It's A Boy

Bible Book: Luke  2 : 1-7
Subject: Christ, Birth Of; Christmas

This past week, I read a most interesting article in the Jacksonville Times Union entitled, “Locating Baby Jesus is Much Easier These Days,” written by Eric Gorski. He wrote of a baby Jesus that disappeared from a Nativity scene at the Wellington Community Center. The ceramic original, donated by a local merchant, was made in Italy, and was valued at $1800.

Amazingly enough, a GPS device planted inside the life-size ceramic figurine led sheriff’s deputies to a nearby apartment, where it was found face down on the carpet. An 18-year old woman was arrested in the theft.

The article showed that a number of churches, synagogues, governments, and ordinary citizens are turning to technology to protect holiday displays from being stolen. In the Wellington case, officials took a GPS unit, normally used to track the application of mosquito spray, and implanted it in the latest replacement figurine of the baby Jesus. The result was astounding. They recovered the stolen figurine in 35 minutes.

The article stated that, “So far in 2008, Baby Jesus has appeared in several police reports nationwide. At First United Methodist Church in Kittanning, PA, a baby Jesus was stolen and replaced with a pumpkin. In Eureka Springs, AR, someone who absconded with a plastic baby Jesus also took the concrete block and chain that was designed to act as a deterrent.”

Rabbi Yochonon Goldman, from Philadelphia, who put a GPS on one menorah and a camera on another, was quoted as saying, “It’s sad, but the reality that we are faced with is that we have to use a GPS to recover the baby Jesus.” [1]

I believe you would agree that it is a sad day when anyone would steal any figurine, doll, or statue used to depict baby Jesus. But, the truth of the matter is that the GPS device originated even before the foundation of the world, and came into modern view more than 2000 years ago in a town called Bethlehem.

That’s right! God’s Positioning System is called the Lord Jesus Christ. It is through Jesus, with Jesus, by Jesus, and in Jesus that we find our way to God. Jesus is God’s Positioning System.

We have been in the delivery room with Dr. Luke, and we have been introduced to many amazing things. We have met the head doctor on call, and we were reminded that He is a God without limits. Last week, we met a mother with extreme mood swings. When she received the news from Gabriel, Mary’s moods went from wondering to willingness to worship.

Today, from Luke 2, the glorious announcement is made, “It’s a Boy!” The day has come; the 1st Christmas has arrived, because Jesus Christ is born.

I remember reading of little 4-year old Jessica, who had the perfect Christmas. She got all the presents she wanted. Her cousins were all with her to share the holidays. She had eaten her favorite food all day long, and as her mother tucked her in for bed she looked up at her at smiled and said, "Mommy, I sure hope Mary and Joseph have another baby next year."

Luke 8: 20 inform us that Mary had several children, but no baby could have ever compared to their first baby who was the “firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8: 29) This baby was the “only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth.” (John 1: 14)

This baby was “the brightness of God’s glory, and the express image of his person…upholding all things by the word of his power.” (Hebrews 1: 3) This baby was the “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending…which is, and which was, and which is to come, the

Almighty.” (Revelation 1: 8)

Let’s walk into the delivery room and notice 3 glorious things about this baby boy. For one thing, we learn that this baby boy is:

I. The Eternal Son!

The famous Christmas song says: You better watch out,

You better not cry, You better not pout; I’m telling you why.

Santa Claus is coming to town.

However, I remind you, that it was much more than Santa Claus that came to town in Luke 2. God came to town, in the person of His Eternal Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The promise directed to the prophets was kept, and the prophecy declared by the prophets was fulfilled. The promise was foretold of Jesus. The promise was fulfilled by Jesus. And the promise was finalized in Jesus.

It’s difficult for our finite minds to conceive, but Luke 2 does not describe the beginning of Jesus’ existence. Jesus has always been and will always be. Jesus is the One who created this world, controls this world, and completes this world.

Luke 2 does not describe His eternal existence as God, but it describes His earthly existence as man. It depicts the record of how God became “flesh and dwelt among us.” The theme of Luke’s gospel is deity encased in humanity.

Matthew’s genealogy traces Jesus lineage back to King David. However, Luke’s genealogy traces Jesus’ lineage back to Adam, the first man. Thus, he links the First Adam to the Second Adam in his gospel of the Son of Man.

We learn a couple of amazing things about this baby boy, the eternal Son of God. For one thing, we learn that He is:

A. The Anointed One

In verse 11, we read, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

The name “Christ” is the Greek name Christos. It speaks of the Messiah, or the “anointed one.” Many had come before as a prophet, priest, or a king; but Jesus was the once and for all Prophet, Priest and King.

The name “Christ” declares, “This is the One that every sacrifice illuminated and illustrated. This is the One, the anointed of God.” Anointed for what? He had been anointed to be a “Saviour.”

In the ancient world, a savior was primarily a deliverer from disease, danger, or from any other human predicament in the world. Rulers, both Greek and Roman, were often referred to as Saviors. The designation was often given to the Greek gods.

Thus, to proclaim Jesus as “Savior,” in the Hellenistic environment of the Gentile mission, was to affirm that he was the universal Deliverer for whom the prophets looked, and the people longed. However, as the “Christ,” the anointed of God, He would do what no other ruler could do.

Watchman Nee writes, "God's Christ is God's everything. God has nothing else but Christ. God has not given us light, He gives us Christ. God has not given us food, He gives us Christ. God has not given us the way, the truth and the life, instead He gives us Christ. God's Christ is all things, aside from Him, God has nothing." [2]

In verse 21, we read that, “…His name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.”

The name “Jesus” means “Jehovah saves.” It denotes, defines and describes not only who He is, but what He came to do. He came to do what no other could do as the anointed One and as:

B. The Appointed One

In verse 11, Luke attributes to Him a name that is not found in any other gospel. He speaks of Him as, “Christ the Lord.”

The Greek rendering is Christos Kurios, the Anointed Lord. Where the other gospel writers call Him “Jesus” (Yeshua), Luke calls Him “Lord” (Kurios). Lord is the word used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament to represent Yahweh, the most sacred name of God.

Among the Jews, there were said to be 7 names of God that were so sacred they required special care, as well as a scribe, when writing them. Often times, they would pass over the name for fear of mispronunciation; but, when the name was written, one was not to stop until the name was completed. If an error was made, it was to, by no means, be erased.

Yahweh, Jehovah, or Lord was one of those 7 sacred names. When applied to the Savior as Lord, or Christ as Lord, it made Him equal with God exercising all power.

We could think of it this way. The name “Jesus” is His Human name. The name “Christ” is His Holy name. But, the name “Lord” is His Heavenly name. The name “Lord” reminds us that He is our Master, we are His slaves; He is our Sovereign, we are His subordinates; He is our Ruler, we are His servants; and, He is our King, we are His subjects.

The name “Lord” speaks of the divine nature of the One who was born. He was God’s anointed who was appointed to rule and reign as King in fulfillment of God’s promises to David. He was God’s anointed who was God’s appointed to, once and for all, be the Deliverer of all deliverers.

It is because of His glorious name that the angel delivered glorious news. Because of who Jesus was, the angel says in verse 10 that it was, “Good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”

Because of who Jesus was, a Heavenly anthem is raised in verses 13-14, “There was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying. [14]Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

The One who was born was the Messiah God had promised to Israel. He was the “Saviour … Christ the Lord.” He was the anointed of God and appointed by God to do what no other prophet, priest, or king had done or could do.

Someone has written:

Some people think that Christmas time
Are gifts and grub and booze;
But the best bit is That Jesus came -
God’s Son in human shoes.

In the book, “Peace Child,” Don Richardson records the moving account of how the Sawi people of Irian Jaya came to understand salvation. For many months, he and his family sought for some way to effectively communicate the Gospel to this primitive tribe. Then, suddenly, one day they discovered the key.

All demonstrations of kindness, expressed by the Sawi people, were regarded with suspicion, except for one act. If a father gave his own son to his enemy, his sacrificial deed showed that the father could be trusted. Furthermore, anyone who touched the sacrifice was brought into a friendly relationship with the father.

Through that illustration the Sawi people were taught that, in a similar way, God’s beloved Son could bring them into a “friendly” relationship with the Father.

Ladies and gentlemen, here is one of the thrills of being a preacher of the Gospel. This baby Boy tells us that if God was willing to give His own Son, then He can be trusted to “save His people from their sins.” Wrapped up in His eternal Son was God’s anointed and God’s appointed to do what no other could do.

Secondly, notice that this baby boy is, not only the eternal Son, but:

II. The Earthly Sovereign!

When I speak of Him as the “earthly” sovereign, I am, by no means, limiting His sovereignty to the earth. Rather, from Luke’s account, certain conditions are described to magnify that the baby boy, born in Bethlehem, was the One who governs the affairs of men.

Luke demonstrates His supreme sovereignty in a couple of unique ways. First, there is:

A. The Time that is Distinctly Outlined

We are introduced to the time in verses 1-3.

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. [2]And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) [3] And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.”

As we saw a couple of weeks ago, after the ministries of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, the prophetic voice of God was silenced for the next 400-600 years. For the next 300 years, Persia (modern day Iran), experienced world domination. In 336 B. C. Persia was overthrown by Alexander of Macedon, who introduced the world to Hellenism. In 200 B. C. Rome took over the world stage, and would be in power, at the birth, and throughout the life of Christ.

One of the trademarks of Roman rule was their system of taxation. The word “taxed,” in verse 3, speaks of an “enrollment or registration.” In other words, the decree was issued by Caesar for a census, or registration to be taken. This census was the purpose of assessing taxation, as well as discovering those liable for military service.

In his book, “Was Christ Born in Bethlehem?” William Ramsey suggests that, “This census, ordered for the purpose of composing tax rolls, was an infuriating expression to the Jews of their subjugation to Rome. It fanned a deep resent which burst into the eventual abortive revolt led by Judas of Galilee.” [3]

Specifically, Luke tells us that Jesus was born during the reign of Caesar Augustus. Augustus was the great administrative genius who ruled the Roman Empire from 27 B. C. to A. D. 14. Part of his legacy is in carrying on the original census, registration, or taxation that was first iniated by Cyrenius.

I think of an owner of a small deli who was being questioned by the IRS about his tax return. He had reported a net profit of $80,000 for the year. The deli owner said, “Why don't you people leave me alone? I work like a dog, everyone in my family helps out, and the place is only closed three days a year. And you want to know how I made $80,000?"

The IRS agent said, "It's not your income that bothers us, it's your deductions. You listed six trips to Bermuda for you and your wife." The owner said, "Oh, that! I forgot to tell you - we also deliver."

Under Roman rule, this “census” was Rome’s IRS agent. It was as mandatory to the citizens of that day, as filing/paying our taxes is to our day. Yet, through it all, we see the hand of God, not only in the time that is distinctly outlined, but in:

B. The Trip that is Divinely Ordained

We read in verse 3 that, “And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.”

As we just saw, this “census” was for the purpose of assessing taxation and computing tax rolls. Today, when a census is taken, we are registered in the town, or place, we are living at the time. However, in Bible days, a “census” required that a person must register in the place of their ancestral home, or where they owned property.

Therefore, we read in verses 4-5, “And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) [5]To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.” In other words, Joseph and Mary made the trip back to their ancestral home to fulfill their obligations for the census. While this trip may not have been anticipated by Joseph and Mary, it had been arranged, assigned, and appointed by God.

You see, this 80 mile trip, from Nazareth to Bethlehem, had been divinely ordained by God Himself. It was divinely ordained not just for the purpose of taxation, but for the purpose of salvation. You see, more than 300 years earlier, the prophet Micah declared, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5: 2)

Simply put, God had divinely ordained that His Son, the Lord Jesus, would be born in Bethlehem. Now, consider some interesting circumstances. We’re told in verse 5 that Mary was “great with child.”

The phrase speaks of “swelling inside,” and is used in an emphatic tense regarding the term of pregnancy. In other words, Mary was G-R-E-A-T with child. She was almost full-term. The birth was no longer a matter of months, or weeks, or days, but of hours and minutes and seconds.

Mary was due any day to deliver, and Joseph had the bags packed and sitting at the door ready to carry her to Nazareth General Hospital. But, the God, who cannot lie, set into motion the circumstances that would lead to the fulfillment of His Word. Jesus would not be born in Nazareth; He must be born in Bethlehem.

Thus, from a human perspective, this trip could not have come at a more inopportune time; but, from a Heavenly perspective, this trip was right on time; because, it had been ordained by the God who “ruleth over the affairs of men.” We read in verse 6, “And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.”

I’m sure that Caesar Augustus thought that he was the powerful Potentate, but he was nothing more than a pawn, and a puppet on God’s eternal string to set in motion events that would accomplish the fulfillment of His Word.

Oh no, this was no ordinary baby boy. The One who made the woman was the “child” the woman carried in her womb. By the “word of His power,” He created the very city, Bethlehem, where He was being taken. He created the sheep from whose wool came the “swaddling clothes;” as well as, the trees which gave the wood to build a “manger.” They were going to meet King Caesar, but they were carrying King Jesus.

All of the events of the 1st Christmas only serve to remind us that God is reliable, credible, and dependable. God keeps His Word! As He has spoken, so shall He do! These circumstances are not coincidental, but they are providential. The eternal Son is the earthly Sovereign.

In Galatians 4:4 we read, “But, when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth His son, made of a woman.” The “fullness of time” had come in Bethlehem. It had not only been divinely chosen, it was being divinely controlled. The One Mary carried in her womb was the One who had touched the heart of Caesar to call for a census so that Mary and Joseph would have to travel to Bethlehem. That tells me that it matters not what you are facing, what you are fearing, or what you are feeling, the One Mary delivered was “great,” which is the One that we are governed by. The One placed in a womb was the One positioned on a throne.

I do not know what next may come Across my pilgrim way;
I do not know tomorrow’s road, Nor see beyond today.
But this I know—my Saviour knows The path I cannot see;
And I can trust His wounded hand To guide and care for me.
I do not know what may await, Or what the morrow brings:
But with the glad salute of faith, I hail its opening wings;
For this I know—that in my Lord Shall all my needs be met,
And I can trust the Heart of Him Who has not failed me yet!

Anything and everything that touches our lives must first be arranged, assigned, or appointed by the Christ of Christmas. And, I submit unto you that if He can outline the time and ordain the trip to usher in the first Christmas; He can certainly take care of you and me.

Finally, this baby boy was not only the eternal Son, and the earthly sovereign; but, He was:

III. The Excellent Substitute!

I came across this a number of years ago, and the more I think of it, the more precious it becomes. Someone wrote, "Had our greatest need been information, God would have sent us an educator. Had our greatest need been technology, God would have sent us a scientist. Had our greatest need been money, God would have sent us an economist. Had our greatest need been pleasure, God would have sent an entertainer. But, our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior."

A substitute is one who takes the place of another. In a manner unique to itself, Luke uses a couple of images to describe this baby boy as the excellent substitute. First, notice:

A. How He Was Clothed

In verse 7, we read that Mary, “…Brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes…”

However, this was no accident, because in verse 12, the angel informed the shepherds, “…This shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes…”

The word “sign” is the Greek word semeion. It speaks of a marker, or a miracle; not ceremonially, but supernaturally. In other words, the angel was saying to the shepherds, “Here’s what you need to look for, a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes. That is the supernatural miracle, marker, or sign to let you know that this is the Christ child.”

The word “swaddling” literally means, “To strap or wrap with shrouds or clothes.” It describes the winding of a sheet to wrap the body of the dead. In other words, Mary did not wrap baby Jesus in a pretty, soft, blue blanket. Rather, she wrapped Him in a death shroud. She wrapped him as one wrapped a body for burial.

The circumstances of His birth remind us of when He came. The conditions of His birth remind us of where He came. But, the clothing of His birth reminds us of Why He came. Mary “wrapped” Him in “swaddling clothes,” because she was preparing Him for death. He had been born to die.

Most babies are born to live, and their birth is but the beginning of their life. However, this baby would not be like any other baby who was born to live, because He had been born to die. As Jesus stood before Pilate, with the shadow of the cross on the horizon, He declared, “To this end was I born.” (John 18: 37)

As He faced His hour of death, His mind traveled back to the 1st Christmas morning, the hour of His birth. He knew His purpose. He knew that the past moment of His birth only set the stage for the present moment of His death.

Normally, an obituary is an announcement of death; but, in this case, the obituary was an announcement of birth. He was born to die so that we might be born again and never die. However, the excellent substitute is not only seen in how He was clothed, but in:

B. Where He Was Cradled

Again, in verse 12, the angel informs the shepherds that the “sign,” the supernatural marker of the miracle, would not just concern His dress, but His disposition. The “sign” would not only be Him “wrapped” in “swaddling clothes,” but “…lying in a manger.” Why was He laid in a manger? The answer is given back in verse 7 as Mary, “…laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”

We have all seen this scene depicted in Christmas cantatas, plays and dramas. But, most of what I have seen portrayed in no way relates to the context of these verses. Luke has just set the stage by describing the “census” that was issued, and how “all the world” had been taxed.

Thus, because the census requires each person to register in their ancestral hometown, every Jewish native of Bethlehem flocked into the city by the masses. As a result, just like you can’t find a hotel room near a major sporting event; there were no rooms in Bethlehem because of the census.

But, then again, that was not an accident; it had been arranged, assigned and appointed by God to happen in such manner. By the providence of God, He touched the heart of Caesar to decree a census so that every native of Bethlehem would come home so that the promise would become fulfillment, and Jesus would be born in Bethlehem.

However, also by the providence of God, were there no rooms available due to overcrowding. How do we know that? We know that because of how He was clothed and where He was cradled.

For one thing, Jesus was born in a stable, and laid in a manger. The “inn” in which there was no room was constructed of walls which serve as a divider or boundary. However, there are no barriers in a stable. Such thing as color, class, code, or creed are insignificant in a stable. The “inn” would have only housed those who could have afforded to stay there; but, a stable is open to the poor, insignificant, forgotten, helpless, and hopeless.

We are also told that He was “laid in a manger.” The word “manger” is the Greek word phatne. It speaks of a “fodder, or a feeding trough,” such as where hay or straw is placed to feed livestock. In other words, the eternal Son who was the earthly sovereign became the excellent substitute and was, by the providential hand of God, clothed in death shrouds and cradled in a feeding trough.

Several years later, Jesus would have a discussion with His disciples, in John 6, to explain why He was cradled in a manger, or feeding trough. The minds of the disciples could not think past literal, physical bread. Thus, Jesus dropped the bombshell on them when He said,

“Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. [33]For the bread of God is he which Cometh Down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world… [35] I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6: 32-35)

The disciples asked, “Lord, give us this bread.” Jesus replied, “It’s already been given to you. It was given to you about 33 years ago. It was wrapped in death shrouds and laid in a feeding trough. I Am That Bread!”

Oh yes, dear friend, it was a boy all-right. It was the eternal Son who was the earthly sovereign who came to be the excellent substitute. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes to prepare His body for burial. He was laid in a manger, a feeding trough, to be the eternal bread to be the only One who could satisfy the craving of the soul.


Recently I was researching something I was working on and came across one of the most fascinating pictures and interesting stories I have ever read. The picture entitled “The Hand of Hope” is a picture of a 21-week-old unborn baby named Samuel Alexander Armas, who is being operated on by a surgeon named Joseph Bruner.

The baby was diagnosed with spinal bifida and would not survive if removed from the mother’s womb. The baby’s mother, Julie Armas, is an obstetrics nurse in Atlanta. She knew of Dr. Bruner of the Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville and a remarkable surgery procedure he practices. He performs these special operations while the baby is still in the womb. In the procedure, through a C-section, he removes the uterus and makes a small incision to operate on the baby.

During the surgery on little Samuel, the little fellow reached his tiny, but fully developed, hand through the incision and firmly grasped the surgeon’s finger. The photograph captured this amazing event with perfect clarity. It is almost like little Samuel’s hand reached out to take the hand of the one who held his life in his hands, and holds on to it for security.

That is exactly what happened in God’s delivery room, on that first Christmas morning. The baby “wrapped in swaddling clothes” and “laid in a manger” reaches with one hand toward God, the other hand toward us, so that in Him we are safe and secure.

Think with me just for a moment in closing about the words in verse 7, “…She brought forth her firstborn son.”

Allow your mind to travel back to Bethlehem, more than 2000 years ago, to a lowly stable. Mary has traveled 80 miles to Bethlehem, and as soon as she arrived in town, she went into labor. After several hours, her contractions are just seconds apart.

Joseph is by her side, holding her hand, wiping her brow, helping her count, speaking words of comfort and encouragement to her. Finally, after several hours of labor, there is one final agonizing push, and suddenly the “Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

There in a little stable in Bethlehem, He “whom the Heavens cannot contain,” is a baby weighing 6, 7, or 8 pounds. He “who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,” and “who “sitteth upon the circle of the earth” is a baby 20-24 inches long.

The One who owns the “cattle on a thousand hills,” was born in a place where they stable cattle. They look and see that He has 5 fingers on each hand, 5 toes on each foot; and, yet no coincidence that 5 is God’s number of grace; for it would be those hands and feet that, by grace divine, would be nailed to a Cross.

He is wiped off, cleaned up and handed to Mary, His earthly mother, who becomes the very first person to hold God in her hands. In that moment, she who was His earthly mother holds Him who came from His Heavenly Father.

In that moment, the eyes of Mary and Joseph meet with tears and amazement. They look down at the little baby lying on the breast of Mary. Not a word in spoken. Mary says to Joseph, “Shhhhhhhh! Be still. I want you to know something. This Is God!”

They wrap Him in “swaddling clothes” to signify His purpose of dying. They lay Him in a “manger,” a feeding trough to signify His provision for living. Mary signs the registry, “His name shall be called Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins.”

He who was the eternal Son and the earthly sovereign came to be the excellent substitute. Blessed be His holy name, I’m glad that I can announce to you today that “It’s a Boy unlike any other boy!”

1) Jacksonville Times Union, “Locating Baby Jesus is Much Easier These Days,” December 12, 2008.
2) “The Secrets of Watchman Nee”, Dana Roberts, pg. 62.
3) “Was Christ Born in Bethlehem?” Sir William Ramsey, 1898, pg. 107.