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The Christmas Story (Part II) | Lk 2:1-20 Bible Study

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Please view/download slides from a Bible study on Luke 2:1-20, which describes the birth of the true Son of God who brings true hope, peace, and Good News to all people: not Caesar Augustus, but Jesus

First shared on Wednesday December 19, 2018 by Danny Scotton Jr. at Alpha Baptist Church in Willingboro, NJ

First shared on Wednesday December 12, 2018 by Danny Scotton Jr. at Alpha Baptist Church in Willingboro, NJ

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The Christmas Story (Part II) | Lk 2:1-20 Bible Study

  1. 1. THE CHRISTMAS STORY (PART II) LUKE 2:1-20 DANNY SCOTTON JR ALPHA BAPTIST CHURCH, WILLINGBORO, NJ 12.12.18 TO VIEW THESE SLIDES ONLINE, PLEASE VISIT HTTP://BIT.LY/C4C-XMAS-PT-2
  2. 2. REVIEW • In spite of the difficult situation, Joseph trusted and obeyed God – risking his own reputation. God’s honor is more important than our own honor (Keener) • In spite of contemporary messianic expectations, Jesus (a son of David) did not come for political restoration (e.g., the throne of David), but to save his people from their sins (Mt 1:21) • As a “son of Abraham,” Jesus’ messianic mission of redemption is for all nations (Gen 12:2-3 cf. Mt 1:1, 28:19) • In the grand scheme of this magnificent universe, a virgin conception is small potatoes • Matthew describes the Genesis of Jesus, who is Immanuel, “God with us”
  3. 3. CHRISTMAS ACCORDING TO KIDS • Clausmas vs. Christmas • Christmas according to culture vs. Christmas according to Scripture • Blending the two can lead to confusion(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkfcpAQ2Ia Q)
  4. 4. LUKE 2:1-7 (NIV) • In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register. • 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
  5. 5. CAESAR AUGUSTUS • Christianity is based on actual historical events; historical context is important (Morris, Edwards). Jesus’ birth is “the turning-point of history” (Wilcock) • In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world (Lk 2:1, NIV) • Born Octavian in September 63 BC (Bock), grandnephew of Julius Caesar (Edwards) • After Julius Caesar’s assassinated, he teamed with Mark Antony in 44 BC to defeat Brutus and Cassius (42 BC in Philippi) (Edwards) and also ruled with Lepidus until 36 BC (Bock) • Defeated Mark Antony and Cleopatra in 31 BC, and became the sole ruler of Rome in 27 BC (Edwards) • Caesar Augustus put an end to the Roman civil wars and brought peace to the empire (Evans) – called Pax Romana – throughout his reign (he died in AD 14) (Edwards)
  6. 6. THE DEITY OF CAESAR? • Augustus did not liked to be called a “god” but he thought his adopted father (Julius Caesar) was divine. Thus he was called “Son of God.” (Green) • The Roman Senate christened him “Augustus,” which means “majestic, holy.” (Edwards) • An inscription found in Priene circa 9 BC hailed him as a god whose “birthday signaled the beginning of good news [euangelion] for the world.” (Edwards) • Inscription from Halicarnassus: “[Augustus] is the father of his divine homeland Rome, inherited from his father Zeus, and a savior of the common folk…making peace for land and sea… there are fond hopes for the future and good will during the present which fills all men.” (Edwards) • Myrian inscription: “Divine Augustus Caesar, son of a god, imperator of land and sea, the benefactor and savior of the whole world.…” (Green) • Augustus was seen as God, Son of God, and savior who would bring peace, hope, and good news (Edwards)
  7. 7. THE CENSUS OF CAESAR • The “whole world” is probably hyperbolic (Stein), just describing something that covered the majority of the Roman Empire (Bock) • Demonstrates Caesar’s power over the entire (Roman) world (Green), reminding Jews that they were captives in their own land (Garland) • Jews were exempted from military service (Green); census was probably for taxation (Stein). • Luke starts with taxation and ends with crucifixion – the most hated features of Roman rule (Garland)
  8. 8. THE CENSUS OF THE LORD • In the OT, only God was to count God’s people (Numbers 1, 26 cf. 2 Samuel 24, 1 Chronicles 21) (Edwards) • The LORD spoke to Moses in the tent of meeting in the Desert of Sinai on the first day of the second month of the second year after the Israelites came out of Egypt. He said: 2 “Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families…(Num 1:1-2a, NIV) • 10 David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, LORD, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.” (2 Sam 24:10, NIV) • 17 When David saw the angel who was striking down the people, he said to the LORD, “I have sinned; I, the shepherd, have done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall on me and my family.” (2 Sam 24:17, NIV)
  9. 9. THE (MASTER) PLAN OF THE LORD • Though Caesar – the so-called “savior of the world” – seems to be in control, the LORD is controlling events to bring about the true Savior of the World (Morris, Green) • The LORD previously used the decree of the Persian King Cyrus – who had defeated the Babylonians (c. 539 BC) (Cross) – to allow the Israelites to return from exile and rebuild the temple (Ezra 1-6) (cf. Evans) • 28 who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd / and will accomplish all that I please; / he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,” / and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.” ’ [45:1] “This is what the LORD says to his anointed [‫ַח‬‫י‬ ִׁ‫ש‬ ָ‫מ‬ (māšîaḥ) (messiah)], to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of / to subdue nations before him…” (Is 44:28- 45:1a, NIV) • God can use imperfect, worldly leaders to accomplish His perfect, heavenly purpose
  10. 10. QUESTIONS ABOUT QUIRINIUS • This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) (Lk 2:2, NIV) • A Quirinius was a governor of Syria who carried out a census in AD 6 that resulted in a violent uprising (Ac 5:37 cf. Morris, according to Josephus) • This census took place after Herod’s son, Archelaus, was deposed in AD 6 and the Romans ruled the province directly with their own governors instead of Jewish “kings” (Garland) • Jewish ruler, Herod the Great, died in April 11, 4 BC (Bock); Herod was alive when Jesus was born (Mt 2:1-18) (Stein, Edwards) • Though many disagree on grammatical grounds (Stein, Edwards, etc.), some translate v. 2: “This registration was before Quirinius governed Syria” (Garland) • Could mean that this was the first of at least two censuses by Quirinius (Bock) • According to other inscriptions, a “Quirinius” governed in Syria between 10 and 7 BC (Morris) or as early as 11 BC. Could have been two Quiriniuses or two separate reigns (Strobel)
  11. 11. THE LORD REIGNS • “You say peace… I kinda think you mean the other thing.” – Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) in Avengers • Luke’s narrative shows that, ultimately, it is not Caesar Augustus or Quirinius or any worldly ruler that truly reigns or brings true peace • The LORD God Reigns • 7 How beautiful on the mountains / are the feet of those who bring good news, / who proclaim peace, / who bring good tidings, / who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (Is 52:7, NIV). (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDMzgs9e bUU)
  12. 12. ERRBODY, ALL AT ONCE? • And everyone went to their own town to register (Lk 2:3, NIV) • Romans permitted people to go register for the census at any time during the year (Garland) • Not necessarily a stampede of people (Garland) • There is evidence of other ancient censuses requiring people to go home to enroll (e.g., Egypt, Morris,; Vibius Maximus AD 104 Bock) • “Own town” = ancestral home (Stein), which may have been less offensive (customarily) to Jews (Bock)
  13. 13. HOME TO BETHLEHEM! • 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child (Lk 2:4-5, NIV) • Bethlehem is at least 70 miles south of Nazareth but up from 1600 ft. to 2300 ft. above sea level (Edwards). 90 miles if they bypassed Samaria (Bock) • Mary likely comes so she can be accompanied by her husband for protection, etc. (Edwards), though she probably didn’t have to come (Morris) • They may have been married at this point, but the marriage had not been consummated (Morris); Mary was still a virgin (Lk 1:30-38) (Edwards, Stein, Bock)
  14. 14. BETHLEHEM, CITY OF DAVID? • In the OT, “city of David” usually = Jerusalem (Bock, cf. 2 Sam 5:7, 9; 6:10, 12, 16, Stein) • The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” (1 Sam 16:1, NIV cf. 17:12, 15, 58, Ps 78:70) (Stein) • 12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons, and in Saul’s time he was very old (1 Sam 17:12, NIV) • 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Lk 1:31-33) (Green)
  15. 15. BETHLEHEM, CITY OF THE MESSIAH • The Messiah was prophesied to be a descendant of David (2 Sam 7:11-16, Is 11:1f, etc.) • The Messiah was prophesied to come from Bethlehem • 2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Mic 5:2, NIV) (Green) • Matthew cites this Scripture explicitly (Mt 2:6 cf. Bock) • Theme of reversal (Garland); the humble are
  16. 16. WHO IS THE MOST NOTORIOUS CHRISTMAS VILLAIN? •The innkeeper!
  17. 17. NO PLACE IN THE INN? • While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them (Lk 2:6-7, NIV) • “Inn” is κατάλυμα katalyma = “lodging, guest room” (NIDNTTE) • 10 He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, 11 and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ (Lk 22:10-11 cf. Garland) • Luke uses a different word for the commercial “inn” in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (πανδοχεῖον, Lk 10:34 cf. Garland, Green, “hotel” Edwards)
  18. 18. NO ROOM IN THE INN? • Bethlehem was a very small town; it probably did not have a commercial inn (Green) • Joseph and Mary likely stayed in a house of Joseph’s relatives but placed Jesus in a manger (feeding trough for animals) because there was no room in the guest room (Green) – which were attached to homes (Garland) • In peasant homes in the ancient Near East, people and animals often slept in the same space – with animals on a lower level and people on the higher floor (Green) • Mary and Joseph likely were not alone; Mary likely had a midwife (Keener) • There is nothing in the text about a harsh innkeeper (Bock, Stein, Garland) or about them being too poor (Bock)
  19. 19. HUMBLE BIRTH OF A REGAL FIRSTBORN • While they were there… (Lk 2:6, NIV): this was not there first night in town! (Garland) • 22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”) (Lk 2:22-23, NIV) (Bock) • The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether human or animal.” (Ex 13:1-2, NIV cf. Num 3:12-13, 18:15-16) (Green) • The firstborn was entitled to a double portion of the inheritance (Dt 21:15-17) (Green) • Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son (Ex 4:22, NIV) • Jesus, not Caesar is the true Son of God
  20. 20. SHEPHERDS AND ANGELS • And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Lk 2:8-12, NIV)
  21. 21. SHEPHERDS ARE GOOD, RIGHT? • David was a shepherd (1 Sam 16:11) (Evans) • The LORD is my shepherd… (Ps 23 cf. 28:9, 100:3) (Evans) cf. Ezk 34:11-16 (Edwards) • God promised a new David would shepherd His people: I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd (Ezk 34:23, NIV) (Evans) • Jesus says He is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep (Jn 10:11, Edwards) • 4 He will stand and shepherd his flock / in the strength of the LORD, / in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. / And they will live securely, for then his greatness / will reach to the ends of the earth. (Mic 5:4, NIV)
  22. 22. SHEPHERDS AREN’T SO GOOD, RIGHT? • Shepherds may have been pasturing sheep who were to be sacrificed at the Temple (Morris) • Due to their work, shepherds were often considered ceremonially unclean (Morris); they were towards the low end of the social ladder (Green cf. Lk 1:52); outsiders (Green, Stein) • Often confused “mine” with “thine” (Morris, Evans, Edwards) • Thought of as unreliable (Evans) and were not able to testify in court (according to the Talmud cf. Morris) • 3rd century rabbi commenting on Psalm 23: “There is no more despised occupation in the world than that of shepherds.” (Edwards) • “Good news comes to peasants, not rulers; the lowly are lifted up.” (Green)
  23. 23. THE GLORY OF THE LORD • Whereas they were keeping watch at night (v. 8), the glory of the Lord shines around them (v. 9) – like an epiphany (Green); cf. Is 9:2f. (Edwards) • The bright Shekinah glory, God’s majestic presence (Ex 16:10, Ps 63:2, Is 40:5, etc.)(Bock) • While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the LORD appearing in the cloud (Ex 16:10, NIV) • Glory of the Lord present during awesome events: giving of manna, Sinai covenant (Ex 24:16-17, etc.) (Garland) • The glory of the Lord was associated with the tabernacle and the temple (Ex 40:34- 35, 1 Kgs 8:11, etc.)(Garland) • But instead, the glory of the Lord is presented to lowly shepherds! (Garland)
  24. 24. GOOD NEWS! • 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people (Lk 2:10, NIV) • “bring good news” = εὐαγγελίζω (euangelizō)  evangelize, evangelism; euangelion = “gospel.” (Stein) • 61 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news [euangelizō] to the poor [i.e., humbled] (Is 61:1, NIV) (Morris cf. Is 40:9, Is 52:7 cf. Lk 4:18, 7:22, Edwards) • 7 How beautiful on the mountains / are the feet of those who bring good news, / who proclaim peace, / who bring good tidings, / who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (Is 52:7, NIV)The Good News is not about Caesar, the “savior,” but Jesus the Savior (cf. Lk 1:47, 1:69)
  25. 25. TODAY • Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord (Lk 2:11, NIV) • In Luke, “Today” often means the “arrival of the day of salvation” (Evans) • He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Lk 4:21, NIV cf. Lk 5:26, 13:32-33, 19:9, Stein) • 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Lk 23:43, NIV) (Stein, Edwards, etc.)
  26. 26. MESSIAH-LORD • The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God (Lk 1:35, NIV) • Messiah (Christ) means “anointed”(Edwards) • Greek Text: Not Messiah of the Lord, but the Messiah who is the Lord (Edwards) • Lord (κύριος | kyrios) is the (LXX) Greek equivalent for YHWH (The LORD) (Edwards cf. Ex 3:14 “The One Who Is,” Evans) • “Lord” was also used to refer to Augustus (Green), but Christians claim “Jesus is Lord” (Rom 10:9, Evans)
  27. 27. ARMY FOR TRUE PEACE • 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, • and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Lk 2:13-14, NIV) • host = army; an army that announces peace (Morris); Shalom > Pax Romana (“forced pacification” (Garland) • Parallelism: glory/peace, highest heaven/earth, God/among those He favors (Green) • Peace entails peace between God and people (Morris, cf. 2 Cor 5:17-21) • Favor = God’s saving pleasure (εὐδοκία | eudokia) (e.g., “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased [verbal form of eudokia] to give you the kingdom” (Lk 12:32 cf. Lk 3:22, 10:21).
  28. 28. RUN TEL DAT • 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” • 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (Lk 2:15-20, NIV)
  29. 29. PROPER CHRISTMAS RESPONSE • Not enough to be amazed (Lk 2:18) (Green); Amazement is not faith (Edwards, Garland) • The shepherds – who were outside the family – run, see, rejoice, and spread the Good News! They were among the first evangelists (Green) • Shepherds were thought of as lowly and unreliable witnesses, but they are the first to testify (Green)! (Needed two witnesses cf. Dt 19:15, Lk 24, Evans cf. Edwards) • Mary treasures [συντηρέω | syntēreō] and ponders all that has taken place in her heart (i.e., her mind) (Lk 2:19) • His [Joseph’s] brothers were jealous of him, but his father [Jacob] kept the matter in mind [διατηρέω | diatēreō] (Gen 37:11, NIV) (Morris) • 9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (1 Ki 3:9, NIV)
  30. 30. CONCLUSION • Caesar Augustus was thought to be a divine god, Son of God, and “savior of the world” whose birth meant peace, hope, and good news [euangelion] for all people • Nonetheless, Jesus is the true Son of God, the Messiah, who is the LORD, the Savior of the world who brings true peace (shalom), hope, and good news (gospel) to all people • God can use imperfect worldly leaders for his perfect, heavenly purpose • Theme of reversal: the humble are exalted by God • Caesar is exalted, while Jesus had humble (earthly) beginnings (cf. Php 2:9-11) • God uses outsiders to proclaim the gospel, redefining spiritual family (cf. Lk 8:19- 21) • Christmas not about earthly family or earthly peace; not presents but Presence • “it is the Father’s good pleasure to give the kingdom to those who believe andChristmas > Clausmas
  31. 31. CHRISTMAS ADDITIONS • T’was the Night before Christmas (1822) (Bock • St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 6th) combined with Christmas (Bock) • 1863, Thomas H. Nast drew Santa Claus (large, jolly man with white facial hair) (Bock) • Coca-Cola ads from the 1930s pictured Santa in red and white clothing (Bock) • Christians may have coopted the festival of the day of birth of “Sol Invictus” (the “Unconquerable Sun”) celebrated on the winter solstice in the pagan calendar by emperor Aurelean (AD 274) (Bock) • 2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves (Mal 4:2 cf. “rising sun” Lk 1:78-79, Bock) • Straw and gentle animals added by St. Francis of Assisi (Bock) (1181-1226) (Cross) • Christmas Trees originated in Germany in 16th century (Water)
  32. 32. BIBLIOGRAPHY • Bock, Darrell L. Luke: 1:1–9:50. Vol. 1. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1994 • Cross, F. L. and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. • Edwards, James R. The Gospel according to Luke. Edited by D. A. Carson. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.; Nottingham, England: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Apollos, 2015. • Evans, Craig A. Luke. Understanding the Bible Commentary Series. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1990. • Garland, David E. Luke. Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: . Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012. • Green, Joel B. The Gospel of Luke. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997. • Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993. • Morris, Leon. Luke: An Introduction and Commentary. Vol. 3. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988. • Silva, Moisés, ed. New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014. • Stein, Robert H. Luke. Vol. 24. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992. • Strobel, Lee. The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus. Zondervan. Kindle Edition, 1998. • Water, Mark. The Christian Book of Records. Alresford, Hants, UK: John Hunt Pub., 2002. • Wilcock, Michael. The Savior of the World: The Message of Luke’s Gospel. The Bible Speaks Today. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1979.

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