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STUDIES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
—INTERNATIONAL S.S. LESSONS—
SUGGESTIVE THOUGHTS DESIGNED TO ASSIST THOSE OF OUR READERS WHO ATTEND BIBLE CLASSES WHERE THESE LESSONS ARE USED; THAT THEY MAY BE ENABLED TO LEAD OTHERS INTO THE FULNESS OF THE GOSPEL
THE BIRTH OF JESUS
IV. QUAR., LESSON XIII., DEC. 24, MATT. 2:1-11
Golden Text—”Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.”—Matt. 1:21
We have elsewhere presented the Scriptural evidences that the date usually celebrated as the anniversary of our Lord Jesus’ birth is incorrect and that, instead of being Dec. 25, B.C. 4, it really was about October 1, B.C. 2*; nevertheless this need not mar our pleasure, nor our appreciation of the great fact so generally celebrated on the wrong date; for its lessons are as appropriate to one date as to another.
*See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II., pages 54-62.
The great thought of this lesson is that the first-born of every creature left the glory of a spirit existence, the glory which he had enjoyed with the Father before the world was made, and in conformity to the divine plan for human salvation “humbled himself” to human nature, became a man, “was made flesh, and dwelt among us.”—John 1:14; Phil. 2:7-9.
But why did he do this? The Scriptures reply that he took our form and nature—the form of a servant—for the suffering of death. It was for the sin of man that he was to atone; and, to do so, to pay our debt, to give our ransom price, to be our substitute, he must be a man;—that as by a man came death, by a man also should come the resurrection of the dead.
No wonder, then, that the birth of the babe Jesus, the first step in the divine plan for our salvation from sin and death, was hailed by angels as well as by the wise men and the shepherds as a most notable, a most momentous event. And only those who
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see quite clearly the necessity for a ransom (a corresponding price), before sin could be forgiven or one member of the condemned race of Adam could be set free from the death penalty resting upon all, can appreciate the depth of meaning there is in that song which the angels sang: “Glory to God in the highest; on earth peace, good will toward men.”
The great salvation of which the man Christ Jesus is the center is all of divine arrangement—to the Father of glories therefore we ascribe the “highest” glory for all the blessings which through it we enjoy.
The infant Jesus was the first ray of light and hope to men; because he would become a man, and as the man would give his life a ransom for Adam and all condemned in him; and thus, by virtue of having paid our price, “bought us with his own precious blood [his life given],” he would be legally
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qualified before the divine law to be the “Mediator of the New Covenant,” which he sealed or made effective with his own precious blood;—”the blood of the New Covenant shed for many for the remission of sins.”—Matt. 26:28.
The great plan for human salvation, begun by the birth of Jesus, has not yet reached completion. It will not be complete until his people have been saved from their sins and from the penalty of their sins—death, which includes degradation mental, moral and physical. The ransom, thank God, has been paid, and Justice has accepted it; and now the Mediator of the New Covenant is seeking out “his people.” First, during this Gospel age, he seeks his peculiar people, his “Bride;” and in the age to follow this, the Millennium, he will cause the knowledge of the divine offer of life under the terms of the New Covenant to be made general: all shall know, and then “whosoever will may take of the water of life freely.” And all whom he now is or ever shall be willing to own as “his people” will gladly avail themselves of that New Covenant’s gracious arrangements and return to full favor with God;—all others will be wilful sinners, and as such will be cut off from life in the Second Death.
Let us, then, who know the blessed story of the love of God in Christ tell abroad the gracious message, the foundation for which was laid in the birth of Jesus,—”Behold, we bring you glad tidings, of great joy, which shall be unto all people.” “He shall save his people from their sins.” Let us make sure that we have accepted him and are “his people.” Let us be true wise men and present to him our treasures—all that we have and are—our hearts.
— December 15, 1893 —