YOU WILL FIND
The United States Constitution mandates a census every 10 years. The first one in 1790 counted heads to apportion congressional representatives by state.
Luke wrote of a government mandated census and used that context to introduce readers to the primary person in the Gospel — Jesus. Pay attention to what a baby’s arrival revealed.
The Birth (1–7)
Luke placed Jesus’ coming into its historical setting. The government decreed all must register in the place of their ancestral roots. Joseph, descended from David’s family tree, and Mary left Nazareth and traveled to Bethlehem. Micah prophesied Bethlehem would be the Messiah’s place of origin (Mic. 5:2). God used a secular function to fulfill His higher purpose.
The couple was legally bound. Mary, however, was pregnant with a child miraculously implanted by the Holy Spirit. Joseph accepted his role as Jesus’ earthly father.
Mary’s due date came when the couple reached Bethlehem. The town was packed with people, and no vacancy existed in a public lodging place.
Mary gave birth to her firstborn, and His first cradle was a well-used feeding trough. Labor and delivery likely occurred in a crude animal stable or lean-to. These humble conditions mirrored Jesus’ outlook on life.
The Announcement (8–12)
An angel from God delivered the first public birth announcement to an unlikely gathering. Shepherds huddled together in the fields at night. Work with unclean animals branded these men as social outcasts.
The messenger from the Lord materialized in their midst. The Lord’s glory, the full weight of His presence, brightened the pitch-dark surroundings.
They reacted with terror, but the angel spoke comforting words. The birth was good news that brought joy to all receptive hearers. Access to Jesus was not limited to a select few, in contrast with the view of many Jews that the Messiah was for them alone.
The angel proclaimed three titles for Jesus:
- Savior — rescuer, healer.
- Messiah — God’s anointed.
- Lord — a personal name Jews used for Jehovah.
The angel gave the shepherds a sign to help them identify the Savior. The messenger instructed them to find a swaddled newborn in a manger. Shepherds knew animal births and mangers. The angel spoke their language.
The Song (13–15)
One angel was joined by many with voices lifted in praise to God.
Peace on earth resulted from God’s miracle. His peace doesn’t mean absence of human conflict. Jesus makes harmony with God available to everyone. The Romans enforced peace with threats. God works differently. He offers a relationship that draws you into the peace of His presence.
God bestows favor because He is good.
The angel army finished their praise and returned to heaven. The shepherds then determined to go straight to Bethlehem. They never accepted a more important mission than to seek out the baby Jesus. Neither do you. Use Christmas Day wisely. Open yourself to Jesus and offer Him praise.
By Darryl Wood
Retired pastor, current hospice chaplain and interim pastor