The Birth of Jesus

Title: The Birth of Jesus

Bible Book: Matthew 1 : 18

Author: Franklin L. Kirksey

Subject: Jesus, Birth of; Christmas


Matthew 1:18-2:12


A woman was reading the story of Jesus' birth to the children in her church's day care ministry one morning. As usual, she stopped to see if they understood what she had read, "What do we call the three wise men?" she asked. "The three maggots," replied a bright 5-year-old. "What gift did the Magi bring baby Jesus?" she corrected. "Gold, Frankensteins and smurfs!" the same 5-year-old replied.

A few years ago children in a northwest Harris County, Texas, public school were led to sing a song titled, “We Wish You a Swinging Holiday”. We understand this is a multicultural and multiethnic version of an English Christmas carol titled, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”. Please notice this revised edition does not mention Christmas at all.[1] More and more, Jesus Christ is missing from many “Christmas celebrations”. It seems odd to celebrate a birthday without the person for whom you honor being present or even mentioned.

The birth of Jesus Christ is a matter of serious importance. Dr. John F. Walvoord (1910-2002), a Christian theologian, pastor, and president of Dallas Theological Seminary from 1952 to 1986, explains, “The incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ is the central fact of Christianity. Upon it they whole superstructure of Christian theology depends. In one sense the remaining discussion of Christology as a whole is an amplification of the incarnation.” Dr. Walvoord adds, “Probably no portion of Scripture has received more intense examination and has been the object of more theological debate than the four Gospels because they unfold the birth and life of the Lord Jesus Christ.”[2]

Please notice three things about Jesus Christ from our text.

I. First, note His living arrangement as a Servant. (Matthew 1:18-20, 22-25)

Matthew writes, “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. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 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.’ . . . So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.’ Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.”

Dr. John F. Walvoord explains, “Matthew is especially concerned with the explanation that Jesus is indeed the King of Israel and the promised Messiah.”[3] Dr. Walvoord states, “It is in keeping with the purposes of the gospel of Matthew that it, rather than Luke, should record the annunciation to Joseph. Matthew’s narrative deals with the legal right of Christ to the throne of David.”[4]

Bestselling author, Robert J. Morgan, writes of Jesus Christ, “He didn’t grow up in boarding school, elite academies, or royal palaces. His was the Carpenter’s house, in Nazareth. ‘Fit place for Jesus,’ wrote an older Puritan, ‘for He had to make a ladder to reach from earth to heaven.’”[5]

Rev. William Walsham How (1823-1897) penned these words in 1872, “Where Joseph plies his trade, lo, Jesus labors too; / The hands that all things made an earthly craft pursue, / That weary men in His may rest, / And faithful toil through Him be blessed.”[6]

Jesus is called “the carpenter’s son” (Matthew 13:55) and later He is simply called, “the carpenter” (Mark 6:3). Quite likely, the space between these two statements came sometime after His twelfth and thirteenth birthday, and it was at this time that Joseph died.

According to Matthew 1:25, Jesus was the “firstborn Son” of Mary. Dr. Luke corroborates the virgin conception of Jesus Christ in Luke 1:38, 45, 46-55.

He grew up with people making comments about Him. For example, they said on one occasion, “We were not born of fornication,” (John 8:41) thus implying that Jesus was born of fornication.

Dr. J. (John) Paterson-Smyth (1852-1932) former professor of Pastoral Theology at Dublin University states, “For this is the lesson which history has taught, that whoso loosens men’s belief in the Virgin Birth of the Lord is loosening the keystone in the doctrine of the Incarnation.”[7]

Dr. Paterson-Smyth explains, “Professor Harnack, the greatest authority for the period, himself not believing in the Virgin Birth, admits: It was the common property of Christians everywhere about the end of the first century, and therefore must be ascribed in Palestine to the first decades after the Resurrection.”[8]

Dr. Patterson-Smyth summarizes with the following: “Take for example this instance where a great German theologian who taught the Incarnation [obviously referring to Professor Harnack] denies the Virgin Birth.

But his pupils in the end kept both doctrines together, accepting or denying them together. One set as they grew more deeply into the thought of Christ’s Deity felt compelled to keep the Virgin Birth beside it. The other set rejected the two together and became Unitarians.

That is the conclusion to which experience points. Both will ultimately go together. Half-way houses, half-way positions only lead to a minimized Christianity and are never safe.”[9]

Isaiah reminds us that Jesus was a “Suffering Servant” (Isaiah 52-53). The writer to the Hebrews reminds us in Hebrews 5:8, “He learned obedience from what he suffered.”

Dr. George Murray, former president of Columbia International University in Columbia, South Carolina, shared in a newsletter a few years ago, that his family served as missionaries for 13 years in Italy. He confessed how homesick they were the first Christmas they were away. Then it dawned on him, “Christmas isn’t about going home. It’s all about leaving home. That’s what Jesus did. He deliberately left the comfort and security of His heavenly home to come to this sin-filled world.” Jesus states in John 6:38, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.”[10]

II. Second, note His longsighted appointment as a Savior. (Matthew 1:21)

Matthew writes, “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”

A full page ad in the Sunday, December 25, 2011, edition of the Press-Register sponsored by Hobby Lobby, Hemispheres, and Mardel Stores featured Matthew 1:21. Under a picture of a manger silhouette the caption reads, “Discover the TRUE meaning of Christmas.”[11]

The term longsighted means to have foresight and to be sagacious or wise. Moses prophesies the birth of Jesus in Genesis 3:15 [the seed of the woman], as does Isaiah in Isaiah 7:14. These are two among many other places in Old Testament Scripture. Paul the apostle in the book of Ephesians reminds us that before the foundation of the world, Jesus was crucified in the heart and mind of God the Father.

Rev. Charles Wesley (1707-1788) penned these words in 1744, “Come Thou long expected Jesus, born to set Thy people free, / From our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in Thee. Israel’s strength and consolation, / Hope of all the earth Thou art, / Dear desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart.”[12]

III. Third, note His laudatory assessment as a Sovereign. (Matthew 2:1-12)

According to The American Heritage Dictionary, laudatory means, “expressing or conferring praise.”[13]

When a person graduates “summa cum laude” it means with highest distinction or with highest praise; when a person graduates “magna cum laude” it means with great distinction or with great praise; when a person graduates “cum laude” it means with distinction or with praise. One fellow said he graduated “Thank You, Lawdy”. Honestly, it is only by God’s grace that we accomplish anything academically or otherwise.

The lyrics from the song “Onward Christian Soldiers”, Sabine Baring-Gould, (1834-1924) provides the line, “glory, laud and honor unto Christ the King, down through endless ages men and angels sing. . .”[14] At this time, I recall, a Christmas carol by John Francis Wade (1710-1786). In 1743 he wrote “O Come Let Us Adore Him” which Frederick Oakeley (1801-1880) translated to English in 1841. In addition, these words from William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898) in his Christmas carol titled, “What Child is This?” come to mind, “This, this is Christ the King, / Whom shepherds guard and angels sing. Haste, haste to bring him laud, / The babe, the son of Mary!” The third stanza begins, “So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh, / Come, peasant, king to own Him! The King of kings salvation brings; / Let loving hearts enthrone Him!”[15]

Matthew writes, “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him. When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, / Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; / For out of you shall come a Ruler/ Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ‘Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.’ When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way” (Matthew 2:1-12).

With people traveling at supersonic speeds and beyond in our day, we must remember that without these contrivances the wise men arrived as soon as they could.

During His earthly ministry people expressed a sentiment “We will not have this man rule over us” (Luke 19:27).

In 1876 Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879) wrote, “Reign over me, Lord Jesus! Oh, make my heart Thy throne! It shall be Thine forever, It shall be Thine alone!”[16] Frances Ridley Havergal shares in her book titled, Your King, “He knows the hopeless anarchy of a heart without a king. Is there a more desolate cry than we have no king’?—none to reverence and love, none to obey, none to guide and protect and rule over us, none to keep us in the truest freedom of whole-hearted loyalists. How glad we are that He Himself is our King. For we are so sure that He is able even to subdue all things, unto Himself in this inner kingdom which we cannot govern at all.”[17]

Fanny Crosby (1820-1915) wrote in 1891, “Ye armies of the living God, / With banner, shield and sword, / March onward, shouting as you go, / ‘No king but Christ our Lord.’ / All crowns be on His sacred head, / All worlds be at His feet, / All scepters in His mighty hand, / All tongues His praise repeat!”[18]

Toward the end of His life we read from John 18:37, “Pilate therefore said to Him, ‘Are You a king then?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.’”

Dr. Philip Doddridge (1702-1751) penned these words in 1739, “How rich Thy bounty, King of kings! Thy favors, how divine! The blessings which Thy Gospel brings, How splendidly they shine!”[19]

We read about Jesus’ total supremacy in Acts 16:36, 37; Joshua 3:11, 13; and in Zechariah 6:5.

We read in Acts 17:7, “Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.”

We read in 1 Timothy 6:14-16, “that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.”

We read in Revelation 1:5 and 19:16, “Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. . . . And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson (1850-1894) prayed, “Loving Father, help us to remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of the angel, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the wise men.”[20]


Whitney T. Kuniholm explains, “SINCE 1965 WHEN IT FIRST APPEARED as a television special, A Charlie Brown Christmas may have done more to communicate the essence of the gospel than any thirty-minute sermon ever has. In the program Charlie Brown, the cartoon character from the Peanuts comic strip, searches for the true meaning of Christmas only to be disappointed and disillusioned. Finally, Charlie’s thumb-sucking friend Linus walks onto an empty stage and recites from the Gospel of Luke, ‘For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord’ (Luke 2:11 KJV). Linus finishes by simply saying, ‘And that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.’”

Kuniholm concludes, “In spite of the growing commercialization and secularization of the holiday season, most people today are still hungry to know what Christmas is all about.”[21]

The ad in today’s newspaper also gave the following invitation: “If you would like to know Jesus as Lord, and Savior, call Need Him Ministry at 1-888-NEED-HIM. To download a free Bible for your phone go to”[22]

Paul the apostle writes about the birth of Jesus Christ in Romans 1:3; Galatians 4:4; Philippians 2:6-7; and 1 Timothy 1:15.

Dr. Martin Luther (1483-1546) explains in his Lectures on Galatians, “The true Christian religion does not begin at the top, as all other religions do; it begins at the bottom. You must run directly to the manger and the mother’s womb, embrace this Infant and Virgin’s Child in your arms, and look at Him -- born, being nursed, growing up, going about in human society, teaching, dying, rising again, ascending above all the heavens, and having authority over all things.”[23]

We know the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ according to 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. However, this would not be possible without the birth of Jesus Christ.

[1]Available from: Accessed: 10/20/11 

[2]John F. Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1969), p. 96

[3]John F. Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1969), p. 97

[4]John F. Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1969), p. 99

[5]Robert J. Morgan, He Shall Be Called: 150 Names of Jesus and What They Mean To You (New York / Boston / Nashville: Warner Faith, 2005), p. 82

[6]William Walsham How, “Behold A Little Child” (1872) Available from: Accessed: 12/13/11

[7]J. Paterson-Smyth, A People’s Life of Christ (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1920), p. 48

[8]J. Paterson-Smyth, A People’s Life of Christ (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1920), p. 51

[9]J. Paterson-Smyth, A People’s Life of Christ (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1920), pp. 56-57

[10]Robert J. Morgan, "Joy To The World!", A Pocket Paper from The Donaldson Fellowship, (Nashville, TN: The Donaldson Fellowship, December 16, 2001), Available from: Accessed: 12/13/11

[11]Press-Register, Mobile, Alabama, Sunday, December 25, 2011, page 21A

[12]Charles Wesley, “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” (1744)

[13]Available from Accessed: 12/25/11

[14]Sabine Baring-Gould, “Onward Christian Soldiers” (1865), Available from: Accessed: 12/13/11

[15]William Chatterton Dix, “What Child Is This?” (1865)

[16]Frances Ridley Havergal, “In Full and Glad Surrender” (1874)

[17]Frances Ridley Havergal, Your King: Daily Thoughts for the King’s Children (New York: Anson D. F. Randolph & Company, n.d.), pp. 12-13

[18]Fanny Crosby, “No King But Christ” (1891)

[19]Philip Doddridge, “How Rich Thy Bounty, King of Kings!” (1739)

[20]Robert Louis Stevenson, “Christmas Prayer” Christmas Stories, Available from: Accessed: 12/13/11

[21]Whitney T. Kuniholm, The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible’s Greatest Story (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Connect, 2007), p. 71

[22]Press-Register, Mobile, Alabama, Sunday, December 25, 2011, page 21A

[23]Craig Brian Larson & Brian Lowery, 1001 Quotations That Connect: Timeless Wisdom for Preaching, Teaching, and Writing (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), p. 178 #554

By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527
Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on and / [email protected] / (251) 626-6210
© December 25, 2011 All Rights Reserved
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