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“The Nativity Personalities”

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

Opening Songs: Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee, The First Noel


Welcome to worship, everyone! Please be seated.

My name is Matt McCraw. I’m the pastor here at FBC Bartow!

At First Baptist Church, we exist to develop disciples who love God, love the church, and love others.

We’re so glad to gather together for Christmas worship! For now, I want us to continue to glorify God in our service.

We would love to have everyone connect with us through the Connection Card. If you have a prayer request, question, or comment, you can write that on the Connection Card. To our guests, welcome! Please fill out the Connection Card so we have a record of your visit. We also have a gift for our guests which you can pick up from one of our greeters in the back of the sanctuary as you leave. You give him your Connection Card and he’ll give you your gift bag. Everyone else can simply leave your Connection Card in your seat and we’ll get it after the service.

Also, you can connect with us online at bartow.church. If you’d like for us to pray for you in any way you can email us at prayer@fbcbartow.org.

(Missions Moment – Lottie Moon)

Join me now in prayer as we continue to worship!



This morning, we’re going to learn about the Nativity.

Now, first of all, you may wonder what the word nativity even means.

Nativity refers to the occasion of someone’s birth. So, each of you who can understand me has a nativity, because you all were born.

However, when I speak of The Nativity, I am speaking of the birth of Jesus Christ. The nativity of Jesus is what we celebrate this time of year.

This morning, I’m not going to cover all of the details about the nativity, such as the fact that it probably didn’t happen anywhere around December 25, such as the fact that there was probably no barn involved, or anything like that.

Rather, today, we’re going to talk about “The Nativity Personalities.” We’re going to talk about those who were there (or were not there) at the birth of Jesus.

Let’s pray and then we’ll dive in.


So, we’re talking about the nativity personalities. First, let’s talk about . . .

‌I. Jesus

Of course, Jesus was there, right?

Now, I want you to open your Bibles to the beginning of Luke and the beginning of Matthew. We’re going to be switching back and forth, so keep your thumb or a bookmark there to flip between Matthew and Luke.

Let’s first look at Luke 2:1-7:

1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole empire should be registered. 2 This first registration took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So everyone went to be registered, each to his own town.

4 Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, 5 to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 Then she gave birth to her firstborn son, and she wrapped him tightly in cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”

So, we see that Jesus was born, in a manger.

Now, a manger is like what most of us in America would call a trough. It’s a box that animals eat from.

Based on archaeological evidence, it’s very likely that the manger was made of stone. It could have potentially looked like this.

Also, in most nativity scenes, we see the family gathered in a small barn of sorts.

Perhaps they were gathered in a barn, but they also could have been gathered in the bottom floor of a house, or in a cave where animals were often kept for shelter.

Nevertheless, Jesus is born in Bethlehem, in a manger.

Of course, the birth of Jesus was long ago prophesied.

The prophet Isaiah said in Isaiah 9:6-7

“For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the Lord of Armies will accomplish this.”

The prophet Micah said in Micah 5:2

“Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are small among the clans of Judah; one will come from you to be ruler over Israel for me. His origin is from antiquity, from ancient times.”

So, Jesus, the ruler born in Bethlehem, would be the Son who was prophesied to be Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, and Prince of Peace.

That Son was born that day in Bethlehem, as was prophesied, and He is Jesus, the Son of God.

Second, we learn about . . .

‌II. Mary

Do any of you ladies remember how it went down when you found out you were pregnant? With our first child, we didn’t believe it because we were told that we may not be able to have children. With our second, and third, we kind of knew it before we even officially confirmed it.

Listen to how Mary found out how she was pregnant.

Luke 1:26-38 says,

26 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged, to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be. 30 Then the angel told her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end.”

34 Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not had sexual relations with a man?”

35 The angel replied to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 And consider your relative Elizabeth—even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”

38 “See, I am the Lord’s servant,” said Mary. “May it happen to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

There’s a lot that can be learned about Mary, and you can dive in more on your own, but remember this: I love how Mary responded at the end, “I am the Lord’s servant.” What a great response! We should all respond that way.

Of course, Mary was not alone, right? She had a man in her life and his name was . . .

‌III. Joseph

Listen to what Matthew says about the nativity story. We hear more about Joseph there.

Listen to

Matthew 1:18-25:


 The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant from the Holy Spirit. 19 So her husband, Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly.

20 But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

23 See, the virgin will become pregnant

and give birth to a son,

and they will name him Immanuel,

which is translated “God is with us.”

24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her 25 but did not have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to a son. And he named him Jesus.

When Joseph found out that his fiancé was pregnant, he decided that maybe she wasn’t the woman for him. However, an angel of the Lord spoke to Joseph in a dream and told Joseph that Mary’s baby is from the Holy Spirit.

Further, Joseph was to name the baby Jesus, which means “The Lord is salvation.”

Indeed, Jesus would show that the Lord is salvation, and Jesus would earn that salvation by His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension into heaven.

Joseph is one of my favorite biblical characters because we see his faithfulness to Mary and his faithfulness to the Lord.

Be like Joseph, be faithful.

Next, we learn about the . . .

‌IV. Angels

Flip back to Luke.

Look at Luke 2:8-20:

8 In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: 11 Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped tightly in cloth and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

14 Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and peace on earth to people he favors!

15 When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”

16 They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the manger. 17 After seeing them, they reported the message they were told about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had seen and heard, which were just as they had been told.

So, we learn about the shepherds here, but we’re talking about the angels first.

We’ve already heard about two angels: Gabriel who spoke to Mary, and the other angel who spoke to Joseph in a dream.

Now, we hear about an angel who appeared to announce the birth of the Messiah. This angel is not by itself; it is accompanied by a multitude of the heavenly host, which means many more angels.

Notice, that the Bible never says that angels were there at the birth. They may have been, but we know for sure that they were there before the birth (when they spoke to Mary and Joseph), and they were there after the birth (when they appeared to the shepherds).

Speaking of which, let’s talk about the . . .

‌V. Shepherds

We’ve already read about the shepherds in Luke 2:8-20.

It was certainly not uncommon for shepherds to be tending flocks in ancient Israel. In fact, shepherds are still tending flocks in Israel today.

What was uncommon was that the angel appeared to the shepherds to announce the birth of the Messiah, then the angel was joined by a host of other heavenly beings.

This angel was sort of the first preacher to declare that Jesus the Messiah had come. The angel’s congregation was the shepherds.

As folks should, the shepherds listened to their preacher, and went to see Jesus the Messiah.

As a result of what they saw and heard, the shepherds glorified God.

Next, some of the common characters seen in Christmas nativities are the . . .

‌VI. Animals

Now, the Bible doesn’t actually say that there were animals at the birth of Jesus. However, we do know that there was a manger there, and we do know that shepherds usually have sheep or goats with them.

More than likely, there were animals in the area, or animals had been there just prior to Jesus being born.

If you want to have animals in your nativity scene, that’s quite alright.

Now, one group that was probably not there were the . . .

‌VII. Wise men

Some estimates are that the wise men were there anywhere from twelve days after Jesus’ birth, up to two years after He was born.

In Matthew 2:1-12, we read about the wise men:

1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived in Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star at its rising and have come to worship him.”

3 When King Herod heard this, he was deeply disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 So he assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people and asked them where the Messiah would be born.

5 “In Bethlehem of Judea,” they told him, “because this is what was written by the prophet:

6 And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

are by no means least among the rulers of Judah:

Because out of you will come a ruler

who will shepherd my people Israel.”,

7 Then Herod secretly summoned the wise men and asked them the exact time the star appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you find him, report back to me so that I too can go and worship him.”

9 After hearing the king, they went on their way. And there it was—the star they had seen at its rising. It led them until it came and stopped above the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and falling to their knees, they worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their own country by another route.

So, the wise men did visit Jesus, perhaps as an infant, perhaps as a toddler, but they were not there at his birth. The Bible says very clearly that they arrived, “after his birth.”

So, if you want to display a nativity scene on your mantle, perhaps put the wise men all the way to the far side of the mantle.

There are some of the nativity personalities. A bunch of different characters who came together for one purpose, to be a part of the coming of God’s Son into the world.

Listen, church: when Jesus came, everything changed.

Jesus would come, live a holy life, and give His whole life, so that our lives could be made whole.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

The righteousness of God came, so that we might become the righteousness of God.

What a miracle. What a blessing.

We all have a birth story. We all have a nativity. But, the nativity of Jesus changed everything forever.

(Gospel presentation)

(closing prayer)

Response Song – Joy to the World (Unspeakable Joy)

(Announcements – Richard)

(Giving emphasis)


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