Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The turning point has arrived. A point of division between everything that happened before and everything has happened after.
Our Bible is divided into two parts. The New Testament books were written after the birth of Jesus Christ and talk about what happened next. The Old Testament books were written before the birth of Jesus Christ, although they pointed to the first coming of Christ the Savior. However, the faithful of that time in the Old Testament had the hope of messianic prophecies.
So, our reading of the Old Testament (Isaiah 9: 2-7) says: “Because a child is born to us, a son is given to us; and the principality will be on his shoulder; and his name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. The duration of his empire and his peace will have no limit, on the throne of David and on his kingdom, arranging and confirming it in judgment and justice from now and forever. The Lord of hosts will do this. ”
In chapter seven of his book, Isaiah prophesied that this child would be born of a virgin as a sign to David's house. Because God promised King David that the Savior would be King of kings and would come from the lineage of David. And according to Isaiah, the sign of the fulfillment of this promise would be when a virgin will conceive and give birth to a child. How could that be? Maria had the same question. The angel's response was it would be the work of the Holy Spirit.
In our reading for tonight, Isaiah speaks again of this child and notice, in divine terms. Strong God, eternal Father. How can the child be the eternal Father? In addition, His dominion will have no limit, it will last forever. These are attributes of God. The prophets prophesied that the Messiah would be Savior, king and God, all these prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Therefore, we have the Scriptures divided into two parts, before Jesus Christ and after Jesus Christ.
But, not only is the Bible divided into two parts. The whole history of our world is divided into the years before Christ and the years after Christ. Not everyone is a believer in Jesus as Lord and Savior, but everyone recognizes His birth as a turning point for our world. This impact is in itself evidence of the truth of Jesus Christ.
St. John, in his gospel, says thus, "And the light in the darkness shines, but the darkness did not understand it" (John 1: 5). The light of Jesus Christ still shines and illuminates this world, whether everyone believes or does not believe. There is hope in this world that would not exist without the birth of Jesus.
However, in our text for today, it seems that the birth of this child means nothing. Luke says this:
“And it happened in those days that an edict was issued by Augusto César, that everyone be registered. This registration was first made as Cirenio governor of Syria. ”
Augustus Caesar was the first emperor of Rome. After 750 years as a republic, the government of Rome became an empire because of its conquest of many other countries. And the rule was for all countries to pay taxes to Rome. Therefore, Augustus Caesar wanted a census to determine how much revenue he should anticipate. This is not a myth, because, look, Syria still exists today. There is a war in Syria now. But, that time was the time of Augustus Caesar.
“And they all went to be registered, each one to his city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because it was from David's house and family; to be registered with Mary his wife, married to him, who was about to give birth. ”
Caesar did not know Joseph. It did not matter to him that Mary was about to give birth. Bethlehem was Joseph's hometown, and Caesar, the most powerful man in the world made Joseph and Mary make the long and dangerous journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
“And it came to pass that when they were there, the days of her birth were fulfilled. And she gave birth to her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. ”
It is likely that the inn was the first floor of a home belonging to relatives of Joseph. Arriving late, Joseph and Mary had to stay on the first floor with the animals. Thus was the birth of Him who divided the history of the world into two parts.
But, there were those who recognized the coming of the Messiah on that same night. “And there were shepherds in the same region, who watched and guarded the night watches over their flock. And behold, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord encircled them with brightness; and they had great fear. But the angel said to them, Fear not; because here I give you news of great joy, which will be for all the people: That you were born today, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign to you; You will find the child wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly armies, who praised God, and said: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. ”
A heavenly choir appeared to common men. To them belonged the privilege to see their Lord and newborn Savior. The wise men did not arrive on that night. They saw the star and began their journey, but did not arrive until a year or more later. And this first encounter between the Savior and the rich and powerful men did not go well, because in Jerusalem the wise men asked King Herod the Great, “Where is the child born to be king of the Jews?” For Herod, the Jews already had a king and he sought to kill the Infant Jesus and killed the other children of Bethlehem instead. Through the angels, God warned the magi not to return to Herod and sent Joseph to flee to Egypt with Mary and her son to save the Child Jesus for His death on the cross.
Because the impact of Christ on this world consists in His death and resurrection that changed the eternal destiny of sinners. This hope still shines in this world. It shines in our hearts and lives as the church of Christ that proclaims His death and resurrection until his second coming in glory. Therefore, we have the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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