By Brian Crawford
In this season, we celebrate not only the birth of Yeshua, but also His reason for coming into the world. The Gospel accounts teach that Yeshua was “conceived…of the Holy Spirit” in His mother’s womb (Matthew 1:20, cf. Luke 1:35). Many skeptics deny that the virgin birth could have happened because of assumptions about the supernatural, but Yeshua’s miraculous conception is essential if our faith has any truth at all!
Any Messiah who could redeem us from our sins would have to be sinless himself. But how can a human being, descended from Adam, live without sinning from birth to grave? Likewise, any Messiah had to be born from David’s line (2 Samuel 7:16). But if someone is descended from David’s line, then surely he is tainted by humanity’s sinful nature!
The virgin birth was God’s solution to this paradox. Just as God created Adam as a perfect living being out of nothing, so too the Holy Spirit miraculously provided twenty-three perfect chromosomes to fertilize the egg in Mary’s womb. It was through this fusion of the miraculous and the natural that the pre-existent Son of God was made incarnate. On the one hand, this broke the chain of sin inherited from Adam (Genesis 3, Romans 5), enabling Yeshua to have a human nature untainted by sin. On the other hand, by having Mary as his physical mother and Joseph as his adopted father, Yeshua was born from David’s line (Matthew 1:6).
Thus, the virgin birth enabled Yeshua to be our sinless, perfect, unblemished lamb for the forgiveness of our sins and guaranteed that Yeshua could fulfill the Messianic prophecies about the Redeemer coming from David’s line. Only God could have come up with such a profound and awe-inspiring solution for our sin. For this reason and many others, we come and adore Him, Messiah the Lord.
Matthew Chapter 1
By Neal H. Surasky
Matthew was the consummate Jewish evangelist. He had come to faith in Jesus and now had a burden to see his Jewish brothers and sisters come to the same saving faith. As a Jewish man, he understood just what it would take to convince his people. It started with proving that this man Jesus, who the Jewish people would know as Yeshua, fulfilled the required prophecies. First and foremost, he had to establish the proper lineage.
Of all of the prophecies regarding the Messiah, there were two that had to precede the rest. First, the Messiah had to be Jewish, a descendant of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. Second, he had to be a descendant of David in order to sit on his throne as king. Matthew begins his proof with the statement, “The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). It is interesting to note that the only other genealogy of Jesus is found in the Gospel of Luke, who takes His lineage all the way back to God. For the Jewish people, it was a given that God was the ultimate creator. It was more important to show that the Messiah was a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and thus Jewish, and that He had the right to sit on the throne of David.
God promised Abraham not once, but twice, that through his seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:3; 18:22). Through Jacob, God promised that the rule of Israel would be forever in the hand of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10). And He promised King David, “…your throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16). At this season for remembering His birth, Matthew teaches us that even Jesus’ lineage is the fulfillment of prophecy, as it was written.
Matthew Chapter 2
By Michael Herts
One of my childhood memories was when a school music teacher took class time to sing Christmas carols (in those days it was permitted). Since Jewish children were not required to participate, we would go over to the corner of the room and talk about life. One of the songs they would sing was “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” which meant nothing to me then because I did not connect the town with Israel and the Jewish people. It was not until years later that I understood the significance of that song.
The Jewish prophet Micah’s ministry took place during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, three kings of Judah, between the years of about 750-686 BC. Micah was calling the people to repentance. He let them know that, even though judgment was coming, God loved His people and would one day bring a deliverer. In doing so, he named a small town where the Messiah, the Anointed One, would be born.
When Matthew wrote his Gospel, he was bringing incredible news. He quoted prophecies from the Hebrew Scriptures to make his point that our long-awaited Messiah had come and His name was Jesus. In quoting Micah 5:2, Matthew wrote, “And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a ruler who will shepherd My people Israel” (Matthew 2:6). In verse 2, we are told that a star indicated where this shepherd had been born. This star was the sign that the prophecy of Micah had come to pass. And now I know the real meaning of the song, “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”
Hanukkah & Christmas
By Charlotte Machado
The Feast of Dedication is first mentioned in John 10:22. In fact, this is the only place in Scripture where the holiday of Hanukkah is mentioned. In this passage, Jesus goes to the Temple in Jerusalem to celebrate the festival. The word Hanukkah comes from the Hebrew verb hanakh, which means to dedicate.
Hanukkah celebrates the victory of the Maccabees over the Greeks and the rededication of the Temple. Approximately two hundred years later, Jewish people gathered around Jesus in the Temple court and asked him plainly whether or not he was the promised Messiah. At that time, they were waiting in hopeful, anxious anticipation for the fulfillment of Messianic prophecies. They desperately wanted to know if Jesus was the one for whom they were waiting. After some discussion with the onlookers, Jesus acknowledged His deity by saying, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).
As written in Ezekiel 8-11, the Divine Presence had not been seen in the Temple since the glory of the Lord departed. In Solomon’s Temple, the glory of God was present and hovered over the mercy seat. Ezekiel 8-11 describes the glory of God—which can be interpreted as the Holy Spirit—leaving the Temple because of Israel’s disobedience. With Jesus’ presence in the Temple, the Holy Spirit had indeed returned.
Hebrews 1:3 describes Jesus as the “radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature.” There is tremendous significance that on the Feast of Dedication, or Hanukkah, Jesus announces His deity and returns the Spirit to the Temple. Through Messiah, we, who are now His temple, are made clean and filled with His Holy Spirit. This is the meaning of Hanukkah and it is truly something to be celebrated.