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This text is a part of the The Crossway Podcast sequence.

Truth or Fiction?

On this episode, Andreas Kstenberger, writer of The First Days of Jesus: The Story of the Incarnation, explores the way to distinguish reality from fiction on the subject of the Christmas story. He shares his ideas on the true date of Jesus’s delivery, talks about what was actually happening with the sensible males and the star, and digs into among the key Previous Testomony prophecies and allusions associated to the approaching of Israel’s Messiah, and the way Jesus fulfilled each one among them.


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Andreas J. Kstenberger, Alexander E. Stewart

This booktakes readers step-by-step by the miraculous occasions surrounding Christ’s delivery. With anaccompanying Introduction devotional plan, this may allow you to rejoice Christmas with a pleasure rooted in Scripture somewhat than tradition.

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Full Transcript

01:23 – Welcome

Matt Tully
Andreas, thanks a lot for becoming a member of us immediately on The Crossway Podcast.

Andreas Kostenberger
Youre welcome. Thanks a lot for having me.

01:30 – When was Jesus born?

Matt Tully
Christmas is only a couple days away and I believe many Christians typically ponder whether or not Jesus was actually born on December 25. What would you say to that?

Andreas Kostenberger
The sincere reality is that we’re not in a position to decide with 100% certainty the precise date on which Jesus was born. Its most likely someday within the fall or winter. There was one other pageant celebrated on December 25the Roman Saturnaliaand so some individuals imagine that Christmas then turned the Christian substitute, if you’ll, or the extra acceptable reply to that pagan pageant.

Matt Tully
Is there any probability there would have been snow on the bottom when Jesus was born or would that not have been attainable?

Andreas Kostenberger
Thats a terrific query, Matt. Maybe there was snow on the distant mountains on the horizon. In any other case, so far as we all know, contemplating the local weather in and round Bethlehem on the time, there probably was not snow on the bottom.

02:46 – Custom versus Scripture

Matt Tully
In order that opens as much as a broader concern. In terms of Christmas, generally it may be arduous for us to tell apart traditionfor occasion, conventional concepts about Jesuss birthfrom what the Bible truly tells us about his delivery. Are there another examples of issues that weve picked up from custom that arent essentially the best way it actually was from Scripture?

Andreas Kostenberger
Sure. What generally has occurred, as you alluded to, custom and what the Bible explicitly says had been the occasions surrounding the delivery of Christ are usually not at all times completely aligned. For example, the best way wherein different storiessuch as Santa Claus, or Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, or Jack Frost, and so forthhave grow to be a part of the hodgepodge of tales connected to the Christmas season. I believe that will be the very first thing wed have to be cautious to disentangle so we will give attention to the delivery of the Christ baby, the Incarnate Phrase.

03:52 – Assumptions versus Fact

Matt Tully
Are there another particulars associated to Jesuss delivery that lots of Christians would assume are information primarily based on Christmas carols or the best way we have a tendency to inform the story that arent essentially supported in Scripture?

Andreas Kostenberger
Actually. For example, animals are usually not explicitly talked about. Additionally the thought of sensible males being proper there on the manger is one thing thats not likely supported by a detailed studying of the textual content, as a result of in Scripture it seems that when the sensible males truly arrive, Jesus is not referred to as an toddler, hes referred to as a toddler. And at the moment Mary and Joseph and Jesus reside in a home, not in a room at the back of a secure, if you’ll. So these are simply among the misconceptions. After all, we dont know what number of sensible males got here. They had been most likely not the three kings from the Orient, however astrologers and sensible males most likely in Persia or Babylon. So there are any variety of corrections, maybe, or cautions once we learn the delivery narratives within the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke.

05:18 – The Smart Males

Matt Tully
What do we all know concerning the sensible males? I believe, for myself at the least, that a part of the story has at all times been a bit bit odd. How did these males discover out about Jesuss delivery? What had been they considering they had been coming to see? What can we find out about their motives in coming and who they had been?

Andreas Kostenberger
Nicely, we maybe dont know as a lot as we wish to know. After all, the story of the sensible males is recounted in Matthew 2, not even in any of the opposite Gospels. And I believe whats actually fascinating is that this story is a part of Matthews story of Jesus coming, of his delivery, his ministry, his dying, and his resurrection. And that is the primary trace within the Gospel that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea. However his coming had relevance for all individuals, together with non-Jewish individuals like these sensible males. And so theres actually a neat inclusion between the sensible males on the entrance finish of Matthews story after which the Nice Fee on the finish. The well-known Nice Fee on the finish of the Gospel of Matthew the place Jesus commissions his disciples to go and make disciples of all nations. And so Matthew, very early within the story, tells us that there are a number of mencertainly of stature in their very own culturewho make that lengthy journey to Bethlehem as a result of their analysis indicated {that a} king was born. And one factor in my examine of the shut studying of an account that I used to be intrigued by is that there appeared to make sure echoes of the Queen of Shebas go to to King Solomon in Previous Testomony instances within the glory days of Solomons kingdom. And so there appeared to be a little bit of an echo right here of somebody making that lengthy pilgrimage to the Holy Land from distant due to one thing momentous having occurred in Israel.

07:40 – Retro-fitting Jesus into Prophecy

Matt Tully
How would you reply to the extra liberal non-Christian students who would say, These arent prophecies which might be being fulfilled. These are early followers of Jesus attempting to return and add particulars to this story that may not be traditionally correct, however make all these connections to the Previous Testomony as a approach of retroactively becoming him into this Messiah mildew?

Andreas Kostenberger
To begin with, the Previous Testomony that we’ve got clearly and verifiably predates the Christian period. For example, within the well-known Lifeless Sea Scrolls and the manuscripts discovered at Qumran close to the Lifeless Sea, we even have copies of the ebook of Isaiah. Specifically, we’ve got the well-known Isaiah Scroll that’s displayed in Jerusalem in a museum there. This scroll dates from about 150 years earlier than Christ. In different phrases, we all know that the ebook of Isaiah authentically predicts, in chapter 53 as an illustration, the struggling servant, and it offers fairly a little bit of element concerning the tomb that Jesus can be buried in and the best way that he would undergo for the sins of the individuals.

I believe the opposite factor can be that Matthew particularly has this lengthy sequence of achievement quotations, and the opposite gospels do the identical. And so the sheer variety of demonstrable parts of achievement in each element of Jesuss life is putting. Its nearly as if Matthew writes his gospel to counteract what you described as a extra liberal cost that Christians simply retroactively made all the small print match. Its nearly like Matthew wrote his gospel to counter that by displaying that this isn’t only a handful of predictions that had been fulfilled, however many dozen fulfillments all converged particularly on the delivery after which later on the crucifixion.

10:02 – Herod and the Dying of Innocents

Matt Tully
You talked about Herod and the homicide of the innocents, as its typically referred to, as this actually horrific story of him ordering the execution of all male kids below the age of two. Do we’ve got another extrabiblical historic proof of that bloodbath? It looks as if one thing that will be reported elsewhere, merely due to the dimensions of how horrific it will need to have been. What can we find out about that?

Andreas Kostenberger
Nicely, I dont suppose we’ve got any extrabiblical details about this. And I believe there are a pair issues that will be necessary right here. One necessary issue is that Herod had an extended historical past of violence and brutality. So for him this might have been very a lot in character. He was ruthless in killing off any potential rivals to his throne. As a matter of reality, there was a saying in his day that it was higher to be a pig than to be his son. And theres a wordplay there within the authentic language as a result of the phrases for pig and son sound related, however the distinction being that as his pig you might need an opportunity of being allowed to reside at the least for a short time. However he was so brutal that he would even kill his personal sons. And he did kill a number of of his sons when he turned suspicious that they might have designs on his throne. So clearly this might have been simply the sort of factor that you’d have anticipated him to do to eradicate any potential risk to his throne as a result of he didnt perceive the non secular nature of Jesuss kingdom the best way Jesus later advised Pilate, My kingdom will not be of this world. He considered the King of the Jews as an earthly king that will search to exchange him. Herod was an Edomite, which was a combined race, and so he already had a little bit of a chip on his shoulder as a result of he was a little bit of a hybrid, if you’ll, that neither the Romans nor the Jews totally revered and acknowledged.

The opposite factor that I would add is that Bethlehem was a small village in that day, so there would have been a restricted variety of male kids two years or below that will have been slaughtered. After all, to not take something away from the atrocity of the killing, however students have speculated there might need been a dozen or maybe two dozen infants that will have been slaughtered. So even there the dimensions of the killing would have been such that on condition that it was Herod who perpetrated itwho is understood for his for his atrocitiesit won’t have made the headlines of the nationwide information in that day.

13:03 – Jesuss Time in Egypt

Matt Tully
What do we all know concerning the time that Jesus and his household spent in Egypt? Not simply from an occasions timeline perspective, however there appears to be lots of theological and non secular significance to Jesus being in Egypt for a time. Are you able to elaborate on that?

Andreas Kostenberger
Yeah, its fascinating. Its important as a result of, in fact, Israel was in bondage in Egypt in Previous Testomony instances. And the well-known exodusGod main his individuals by Moses, Moses going to Pharaoh saying, Let my individuals go!after which finally the Passover was celebrated the evening earlier than the exodus. So its arduous to overstate the significance of the exodus as a part of Israels personal nationwide historical past. Hosea, writing about this, made the assertion, Out of Egypt I referred to as my son. After all son in Hoseas day was initially the nation of Israel that was collectively known as Gods son. However Matthew sees in that very same assertion additionally a prophecy that along with referring again to Israel additionally refers ahead to the approaching Messiah who was Gods Son par excellence, the Son of God. Matthew then sees in the truth that Jesuss dad and mom took him briefly all the way down to Egypt to flee from Herod a achievement of Mosess prophecy.

14:45 – Misconceptions about Prophecies

Matt Tully
Its so fascinating to see all of these connections and I believe thats one of many angles of prophecy that’s typically misunderstood and is usually a little bit complicated. What would you say in your expertise are among the misconceptions that Christians typically have concerning the nature of prophecies associated to Jesus that we’d discover within the Previous Testomony?

Andreas Kostenberger
One false impression can be that theres just one approach that prophecy may very well be fulfilled by means of direct prediction after which achievement. And that is likely one of the main methods prophecy is fulfilled. For instance, when Micah predicts that the Messiah can be born in Bethlehem, the Metropolis of David, Jesus was demonstrably born in Bethlehem. So there you might say, Micah predicted it and it was fulfilled in that Jesus actually was born in Bethlehem. In different phrases, if Jesus had been born wherever else then that prophecy would have been falsified and never been fulfilled. So thats crucial. However along with that, there are various different methods Previous Testomony prophecy labored. One other one can be that of typology. And I simply alluded to that in Hosea. So there would make sure patterns, or broader concepts, that prophets talked about reminiscent of that God redeemed his individuals from bondage. Then in a possibly escalated or perhaps a extra non secular sense God, in Jesus, got here to redeem his peopleall of usfrom our bondage to not Egypt however to sin when he died for us on the cross. And so in my instructing I really like to clarify the thought of typology and the way it works. There’s a kind within the Previous Testamentan authentic sample or matrix of eventsthat is standing fulfilled in an escalated and even deeper sense in and thru Jesus.

17:00 – The Star

Matt Tully
So what was happening with the star? I believe thats a element on this story that has typically puzzled or fascinated Christians as we take into consideration whether or not there have been miraculous issues happening there? Or is that some sort of pure astronomical phenomenon?

Andreas Kostenberger
We now have lower than absolute certainty. Theres a sure thriller right here. After all, the Messiah known as a star within the Previous Testomony. And so actually theres a metaphorical dimension. However along with that there clearly appears to have been some astronomical phenomenon happening in Jesuss day that resonates with the truth that sensible menor within the authentic language Magos, from which we get the time period “magician” (however I believe it was not a lot a matter of magic within the historical world as extra the thought of people that explored the deeper mysteries of the universe, together with the constellation of the celebs)went to see Jesus. That is a part of their identification and so God apparently used some astronomical phenomenon to information them to the Holy Land.

18:22 – The Virgin Delivery

Matt Tully
One other query that I believe Christians may typically have pertains to the truth that Jesus was born of a virgin. And I believe all of us have a way of the significance of the doctrine. Its a fairly central doctrine of the Christian religion, one which has been central because the very starting. And but generally theres a bit little bit of confusion or an absence of certainty on why its so necessary that Jesus was born of a virgin. Not even merely that he was conceived by the Holy Spirit, however it’s important that he was born of a virgin initially. What would you say to that?

Andreas Kostenberger
Sure, I believe that is completely important for the Christian religion to grasp that to ensure that Jesus to die for our sins on the cross he needed to be not solely totally God and totally man, however that he needed to be born sinless with out going, on his fathers aspect, by the broken line. As a result of ever because the fallas David says, In sin my mom conceived meand so the concept that Jesuss human nature was not tainted by sin is important.

Paul talks about this within the ebook of Romans as properly, specifically the significance that Jesus got here within the likeness of sinful flesh, however he himself was not a sinner in his human nature. And this enabled him to die not for his personal sinas he would have needed to if he was a sinner himselfbut he was in a position to give his sinless life for our sins. Its a terrific alternative at Christmas to articulate the character of our salvation and the way it’s that the incarnation is totally important for our salvation.

20:25 – Hypostatic Union

Matt Tully
A time period thats typically used associated to the incarnation and Jesuss delivery that may sound a bit intimidatingmaybe some Christians won’t be tremendous acquainted withis the hypostatic union. Are you able to break that down for listeners? How would you clarify what it means and why its an necessary doctrine to carry?

Andreas Kostenberger
There are some crucial theological doctrines that had been formulated within the centuries following the delivery of Christ. After all, thats not a time period you’d discover in Matthews or Lukes delivery narratives themselves, however it’s a very affordable approach of placing all the info collectively about who Jesus was. The thought is that, as John tells us in his Gospel, Jesus was the the pre-existent Phrase who eternally existed with God from all eternity, even previous to creation. And it’s that Phrase that turned flesh in Jesus. We see right here the concept that Jesus was one particular person with two naturesa divine and human natureand so he’s each totally God and totally man. Consider the Gospel of John, for instance: on the one hand there are very sturdy repeated claims being made that Jesus was God, reminiscent of To start with was the Phrase, and the Phrase was with God, and the Phrase was God. After which repeatedly the Jewish authorities decide up stones to stone Jesus. They perceive that he claimed to be God. And but on the identical time you see Jesuss humanity on full show within the Gospel of John. Jesus is drained. He sits down on the properly. Hes thirsty. And so we see that Jesus mixed each deity and humanity in himself. He’s the one distinctive particular person for whom that might ever be mentioned. Even God the Father didn’t come to earth and tackle flesh, nor did the Holy Spirit. Even throughout the Trinity, Jesuss nature and mission is exclusive in that regard.

22:57 – Jesuss Human Nature

Matt Tully
Generally once we take into consideration Jesuss human nature, we will consider it as if he was play appearing. He was doing these issues maybe for our profit, however not likely as a result of he wanted to, as a result of God doesnt must sleep and God doesnt must eat and drink water. And even on the subject of his dying it may be arduous for us to think about how that occurred and never have been simply kind of an act that Jesus was doing. So clarify why it’s important that it wasnt simply an act.

Andreas Kostenberger
Right here had been stepping into pretty deep waters theologically. It is likely to be arduous for our finite minds to grasp how Jesus might genuinely thirst or starvation and but be God who in fact is spirit and by no means tires and so forth. However Scripture signifies that it was attainable for Jesus to be genuinely tempted, for instance, and but not succumb to temptation; or Hebrews 2 talks about this. Or you may have different different locations in Scripture that affirm that Jesus was tempted and but by no means sinned, or that Jesus humbled himself or emptied himself, as Paul writes in Philippians 2. I take that to imply that he selected to not train his divine rights and prerogatives whereas on earth. So Jesus had a divine supernatural perception and data however he might select to not train that data. For instance, he mentioned that nobody is aware of the time when he comes. Solely the Father is aware of; not even the Son. Nicely, on a divine stage in fact he knew, however he might select to not train these divine rights and prerogatives. I believe thats what Paul means in Philippians 2 when he talks about Jesus emptying himself.

25:23 – Favourite Christmas Carol

Matt Tully
Whats one among your favourite Christmas carols? And whats one among your least favourite Christmas carols?

Andreas Kostenberger
For me, its a straightforward selection so far as the least favourite carol is anxious. That must be The Little Drummer Boy. I simply cant for the lifetime of me see how that might probably have any relationship to the delivery story. After all, I grew up in Austria, so to me I used to be launched to a few of these Christmas carols once I first got here to this nation in my twenties. I keep in mind listening to that one and I used to be at all times simply cringing once I heard the lyrics to that one.

Selecting my favourite is a little bit of a more durable selection as a result of I really like so a lot of them. I believe individuals in the US generally dont even notice how blessed they’re that there are such a lot of carols which might be so deeply saturated with sound theology. So, whether or not its Hark! the Herald Angels Sing, or Pleasure to the World, or Away in a Manger, theres so many fantastic carols. My favourite, partly due to the gorgeous accompanying music, can be O Holy Night time. It nearly appears to have parts of opera, or someway its greater than a carol. Its a stupendous hymn, if you’ll. In order that must be my favourite.

27:11 – Closing

Matt Tully
Nicely, Andreas, thanks a lot for spending a while speaking with us immediately and for serving to us higher perceive Jesuss delivery and what truly occurred all these years in the past. Thanks for taking the time.

Andreas Kostenberger
Youre very welcome.


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