Christmas: The Real Super Story by pastor Ezekiel Olowookere


Pastor E. O. Olowookere

Luke 2:1-7

1. And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

2  (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3  And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

5  To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6  And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7  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.

Many grownup Nigerians (except for the so-called Gen Z) are familiar with the Thursday night soap opera on NTA titled "Super Story". The episodic seasonal television show is popular for many twists that made the series a must watch for every Nigerian home with relatable lessons. This is not the crux of this article but a background to a more exciting story without end but engrafted with eternal values, hence, the adoption of the title.

The text of focus is intriguing, first because it's not an account from an eye-witness but a third person narrative. Also, the Lukan gospel appears to be the only record of this particular and spectacular event, showing his diligence and literary skills at compiling the real, non fictitious super story. According to Doctor Luke, this event was preceded by Zacharias' and Mary's angelic visitations (Luke 1:11-20; 26-37), spirit-inspired utterances of Elizabeth (Luke 1:41-55) and prophetic declarations of Zacharias (Luke 1:67-79) which acutely formed the beginning of the fulfillment of Old Testament motifs, figures and prophecies of the coming Saviour.

The Priest Zacharias' opening prophecies in Luke's account, blessing the Lord God of Israel who "hath visited and redeemed his people" (Luke 1:68) flashes us back to how Adam and Eve "heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8a),"and discovering their sinful state, made "coats of skins, and clothed them" (Genesis 3:21). For Adam and Eve, this was a visitation that came with redemption. Consistently, we read about God's visitation and redemption for the Israelites in the scriptures. This means that, the words of Zacharias have fulfillment in the past, (as the Israelites have experienced God's visitation alongside His redemption), present and future; only that this time around, He has "raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear (Luke 2:69-74)."

What this means is that many of the events of the Old Testament were motifs and symbols of a latter event to happen, for God "at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets" (Hebrews 1:1). Furthermore, His visitation and redemption this time around is not in types and shadows, but the Lord God of Israel has visited us Himself. This is why the Johannine gospel which says the Word who was made flesh and dwelled among us (John 1:14) is the same who is God from the beginning (John 1:1). The story of Christmas is therefore, not the story of an angelic visitation, or a figural pattern of redemption, but of the Lord God of Israel who "made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men (Phillipians 2:7)."

Furthermore, the decree that all the world (which could specifically refer to the Roman empire) be taxed (Greek: ἀπογράφω, apographo; meaning to enter in a register or records), was the first (the second noted in Acts 5:37) in their days; moreso, Dr. Luke's deliberate mention of the rulers, Augustus Caesar (the first Roman emperor) and Cyrenius, the then governor of Syria suggests a literary adventure of narrating the birth of the Ruler and King of all the earth among reigning rulers. In other words, Luke is saying, in the middle of the decree by the rulers of the earth for a global census, an Eternal King of the Heaven and Earth is born. Also, while the rulers of the earth exercise their authority, the One with the authority in heaven and earth is born. This is confirmed as the Lukan gospel in the same vein, recounts the words of the angel who appeared to the shepherds that the new born King is of "the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11)." The line of David apparently refers to royalty and kingship.

Ironically, that this Great King was born and laid on "a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn (Luke 2:7)" owing to the then mammoth overpopulation of that city at that time. This twists every expectation of the many prophecies of the Prophets that seemed the child would be born in a palace. When Isaiah said the government shall be upon his shoulder, one would readily imagine that he would come as a heir to the biggest kingdom on earth where he would also serve as the Prince of Peace. What a suspense that kept Prophets, Judges, Kings etc. on a long longing for the Messiah and Redeemer of Israel whose birth becomes fulfilled in the abode of horses.

Observably, rather than make pronouncements of the birth of the Saviour through heralds of the King, Prophets or respectable people of the land, God sends the angel to shepherds "abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night (Luke 2:8)" to announce "good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:10,11)." That these men are regarded as watchers of the night implies they were not elites, rather, "the foolish things of the world (used by God) to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty" (1 Corinthians 1:27).

The expression "And this shall be a sign unto you" in verse 12 of Luke 2, is the same expression the Prophet Isaiah told King Ahaz in Isaiah 7:14 as commanded by God. After the house of David and Jerusalem was threatened to war by a confederation of Syria and Ephraim, God promised a sign (Hebrew - אות,  'ôth;  meaning mark, signal, beacon or miracle) of deliverance which is the delivery of a son by a virgin whose name shall be called Immanuel. Although history suggests the actual birth of this child at that period, but it is also not far from a perfect symbolism of the same Virgin birth of Christ Jesus at a point the world needs deliverance. As if that was not enough, the angel uses the same word "sign" (Greek - σημεῖον, sēmeion; meaning, sign, mark or a miracle). This time, it is the same miracle that was told King Ahaz of the virgin birth of a child "wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." The Immanuel of Isaiah 7:14 typifies the same Lord God of Israel who has visited us and is with us forever more (Matthew 28:20). Hence, the story of Christmas is a story of the miraculous and an ever reigning King.

Dr. Luke therefore, with his illustrative and descriptive techniques, employed the use of flashbacks or a rereading of the Old Testament to show the consistency of the prophecies and events that communicated the coming Messiah so much that while each act of God's deliverance or raising of a Judge for the ancient Israelites appeared like a fulfillment of God's promises, it always ended in another twist and suspense, for the "prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you...Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify" (1 Peter 1:10,11).

The story is unending and inexhaustible, even for us whom the prophecies of His birth is fulfilled. Christmas is only the beginning of the fulfillment of the real Super Story!


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