Friday, December 19, 2014

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday December 21, 2014

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GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST
(Seek, celebrate, and share JESUS)
(Luke 2:1-20)

Luke chapter two, verses 1-2, are the verses in Scripture that come closest to giving us the exact birth year of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST. In Luke 2:1-7, the author of GOD writes of the 90-mile trip, of Joseph and Mary, from Nazareth to Bethlehem to honor the census decree that had been imposed by the Emperor, Caesar Augustus.
The decree was put into place for the purpose of assessing taxes, and discovering those who were liable for compulsory military service. The Jews, however, were exempt from serving in the military, so basically, the census for them was taken expressly for taxation purposes. These census’ were periodical in nature, and the count came once every 14 years. Man has in his possession, actual documentation of every Roman census taken from A.D. 20 to A.D. 270.
Luke 2:1-2, are the verses of scripture that are most reliable in actually determining the year of JESUS’ birth into this world as a 100% human being. Here Luke tells us that it was at the time of this particular census that was imposed by Caesar Augustus, that Joseph and Mary (who was quite far along in her pregnancy with baby JESUS), had to travel to Bethlehem, the home of Joseph’s ancestry, to be counted. Every person, by law, had to return to their original place of ancestry in order to register for this census count.
Luke also tells us in verse 2, that, it was during the time when Cyrenius (Quirinius) was serving as Roman governor to Syria. Roman records show that Cyrenius served in an official capacity on two separate occasions, first, from 10 B.C. to 7 B.C., and later, in A.D. 6& 7. Roman records also show that Caesar Augustus served as Roman Emperor, from 27 B.C. to A.D. 14. What that tells us is, that, the census records that man now possesses, most likely begins with the third 14-year census count, and that, the first count must have been during Cyrenius’ first term in office (10 B.C.-7 B.C.).
We also know, from Scripture (Matthew 2:13-17), that Herod the Great, who was king over Judea at that time, issued a decree to kill all infants in and around Bethlehem, up to the age of 2, in an attempt to kill baby JESUS. Since Roman records show that Herod died in 4 B.C., we know that JESUS had already been born. And if the 14-year cycle of the census count holds true, and, in light of all the Biblical and secular facts that we have, we can, with reasonable certainty, deduce that JESUS was born in 8 B.C., during that first census count.
All of this information is something good and special for the serious Bible student to know, but the good news of the birth of CHRIST JESUS is something good and special for all men to know. The term “Hypostatic Union” is one that can only be used in reference to CHRIST JESUS. It refers to HIS unique theanthropic personage (both divine and human in nature and quality), being 100% perfect man, as GOD originally made Adam (without sin), and, 100% GOD, as GOD the FATHER HIMSELF is.
HE served us here on earth, as 100% perfect man, to show us how we could live if we maintained a willingness to obey GOD at all times, and through HIS FATHER GOD’s mercy and grace, and HIS OWN obedience to GOD, HE died for us because HE knew we would not obey GOD. In fact, man has long ago, since the time of the Garden of Eden, convinced himself that he really can’t obey GOD completely, despite GOD sharing with us, the same “spiritual attributes”, or “divine nature”, that HE sent CHRIST to rescue us with.
However, as I said earlier, because of GOD’s faithfulness, mercy, and grace, we can now rejoice in the knowledge that there does now exist, the “Christian Hope”. It is the Hope that arises out of the New Covenant that was ushered in, and is personified by, our LORD and SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST, and then signed with HIS OWN blood.
That is why no one will ever be able to go into the presence of GOD, except through JESUS. HE, alone, will forever be, the only way to the ONLY WISE SOVEREIGN GOD. We only need to repent of our sins and accept CHRIST with our mouth, and, more importantly, in our heart, as our LORD and SAVIOR.
Luke’s clear and straightforward account of JESUS’ birth, goes a long ways toward anchoring these events in history, and then, linking them to prophesy. He helps us to see that “Biblical history” is “World history”, and, that they will forever be inseparable and synonymous with each other.
The announcement of JESUS’ birth, from on High, came first to the lowly Shepherds in the fields, where they worked and kept watch over their sheep. In the first century, Shepherds were on the bottom rung of the “social” and “economic” ladder, and they were, by way of their meager lifestyles, “the most humble”.
In Luke 2:8-20, we once again get a glimpse of the “Three Great Revolutions of GOD”, and what their importance would be in the coming Christian movement. We saw it first in the writings and utterances of the Old Testament saints (i.e. 1 Samuel 2:3-8). In the New Testament we see it in Mary’s song of praise, known as the “Magnificat” (which in Latin means “My soul doeth magnify the LORD”) (Luke 1: 51-53). There it says, in effect, that GOD will use the birth, life, and ministry of CHRIST, and, Christianity, to uphold and defend the lowly and the humble.
First of all, those who truly understand Christianity know that it is designed to uphold “humbleness”, and by nature, means the death of “pride”. Secondly, Christianity is aimed at stamping out “social injustice”. Every Prophet of GOD that has come to us was a champion of the fight against social injustice. GOD is extremely interested in justice and being just. That is why we find the word “just” written in Scripture over 90 times and the word “justice” 28 times.
And thirdly, Christianity is aimed at combating prejudices based on one’s “economic status”. Money, prosperity, and material things almost always turn a person’s heart away from GOD. So it becomes quite clear, the appropriateness, of announcing the “good news” first to ordinary folks, rather than to the rich. 
And so, during this coming, and every Christmas season to come, let us strive to stay focused on the real reason for our celebration, and let us once again use that time to commemorate the coming of our LORD and SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST, and, to celebrate the love, brilliance, largesse, and mercy, of the ONLY WISE GOD the FATHER, for sending to us, HIS only begotten SON, to save us from ourselves, and the wiles of satan.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
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