nature of man. He was born, lived, rose from the dead, and left this world miraculously.
In the heavenly Father’s view, Jesus is King, and the Earth is His and all therein. He is the Lord of the world Who owns all its riches, and He’s the Master of men. All the gleaming kingdoms that Satan showed Jesus from the mountaintop, along with their power and glory, are His alone. Jesus declared that “…All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.” (Matthew 28:18). And the heavenly Father said, “…I will make Him My first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth” (Psalm 89:27). Among men, He’s the firstborn, and among kings, He’s also the firstborn. No regal power on earth is more exalted than His.
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”Isaiah 9:6-7
Out of all the kings of the earth, Christ and His kingdom are higher still. He’s the Lord—the ruler among the nations.
The Word Himself entered the creation that He made, and then God was made manifest in a glorious new way among men. Jesus is the full, complete and perfect display of the Word made flesh. But sinful man does not naturally look for God. Man has turned away from Him instead, and therefore needs to be born again, or made anew. Then he will be able to see the glorious revelation of Christ as He really is.
We were a child of our human father when we were born. If we now want God to be our Father, we must be ‘born again’, and no longer be the child of our flesh-and-blood father, but now the child of God, our new Father. Jesus is the Firstborn of many children of God, and once we are born again, we become one of them. He’s God’s firstborn, because Joseph was not His father, God was. Jesus, the Messiah, “…shall cry unto [God], Thou art My Father….[Who replies,] I will make Him My first-born, higher than the kings of the earth” (Psalm 89: 26-27). God is Christ’s Father because His Son is a divine Person. Who can try to equal heaven’s Firstborn? Christ was made the most blessed One forever as the Heir of all things, and His people are joint-heirs along with Him. All spiritual blessings are in His hands.
“He is the firstborn of every creature” (Colossians 1:15), since He was begotten and brought forth before any creature came into being. “He is the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29) in reference to other Christians. They’re of the same disposition, and in the same clan in which Christ is the Firstborn and a Son. He‘s also “the firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:18), Who was raised from the dead by His own power to a life exempt from death. He’s supreme in everything. Believers in Christ resemble Him, but aren’t equal to Him. He still keeps the dignity of the Firstborn, and His portion is far greater than theirs because it’s a double one. He’s the Head of all the family of God in both heaven and earth, and He is also its rightful Ruler.
There’s only one real hope for the future, but it’s not found in man—it’s found in a Child, born not of a man, but of a virgin. And today, all who’ve been born again—not of a man, but of God—are entitled to be His children. Natural birth had nothing to do with this new thing; it’s an altogether new nature that comes into those who receive Him. This is an extraordinary birth which is totally of God, and in no way of man. It’s a new, divine nature transmitted to the believer totally by God’s grace. Have you received this new nature? Have you been born again? God says: “…ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). You can receive this new nature right now and begin a totally new life in God today! Come and be a child of God.