J O Y   T O   T H E   W O R L D
~ C H R I S T M A S ~

presented by Don R. Hender

~ John 3:16 ~
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you;
Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
~ Luke 2:11-12 (1-20) ~

   That such as a gift unto mankind should stir hearts in so vastly different directions. That the birth of a child should be so opposed by many yet accepted with the love in which it was intended by others. It was the "JOY OF THE WORLD" to have the way opened up by which God was to be accessible. But many hate God or in hating His Son, they have caused hatred to flurish in the world. What Child Is This? Who shall proclaim his generation? Knowest Thou the Condescension of God?

There is much to learn and understand about Jesus or Jehoshua the Son of God. And conceptions and truth does vary. Even with the accepted events of the birth place and circumstance of that do also vary. And between Luke's account of the shepards of the hills round about Bethlehem coming to attend that birth that very night to the visit of the 'wise men' are various learned and taught. Concerning the wise men much liberty has been taken. Fact is that they did not visit the babe on the night of his birth. The fanciful conception that they were three Kings of differing ethnic and land origins is also a contrived notion. The number of 3 comes from the number of gift items list as being gold, frankincense and myrrh. But the accout states 'gifts' and the listing is that of naming the types of the gifts and not as to the number of givers or the actual number of gifts. Certainly more than one wise man may have presented gold and so forth. Factually from the scripture if can only be deduced that there were at least two and perhaps an undefined number more. And as to were they came to see the 'child'—as by the time the visited Jesus was called a 'child' and not named as a 'babe'—they came to a house, which they went into to see his mother Mary with the child and there fell down and worshipped him. Joseph was not mentioned in their visit.

As other have taken upon themselves to speculate, innovated and contrive who these wise men were, might I do the same? Many of the Jews of the Babylonian captivity never did return to Jerusalem. Such were those associated with the Jews in the book of Esther. They would have had a knowledge and the anticipation to seek after the coming of the Messiah from the Jewish traditional scriptures. And they may have had access to information not in the torah and Jewish texts. That they knew of astrological signs of the birth of the Messiah might indicate this as well as the fact that they seemed to be informed as 'wise men' as to the time table of the Savior's birth and that he would be born into the world as a baby. To this I would suggest that they were not 'kings' as such but wealthy Jews of scholarship and position. Certainly they came to honor the 'new born king' and first had sought him at the palace of Herod, not knowing of the situation of the times. That they did find him by the sign of the star, regardless of a common habitat, they still recognized him and worshipped him as their king and gave him the gifts of value they bore for the King of Israel.

It is often conceived that they traveled basically alone as three lonely travelers. This also seem unlikely that they would venture great distances from the east unaccompanied and unprotected. Is is more likely that they traveled as a group of a number forming a caravan of sorts with 'servants' and others of there association for protection. Their journey would have taken a minimum of a number of weeks if not numbered in months or even a year. Certainly there is evidence of this in that Jesus was called a child upon their visit and not a babe and that when Herod sent out his soldiers to kill the child, he included those that were up to 2 years which included John, Jesus cousin.

As to where Mary was staying at the time, two logical locations come to mind. Most likely would be with cousion Elisabeth in Ramah the hill country (Luke 1:39-40), as Zacharaias was of that Levite linage who served out of Ramah as had Samuel (Luke 1:5; 1 Chr. 24:10 (5, 10, 19); 1 Sam. 1:1; and Messiah ben David ~ Messiah ben Joseph, Item 92). The other possibility would have been Jesus's other reported kinsman Joseph of Arimathea who is also reported to be of the hill country of Ephraim. And then there is the lands which were included in Herods search which named Ramah in mother Rachel's referenced lament relative to the occasion (see Matthew 2:18 below).

The manners of hospitality of the east would have included at least a meal to be shared in by the visitors and a length of visit of some hours time if not longer. Certainly it was not just a quick hello, here is the child, see him and good-bye type of event. Much would have been spoken and shared in the conversations of custom with the wise-men visitors. As for the 'gifts of wealth,' the visit was two fold. True money and valuables had been received, but by their visit by way of Herod's court had also brought the danger that would cause Joseph and Mary to flee with the child into Egypt. And saddly it would also eventuate in the murderous death of Zacharias as he would not devulge the where abouts of either John his son or of the child Jesus (Matthew 23:35 & TPJS p. 261). For when Jesus' family left for Egypt, Zacharias had Elisabeth take with her John into the wilderness where he was raised on such as wild honey and locusts. Zacharias remained behind to fill his responsibilities at the Temple. Herod's soldiers path likely paralleled the wise men's trail to the residence of Zacharias and when Zacharias was questioned about the children which would have included both John and Jesus, he refused to answer and disclose any information and was there murdered between the temple's porch and the animal altar of sacrifice of the temple by Herod's soldiers in the outer court.

    " And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh."
    ~ Matthew 2:11 (1-15)

    After the wise men's visit at the home to the Christ child, they were warned not to return to Herod's palace and report as Herod had requested. So they retured another way. And the angel also came and warned Joseph and Mary to flee into egypt for the saftety of the child, for when Herod determined that the wise men had not returned to him he was angered and determined to kill the new born king to protect his throne. The picture here at the left is an artist's conception with liberty taken. What part of Egypt Joseph and Mary did arrive at and stay may not have been next to the pyramids as shown it the picture.

    " Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.
    "Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,
    "In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not."

    Matthew 2:16-18 (16-23)

Now some have stumbled over the facts that the house of David was associated with the tribe of Ephraim and mother Rachel as well as that of Judah. To that end I refer you to Messiah ben David ~ Messiah ben Joseph, which discusses the probable ancestry of Jesus Christ as being that of the blood of Judah yet legally and lawfully of the tribe of Joseph as per the laws of God and Israel. That being a lengthy presentation, it will not be further gone into here.

Here we have delved into the birth and early life of Jesus Christ as much as the scriptures do offer us. Upon returning out of Egypt, finding that the house of Herod was still in charge, that Zacharias had been murdered and his family no longer in Ramah, Mary and Joseph continuted on to return unto Galilee from whence they had originated prior to the birth of Jesus. And there we have but a single verse relative to Jesus' life as a youth.

    "And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him." ~ Luke 2:40

At the age of 12, in his thirteenth year would be when Jesus would once again come to Jerusalem to be presented at the Temple, having reached that mile stone age where childhood ends and the devotion of the child is turned unto the more serious things of Israel.

Jesus was an extremely responsible youth and Mary and Joseph presumed him to be with their kin upon beginning their journey back to Galilee. But when they found that he was not with them, they returned to Jerusalem and there they found him 'still' as he had been the days before, meeting with and discussing and even teaching the priests, scribes and scholars (doctors) of the temple.

    "And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.

    "And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.

    "And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.

    "And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.

    "And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?"
    ~ Luke 2:45-49 (41-51)

And again, from that age of being in his thirteenth year we have no detailed record of Jesus' life except for one summary verse.

    "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man."
    ~ Luke 2:52

rev. December 22, 2015