Birth to Reconcile Rifts & Heal Bruises – Dr Lalith Mendis
Disarmament Bethlehem Style
There was never a Birth which reconciled so many rifts & healed so many bruises, as the Birth of Jesus, the Messiah. Christmas news began with an old couple (Zechariah & Elizabeth), considered time past, coming to limelight – receiving the promise of a child, at an unlikely age (perhaps 48yrs). While Kings were visibly ruling (Augustus Caesar the Emperor & Herod the King), His-Story was being written by God’s sparrows & swallows who had no strength but God. Luke the Physician Historian accurately records historical dates, making Luke’s Gospel reliable for Archaeological excavation, which made Captain Lee Wallace, an atheist to become a believer & write Ben Hur which became a Great Epic.
Sir William Mitchell Ramsay (1851–1939), the archaeologist and professor from Oxford and Cambridge Universities,- regarding trustworthiness of Christmas Story by Luke – “I take the view that Luke’s history is unsurpassed in regard to his trustworthiness … . You may press the words of Luke in a degree beyond any other historian’s and they stand the keenest scrutiny and the hardest treatment”.
Luke originally came to Israel to investigate why so many rich & influential Roman Nobles were believing in a poor Palestinian Saviour, who was executed like criminal by Roman “justice”. Luke was commissioned by his boss, Theophillus to whom Luke addresses the Gospel that bears his name. as Luke kept investigating, he believed in the unravelling story as he went to primary sources, who were yet alive including the mother of Jesus.
How did Magi Know Date of Messiah Birth besides seeing the Star?
Sir Colin Humphreys, Cambridge scientist along with Graeme Waddington, Astrophysics of Oxford has calculated Jesus’ crucifixion to be in April 3rd of AD 33 – precisely the day prophesied by Daniel the prophet in 566 BC as being 483 Lunar years (173880 days) from the edict of Artaxerxes to rebuild Jerusalem in 444 BC. (Mystery of the Last Supper: Reconstructing the Final Days of Jesus, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2011) – cited by Prof John Lennox – Against the Flow pp299,300. An astounding prophecy proved by investigation – undeniable proof of veracity of scripture. It is the same prediction that includes the Messiah’s birth. Many believe Magi of Nebuchadnezzar’s court, who associated Daniel, passed this info down the generations until the Time of Messiah Birth when Magi of that generation visited Baby Jesus.
Many Gaps Bridged – Breaches Sealed
When God took human birth, His Birth reconciled rifts & healed bruises.
- Born Seed of Woman Gen 3:15 – women often become the oppressed in any generation. Women of Galilee were no exception. The average Jew said – God I thank you I was not born a Samaritan, woman, or a gentile. By the time Messiah was born, Jewish Rabbi had distorted God’s Law on marriage which prohibited divorce. Rabbi had it that you could put away a woman & take another for what ever cause – even a culinary mistake. Jesus set the record right. Protecting traditional marriage is the best way to protect vulnerability of women.
- Messiah’s Birth Redeemed Racial Discrimination & prejudice against violated women – He had in his descent 3 women of scandalous background as Pharisaic Jews would stigmatise. Tamar – whose illegitimate son by Judah, Peleg, entered Messianic ancestry. There was also Rahab, the prostitute on the walls of Jericho – in His genealogy, and Ruth the Moabite widow who married Boaz, Prince of Bethlehem in 1170 BC.
- Messiah’s Birth Redeemed Human Birth – Hippocrates enjoined censure for abortion in his famous Oath. “medical practitioner shall not help woman procure an abortion”. Roman Empire made abortion & infanticide common. Gibbon cites this as a major feature of decadence that heralds the eventual downfall of the Empire. Saviour born as normal baby affirmed value of every baby. His birth narrative affirmed that baby in the womb feels the Holy Spirit.
- Messiah Birth – Born of Labour Class, of the proletariat – Lk 1:49 – Galilee had rich fishermen & poor carpenters who mended their boats & fishing gear. Joseph was one such poor carpenter. When Our Saviour spoke with erudition, it was said with a Galilean sneer, of our Saviour – is He not the carpenter’s son – implying that a son of a carpenter ought not to be that erudite. Of Judean descent, for Joseph to live in Galilee full of Gentiles, was oppressive – but he his family line had become poor having once served David the King. Bethlehem had a thriving weaving industry which required expert carpenters. One may say Bethlehem was like Moratuwa!! For Master fisherman, Peter, to call Him Master must have been initially different – He being a carpenter’s son. What names do we call others re their background?
- Born poor to make us rich – 2Co 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.
- He abandoned Entitlement & showed that born poor is no excuse.
- Motherhood sanctified – in a world of fashion & figure, devaluing family & maternity, Saviour’s birth ennobled motherhood.
- He was born powerless – it was a time the powerless wished they were not born. There were religious powerful or political powerful. He epitomised that meek can rule. This was the Great Mystery of Godliness. He demonstrated that God helps unfit to survive & even thrive. He proved that every obstacle is a gift waiting to be turned into an opportunity. He stopped for the lame & powerless – He did not think it’s wasted time. He identified with despised Galilee, laughed at Nazareth & with rejected Samaritans. His revolution involved people who had no power. /
- Born under a Curse to Redeem us from the Curse
- Human born to give us Divine Birth
- Human Sonship to give us Divine Sonship
Violated Rights – Spirit Wins
“My mother didn’t try to abort me but the King tried to kill me because corrupt priests used their religious knowledge & said – the one born with a star in Bethlehem will one day be King. My earthly dad had a hard time making ends meet. My mom had a hard time consoling me as peers shouted bad names that I was conceived illegitimate. My earthly dad suffered ignominy for living in Galilee. They insulted me that I am from Galilee and that Nazareth was the worst place in Galilee. They taunted Me – can anything good come out from Galilee. I was heckled as the carpenter’s son. They said – carpenter’s son, how can he speak words of erudition. Rich fisher traders paid pittance for back breaking work of carpentry that serviced the fishing industry. My earthly siblings ridiculed me for My calling. The Establishment connived to assassinate Me – in this Religion united with politics. But then they were only facilitating My Mission – that for this Cause Was I born”. He said the same at His trial.
“My Soul Magnifies the Lord. My Spirit Rejoices in God my Saviour” . I am thinking – deep rejoicing with great gratitude with no chemical stimulants comes from the spirit of man. This potentiates our Reward System & we never have to excite the opioid driven anti-reward systems. Potentiating Reward System with “rejoicing in the spirit” methinks is a viable way to overcome PTSD & other addictive or stress conditions.
Pro 20:27 The spirit of man is the lamp of the LORD, searching all his innermost parts. Spirit of man is where resilience is. Spirit speaks for the other side from the better side. This is where we bounce back & give ourselves & others another chance. Spirit is the repository of hope & even faith if you get over your prejudice. Spirit is the flame that searches inner recesses, nooks, corners & recesses of our being where lurks hurt, humiliation, horror, hates – casting a quickening illuminating ray – to see ourselves in truth. Spirit is where we say – I will forgive. Spirit is where we say – I am sorry, please forgive me. Kill the spirit & man dies. The Gulag couldn’t kill the spirit of Alexandre Solzhenitsyn. Spirit is also where music soars & song births. Art forms shapen & man becomes more than atoms.
Other Introductions to the King
Matthew’s other name was Levi & was trained as a scribe & Levite. Yet he turned to be a taxgatherer for Rome and was hated by the Jews. Just as Zaccheus was. Yet the Lord visits to redeem. In time, God chose Matthew to write the Gospel that would explain to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah, by using his in depth knowledge of OT scriptures & Jewish tradition. Matthew presented Messiah as Son of Abraham & the King who came in Davidic royal lineage. So Matthew was redeemed.
Last OT Prophet, Malachi, spoke in 430 BC & God was silent until the Angel of the Lord visited Zecharias while he was in priestly duty, some months before the Saviour’s Birth. During the silence of God, Israel suffered terrible atrocities at the hands of many invaders , the worst being Antiochus Epiphanes. Malachi’s prophecy named Messiah the Sun of Righteousness. As only scripture could having as author Holy Spirit for both Old & New T, Zecharias speaks of the Messiah as the Dayspring or Sun Shining from above
Zecharias rightly said – God has visited & redeemed His people. Visit has a military connotation, on behalf of His people against their enemies. Our enemies are not people but our weaknesses, pride & prejudices. God invaded gross darkness as a Baby – very confident of the outcome. We can also be confident when trials or giants assail us. Remember the Babe who could not be destroyed by tyrannical Herod!!
Disarmament Bethlehem Style
The most powerful Potentate became defenceless Babe in Bethlehem. Confident that a graced life script is mightier than sword & truth more powerful than Rome’s brawn & mercy triumphs over laws of religion. Meekness was His Might. He immediately was the target of Tyrannical Herod & conspiratorial clergy. On the cross, He dropped all guard & stretched out His arms exposing Himself to complete vulnerability & de facto wounding. By His stripes we were healed. When intimidated, Remember the Babe!! By this birth, He battled a mom’s fears, dad’s uncertainty, relatives’ ridicule, stable’s tetanus bacilli, king’s murderous wrath – Cheer Up.
At the end of time, the Great Assize was assembled. The King of kings was due and the great White Throne was set. The vast sea of humans had a little time for contemplation; time for repentance was past. Yet they said….A Negro slave from 18th century USA – How can One judge me. Does he know the agony of being born a slave under a powerful nation. Having no roots or rights? Whip-lashed for no reason; treated like chattel. How can He judge me, without getting into my boots. A poor man – Does HE know what it is to labour long, till your palms are sore and callused, in the white hot sun, walking many miles? Does HE know the ignominy of having no place to call your own? I have hungered often. Does HE know hunger pangs? A woman born out of wedlock – Oh the shame I have suffered from my childhood when people would lift their nose up at me and call me and my mother names, because my father was not known. Oh the pain of rejection because of the pain I brought my mother. I said it is better had I not been born. How can anyone ever judge me? A victim of an unjust trial – who knows the agony for being slandered and framed for an offence I never committed. To be dragged in the mud publicly after all the good I did. This is a farce. Who can judge me after what I have suffered?
Then a vision of the life of the Saviour passed before the eyes of all who were assembled at the Great Assize. A Voice from heaven said – I was born to a slave nation, to its poorest region. I was called an illegitimate Child. In My earthly sojourn I had no place to lay My head. I was crucified after a fixed trial. The judged is today the JUDGE
On a starry night in Bethlehem’s fields
A shepherd boy wearily his flock keeps
Did he remember David, his ancestor?
Or did he just be humble sheep pastor
Can I like other children go to school?
Or forever diminish in this sheep drool
Will I have fiddle to stroke & toys to play
Or I grow old die unsung – shepherd’s way
Skies light up & glory shines softly bright
God comes seeking Meek & Mild – Right
All wrong beneath His Heel, Mighty Babe
God invades as Infant Jesus – Joy Awake
Lifting up the disenfranchised Justice ablaze
Sword turns to poet’s pen by His Holy Gaze
Haughty cast down, kings & priests conspire
He will cause the sun to set on man’s empire
Innkeepers sadly missed the Golden moment
Angels trumpeted, donkeys brayed Hail the King
They clean the dung & spread the straw
If not five star let’s give Him our paw
Lambs did baa..& cattle did moo, Goats give a chin up–
Creator comes to them – they smell Him, sssmm…..
Awake the World – a Saviour Is Born
Without he Commercial glitterati…
Frail Maiden in Carpenter’s Embrace
Welcomes God’s Son – Truth & Grace
Homecoming was painful to Joseph – for Census, ‘cos Rome wanted to Tax more rather than provide benefit to populace – that’s Politics – your Tax money at work for whom…Politicians!!! Carpenters were greatly acclaimed in ancient Bethlehem, ‘cos the City’s thriving linen weaving industry provided vestments for priests – valued craftsmanship. Handloom needed expert carpentry. Centuries later Bethlehem’s carpenters were struggling just like Moratuwa carpenters today. In raucous Galilee they slaved for the rude & reckless but rich fishermen traders such as hurly burly Simon Peter. Coming back to Bethlehem, Joseph’s ancestral town, he worried if his pregnant wife would be well treated. Will they find a place? Will relatives be nasty? He will soon forget the grievances – Joy to the World was Born!!