On This Wise is a Christmas reading from a Biblical point of view--its reason, its importance, its necessity, and its heritage.
On This Wise
Matthew Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
19Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
20But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
24Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
25And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
do not recall the first time that I heard the Christmas Story.I cannot recollect if was at my mother’s knee, or if it was in a Sunday School classroom, or while listening to my Grandmother.I do know that I have heard it from all of these.Each time I hear the Christmas Story, it seems I hear it for the first time all over again. . . Think back.You will find that no matter how many times you’ve heard it, it seems you always welcome hearing it again.
he birth of that baby one starry night long ago in that somewhat far-off land is probably the most repeated story ever told.Who would have believed that the Babe Who lay in that manger would impact the world in a way it has never since gotten over.It was a miraculous birth, for the Mighty Maker of the Universe had come to live with the work of His hands.It was God incarnate in human form that lay in swaddling clothes that night—He Who lay aside His Kingly Robes now lay dressed like a peasant babe in peasant rags.No wonder the angels could not understand it.How could the Potentate of the Ages stoop so low?Could these men and women who meant so much to the Father be worth this humiliation. . .they must have thought.
t was the Everlasting Father that the innkeeper had turned away that lonesome night.Would he have done so if he had but known that the King of Kings had beckoned his service?How could the creation be so unkind to the Creator. . .the angels must have wondered among themselves.But, then again, not all creation was ignorant of the Presence of the Holy One.It seemed it was destined to be God’s servile creation that would welcome Him. . .the lamb, the cattle, the animals that man looked to for service became the welcoming committee for that magnificent Incarnation.The Incarnation—without it there is no Messiah, for God must truly come to dwell with men as the Great Emmanuel, for had He not come in the flesh then He could not have fulfilled the purpose for coming as a Babe in a lowly manger—for He was born to die.
e was coming as the Perfect Lamb to lay down His life for His own.As far back as Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, a lamb had been slain for the provision of man’s sin.Hundreds of thousands of lambs had successfully fulfilled God’s requirements of a blood offering for the forgiveness of sin, and yet not one of those offerings ever paid the penalty for those sins nor had the power to forgive men of their sins.What they had done was point to The Lamb Who Taketh Away the Sins of World—God’s Perfect Lamb. . .Jesus Christ.
hat was the reason for His Incarnation.It was simply the human starting point of God’s Divine Plan of Redemption, yet He was slain from the foundation of the world. REV. 13:8Had Henot come in the flesh He could not have fulfilled the promise of the Father to Adam, to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, or any of the other Old Testament saints who were waiting for that Promised Seed in Whom All Nations would Be Blessed.
o Adam the coming of this Messiah was so real that the first child ever born to Adam and Eve was named for the event—Cain.Eve thought that God fulfilled Genesis 3:15 in her first-born son—“I have gotten a man from the Lord”—she was referring to that man, the Messiah.That is why Satan attacked that first family in a way so few families have been attacked.He was afraid that God was sending the man who would bruise His head, so he sought to destroy that man.In so doing, he eliminated both the sons of Adam.He won the battle, but the war had just begun before the eyes of men.In Heaven, it was a foregone conclusion—the victory had been won.
rom Adam to Abraham to Joseph, the war would rage on.We can now look back and see the hand of God in all that went on.We have the fortunate perspective of the Word of God to instruct us, but to those who lived the Bible stories it must have seemed confusing so many times.So many times God would take the ancient saints and appear to them to encourage them in their faith, giving them glimpses into a future that they themselves would not see in their own natural lifetimes.But they knew the promises were true , because they knew The Promise Giver.And now the place, Bethlehem—which had been foretold, and the time had come for the culmination of the prophecies to be fulfilled.That is why the Wise Men studied the Star and let God guide them to the Land of the Messiah.That is why the angel choruses sang praises before the shepherds that wondrous night—The Great Shepherd was here.The King Who became a Servant was here to meet their needs.
es, He was promised before of prophets, praised as King by angelic choirs, waited longingly for by faithful fathers who taught their children that someday Messiah would come to deliver them, yearned for by mothers everywhere whose desire to keep themselves pure meant a chance at birthing this Blessed Promised One—for all knew that He was to be born of a virgin.It was the dream of every young Jewish girl to be the one in Whom God should show such profound delight.And now, here she was—holding the Christ-child.And yet they had been met with indignity instead of encouragement, inhospitality instead hospitality, loneliness instead of pageantry.And yet it did not matter, for He was still King of Kings and Lord of Lords.It did not matter that men did not bring to Him great gifts, for He had come to give and not to get.His gift was the greatest that could be given, for His gift was Himself, and His promise was the forgiveness of sins through the soon sacrifice of Himself on a cruel cross in another city that to men had not yet been erected, but to Him was prepared before the first man Adam sinned the first sin.
es, this Jesus of Nazareth was the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.He was as Isaiah said The Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, and The Prince of Peace.It was no doubt that when the shepherds heard the joyous chorus and ran to the manger to see the Princely Babe that they agreed with Isaiah that He truly was Wonderful.The animals who attended the birth now finally met The Great Creator.And perhaps the sheep whose home was being invaded by this journeying family smiled as they saw the fulfillment of their service for now The Perfect Lamb had finally come.For here before them all lay Wisdom, with Whom and by Whom all that was made, for here was The Promised Seed, The Messiah, The Root of Jesse, The Son of David—this Jesus, the Son of God, Only Begotten of The Father, Full of Grace and Truth.
o Abraham, He was the Ram in the Thicket—the substitutionary sacrifice for his own son.
o Noah, He was the Ark of Safety—specially prepared for the saving of his family during an awful time of God’s judgment upon man’s sin.
o Moses, He was The Mighty Deliverer—the means by which the children of Israel were delivered and the God who allowed the armies of their enemies to be destroyed.
o the Children of Israel, He was the Rock—from which flowed the water to sustain their lives.
o the Psalmist and those who have been inspired by those scriptures He is Our Strong Tower—our protection when all else fails and none else is sufficient.
o Ruth, who was His great, great, great. . .grandmother He was The Kinsman Redeemer—for without His redemption we are outside the fellowship of God.
he law-givers saw Him as the Judge of the Universe.
he Levites saw Him as High Priest after the order of Melchisedek.
he prophets saw Him as The Anointed One, The Sorrowful One, The Man of Sorrows, The Branch, The Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Our Passover, Immanuel, and as The Everlasting Father.
e was soon to be revealed as The Word, The Great Shepherd, The Great I AM, The Way, The Truth, and The Life.He had come as a Servant and as a King, as God and as Man—the man Christ Jesus.As both an Offerer and an Offering.He had been born to live so that He might die.He came to give without ever a hope of receiving.He had come that men no more may die.As the Second Adam, He was bringing life to men who deserved to die, so that He Who should nevereven see Death would lay his life down willingly for our sins.
ou see, Christmas was much more than just a Babe laying in a manger, with shepherds, and angels, and Wise Men.It was the Advent of God upon the scene to fulfill His perfect plan for our Redemption.It will always be remembered as the day that the Peace of God was put before men so that the Grace of God could be introduced to men.However you remember it, remember it with great awe and thankfulness.For Christmas is the unfolding of the Greatest Story Ever Told—it is the remembrance of the birth of our King.