Worship Helps for Christmas 2

The Road to Bethlehem
Joseph Brickey

Worship Theme: “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” we sing at Christmas time. Bethlehem, “the house of bread,” was a little town, but an important town too. There, in humility, the Savior of the world was born.

Old Testament: Micah 5:2-5a
"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times." 3 Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. 4 He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. 5 And he will be their peace.

1. Why was Bethlehem seemingly an unlikely place for a king to be born (verse 2)?

2. Even though Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem, what was his true origin (verse 2)?

3. Besides being ruler and shepherd of God’s people, what else was Jesus predicted to be (verse 5)?


Epistle: Hebrews 2:10-18
In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. 12 He says, "I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises." 13 And again, "I will put my trust in him." And again he says, "Here am I, and the children God has given me." 14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death-- that is, the devil-- 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

4. List all the names Jesus receives in these nine verses.

5. Why did Jesus share in our humanity (verse 14)? (Couldn’t he have just taken on the appearance of a man, without actually becoming man?)

6. What kind of high priest for us is Jesus (verses 17-18)?


Gospel: John 7:40-43
On hearing his words, some of the people said, "Surely this man is the Prophet." 41 Others said, "He is the Christ." Still others asked, "How can the Christ come from Galilee? 42 Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David's family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?" 43 Thus the people were divided because of Jesus.

7. On the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, what two opinions did people have of Jesus (verses 40-41)?

8. What confusion about Jesus’ origin caused this conflict (verses 41-42)?


Answers:
1. Bethlehem was an unlikely place for a king to be born because it was a small town.

2. His “goings out,” were from ancient times, “from days of eternity,” as the NIV footnote translates. He is the eternal Son of God, who has no beginning.

3. Micah predicted that Jesus would be our peace. That is, he would take our place under God’s law, then suffer and die under God’s holy judgment to earn our peace with God.

4. The writer to the Hebrews calls him “the author of salvation,” our Brother, our Rescuer, our “High Priest.”

5. Jesus shared in our humanity so that by his death he would destroy the one who holds the power of death, that is, the devil. He had to become a man to die in our place. (God can’t die unless he is also man.)

6. Jesus is a merciful and faithful high priest. He suffered, so he can help us in all our sufferings and temptations.

7. Some thought he was the Prophet Moses promised in Deuteronomy 18. Others thought he was the Christ, God’s Anointed. The irony is that Jesus is both.

8. People knew Jesus had grown up in Galilee, but Micah had prophesied that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem. People in Jerusalem, only a few miles from Bethlehem, did not know Jesus had been born there.


A reading from the Book of Concord for the Second Sunday after Christmas
Wherever you place God, you must also place the humanity. They are not separated and divided from each other.  He has become one person and does not separate the humanity from Himself. 

In his Treatise on the Last Words of David, which Dr. Luther wrote shortly before his death, he says the following:

According to the temporal, human birth Christ was also given the eternal dominion of God, yet temporarily and not from eternity.  For the human nature of Christ was not from eternity as His divine nature was.  But from the moment when deity and humanity were united in one Person, the Man, Mary’s Son is called almighty, eternal God, who has eternal dominion, who has created all things and preserves them “through the communication of attributes” … , because He is one Person with the Godhead and is also very God.  Christ refers to this in Matthew 11:27: “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father,” and in Matthew 28:18: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me,” Jesus of Nazareth, Mary’s incarnate Son.  I had this from My Father from eternity, before I became man, but when I became man, it was imparted to Me in time according to My human nature, and I kept it concealed until My resurrection and ascent into heaven, when it was to be manifested and glorified.” – Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article IV, The Person of Christ (paragraphs 84-85)


Text of the Hymn of the Day: O Little Town Of Bethlehem
O little town of Bethlehem, How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep And dreamless sleep The silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth The everlasting light.
The hopes and fears Of all the years Are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary, And, gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, The angels keep Their watch of wond'ring love.
O morning stars, together Proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing To God the King And peace to all the earth.

How silently, how silently The wondrous gift is giv'n!
So God imparts To human hearts The blessings of his heav'n.
No ear may hear his coming, But in this world of sin
Where meek souls will Receive him still, The dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem, Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin And enter in; Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels The great glad tidings tell;
Oh, come to us, Abide with us, Our Lord Immanuel!


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