The birth narrative retold. Prophecy about Jesus Sunday 11th November 2018 Isaiah 60:1-5
Matthew 1:18 -25 10am service
Isaiah 60:1-5 (TNIV)
- “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon
- See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
- Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
- “Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you;
your sons come from afar,
and your daughters are carried on the hip.
- Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy;
the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come.
Matthew 1:18-25 (TNIV)
 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.  Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
 All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet:  “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.  But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
The chances of prophecy coming true.
Peter Stoner, Chairman of the Departments of Mathematics and Astronomy at Pasadena College, was passionate about biblical prophecies. With 600 students from the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Stoner looked at eight specific prophecies about Jesus. They came up with extremely conservative probabilities for each one being fulfilled, and then considered the likelihood of Jesus fulfilling all eight of those prophecies.
The conclusion to his research was staggering. The prospect that anyone would satisfy those eight prophecies was just 1 in 1017. In Science Speaks, he described it like this: “Let us try to visualise this chance. If you mark one of ten tickets, and place all of the tickets in a hat, and thoroughly stir them, and then ask a blindfolded man to draw one, his
chance of getting the right ticket is one in ten. Suppose that we take a 1 in 1017 it’s impossible.
I have become very aware that when we come to the time of celebrating the birth of Jesus at this time of the year there is a lot of tinsel lights Christmas cards and of course much joy that our Light truly has come into the world to transform and change the way that we see things forever. However, the major part of the story and the prophetic words are not emphasised and the warnings are not heard.
We have to return to the prophetic stories of the past and find out why Jesus’s birth becomes an event which caused an enormous challenge to the history of the world. For us to mark our calendar all be it slightly out ,we all record our year as 2018.
So a few basic facts on the birth of Jesus.
Philip Yancey says in his book the Jesus I never knew:
“I thumb once more through my stack of Christmas cards, I realise that we in Christian countries do much the same thing. We observe a mellow, domesticated holiday purged of any hint of scandal. Above all, we purge from it any reminder of how the story that began at Bethlehem turned out at Calvary.
In the birth stories of Luke and Matthew, only one person seems to grasp the mysterious nature of what God has set in motion: the old man Simeon, who recognised the baby as the Messiah, instinctively understood that conflict would surely follow. “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against …” he said, and then made the prediction that a sword would pierce Mary’s own soul. Somehow Simeon sensed that though on the surface little had changed—the autocrat Herod still ruled, Roman troops were still stringing up patriots, Jerusalem still overflowed with beggars—underneath, everything had changed. A new force had arrived to undermine the world’s powers.
At first, Jesus hardly seemed a threat to those powers. He was born under Caesar Augustus, at a time when hope wafted through the Roman Empire.
Perhaps the best way to perceive the “underdog” nature of the incarnation is to transpose it into terms we can relate to today. An unwed mother, homeless, was forced to look for shelter while traveling to meet the heavy taxation demands of a colonial government. She lived in a land recovering from violent civil wars and still in turmoil—a situation much like that in modern Bosnia, Rwanda, or Somalia. Like half of all mothers who deliver today, she gave birth in Asia, in its far western corner, the part of the world that would prove least receptive to the son she bore. That son became a refugee in Africa, the continent where most refugees can still be found.
I wonder what Mary thought about her militant Magnificat hymn during her harrowing years in Egypt. For a Jew, Egypt evoked bright memories of a powerful God who had flattened a pharaoh’s army and brought liberation; now Mary fled there, desperate, a stranger in a strange land hiding from her own government. Could her baby, hunted, helpless, on the run, possibly fulfil the lavish hopes of his people?
Even the family’s mother-tongue summoned up memories of their underdog status: Jesus spoke Aramaic, a trade language closely related to Arabic, a stinging reminder of the Jews’ subjection to foreign empires.
Some foreign astrologers (probably from the region that is now Iraq) had dropped by to visit
Jesus, but these men were considered “unclean” by Jews of the day. Naturally, like all dignitaries they had checked first with the ruling king in Jerusalem, who knew nothing
about a baby in Bethlehem. After they saw the child and realised who he was, these visitors engaged in an act of civil disobedience: they deceived Herod and went home another way, to protect the child. They had chosen Jesus’ side, against the powerful. Growing up, Jesus’ sensibilities were affected most deeply by the poor, the powerless, the oppressed—in short, the underdogs. Today theologians debate the aptness of the phrase “God’s preferential option for the poor” as a way of describing God’s concern for the underdog. Since God arranged the circumstances in which to be born on planet earth— without power or wealth, without rights, without justice—his preferential options speak for themselves.
Philip Yancey “The Jesus I never knew “
As an introduction on these prophecies, I would like to just look at four and the fulfilment of these in the life of Christ :
David’s offspring will have an eternal kingdom
“When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:12–13).
“This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1)
A virgin will give birth, and he will be called Immanuel (God with us)
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).
“The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).
The Messiah will end up in Egypt
“When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son” (Hosea 11:1).
“So he [Joseph] got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘Out of Egypt I called my son'” (Matthew 2:14–15).
The Christ will be born in Bethlehem
“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.” (Micah 5:2).
“When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet has written:
“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.'” (Matthew 2:4–6).
My prayer is that you will begin to understand the way in which Jesus came into the world as the underdog to be with the underdogs. We are called to come alongside of others and to see the way Jesus reached out to others in powerful ways. Maybe be the same in our dealings with those who suffer injustice, the poor and the marginalised. May we be those who begin to understand Jesus a little better from this story and may we go and allow the kingdom of God to be revealed on this earth.
- How do you think Mary felt the she knew she was pregnant ?
- What were some of the challenges she would have faced in her time?
- How do we see the prophecies in the Old Testament being fulfilled in the New Testament.
- How can we come alongside of the underdogs in our own community?