No Room for the Messiah

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is a shameful reality—Israel has “no room” for her Messiah.

Every Jew knew the Messianic promise of Isaiah 7:14: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Each Jew had heard its parallel verse: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). They knew Micah 5:2: “Bethlehem Ephratah… 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.”

For nearly seven centuries, Jews read the above verses. They knew that God would one day send their Messiah, who would establish His kingdom in the earth. However, when Joseph brought Mary, who was heavy with child, to Bethlehem of Judaea, precious few took notice. Their hearts were so hardened by sin, much of the nation Israel could not care less. Here was a pregnant virgin, living in Bethlehem, within the time frame of the Messiah’s arrival as prophesied by Daniel 9:25-26, and there was the Messiah’s star of Numbers 24:17 appearing to signify His coming (Matthew 2:2). It was so obvious that Mary’s Baby was Israel’s long-promised Messiah-King! Alas, sinful Israel would not have Him!

How Israel “received” Jesus Christ as a Baby typified what they would do to Him later for the rest of His earthly life. They had no room for Him in the inn, so they invited Him—the Lord of glory—to lie in a lowly trough out of which livestock eat (today’s Scripture)! When He offered Himself to Israel 33 years later, Israel argued, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). God was not surprised, for He had preplanned what He would do at that point….

For more information, see our archived Bible Q&A: “What was the ‘Star of Bethlehem?’

Bethlehem of Judaea

Monday, December 20, 2021

“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 KJV).

Today’s Scripture, written about 700 B.C., prophesies the exact birthplace of Israel’s Messiah.

Notice the Bible is very specific: “Bethlehem Ephratah pinpoints the Bethlehem in southern Israel (there was another Bethlehem, in Galilee, northern Israel). Bethlehem of Judaea, as today’s Scripture teaches, is “little among the thousands of Judah” (a little-known village).

The Bible tells us that Bethlehem Ephratah was the birthplace of King David (1 Samuel 16:1-18). John 7:42 reads: “Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” Jesus Christ will inherit His father David’s throne, and David is a type/preview/shadow of Christ (Isaiah 9:6,7; Luke 1:31-33). Thus, they share Bethlehem Ephratah as their birthplace (cf. Luke 2:4).

“Bethlehem” is an interesting term. Jesus Christ likened Himself to the manna of the Old Testament. He claimed, “For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world…. I am that bread of life: I am the bread which came down from heaven…. I am that bread of life” (John 6:33,35,41,48). Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1,5,6): “Bethlehem” is Hebrew for “house of bread.” Thus, the “Bread of Life,” Jesus Christ, was born in the “House of Bread,” Bethlehem. Fascinating!

Furthermore, Joseph (Jesus’ legal father) lived in Nazareth. When Roman emperor Caesar Augustus sent out a decree for taxing the people of the empire (conducting a census), Joseph had to leave Nazareth and go to Bethlehem of Judaea, taking pregnant Mary with him (Luke 2:1-5). Christ was born there in Bethlehem. Some 700 years beforehand, the Bible knew Joseph and Mary would not be in Nazareth for Christ’s birth, but in Bethlehem, thereby fulfilling the prophecy of today’s Scripture. Amazing!

These are evidences that the Bible is a supernatural Book—indeed, it is God’s Book.

What Child Is This? #4

Thursday, December 2, 2021

“O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms” (Psalm 95:1,2 KJV).

The final verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.”

As the shepherds and angels gathered around Baby Jesus’ manger, we can only wonder what immense joy filled their hearts. In that world of old—plagued by the same basic problems of our modern world—He was a Beacon in the dark and a Solace in the misery. They undoubtedly sang right in the midst of all those farm animals! They were so thrilled to see God working in their presence. They were now standing before His baby crib!

Sinners today are greatly encouraged—yea, urged—to come by faith to God’s Son, Jesus Christ, right this moment. They are not to come by faith to His crib, for He is no longer a Baby. Rather, they are to come by faith to His cross, where He gave up that life for us! “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). What we need to do is rely exclusively on Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, His shed sinless blood and His resurrection, as sufficient payment for our sins.

As with Jesus’ birth, for those who do not want to see anything, they do not see anything. Those who see are people who want to see. It has nothing to do with God hiding anything from anyone. What did Jesus tell the Jews? “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17).

Although Jesus Christ is not physically here today, we can still haste to bring Him laud. We can praise Him highly in a public context. First, we can believe on Him and His finished crosswork. Then, we can tell others how they too can be saved through Calvary!

What Child Is This? #3

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

“But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20,21 KJV).

The third verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come, peasant, king, to own Him.
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.”

While commonly assumed the wise men came to visit Baby Jesus in the manger in Bethlehem, a careful study of Matthew chapter 2 shows us that they met Jesus in Joseph’s house in Nazareth, when He was as much as two years old (verse 16). The Bible never specifies “three” wise men or three “kings,” either. Regardless of their number, these wise men, Gentiles from the East, came to Jerusalem looking for Israel’s King. Upon hearing the wise men, King Herod and all of Jerusalem were “troubled” (verse 3). Israel should be ready to receive her Messiah-King, but she is not. Gentiles are seeking Israel’s King, and they, the Gentiles, are ready! How odd!

The wise men learn that Israel’s Messiah was born in Bethlehem-Judah (verses 4-6), but a “star” (angel) leads them to Nazareth (verses 7-10). Verse 11: “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.” Jesus is a King, so the wise men have brought gold to Him. They have brought Him frankincense because He is a Priest. Myrrh has been brought to Him because He is a Prophet. Gentiles treat Israel’s King with more respect than Israel does!

Nothing has changed today. Some reject Jesus Christ while others accept Him. The songwriter, as does this author, urges people to accept Him!

Bible Q&A #905: “How is He ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ if He was born in Bethlehem?

Who is Jesus the Son of Man? #5

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? (Matthew 16:13 KJV).

Who is Jesus the Son of Man?

Re-read Peter’s grand confession as recorded in the three Synoptic Gospel Records. “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16). “And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ (Mark 8:29). “He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God (Luke 9:20). This, of course, is the Gospel of the Kingdom, that Jesus is Israel’s King-Messiah-Christ. Father God had expected the Jews to believe this “Good News” during Jesus’ earthly ministry. Now, be careful to notice how the Lord replied to Peter’s declaration of faith.

Again, all three Synoptic Gospel Records document it. “Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ(Matthew 16:20). “And he charged them that they should tell no man of him (Mark 8:30). “And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing;…” (Luke 9:21). Jesus ordered them, He commanded them, not to tell anyone that He was Christ. Why? Does He not want them to believe on Him? Is not this Gospel of the Kingdom the only way at the time for them to come to His Father by faith? Then, why does He mandate His disciples keep His identity secret?

Remember, this Gospel of the Kingdom has now been preached in Israel for at least three years. John the Baptist proclaimed it, Jesus Himself has preached it, and the 12 Apostles have proclaimed it. In spite of this spiritual light, darkness abounds in Israel. The nation itself is both unable and unwilling to see Jesus as Christ (Matthew 16:13,14; Mark 8:27,28; Luke 9:18,19); they have wasted their time with unbelief and spiritual silliness. Therefore, six months before Calvary, Jesus orders His disciples to stay silent concerning His identity. Essentially, “If they still have not believed, they will not believe, so leave them in their ignorance. Do not tell them who I the Son of Man am!”

Who is Jesus the Son of Man? #4

Monday, August 30, 2021

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? (Matthew 16:13 KJV).

Who is Jesus the Son of Man?

On another occasion, the crowds of Jesus’ audience thinned because of conviction. Although they had followed Him physically, there was no following spiritually. The conversation’s deterioration throughout the chapter shows just how willfully ignorant they are of the truth: “[Jesus speaking] It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?” (John 6:63-67).

It was here—approximately the time of today’s Scripture—that “many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” Jesus turned to the 12 Apostles, inquiring if they would leave Him too. “Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (verses 68,69). (If you read the next two verses, Judas Iscariot, the traitor, is an exception. Like the crowd’s unbelief, his faithlessness will be soon manifested.)

Here again, Peter, spokesman of the Little Flock, has been following the Lord in faith, not mindless adherence or pretending to be a disciple when he is not. Peter has realized and openly declares he has nowhere else to turn, for only the Lord Jesus Christ has “the words of eternal life.” As in Matthew 16:16, Mark 8:29, and Luke 9:20; so Peter confessed in chapter 6 of John, “we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” Let us go back to Matthew, Mark, and Luke to read Jesus’ “startling” reply….

Who is Jesus the Son of Man? #3

Sunday, August 29, 2021

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? (Matthew 16:13 KJV).

Who is Jesus the Son of Man?

After inquiring about the public’s opinion concerning His identity, and hearing all the ridiculous answers, Jesus posed a second rhetorical question. “He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?” Do the disciples know any better? Indeed! The Apostle Peter, spokesman of the 12 Apostles and the rest of the Little Flock, replies with that simple declaration, that awesome profession of faith. “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16). “And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ (Mark 8:29). “He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God (Luke 9:20).

Peter is an honest man, one of the few spiritually-minded souls left in his nation of millions. He has studied and received his Hebrew Scriptures by faith, and in Jesus he has seen them fulfilled scores, if not hundreds, of times. Going all the way back to John the Baptist’s ministry a few years earlier, Peter heard the preaching of God the Father in regards to His Son. Peter’s brother, Andrew, had also heard Father God’s words through John. “One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone” (John 1:40-42).

Jesus is “Christ” (Greek), “Messiah” (Aramaic), God’s “anointed” (Psalm 2:2; Acts 4:26). Peter, like the remainder of Israel’s believing remnant, understands the Son of Man is also the Son of God, occupying the unique office of Humanity and Deity. Furthermore, he titles Jesus “the Son of the living God,” as opposed to dead idols of wood and stone that the heathen worship in nearby Caesarea Philippi (Psalm 115:1-8; Psalm 135:15-18)….

Who is Jesus the Son of Man? #2

Saturday, August 28, 2021

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? (Matthew 16:13 KJV).

Who is Jesus the Son of Man?

In a region where pagan gods were worshipped, where deified human leaders and usurpers of David’s throne were honored, in this land that rightly belongs to Jesus Christ the Creator, we read of that most famous exchange. The Lord Jesus asks two rhetorical questions. Firstly, He would like His disciples, His followers or students, to remind themselves of the public’s opinion of Him. What does the general population think of Him? Who is He in their eyes, in their estimation? “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

“And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets” (Matthew 16:14). “And they answered, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets” (Mark 8:28). “They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again” (Luke 9:19). It sounds harsh, but there is no better way to describe these opinions than with the following words: what utter stupidity! Imagine such nonsense. (If it were not so tragic, it would be comical.)

Friends, think about it. Some Jews actually supposed Jesus to be… John the Baptist?! (Jesus and John lived simultaneously, and even stood side-by-side on many occasions!!) Others assumed He was “Elias” (Greek for “Elijah”), “Jeremias” (Greek for “Jeremiah”), or some other Old Testament prophet. Could the spiritual blindness in Israel be more apparent? Are they not familiar with all the scores upon scores of Messianic passages found in their Hebrew Bible? Have they not heard Jesus’ mighty words and seen His mighty works?

Yet, today, the same pervasive ignorance is found in the world—and even Christendom (supposed “Christians”)! Who is Jesus the Son of Man? Why, they tell us—“He is a good man, a great teacher, a renowned religious leader,….” They are as “informed” (yea, rather, confused) as those in Matthew 16:14, Mark 8:28, and Luke 9:19! Let us see if Jesus’ disciples have more spiritual sense than the public….

Our latest Bible Q&As: “Can you explain Habakkuk 2:2?” and “What is ‘dissimulation’ in Romans 12:9?

Who is Jesus the Son of Man? #1

Friday, August 27, 2021

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? (Matthew 16:13 KJV).

Who is Jesus the Son of Man?

Read today’s Scripture in context, along with its parallel verses: “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:13-16).

“And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? And they answered, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets. And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ” (Mark 8:27-29).

“And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am? They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again. He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God” (Luke 9:18-20).

The Lord Jesus Christ is more than halfway through His three years of earthly ministry. He is far north of Galilee, in present-day Golan Heights. Caesarea Philippi abounds with pagan idolatry. Formerly, it was named “Panias,” after the Greek nature god Pan. A temple had been erected here to honor Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar (cf. Luke 2:1). Herod Philip II (cf. Luke 3:1) enlarged the city, named it after Roman Emperor Tiberias Caesar, and added the surname “Philippi” to differentiate it from the Caesarea on the Mediterranean Coast. Later, Herod Agrippa II (Acts chapters 25–26) named it “Neronias,” after Roman Emperor Nero Caesar.

Here, Christ posed His famous question, and here Peter replied with his most outstanding answer….

The Opened Ear #2

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever (Exodus 21:5,6 KJV).

How is the opened ear meaningful in the Holy Scriptures?

Let us hear (pun not intended) the words of Psalm 40 yet again: “[6] Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. [7] Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, [8] I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.”

Now, listen to (pun not intended) this passage from Hebrews chapter 10: “[5] Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: [6] In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. [7] Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. [8] Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; [9] Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. [10] By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

The Holy Spirit interpreted “mine ears hast thou opened” (Psalm 40:6) as “but a body hast thou prepared me” (Hebrews 10:5). Of course, here is God the Son speaking to God the Father regarding the incarnation. The complete payment for sin went beyond the shedding of animal blood: it would require God’s sinless blood. Consequently, the Father through the Holy Spirit readied in Mary’s virgin womb a human body in which Jesus’ Spirit would live. As the aforementioned physically-pierced-ear servant obeyed his master, so Christ submitted to the Father who had opened His ear figuratively. Indeed, Jesus “took upon him the form of a servant… and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).

Bible Q&A #870: “Can you explain, ‘Let your loins be girded,’ in Luke 12:35?