Bible Clinic One
A journey into the life, times, and teachings of the Bible.
Prepared by Gary D. Strunk
Lesson 1 - Bethlehem Morning Part 1
The First Christmas
Christmas is celebrated in over 80% of the countries of the world, and is the favorite holiday of millions of children with its candy goodies, its shimmering lights, and happy exchange of gifts. More importantly, for both children and adults, it carries the added glow of celebrating the birth of Jesus, the Son of God, the Savior of the World. The visitation of the Son of God to earth is so central to the Christian faith that the Christian world divides time between B.C., ABefore Christ,@ and A.D. Anno Domini, Latin for Athe Year of Our LORD.@ So we begin our study with the familiar events surrounding the birth of Jesus the Christ. Welcome to ABethlehem Morning!@ Note: See comment at end of lesson for explanation that Christ was not born Dec. 25.
If this is your first time to study the Bible, you may read passages and words you won=t fully understand at first because, - 1. We are cutting into the middle of on-going history with specialized terminology that takes awhile to pick up. New terms will usually be defined when introduced. And 2. You are not reading about life in the 20th century, but about people on the other side of the world who lived 2-4000 years ago. Just as the study of a foreign language can introduce us to different cultures and different modes of thinking, so does the study of Scripture. But Scripture was not given to teach us about the people as much as to teach us about God, whom we come to know by watching how He dealt with people who had different values from His, and from ours too.
The questions in these first two lessons will lead you through all the scenes of the birth of Jesus, Athe first Advent of Christ.@ Some questions may seem elementary, but they serve to create an awareness of names and concepts that become more important later, and to introduce the first-time reader to Biblical terms and to large over-arching themes. Other questions are more complex to help you relate one passage to another.
The AChristmas story@ really begins with the announcement of the conception and birth of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus.
READ Luke 1:1-25 John the Baptist
1. What was the vocation of John=s father? Lk. 1:5,8,9
2. Only Levites, i.e. persons born to the family of Levi, served as priests for the people of Israel, and more specifically, only descendants of Aaron, Moses= brother, served as priests. Under the ALevitical priesthood,@ every son of Aaron automatically became a priest at the age of 30. Therefore, what would be John=s vocation at age 30? __________________________________________
3. What would John not drink? v. 15_
4. For whom was he to prepare a people? v. 17 _____________________________________
5. Who was speaking to Zacharias? v. 19 ________________________________________
READ Luke 1:26-38 Gabriel=s Announcement
6. Who? ______________________ went where? __________________ in the 6th month of what? ______________________________________ v.26 cf. v.24. (cf. = compare) and v. 36, to speak to whom? ____________________________________ v.27
7. What would Mary=s Son receive from the LORD God? v. 32 _____________________________
8. Over whom would He reign? v. 33 ____________________________________________
And for how long? _______________________________
READ Luke 1:39-80 Jesus the Messiah
9. The coming of Jesus fulfills a promise of mercy made to whom? vs. 54,55, 72,73 ____________
10. From what will Israel be saved? vs. 71,74 ___________________________________________
11. By what means will this salvation come? vs. 77,78 ____________________________________
How does this work? When we repent God works to deliver us from all enemies including death. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 1Cor. 15:26
12. Why is Jesus called Athe Son of God@? v. 35, Mt. 1:20 _______________________________
13. How widespread was the report of the birth and naming of John? Lk.1:65 __________________________________________________________
Look at a map in your Bible to find Judea and Galilee.
14. By what title is God often referred to in this passage? vs. 76,32,35 ____________________
Note: This title puts Him at the top of any hierarchy of gods existing in the minds of men.
15. About how far along was Mary=s pregnancy when she returned to Nazareth and to Joseph?
vs. 26, 36-40, 56_______________________
READ Matthew (Mt.) 1:18-25. Jesus= Name
16. Why was Joseph to Acall His name Jesus?@ Mt. 1:21 __________________________________________
This divinely announced mission is so important that identifying who AHis people@ are is the subject of lessons 3 and 8, and ?saving them from their sins@ is the subject of lessons 10 and 11.
17. What other name applied to Jesus? v.23 _________________________ And what does it mean? __________________________________
This too is so important that it is the substance of a later lesson, titled, ?Forever Yours.@
Now that you have completed this lesson, it would be well to read again slowly the passages referred to in this lesson. Try to enter into the scenes, the emotions, the drama that is taking place. Sense the fear that Mary must have felt at the sudden appearance of the angel Gabriel, then the mystery, and honor that followed from the Gabriel=s announcement that she would be the mother of the Messiah. Feel the shock, the suspicion, the dismay of Joseph in finding his fiance` three months pregnant, and then the great relief yet awe at the explanation by Gabriel. These are unusual events in the history of the world; the virgin birth of Jesus, the special preparation of John, and the timely decree of Caesar Augustus to tax the world at just the right time to force Mary to Bethlehem where Messiah was to be born. We will visit more scenes from the Christmas story in part two of this topic.
3. Wine or strong drink
4. The Lord
6. The angel Gabriel, Nazareth, Elizabeth=s pregnancy, Mary
7. The throne of his father David
8. House of Jacob, forever
9. Our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed
10. Our enemies, all who hate us
11. By remission of sins, through the tender mercy of our God
12. Holy Spirit came upon Mary
13. Through all the hill country of Judea
14. The Highest
15. Three months
16. For He will save His people from their sins
17. Immanuel, God with us
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