Tag Archives: advent

Day 7: A Christmas Miracle

“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.” —Isaiah 11:1

“It’s a Christmas miracle!” This is exclaimed in nearly every Christmas movie when the unexpected happens in circumstances that appeared hopeless. Perhaps the common usage of this exclamation demonstrates that most people believe this is a miraculous time of year. To be sure, Christmas is inherently miraculous—what could be more miraculous than God taking on flesh, being born as a man to a virgin?

Many years before Christ came to earth, God promised that His arrival would be miraculous. Through the prophet Isaiah, God told the Jews that a shoot was coming from Jesse’s stump. Mentioning Jesse is another way of referring to David’s royal lineage, since Jesse was his father. But at this point, David’s royal lineage looked like a stump—the tree of his family line had been cut down to a stump, only to rot away. What’s worse, with the wasting away of David’s family, there appeared no hope of a Messiah coming to bring salvation, since the Messiah was prophesied elsewhere to be David’s son.

But a miracle was coming—a shoot, a twig, would grow out of this stump. This royal lineage would bear fruit again with the coming of a king greater than David. Many years later, “Jesus Christ, the son of David” (Matthew 1:1) was born—and His birth happened miraculously. God is good at causing the unexpected to happen in situations that seem bleak or hopeless. Though life may appear to be a stump, God still works miracles. And the coming of Christ at Christmas was truly a Christmas miracle and He is worthy of praise for it.


profile pic5Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie, Aries, and Dot.

Day 6: A Greater Price for a Greater Gift

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah” (Jer. 31:31).

Christmas gifts seem to get more expensive every year. In fact, it’s estimated that the average American will spend $920 per person on presents this year.[1] But no matter how much you shell out buying gifts for your loved ones this year, it’s likely that you are a receiver of gifts just as much as a giver of them. That’s the great thing about Christmas—we all get something new. And that’s good, because we all like new things—we like to give and receive new things. The glee and bliss felt by a child when getting a toy truck or Barbie resonates through adulthood.

Such glee was surely felt by the Israelites when God promised them a gift was coming that was new, free, and exceedingly greater than anything physical or even earthly: the salvation of the new covenant which Jesus would bring by His advent. Long ago in Jeremiah 31, the Lord God promised that a new covenant was coming—a new way of experiencing Him, a new way of doing things. This new covenant would include a personal relationship with Him, the total forgiveness of sins, and the ability to obey God from the heart (vv. 33-34). And while this new covenant was free to them and is free to you, it was very expensive to God because He paid for it with the blood of His Son, Jesus. As Christ Himself said, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20).

When Jesus was born Christmas Day, He was already on His way to purchase this great gift of new covenant salvation for you. And remember, when Christmas presents start to get expensive, God paid a greater price for a greater gift—the gracious gift of salvation in the new covenant. No gift you give or receive could compare with the immeasurable gift of salvation that God gave through Christ. “Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!” (2 Cor. 9:15, NLT).


[1] https://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/1112/average-cost-of-an-american-christmas.aspx


profile pic5Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie, Aries, and Dot.

Day 5: Let It Snow!

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” —Isaiah 1:18

Nothing is more enchanting and pleasant than waking up on Christmas morning to a blanket of snow covering the neighborhood. Nearly everyone dreams of a white Christmas because it just feels like Christmas when there is snow on the ground. Without snow, there are no snowmen, snowball fights, or dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh. Snow and Christmas pair together like hot cocoa and marshmallows.

Snow is also a biblical symbol for purity and righteousness. To the Jews, snow was the purest form of white. It appears pure, clean, and perfect when it falls from the sky. It even covers the filth and dirt of the earth. It is no wonder that people in the Bible desired to be as pure as snow, like David who prayed: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7). The prophet Daniel also used this imagery in describing his vision of God on His throne, as One who is uncompromisingly pure and righteous: “As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow” (Daniel 7:9a).

In Isaiah 1:18, the Lord told His people that their sins were undeniably noticeable—as red as red can be—like scarlet. Their lives were stained, filthy, and impure. They needed to be cleansed and scrubbed of the sin that colored their lives. God assured them that they could be made white like snow if they turned to Him (vv. 19-20). Though they were covered in filth, they could be snow-white through the Lord’s thorough washing.

You are also in need of such cleansing from the Lord. Ironically, the only way to receive cleansing from the red stain of your sins is through the blood of Jesus. As John the apostle said, “The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7b). His death makes you whiter than snow in the sight of God because He clothed Himself in the filthy rags of your sin and in exchange gives you the white robes of His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). You receive this cleansing when you turn away from your sins and express faith in Christ alone (Acts 17:30; Ephesians 2:8-9).

What’s more ironic is that it snows during the Christmas season—the time when you remember and celebrate Christ’s coming into the world to save you from your sin. Is it possible that it snows this time of year as a sign from God that Christ came on Christmas day to make you whiter than snow?


profile pic5Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie, Aries, and Dot.

Day 4: Go, Tell It on the Mountain

“And when they [the shepherds] saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.” —Luke 2:17

Shepherds were the first Christian preachers in history. Before the message of salvation in Christ was announced by John the Baptist and the apostles (John 1:29-34; Acts 2:22-36; 4:12), lowly shepherds declared the good news of the coming of Christ. The shepherds told others of His arrival even before Jesus did (Mark 1:14-15). Luke explains that they reported to everyone what they had experienced. They made known to others what the Lord had made known to them (Luke 2:15), namely, that a Savior had been born in the city of David (v. 10).

Notice what they didn’t do. They didn’t keep the good news to themselves. They didn’t stay quiet for fear that no one would believe them. They didn’t wait until the right time to share the message—they went with haste to proclaim it (v. 16). In one night, they went from being recipients to deliverers of the good news of Christ’s coming.

Their preaching of the gospel of Christ is worthy of imitation. This is an excellent example for you to follow as one who has also received the good news of Jesus. What they did with the gospel is what you are to do with it: proclaim it to everyone. This is the point of the Christmas classic, Go, Tell It on the Mountain:

“Go, tell it on the mountain,

Over the hills and everywhere;

Go, tell it on the mountain,

That Jesus Christ is born.”

Do not keep the gospel to yourself or fear others won’t believe you. Do not wait until the time and conditions are right. Go with haste and publish the greatest news in the world to your family, friends, and neighbors. And do not think you are unqualified to share the good news of the gospel—poor, uneducated, and lowly shepherds were the first evangelists. The power is in the message, not the messenger. Therefore, unashamedly tell the world that the gospel is, “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).


profile pic5Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie, Aries, and Dot.

Day 3: A Savior Better Than Santa

“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them.” —Luke 2:8-9a

Santa is not very inclusive—he only brings gifts for good boys and girls. He even puts you on the naughty list if you’ve been behaving badly. Those who receive presents from Santa are children most qualified to receive them. The Lord Jesus, by contrast, gives the greatest gift to those who are the least qualified to receive it. He came to earth to grant eternal life to undeserving sinners.

The mission of Christ to save the least likely people is seen in the fact that shepherds were the first to hear the good news of His coming. The advent of Jesus was not announced to kings or emperors, but to some of the most insignificant persons in Judean society. Although shepherds were important, the culture viewed them as minuscule. In fact, they couldn’t even testify in court. Yet, an angel of the Lord appeared to them and they became the first recipients of the news that the Savior had been born.

The Gospels reinforce the idea that He cares for the low-ranking people of the world. The first disciples were fishermen. The kind of people He healed were lepers, paralytics, and those possessed by demons. He ate with tax collectors and sinners. He cared for widows and the sexually immoral. Jesus came for the least qualified—as He Himself said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32).

The good news of Jesus is for you, too. You don’t have to be outstandingly qualified to receive His gift of eternal life. The Lord Jesus will grant salvation to you, no matter who you are or what you have done. By repentance and faith (Acts 17:30; Eph. 2:8-9), eternal life can be yours even if you are sexually immoral, idolatrous, adulterous, greedy, or addicted (1 Cor. 6:9-11). Jesus is a significant Savior who came for insignificant people—that’s another reason why Jesus is better than Santa.


profile pic5Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie, Aries, and Dot.

Day 2: Extraordinary in the Ordinary

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered . . . And all went to be registered, each to his own town.” —Luke 2:1, 3

There is nothing unusual about filing and paying taxes, except when you receive a generous refund. Likewise, paying taxes in New Testament times was completely normal. Luke explains that it was tax time for the Jews as Caesar issued a decree for the purpose of assessing taxes. This was business as usual. Nothing out of the ordinary was occurring—or so it seemed.

Amazingly, this decree is what God used to bring Joseph and Mary to the prophesied birthplace of the Messiah. The prophet Micah foretold that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem:

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days (Micah 5:2).

There’s just one problem—Mary was not in Bethlehem (Luke 2:4). Thankfully, this taxation would take them there because, in order to comply, every Jew had to travel back to their hometown. For Joseph, this was Bethlehem, the city of David. Luke says that Mary and Joseph proceeded to Bethlehem (v. 4) and it is there that Mary, “gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths” (v. 7).

God sovereignly moved in the heart of Caesar (Prov. 21:1) to fulfill His word concerning Jesus. The Sovereign Lord of the universe used an ordinary taxation for an extraordinary purpose. Even today, God uses ordinary people and events for extraordinary purposes. God didn’t create the world and then abandon it—He is actively involved in the creation at each moment to accomplish His sovereign will. He will use whatever it takes to fulfill His perfect plan—even things that are completely normal.

Right now, God is active in the ordinary things of your life—the day-to-day happenings that appear humdrum. As John Piper has said, “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them.”[1] So, take heart if you have an ordinary life because God used a standard taxation to bring Jesus Christ into the world. Who knows what He will do through the ordinary things in your life? To be sure, whatever He does is always for your good and His glory (Gen. 50:20; Rom. 8:28; 11:36).


profile pic5Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie, Aries, and Dot.


[1] https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/god-is-always-doing-10000-things-in-your-life

Day 1: When Heaven Had Christmas

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God.” —Luke 2:13a

Christmas is the biggest celebration of the year with its own decorations, symbols, music, traditions, foods, and even colors. However, because some elements of this season have their roots in ancient pagan festivals, many do not celebrate Christmas. And while it is true that many Christmas practices began in paganism, the pagan meanings were lost long ago. Besides, Christians through the centuries have celebrated Christmas and we have consistently out-celebrated the pagans. This is because the birth of Christ is worth celebrating.

In fact, heaven itself celebrated Christmas—heaven erupted in acclamation and praise when Jesus was born. One angel made the announcement that Christ had come (Luke 2:9-12), but he was immediately joined by thousands of others. As Luke says, a multitude of the heavenly host suddenly appeared and accompanied the angel with exuberant praise to God. The angels in heaven were so thrilled at the arrival of the Messiah that they came alongside the one angel in glorifying God for the good news. Someone once said, “Heaven’s choir came down to sing when heaven’s King came down to save.”

The angels in heaven saw the first advent of Jesus as reason for rejoicing, gladness, and cheer. Do you see it that way? If Christ’s coming was celebrated in heaven, why wouldn’t you celebrate it on earth? Christmas is worth celebrating because Jesus is worth celebrating. John Wesley’s hymn, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing invites you to joyfully celebrate with the heavenly host:

“Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born King!”


profile pic5Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie, Aries, and Dot.

The Christmas Story: The Wondrous Birth of Christ (Luke 2:1-7)

The following sermon was delivered at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, KY on the 3rd day of December 2017:

The Historic, Messianic, and Humble Birth of Christ (Luke 2:1-7)

This message was originally delivered at Ohio Valley Baptist Church on the 9th day of December 2015:

Christmas: A Christ-Celebration

Christmas is a pretty big deal. It’s the biggest celebration of the year with decorations of lights, Christmas trees, wreaths, garland, candles, ribbons, and much more. It is a time of buying, wrapping, and giving gifts. We have foods that celebrate Christmas and colors that celebrate Christmas. There is even an entire genre of music dedicated to celebrating Christmas. And while it is true that the majority of the celebratory elements of Christmas have pagan origins, it doesn’t mean Christians today can’t celebrate Christmas. John Piper said recently,

“So my counsel is to give all your efforts to making your children as happy as they can possibly be with every kind of surprise that is rooted in the true meaning of Christmas. Let your decorations point to Jesus. Let your food point to Jesus. Let your games point to Jesus. Let your singing point to Jesus. Out-rejoice the world, out-give the world, out-decorate the world, and let it all point to Jesus.”¹

In any case, we should celebrate during this Christmas season. What happened Christmas night has never happened before, and there will never be anything like it again. It was the day that Jesus entered into human history. Christmas at its epicenter is a celebration of Christ. In fact, that’s what the word Christmas actually means. It is made up of two words: Christ and Mass. Christ meaning Messiah, and mas or Mass meaning a celebration or festival. Christmas is a Christ celebration. 

But why celebrate Christmas? Because Jesus entered into human history. We will see in our passage of Scripture for today exactly why we should celebrate. In this passage, the author of the third Gospel gives us a brief account of the day that Jesus entered the world. It is the Christmas story which is found in Luke’s Gospel, and it is cause for great rejoicing. We will see that the birth of Jesus was historic, messianic, and humble. And we will see the great implications this has for God’s plan of salvation. So let’s read the text:

The Text: Luke 2:1-7

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to 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, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”

I. The Birth of Jesus Was Historic (2:1-3)

First, we see that Jesus’ birth was historic. There were certain historical circumstances surrounding His birth and entrance into human history. There were actual events, also recorded in extrabiblical literature, which God brought about by His sovereignty. They were things which God orchestrated to ensure that Jesus would be born fulfilling the requirements for being the Messiah. Listen to vv. 1-3:

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town.”

Luke is describing the historical circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth. He says that Caesar Augustus issued a decree for all the world to be registered. This decree was for the purpose of assessing taxes. It was tax time, and Caesar decreed that everyone in the Roman world be registered for this taxation. This registration for taxes was for “all the world,” that is, all areas of the world under Roman rule. For the Israelites and the people of Jesus’ day, this was their whole world – Rome dominated most of the territory. The Romans were mighty in power then and they continued to be many centuries later of course. But God was mightier in power, and He used this decree for His own purposes (as we shall see later).

Apparently, this was the first taxation when a man named Quirinius was governor of Syria. According to history, he was an administrator and a soldier who was usually victorious in his battles. And in v. 3 we read that everyone was submissive to this taxation: “And all went to be registered, each to his own town.” This taxation required Jews to travel back to their ancestral homeland. They would have to go to their own city to be registered. So in order to obey the law, Jews would need to go back to their homelands where they were born and raised to register for the taxation. It is important to take note of this because Mary is about to give birth, and she is not in Bethlehem where Jesus was supposed to be born. Micah 5:2 promises that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” If Mary gave birth to Jesus anywhere else, then Jesus couldn’t be the Messiah. He must fulfill what had been previously spoken about Him. You see, Mary was apparently in Nazareth with Joseph. Nazareth was her hometown: “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David” (Luke 1:26-27a). Mary is about to give birth to the supposed Son of God, but they are in Nazareth. If her water breaks in Nazareth, then the Christmas story no longer exists, there can be no Messiah, and God’s promise would have failed; the people of Israel would need to keep waiting for the real Messiah. That’s why the taxation is so pressing for making sure that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem—Joseph would have gone to his hometown to register for the tax. And where would he need to travel in order to register for the tax? Bethlehem. That’s what we happening next. Joseph goes to Bethlehem with Mary right before she gives birth, and ends up giving birth to Jesus in the exact place where the Messiah was prophesied to be born.

So what we have in vv. 1-3 are the historical circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth. He was born in real time just like any of us. We were all born at a certain year, when a certain president was in office, when certain things were taking place. If a baby were to have a biography written about his birth today, it might go something like this: “__________ was born when Barack H. Obama was president in 2016, nearing the end of his presidency because Donald Trump won the election.” Jesus was born in history. God was moving Caesar to issue that decree so that Jesus would be born in His prophesied birthplace. God was using history for His story.

II. The Birth of Jesus Was Messianic (2:4-5)

So we’ve seen that the birth of Jesus is historic (2:1-3), but secondly we see that Jesus’ birth was messianic. He was born under several circumstances that would make Him the Messiah. We see in vv. 4-5 that the baby in Mary’s womb would be the long-awaited Messiah who would save God’s people:

“And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.”

Luke now focuses on the family of the child to be born: Mary and Joseph. They leave Nazareth and go to Bethlehem, because that was Joseph’s hometown. Joseph is compliant with the decree, and goes back to his ancestral hometown to register for this taxation. And he takes Mary with him on his trip. The mode of transportation is not stated—either they walked, rode donkeys, or took a caravan up to Bethlehem—but in any case, he and pregnant Mary went to Bethlehem.

It is interesting to see that Luke emphasizes messianic themes in describing their journey towards Bethlehem. They went to the “city of David,” and Joseph was “of the house and linage of David.” Why even point that out? Because somewhere down the line, Joseph is related to David. If you were in the lineage of David, it was considered royal—a privilege. David was Israel’s greatest king, and for those who knew the Old Testament, they would have known that the Messiah was prophesied to come from David’s family. He would be born in David’s royal lineage. The Messiah would be the seed of David, He would be David’s great grandson. Listen to these clear testimonies:

“And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:13-14).

“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:1-2).

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’” (Jer. 23:5-6).

It is palpable that this Messiah-Redeemer-Savior will be born in David’s royal lineage. And who would be Joseph’s son? Jesus. He wouldn’t be Joseph’s son by intimate conception, but he would be his son by divine conception. If Joseph marries Mary, then Jesus would be born in David’s royal lineage.

So, they leave Nazareth and are now in this place called Bethlehem, which is the city of David. They went because this was Joseph’s city—he was of the “house and lineage of David.” They still weren’t married, for Luke says that Joseph went with “Mary his betrothed.” Their marriage had not yet fully consummated. They were still only pledged to be married.

Now, she was not required to be registered with him, but she goes with him anyway. Of course, no couple would want to be separated at such a crucial point in their relationship. So they went together to the city of David to register for the census. Jesus’ birth was about to be messianic. If He was going to be born in Bethlehem, He would be the long awaited Savior who would suffer for sin and bring salvation to God’s people.

III. The Birth of Jesus Was Humble (2:6-7)

We have seen that the birth of Jesus was historic (2:1-3), and that the birth of Jesus was messianic (2:4-5), now finally we shall see that Jesus’ birth was humble. He was born under very humble conditions—as a helpless baby in a manger. Luke concludes the narrative of Jesus’ birth in this way:

“And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”

When they arrived in Bethlehem, it was time for Mary to deliver. She was having contractions, and her water broke. They had better find a local hospital, or an inn (which was a public motel), or somewhere to give birth to the Son of God. They had better let everyone know what’s about to happen. They better roll out the red carpet. But they didn’t—none of that happens.

Jesus was born in very humble circumstances, as a helpless, crying baby in a manger. The time came for her to give birth, says Luke, and she gave birth to her firstborn. Jesus is called here her “firstborn son,” signaling that He would have all the benefits of an inheritance. The firstborn son was always given the family inheritance. That is yet another important detail suggesting that He would receive the benefits of Joseph’s royal lineage. It also indicates that she would have other children after Jesus was born (see Matthew 13:55-56).

Once He was born, Mary wrapped Him in swaddling cloths. These were pieces and strips of clothes bound together, believed to keep the limbs of a child straight. They were wrapped around newborns to help their limbs grow correctly. And she laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the public motel, the inn. The manger, which was an animal feeding trough was the first King-size bed there ever was. This was not a bright and beautiful night, as depicted by many of our Christmas cards today. It would have been dark, smelly, and unsanitary. The birth of the Son of God doesn’t get any more humble than that.

If God has been sovereignly orchestrating the circumstances surrounding the entrance of Jesus into human history, then why didn’t He have a royal place for Jesus to be born? God was clearly working behind the scenes to get Caesar to issue a decree. He was obviously ensuring that Mary and Joseph would be in a relationship, and eventually go to Bethlehem – so why didn’t God prepare a royal throne upon which Jesus could be born? Because the manger was not outside of God’s sovereign decree.

God chose that manger as the place for Jesus to be born. It was a demonstration of His humility—God became a man and took on flesh. Though He was God, He took nothing for Himself—not even an appropriate birthplace. Paul expounds on this in Philippians when he writes,

“Though he [Jesus] was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:5-8).

Conclusion

The birth of Christ was historic, messianic, and humble. Just as God has been in control of this world since the beginning, God was in control of the circumstances surrounding His birth. The entrance of sin in the world didn’t throw off God’s plan of salvation – His plan to eradicate sin happened through the entrance of Jesus in the world. Rome’s crucifixion of Jesus didn’t throw off God’s plan of salvation – God’s plan of salvation in Jesus started with a decree issued from Rome. Having no royal place to be born didn’t thwart God’s plan of salvation – He was laid in a borrowed manger at His birth, and He was laid in a borrowed tomb at His death. In God’s sovereign plan, there was a time for Jesus to be born and there was a time for Jesus to die.

God came to earth that wonderful Christmas night so that He would grow up, live the perfect life, and die in our place on a cross, satisfying God’s wrath against us because sin. Then he would raise from the dead on the third day, and anyone who trusts in Him can be saved and have eternal life. Let us celebrate this historic, messianic, and humble Jesus this day. Let everything today be a Christ-celebration.


  1. “Rethinking Santa,” article by Tony Reinke on December 13, 2013; accessed December 24, 2016. http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/rethinking-santa