Christ, the Fulfillment

the old testament in the bible

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Reading the Word

Hebrews 8:1–2 (ESV)

1 Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Many people have trouble making sense of the Old Testament. What was God doing then? It seems so different than the New Testament. A key to understanding the Old is to realize that it is pointing to the future. God makes many promises to his people that find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ. So, the Old Testament is looking forward to the fulfillment of promises while the New Testament announces that Jesus is the fulfillment.

The author of Hebrews tells us that the priests and sacrifices were also pointing forward to Jesus. The Old Testament priests ministered in the tabernacle and the temple before the Lord, but Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father and ministers on our behalf. He is far superior to the priests!

With Christmas, we see the fulfillment of what God had promised his people. It reminds us that God does keep his promises and that we can trust in his word. As we continue to live in this world and wait for Christ to come again, we find confidence as we celebrate his incarnation.

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Christmas Displays God’s Love

John 316 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 3:16–19 (ESV)

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Yesterday, we mentioned that we have to make sure we do not forget the reason for Christmas. Jesus was born into this world to save mankind by going to the cross as payment for sin. We also must not overlook what we learn about God because of Christmas. We learn that, even though we have rebelled against God through disobedience, he still loves us. He loves us so much that he gave his only Son for our salvation. That is amazing love!

I often hear from people who blame God for their pain and suffering. We must not forget that our sin is the cause of all of the trouble we face in this world. It is because of our disobedience that pain and sorrow and death entered into God’s good creation. Jesus came to rescue us from our suffering and give us eternal life in a world without the consequences of sin. It is because of Jesus that we have hope in the midst of our pain. We must not overlook God’s love and goodness during this special time of the year.

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Hope Came As a Baby

art artistic black and white blank

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Reading the Word

Hebrews 2:14–15 (ESV)

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

Understanding and Applying the Word

It is not enough at Christmas to only think about the events surrounding Jesus’ birth. Those are surely important, but we must also think about why he was born. Why did Jesus come into the world?

Hebrews 2:14-15 gives us a short and simple explanation. Jesus came into the world to save us from slavery to sin and death. He came into the world to die for us because, in his death and resurrection, he defeated the power that death had over us.

Enjoy this time of the year. Wonder at the depictions of Jesus in a manger. But do not stop there. Consider that the Son of God was born into this world to die so that we might live. Christmas brings hope to a world in desperate need and hope came as a baby.

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Refusing to Worship Jesus

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Reading the Word

Matthew 2:7–12 (ESV)

7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This passage focuses on the worship of two different groups. The first group is represented by the wise men. They traveled from far away when they realized that Jesus, the Messiah, had been born. They brought gifts and bowed before Jesus in worship and adoration. The second group is represented by Herod. Though he said he desired to worship Jesus, he had no intentions of doing so. Herod’s only reason for wanting to know where Jesus was located was so he could have Jesus destroyed. Herod would not worship Jesus.

When we hear the news of Jesus, each of us must make a decision on what we will do with that news. There are really only two responses. Some will bow down and worship him as Lord and Savior. Others will refuse to do so and seek to deny Jesus. Each Christmas, we are confronted with a holiday that points the whole world to Jesus. What will we do with him?

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Troubled by Jesus

jesus christ figurine

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Reading the Word

Matthew 2:3–6 (ESV)

3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

6 “And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Herod was troubled. He was the current king of the Jews, even though he was under the authority of Rome. If the Messiah had been born, he knew it meant the end of his royal line. He was thinking of his own power and the future of his name. The birth of Jesus was troubling.

When Herod heard the news of Jesus’ birth, he sought information from the chief priests and scribes. They told him of the prophesy found in Micah 5:2 that said the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. In response, Herod would order all male children in the region under the age of two to be murdered.

Herod’s response to Jesus is not unlike the response of many, even today. Jesus, the King of kings, is troubling for many because he brings all of us under his authority. He calls us to accountability for our lives and tells us that we have all fallen short. We need to repent and be saved. Many hear the news of Jesus and celebrate because of the good news of salvation through him. Others hear the same news and understand it as a threat to their lives. They do all they can to push Jesus away. What is your response to the news of Jesus’ birth?

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We Saw His Star

scenic view of night sky with stars

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Reading the Word

Matthew 2:1–2 (ESV)

1 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, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

We read here of wise men from the east who traveled to Jerusalem to find Jesus. The word translated as “wise men” is from the word “magi” and points to the likelihood that these men were astrologers. This explains why they noticed a star that pointed them to Jesus’ birth. Popular tradition speaks of three kings who went to see Jesus, but there is no mention of these men being kings. It is true that there were three gifts (gold, frankincense, and myrrh), but Scripture does not tell us how many magi there were.

The central point we must not miss in this passage is that God was working to draw all people to himself. Jesus came not only to save the Jewish people, but all people. Even at his birth, the nations went to Jesus to give gifts and to worship. This truth is a central focus of Matthews Gospel that ends with Jesus telling his followers to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. The gospel is for everyone who will worship Jesus: you, me, our neighbors, our co-workers, etc. Let us go and tell the world of the Savior who has come!

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Wise Men from the East

Journey of the Magi

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. On Sundays, I do not publish supplemental material, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading for the day. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along every day. We are currently focused on the Christmas season and the events surrounding Jesus’ birth.

Reading the Word

Matthew 2:1–2 (ESV)

1 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, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

 

No Room in the Inn

Luke 27 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Luke 2:6–7 (ESV)

6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Understanding and Applying the Word

These words are familiar to us. Even if you have never been to church, you have probably observed a nativity scene at one time or another. You also likely know that Jesus’ birth was a little out of the ordinary. The family could not find normal accommodations due to overcrowding during the census, so when Jesus was born, he was placed in a manger, an animal feeding trough.

The familiarity of this story may result in us failing to consider its surprising details. The long-promised Messiah, the King of kings, was born into the world and no one knew it was happening! There was no fanfare. There was no grand celebration. In fact, it happened in the most non-royal way we could imagine. Jesus was wrapped up and placed in the same place that animals ate their dinner. This was no ordinary king like the world was used to. Something different was happening. From this humble beginning, Jesus would go on to change the world forever.

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The Plan Unfolds

Bible Coffee

Reading the Word

Luke 2:1–5 (ESV)

1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In this short passage we see the sovereign plans of God being fulfilled. In the Old Testament book of Micah, in chapter five, we are told that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Jesus’ parents were from Nazareth, so that was not going to happen without some circumstance causing it. So, here we read that Caesar Augustus decreed that a registration had to take place, which made it necessary for Joseph and Mary to travel to Bethlehem. Was this a coincidence? No.

If you read the Gospel accounts, you will quickly notice that they emphasize over and over again that Jesus and the events surrounding his birth fulfilled prophecies concerning the promised Messiah. Go back and read the opening chapters of Matthew. Understanding this truth helps us understand that Jesus was truly the one the world was waiting for, but it also encourages us by reminding us that, even in a world that seems chaotic, God is in control and he is working his plans and purposes in his timing. Let us remember, as we think about the events of Christ’s birth, that the future is secure in the hands of God.

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God Has Visited His People

clouds

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Reading the Word

Luke 1:68–71 (ESV)

68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us;

Understanding and Applying the Word

When John the Baptist was born, Zechariah praised God. Luke 1:68-71 are the opening words that Zechariah spoke. The focus of his praise was on God keeping his promises and saving his people. The Lord was fulfilling his promise of a Messiah from the line of David to bring salvation.

Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah and Zechariah recognized that the wait was over. Jesus came into the world to redeem all of mankind from sin and death by giving his life as a sacrifice. The Messiah laid down his life for his people so that they could live. We too should pause this Christmas season to remember our Redeemer and offer praise to him.

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