One birth, three messages

From a simple declaration to explanatory narratives, three of the Gospels refer to Jesus’ birth to further various objectives. The same historical event comes alive through recounting different carefully chosen details. Each of these Gospels presents us with a different treasure. Which one resonates most with you?

John contains the most succinct reference. “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us. And we have seen his glory–the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father.” (John 1:14). With this brief affirmation of his entrance into the world, John contributes toward our understanding of his identity and ministry.

The word who came from the Father full of grace and truth became flesh. John’s words confront us.

While people might claim their own truth, Jesus shatters whatever earth-bound playing field we might think matters. Having come from the Father, Jesus’ message trumps whatever ideas humanity might generate (John 3:31-34; 8:26). We can either believe in him thereby gaining eternal life or reject him thus dying in our sin (John 3:36; 8:24). Regardless of what we might prefer to be true, Jesus announced reality.

Matthew’s birth narrative about Jesus advanced a different message. To a people looking for the promised Messiah, Matthew heralded that Jesus the long-awaited kingly Messianic son of David had arrived. The kingdom was near!

Genealogical history authenticated Jesus as the Christ, that is Messiah. How had genealogical history revealed this?

For starters Jesus was descended from David. However there is more. Israel’s most significant events when combined with Jesus’ ancestors organize around the numerical value of David’s name, namely fourteen (Matthew 1:17). It is as if a giant Davidic stamp had bounced through history falling squarely upon Christ, confirming him as Israel’s next major event.

Matthew then turns our eyes skyward. The heavens had proclaimed the birth of the king of the Jews. (Matthew 2:2).

Furthermore the events of Jesus’ birth fulfilled Messianic prophecies revealing all of these events were God’s doing. Thus the Holy Spirit came upon Mary making possible the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem, the city of David (Matthew 1:20; 2:4-6).

Matthew capped off the earthly story of Jesus Messiah with: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

The story of the one born in the manger and later risen from the dead challenges each of us. Will we allow him to be our Lord? Will we obey everything the Messiah has commanded?

Luke’s recounting of Jesus’ birth situates us firmly within God’s concern for the outsider, the overlooked and the disadvantage. We discover that in Jesus, God was at work to offer salvation to everyone!

God’s activity saturated the events surrounding Jesus’ birth. God sent his angel to Zachariah and Elizabeth. Then he sent an angel to inform Mary that she would be with child because, “Nothing is impossible for God” (Luke 1:37).

Emphasizing God’s concern for the ordinary and poor, Luke recorded Mary exclaiming to Elizabeth: “My soul exalts the Lord, … because he has looked upon the humble state of his servant. … he has lifted up those of lowly position; he has filled the hungry with good things” (Luke 1:46,48,52,53).

God’s angel would announce to the lowest social strata in Israel, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

Jesus’ birth can remind us of many things. Jesus announced God’s truth. The one born in Bethlehem is Lord and has been given all authority. God is concerned about all people.

Truth. Lordship. Universal concern. Which of these aspects of Jesus’ birth resonates most with you?


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