In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2:1-7
I have written on today’s verses a few times during the Christmas season but today I want to take a different slant. Let’s take a look at what it meant to be a first born son. At the time when Jesus was born being a first born son had a very different meaning that what is attached to that birth order today. We do not put the same importance to the sex of the first born. Today girl or boy the first born in most instances is given more responsibility than succeed births. From a male perspective there is a special status to the first son or perhaps any son. First they carry on the family name but I think of more import is that as men we hope that our son will not make the same mistakes we made. That they will do a better job of being a man than we did. We want this for all our children but as Christian men we know how much God asks of us and how far short of that goal we have fallen.
In antiquity, the first born son had a different status altogether. They were to inherit their father’s estate as well as his titles and position in the community. In many societies they were considered to speak for their father and have the authority of their father. They were to put it bluntly the child that counted. Females could not inherit property and younger males as long as their older brother lived would inherit virtually nothing.
For Jesus though it was the holding of the first born son as the legal equivalent of the father that mattered. God was making a statement when Jesus was the first born of Mary and Joseph. Jesus was the first born in two respects. First and foremost He was the First born Son of God. This was a relational not a positional view of the first born. Jesus, God the Son was in all aspects equal to God, He was God. In Jesus was all the authority of God.
Then there was the earthly human aspect of first born son. Jesus as fully human enjoyed all the privileges and authority of a first born son. Whether we look at Jesus from His humanity or as God He was the first born son. This importance should not get lost because our understanding of the concept of first born son has changed. God with us, fully human and at the same time fully God was first born in all every sense.
On that day over two thousand years ago something unique in human history happened. God chose to live among His creation and in so doing enabled us to have a personal relationship with the God of the universe.
Have a blessed day,