Statisticians tell us that our world’s current population exceeds seven billion people. That is a seven with nine zeros.
Those same statisticians tell us that in all of human history, approximately 105-110 billion people have ever lived. That is one hundred and five with nine zeros.
Of that one hundred and five billion, some have been male and some have been female. Some have been red and yellow and black and white. Some have gone on to be doctors, lawyers, and Indian chiefs.
However, there is no more significant birth than that we celebrate this time of year, and that is the birth of Jesus Christ. This morning, we consider the first Christmas.
I hope and pray that all of you will have an encouraging and joyful Christmas this next week. However, when we think about the first Christmas, there were some other emotions that we were prominent.
In Luke 1:29 and 34, Mary was worried and confused.
29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was…34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
In Matthew 1:19, Joseph was hurt and brokenhearted.
19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.
In Luke 2:9, the shepherds were afraid.
9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.
Regardless of your Christmas this year, I want you to know that as evidenced by the first Christmas, God wants to share eternity with you. Think about that. God didn’t just create for 70 and 80 and 90 years of living on earth. He created you for billions of years of living with Him in eternity. We know that because of the first Christmas.
- The First Christmas was Detailed by God, Matthew 1:18-21.
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
Verses 18-25 of Matthew 1 tells us of the first Christmas in Matthew’s Gospel. Luke 2 also speaks of the first Christmas.
Our story today begins with Joseph and Mary. We know that Joseph was probably a carpenter. As for Mary, she very well could have been a young teen ager at this time. It was not uncommon for Jewish girls to be married as young as twelve years of age.
Verse 18 says that they were betrothed. This would be similar to our engagement but more significant. Jewish families would often arrange the marriages of their children. The prospective groom’s family would enter a contract that included paying money to the bride’s father for wedding expenses.
After the arrangement, the couple was considered to be in the betrothal period. This time could last up to one year and served as a probationary period. Even though the couple was considered married at this point, they did not live together and were not physically intimate.
After the probationary period, the groom would send for the bride, and a weeklong wedding feast would ensue. This was a weeklong celebration that included both families and the community.
Once the wedding feast was over, the bride and groom would finally consummate the marriage physically. However, at this point, up and to this point, they had kept themselves pure, but verse 18 introduces a dilemma for Joseph. It was revealed that Mary is pregnant. The problem was that Joseph was not the father.
Joseph had two options. If Joseph wasn’t the father, the only other human explanation was that Mary had been unfaithful. Believe it or not, the OT allowed capital punishment for adultery or he could choose to quietly divorce her.
As you can see in verse 19, his initial choice was the latter. He was going to quietly divorce her because even though it appeared that he had been wronged, he was a kind and compassionate man.
But how did all this happen? Verse 18 simply says, “She was found with child of the Holy Spirit.” This was a miracle by the Spirit of God.
The conception of Jesus was miraculous. It was mysterious, and it was marvelous. It was in no way sexual or improper.
Science cannot explain it. Our finite minds can’t comprehend it. However, the Holy Spirit accomplished it.
A third detail to note about the birth of Christ is the message for the world.
Mary was going to have a baby boy who was to be named Jesus, and here’s the message for the world and how we know that God wants to spend eternity with us. Jesus was going to save His people from their sins.
Please don’t miss the implication. The implication is that we are sinners and separated from God because of our sin. In other words, we are in need of a Savior because we cannot save ourselves. Therefore, God made salvation possible for anyone who would turn from his or her sins and turn to Jesus Christ in faith because He created us to spend eternity with Him.
If you are here this morning and you’re trying to live a good enough life to save yourself, it will never happen. We can’t be good enough, but we don’t have to be. We only have to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior.
- The First Christmas was Described Long Ago, Matthew 1:22-23.
22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
Beginning in verse 22, we see that the birth of Jesus was declared long ago by the Lord and through His prophets. In other words, the birth of Jesus is a fulfillment of prophecy.
Even though these men were human, it was God, the Lord, speaking through them. Therefore, these prophecies were made by God but through men and about the Savior.
Dave Reagan’s Lamb & Lion Ministry says there are at least 19 fulfilled prophecies in the birth of Christ, but I’ll just remind you of three.
Micah 5:2, 2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”
Luke 2:4-6, 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.
Isaiah 9:6, 6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Matthew 1:21, 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
Isaiah 7:14, 14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
Matthew 1:23, 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
- The First Christmas Demands a Response, Matthew 1:24-25.
24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.
In the last two verses of Matthew 1, we see Joseph’s commitment to the Lord, and that commitment is seen in one word, “obedience.”
We see that here and elsewhere.
Look at Matthew 2:13-14. What did Joseph do? He did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.
13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” 14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt.
Look at Matthew 2:19-21. What did Joseph do? He did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.
19 Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.” 21 Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.
Joseph obeyed personally. Joseph obeyed in his marriage. Joseph obeyed in his parenting.
Unfortunately, he is often the forgotten man of Christmas.
We don’t ever hear Joseph speak. Therefore, we don’t ever hear him quoted. We don’t normally sing about Joseph. We sing about Jesus and Mary and the angels and the shepherds and the wise men and Bethlehem, but not generally about Joseph.
However, Joseph shouldn’t be a forgotten man. His response to the first Christmas should be commended and followed.
How will you respond this morning to the first Christmas? Remember, God wants to spend eternity with you. We know that because Jesus came to save His people from their sins.
If you have never received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you will die in your sins and spend eternity in hell separated from God. However, if the Holy Spirit is convicting you of your lostness and has given you faith to believe, would you call on Jesus this morning to save you?
For others, your response to the first Christmas needs to be obedience. Will you be obedient to forgive someone who has hurt you? Will you be obedient to say, “I’m sorry?” Will you be obedient to loving your spouse? Will you be obedient to obeying your parents? Will you be obedient to be baptized as Jesus was? Will you be obedient in uniting with a local church? Will you be obedient in sharing the message of the first Christmas?