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The Nativity

Luke's Nativity
Matthew's Nativity
Jesus as the Son of Man
Jesus as the King of Israel
Intro 1:1-4
Gabriel Announces
  • The Birth of John the Baptist 1:5-25
  • The Birth of Jesus Christ 1:26-38

  • Mary visits Elizabeth 1:39-56
    John the Baptist is Born 1:57-66
    Zacharias Prophecies 1:67-80

    Jesus' Birth
    The Census 2:1-7
    The Shepherds 2:8-20
    The Circumcision 2:21-24
    The Prophecy of Simeon 2:25-35
    The Prophecy of Anna 2:36-40
    Jesus' Bar Mitzvah 2:41-52

    The Virgin Birth 1:18-25
    The Wise Men Visit Herod 2:1-8
    The Wise Men Visit Jesus 2:9-12
    Escape to Egypt 2:13-15
    The Slaying of the Innocent 2:16-18
    Return to Nazareth 2:19-23
    Luke is a Gentile writing to a Gentile (Theophilus) and he also traveled with Paul in his ministry to the Gentiles, even to the end of his recorded ministry. He focusses on Jesus as the Son of Man. As we have seen, his record of Jesus' genealogy, being Mary's, goes back to Adam. So also we notice that Luke's nativity is more or less taken from Mary's perspective. It focusses on the humble and Jesus' humanity. Matthew's gospel is written to a more Jewish audience. He focusses on Jesus as King, or the rejected king of Israel. We noticed that Matthew's record of Jesus' genealogy, which is Joseph's, traces back to Abraham along the line of the kings of Israel. So also his nativity is taken as if from Joseph's perspective. This account emphasizes protection and provision

         The family was preserved (from divorce)
         Protected from Herod the great 
         Provided for by the Wise Men 
         Saved by an Angel 
         Protected from Archelaus 

    It is apparent from the applications of prophecies such as these and others where the New Testament makes reference to prophecies in the Old that Some have a dual fulfillment. For example in The Flight to Egypt Hosea 11:1 refers to Israel's Exodus but is applied to Christ; in The Slaying of the Innocent Jer 31:15 refers to the Babylonian captivity but is applied to Herod's murder of the children of Bethlehem. It's further possible that Malachi 4:5,6 refers not only to John the Baptist but also the literal Elijah himself of whom possibly will yet come as one of the two witnesses of Revelation 11.


    Gabriel concerning John the Baptist: 
    Gabriel prophecies that John the Baptist would be the fulfillment of Malachi 4:5,6 "See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse." (which is also the last verse in the Old Testament) But rather than saying he will be the literal Elijah, Gabriel says "he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah" Lk 1:17

    Gabriel concerning Jesus: (Lk 1:32,33)
    "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

    The Magnificat (Lk 1:46-55)
    Mary not so much as prophecies as gives praise and makes observations. In acknowledging the blessings bestowed upon her, she identifies herself with the category of those whom the society has looked down upon - the down cast, the humiliated. And she also acknowledges the fulfillment of promises made to Abraham and his seed.

    Zacharias (Lk 1:68-79)
    Again this is more praise than prophecy.
    Speaks of God's salvation of Israel.

    • First he speaks of salvation from enemies in order that we may serve Him free from the fear of such enemies.
    • Secondly he speaks of salvation in terms of the forgiveness of sins.
    Simeon's Prophecy (Lk 2:29-35)
    "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." (Isaiah 9:2; 42:6) Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too."

    It is interesting that Gabriel mentioned none of these. So we see in Zacharias and Simeon the Jewish expectations of the Messiah. It is interesting in particular to note Simeon's reference to the Gentiles indicating the scope of His relevance, which is particularly significant in view of the fact that Luke, being a Gentile, is writing to a Gentile.


    Virgin Birth
    "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel."Isaiah 7:14

    Birth 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
    It is insightful also to consider the phrase just before this verse in Micah 5:1 "They will strike Israel's ruler on the cheek with a rod." For this would also be the Messiah's destiny. 

    Flight to Egypt
    "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son." Hosea 11:1

    Slaying of the Innocent
    This is what the LORD says: "A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more." Jer 31:15

    Born in bondage
    to redeem those in bondage

    After birth the Pharoah sought to kill him
    but he escaped by fleeing from Egypt

    His people were governed by Gentiles

    Born under the Law
    to redeem those under the Law (Gal 4:4)

    After birth the king sought to kill him
    but he escaped by fleeing to Egypt

    His people were governed by Gentiles

    When was Jesus Born?

    The Bible doesn't say explicitly, but the best way of establishing a timeline I've seen is based upon the statement in Luke 1:5 that Zechariah was serving in the division of Abijah at the time of the conception of John the Baptist. It goes on to imply that Jesus was conceived 6 months later. Then if we assume Jesus was born 9 months after conception, all we really need to know to establish the approximate birth date is to know the time when Zechariah was serving in the temple.

    The priests were divided into 24 courses. 1Chronicles 24:10 indicates Abijah (Zechariah's division) was the 8th. There is also an extra-biblical quote from a Jewish source indicating that each division would serve for one week.

    “Moses, our master, divided the priests into eight courses, four from Eleazar, and four from Ithamar, and so they were until Samuel the prophet; and in the days of Samuel, he and David, the king, divided them into twenty four courses; and over every course one head was appointed, and they went up to Jerusalem to the service of the course every week; and from sabbath to sabbath they changed; one course went out, and another came in, till they finished, and returned again.”
    These are the facts, but now comes two assumptions:
    First assumption: The first course of priests start serving in the beginning of the Jewish month of Nisan, which is the first month of the sacred calendar year.
    (See the Jewish Calendar )

    There's a nice web page based on these ideas and concludes that Jesus was conceived on Dec 15 (the Jewish festival of lights, or Hanukkah), and was born on the Feast of Tabernacles Tishri 15 (between September and October)

    Another supporting evidence is the hypothesis that the reason why there was "no room at the inn" in Bethlehem was because there was a big feast going on in the nearby city of Jerusalem. That may or may not have been the case. It could have been that there was no room simply because of the census. But if it was because of a feast, there were three annual feasts in which all males were required to travel to Jerusalem - Passover (Nisan 14-21), Pentecost (Sivan 6) and Tabernacles (Tishri 15-22). However the problem with the Tabernacles idea is that the celebration of Tabernacles required the people to not stay at inns, but rather to live in booths (tents) Leviticus 23:42. So it seems that there should have been plenty of room at the inn.

    However what the author failed to consider was that Zechariah's division would have been serving twice a year. The second assumption therefore is that Zechariah served the first of these two terms. But if he served the second term, that would have been about six months later, which would shift everything by 6 months. Jesus would have then have been conceived about June 15th and born about March 15th (only approximate dates). Interesting that March 15th is very close to Passover, which is one of the big celebrations in Jerusalem. And wouldn't it be interesting if he was born on Passover and died on Passover! Or possibly that Passover was 8 days after his birth, at which time he got circumcised, which involved shedding of blood, and of course his death at passover also involved the shedding of blood. And that would perhaps allegorically connect his entry into the world itself to his triumphal entry into Jerusalem which occurred about a week before his death.

    But still a Dec 25th birth is not out of the question either, as we have had to make a couple of assumptions to come up with these two other possibilities. See also for other possibilities.

    There may be also other evidences to consider such as the shepherds attending their flocks outside at night. One might think that it would be too cold to do so in December. And then there's the star of Bethlehem. But there's even more a variety of speculation as to what it was and whether it narrows the time frame or not.

    (Verses quoted from the NIV version)
    The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jul 23,2020