12222013 The Birth of Jesus


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12222013 The Birth of Jesus

  1. 1. LUKE 2:1-17 JESUS’ BIRTH
  2. 2. CONTEXT Luke the historian had many sources at his disposal when, under inspiration, he wrote the story of Jesus' birth. In his day, many things were known about Jesus that have since been forgotten. The purpose of Luke's account of the birth of Jesus is to show the surprising ordinariness, even poverty, of the birth of the world's greatest king.
  3. 3. CONTEXT As Luke tells it, Jesus’ birth marks a sharp contrast between two kinds of power. One is the military and economic might of the Roman Empire; the other is the power of Jesus, the king whom God sent. He was God incarnate but He deliberately assumed a position of humility, lowliness, even poverty. Beginning in that unlikely position, He conquers the world.
  4. 4. CONTEXT These ideas intersect with Luke’s story of Jesus’ birth. The power of Rome is portrayed through its power to tax. We glimpse the oppression of Israel in the poverty of Jesus’ family. The promise of God is clear as we hear again of David, who’s promised Son is to rule over all.
  5. 5. CONTEXT Think of how many people Joseph and Mary passed on their journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem! They no doubt passed right through Jerusalem. Surely, a lot of people saw them, but it seems unlikely that many took note of them.
  6. 6. CONTEXT The Bible's first reference to Bethlehem occurs in Genesis 35:19. "And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrata, which is Bethlehem." Rachel died about 1900 B.C., so Bethlehem is an ancient town.
  7. 7. CONTEXT The story of Boaz and Ruth also occurred in Bethlehem (Ruth 1:1, 22). This became a crucial event in the town's history, since they were direct ancestors of David (4:2122). David's father, Jesse, was called the Bethlehemite. (I Sam. 16:1).
  8. 8. CONTEXT David watched the sheep near Bethlehem (I Sam. 16:11), and that was where Samuel anointed him king of Israel (vs. 13). Jews called Bethlehem "the city of David," as recognized in Luke 2:4. The Prophet Micah identified Bethlehem as the place of Messiah's birth (Mic. 5:2), which the Jewish chief priests and scribes knew at the time of Jesus' birth (Matt. 2:3-6).
  9. 9. CONTEXT The circumstances of life seemed to over-take this burdened couple. They had the apparent misfortune of receiving their firstborn child under very austere conditions. However, their misfortune represented blessing for the whole world. That is the irony.
  10. 10. CONTEXT The birth of Jesus is foundational to our faith. Without the birth of Jesus, there is no life. Without the life of Jesus, there is no death. Without the death of Jesus, there is no resurrection. Without the resurrection of Jesus, we have no faith, no forgiveness of sins, no eternal life, and no hope.
  11. 11. CONTEXT There is no culture, no people group, and no nation where He is not the most needed, most important gift that can be given. More than food for the hungry or deliverance from oppression, the good news of salvation is the best Christmas gift that can be given to the world.
  12. 12. CONTEXT It is the only gift that lasts for all eternity, the one gift that gives people not only peace for today but also hope for tomorrow, lasting freedom, and eternal joy. It is a story worth telling!
  13. 13. Luke 2:1-2 (CEV) Luke 2:1-2 (CEV) 1 About that time Emperor Augustus gave orders for the names of all the people to be listed in record books. 2 These first records were made when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
  14. 14. Luke 2:1-2 (CEV) Luke examined many documents when he wrote his gospel. Still, he may have learned the approximate time of Jesus’ birth from Mary herself. Luke does not give us an exact date for Jesus’ birth. He said Jesus began His ministry when He was about 30 years old (Luke 3:23).
  15. 15. Luke 2:1-2 (CEV) Rome controls much territory, there are areas to the north, east, and south that the Romans know of but cannot conquer. Even so, the Romans commonly boast of their accomplishments, so they make exaggerated claims such as control of the whole world. Luke uses this claim to set the stage for a confrontation. Who will rule the entire world, Rome or God?
  16. 16. Luke 2:1-2 (CEV) Rome controls much territory, there are areas to the north, east, and south that the Romans know of but cannot conquer. Even so, the Romans commonly boast of their accomplishments, so they make exaggerated claims such as control of the whole world. Luke uses this claim to set the stage for a confrontation. Who will rule the entire world, Rome or God?
  17. 17. Luke 2:1-2 (CEV) The Bible teaches that the heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord: “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will” (Proverbs 21:1). The Lord could have moved the Emperor Augustus to issue his decree so Jesus would be born in Bethlehem in fulfillment of prophecy and His birth firmly dated and established in world history (see Micah 5:2).
  18. 18. Luke 2:1-2 (CEV) Because a census could take several years in Roman times, God might have also sent an angel to confirm to Joseph and Mary that it was time to go to Bethlehem, because God works in many ways and the Bible does not tell us everything we might like to know.
  19. 19. Luke 2:1-2 (CEV) By decree of the emperor, King Herod ruled over Judea, but the emperor also sent Roman governors to make certain that his commands were obeyed by all and that Roman rule was not threatened externally or internally. The emperor would use whatever force was necessary to put down a rebellion, and he expected those who lived in occupied Roman territory to pay taxes to Rome.
  20. 20. Luke 2:1-2 (CEV) We have clear evidence that a census for taxation was taken when Cyrenius (Quirinius) was governor; this led to riots (Acts 5:37) and a reorganization of Roman government in the region.
  21. 21. Luke 2:1-2 (CEV) The territory of Syria included Nazareth in Galilee of Judea. The capital of Syria was Antioch. “It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called ‘Christians’” (Acts 11:26).
  22. 22. Luke 2:3-4 Luke 2:3-4 (CEV) 3 Everyone had to go to their own hometown to be listed. 4 So Joseph had to leave Nazareth in Galilee and go to Bethlehem in Judea. Long ago Bethlehem had been King David's hometown, and Joseph went there because he was from David's family.
  23. 23. Luke 2:3-4 Roman taxes that involve a census or enrollment constitute a kind of property tax. Every person with a claim to land must enroll in the tax ledger and pay the required amount. For most people, that means enrolling very close to home. But if a person owns property in another place, the tax census means a journey to that place for enrollment lest the property be forfeited.
  24. 24. Luke 2:3-4 Joseph may or may not have been born in Bethlehem, but he was a distant descendant of King David. Therefore, in order to count everyone, the emperor ordered that everyone go to their ancestral towns to be counted. The religious authorities in Judea and Jerusalem would need to cooperate to make certain this part of the emperor’s decree was truly obeyed.
  25. 25. Luke 2:3-4 Since Joseph’s ancestors were from Bethlehem and he is going back there for the taxation enrollment, then Joseph likely has inherited a small piece of land in that area.
  26. 26. Luke 2:3-4 This registration also included tax implications for the conquered people of Israel. Historical circumstances and records indicate that a census could take several years to complete, and administratively could be overseen by a Roman governor to secure and ensure completeness.
  27. 27. Luke 2:3-4 Luke emphasized that Joseph was a descendant from the house of David, and the Messiah was to be a member of the house of David. Jesus was legally of the house of David, because Joseph adopted Jesus as his son. Jesus also said that He was Lord of David and the root and descendant of David in actual fact (Matthew 22:42-46; Revelation 22:16).
  28. 28. Luke 2:3-4 The prophet Micah declared that Jesus the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, but His origin was “from of old, from ancient days” (Micah 5:2). As the Son of God, Jesus was from of old, from ancient days before He was born in Bethlehem. Bethlehem was about 4 1/2 miles from Jerusalem and about 90 miles from Nazareth.
  29. 29. Luke 2:5-7 Luke 2:5-7 (CEV) 5 Mary was engaged to Joseph and traveled with him to Bethlehem. She was soon going to have a baby, 6 and while they were there, 7 she gave birth to her first-born son. She dressed him in baby clothes and laid him on a bed of hay, because there was no room for them in the inn.
  30. 30. Luke 2:5-7 Mary had returned to her home after her visit with Zechariah and Elizabeth. Because she was only engaged to Joseph, she remained in her home until Joseph came to take her to Bethlehem as his wife, where they knew the Messiah was to be born. We know that Mary was so close to the delivery of her child that the trip would have been difficult.
  31. 31. Luke 2:5-7 Few, if any, in the family circles of Joseph and Mary are likely to believe a story of a miraculous, virginal conception. Thus Mary and Joseph’s situation is difficult not only because of the taxation burden of Roman rule, but also because of social ostracism they face. Their situation is lowly indeed!
  32. 32. Luke 2:5-7 The Bible does not tell us how long they were in Bethlehem before Jesus was born, or how long it would take for those going to Bethlehem to actually be counted by those doing the registration. We tend to think that she arrived in Bethlehem at night shortly before the birth of Jesus, but that is from our traditions and nativity plays, not from the Bible.
  33. 33. Luke 2:5-7 Luke does not tell us how much time elapses between Joseph and Mary’s arrival in Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus. But we do see that the one who will prove to be David’s great son is born in David’s own town (1 Samuel 16).
  34. 34. Luke 2:5-7 Jesus was Mary’s first born son and God’s only begotten Son (John 3:16). The New Testament indicates that she and Joseph had other sons. Consider what Matthew wrote, “Someone told him *Jesus+, ‘Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you’” (Matthew 12:47).
  35. 35. Luke 2:5-7 Joseph adopted Jesus, and God the Father has adopted as sons and daughters those who accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Jesus had humble origins and was laid in a manger because of a crowded inn, not because the innkeeper was mean and selfish. Traditions, not the Bible, say the stable was in a cave and there were animals in the stable with Jesus and His parents.
  36. 36. Luke 2:5-7 Mention of an inn brings to modern minds the image of a place where overnight accommodations can be rented. But the word translated inn can refer more broadly to “a place of human habitation.” Most Jewish travelers in Judea do not rent sleeping quarters such as we might in a modern motel. Rather, the custom is to extend to travelers the hospitality of one’s home (compare Judges 19:12–21).
  37. 37. Luke 2:5-7 Perhaps at that time a lower room used as a stable would have been more private and clean (or could have been made more clean) than a crowded inn for the birth of a baby.
  38. 38. Luke 2:8-9 Luke 2:8-9 (CEV) 8 That night in the fields near Bethlehem some shepherds were guarding their sheep. 9 All at once an angel came down to them from the Lord, and the brightness of the Lord's glory flashed around them. The shepherds were frightened.
  39. 39. Luke 2:8-9 The hill country around Bethlehem is suitable pastureland for sheep and goats (compare 1 Samuel 16:4, 11). The nighttime scene suggests tranquility, but that is about to change.
  40. 40. Luke 2:8-9 King David was a humble shepherd before he became king over Israel. God cares for the humble and the poor, and the Bible says that God’s children must care for widows and orphans: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world (James 1:27).
  41. 41. Luke 2:8-9 No one is so needy or underprivileged that God does not care for them, and God expects His followers to care for them too. The shepherds may have been the neediest and most despised people at that time, and Jesus came to bless all people, the rich and the poor.
  42. 42. Luke 2:8-9 One angel appeared and terrified them. The heavenly host (a multitude of angels) only appeared after the shepherds no longer feared the consequences of an angelic visitation. The angel did not tell his name, but Gabriel, as an angel of the Lord, appeared to Zechariah and Mary; therefore, the angel might have been the angel Gabriel.
  43. 43. Luke 2:8-9 He appeared with heavenly glory, so no wonder the shepherds were afraid. They may have felt guilty before the angel and have thought “What have we done!” fearing condemnation.
  44. 44. Luke 2:10-12 The Luke 2:10-12 (CEV) 10 But the angel said, "Don't be afraid! I have good news for you, which will make everyone happy. 11 This very day in King David's hometown a Savior was born for you. He is Christ the Lord. 12 You will know who he is, because you will find him dressed in baby clothes and lying on a bed of hay."
  45. 45. Luke 2:10-12 The accompanying glory of the Lord is a miraculous display of light (compare 9:29). The dark background of the night sky serves to highlight the scene. Those who encounter angels in the Bible commonly are afraid (Luke 1:12, 29; etc.), and we can understand why the shepherds are terrified!
  46. 46. Luke 2:10-12 The angel told them not to be afraid because he was not bringing the judgment of God upon them. Instead, he was bringing them good news – not just good news but joy filled good news for all people and that included the shepherds.
  47. 47. Luke 2:10-12 They were not the last to hear the good news because of their poor or low station in life. Rather, they were the first to hear God’s good news and God’s good news would travel from the lowly to the proud and those in high society.
  48. 48. Luke 2:10-12 The good news was specifically for the shepherds, who heard it first outside of Mary’s family. The good news included the shepherds and was for all people. The shepherds’ home was the city of David and the angel emphasized that Jesus was born to be their Savior, the Messiah, and their Lord.
  49. 49. Luke 2:10-12 The title “the Lord” emphasized the divine nature of Jesus beyond His being the expected Messiah. He was beyond all human expectations or thoughts. The shepherds had to ponder the meaning of these three titles: Savior, Messiah, and Lord. They may have thought more in military terms than in moral and spiritual terms.
  50. 50. Luke 2:10-12 There are now two kings in the story: Caesar Augustus and David’s great Son. There are also two kingdoms: Rome’s empire and God’s promised reign.
  51. 51. Luke 2:10-12 Israel may be a lowly nation and shepherds may be lowly people, but the angel still says that the child is born unto you. He is born for the benefit of all the lowly who seek refuge in God, as He will assume His position as king by first taking the position of lowliness (Luke 22:25–27).
  52. 52. Luke 2:10-12 The angel told the shepherds how they would find the newborn Messiah and how they could distinguish Him from all of the other newborns in the city of David. Jesus would be in a manger in a stable (where mangers were usually kept).
  53. 53. Luke 2:10-12 The manger was a place that shepherds could easily visit and enter; whereas a palace would have been beyond their social status, their reach, and intimidating to shepherds. Jesus was so new born he was wrapped in swaddling clothes.
  54. 54. Luke 2:10-12 What an interesting sign for the shepherds! Certainly, it is an identifier: the child they are to seek will be found in an unusual place. But it is also a description: the divine king is born in a place of poverty, even rejection.
  55. 55. Luke 2:13-14 Luke 2:13-14 (CEV) 13 Suddenly many other angels came down from heaven and joined in praising God. They said: 14 "Praise God in heaven! Peace on earth to everyone who pleases God."
  56. 56. Luke 2:13-14 After the angel of the Lord had prepared them by telling them good news, a multitude of angels appeared praising God. The word host refers to a great army (compare 1 Kings 22:19). In contrast with Rome’s military might, this is the army of Heaven.
  57. 57. Luke 2:13-14 The heavenly host might be thought of best as an angelic choir or an angelic army that belongs to the Lord. Though probably not in battle array, the host of angels would affirm to the shepherds that they had not experienced a deception but had learned the truth about God and His Messiah from many witnesses.
  58. 58. Luke 2:13-14 God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, deserve all praise, honor, glory, and our total devotion to their service. The good news included a message of peace. God will favor with peace those who believe the good news that the angels proclaimed to the shepherds.
  59. 59. Luke 2:13-14 Rome’s empire has brought a certain peace to the world. Pax Romana, Latin for “Roman peace,” is a common slogan of the day. Rome imposes peace through force, but only God can bring real peace. His peace is not just the cessation of hostility. It means positive goodwill, harmony, and love among people.
  60. 60. Luke 2:13-14 The Book of Revelation teaches that Jesus the Messiah will someday bring peace through military means and conquer all the enemies of God and His people. God favored the shepherds with His peace when He sent the angels to them to tell them the good news about Jesus’ birth.
  61. 61. Luke 2:13-14 God wanted them to tell others that He was sending Jesus into the world as the Way of peace and not as a military conqueror of the Roman Empire. When He returns, He will bring peace to the entire world but this time thru judgment.
  62. 62. Luke 2:15-18 Luke 2:15-18 (CEV) 15 After the angels had left and gone back to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see what the Lord has told us about." 16 They hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and they saw the baby lying on a bed of hay. 17 When the shepherds saw Jesus, they told his parents what the angel had said about him. 18 Everyone listened and was surprised.
  63. 63. Luke 2:15-18 The angel told the shepherds how to find the Messiah. The angel did not command them to go and find Him; he left them with a choice to make. They believed the report of the angel and the confirmation of the good news by a multitude of angels.
  64. 64. Luke 2:15-18 They knew God favored them by sending a message of peace and goodwill to them; so, they went into the city of David from the fields to find the Messiah as the angel said they would find Him. When they found the Messiah as the angel said they would, their experience confirmed for them the truth of the angel’s message.
  65. 65. Luke 2:15-18 At that time, Bethlehem was not a large city and the shepherds would have known the location of every sheepfold and stable inside or outside the city. The Holy Spirit may have guided them to the exact stable, so they would not need to search for very long to find Jesus.
  66. 66. Luke 2:15-18 They saw Jesus exactly as they had been told about Him by the angels. They had an experience that served as a witness for them and others that the angels’ appearance was real. Joseph and Mary may not have expected that God would have His only Son born in a stable.
  67. 67. Luke 2:15-18 So, the angels’ message to the shepherds which they conveyed to Joseph and Mary that Jesus was their Savior, Messiah, and Lord would meet His parents possible need for reassurance and the knowledge that God was still with them, even in a stable.
  68. 68. Luke 2:15-18 The shepherds could not keep their experience quietly to themselves. They were so overjoyed at the good news about the Messiah and having actually seen Him and His parents as the angels had described that they had to tell everyone they knew. That was so out of character.
  69. 69. Luke 2:19-21 Luke 2:19-21 (CEV) 19 But Mary kept thinking about all this and wondering what it meant. 20 As the shepherds returned to their sheep, they were praising God and saying wonderful things about him. Everything they had seen and heard was just as the angel had said. 21 Eight days later Jesus' parents did for him what the Law of Moses commands. And they named him Jesus, just as the angel had told Mary when he promised she would have a baby.
  70. 70. Luke 2:19-21 Mary treasured all the words she heard about Jesus and all the experiences surrounding His birth; so, she was able to tell Luke or those who wrote the documents that Luke used in writing his gospel about all of these events. These words and her experiences were so treasured that we can trust their accuracy.
  71. 71. Luke 2:19-21 At the same time, Mary had learned truths about Jesus worth thinking about; especially as the mother of the Savior, the Messiah and the Lord.
  72. 72. Luke 2:19-21 Luke concluded his report of the shepherds visit to Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus by saying that they too glorified and praised God just as the angels had done when they appeared to them. They had confirmed the angels’ words by their experience, and they made the response that Jesus deserves when one hears the truth about Him
  73. 73. Luke 2:19-21 Joseph and Mary moved into a house after Jesus’ birth. The shepherds saw Jesus the day He was born, and the wise men saw Him in a house at some later date (Matthew 2:11). Joseph and Mary obeyed the law of God, and Joseph or Mary most probably circumcised Jesus as was the custom of the day in order to obey God’s law. They gave Jesus His name as the angel Gabriel told them to do. The name Jesus means “God is Savior” or “God is Salvation.”
  74. 74. Luke 2:19-21 In Jesus’ day, the circumcision of a baby boy would be at home and usually be performed by the head of the family on the eighth day. The rite of purification was done by a priest forty days after the birth of a male child, according to Leviticus 12: 1-8.
  75. 75. Luke 2:19-21 Jesus would have been taken to the temple 32 days after His circumcision when Mary could legally enter the sanctuary for the priest to make atonement for her.
  76. 76. Luke 2:19-21 Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem to be seen by a priest for the ceremony. In everything, they obeyed the Law of Moses. To present Jesus to the Lord was to present Him to God, His heavenly Father, which the law required of all firstborn males (Exodus 13). Knowing Jesus was the Son of God, Mary had much more to ponder as she took part in the ceremony.
  77. 77. Luke 2:23-24 Luke 2:23-24 (CEV) 23 just as the Law of the Lord says, "Each first-born baby boy belongs to the Lord." 24 The Law of the Lord also says that parents have to offer a sacrifice, giving at least a pair of doves or two young pigeons. So that is what Mary and Joseph did.
  78. 78. Luke 2:23-24 Each firstborn male was set apart for service to the Lord, for service to God as “holy to the Lord.”
  79. 79. Luke 2:23-24 Joseph labored as a skilled carpenter, so he could provide for his family financially probably wherever they lived. The fact that Joseph and Mary offered a sacrifice that the poor were permitted to offer instead of a lamb indicates that Jesus was born into a family of humble means that obeyed God according to His requirements.
  80. 80. Luke 2:23-24 Jesus knows how people in poor families live and how they need to depend on God for their daily bread; because that is the way He lived growing up from being a child to being a man. Though poor, Jesus and His family obeyed the law of God.
  81. 81. Conclusion Roman domination was more than a political and economic burden for the Jewish people. It was also a religious problem: as long as Rome ruled, God did not (or so it seemed). The reality of Roman occupation was a constant reminder that God had consigned Israel to a state of exile—even “exile” within its own borders—for generations.
  82. 82. Conclusion The faithful looked to the promises of Scripture for hope. God had promised a great Son of David to rule over His people (2 Samuel 7:12–16). He had promised that beyond exile lay restoration (Isaiah 51:11), like the exodus of Moses’ time. One day the pagan powers would be destroyed, and God would rule supreme over all nations (Daniel 7:1–14).
  83. 83. Conclusion Our lesson is an illustration of what the Apostle Paul wrote to the believers at Corinth when he reminded them that God does not do things the way people do. Paul told them to consider their own calling. God does not call those who think they are somebody; instead, in essence, He calls nobodies and then makes them somebodies in Christ.
  84. 84. Conclusion Today, many around us seem similarly indifferent. They take great note of Christmas, but little of the One who was born so long ago, who has given the name to this special holiday. We live in a man-centered and self-centered world. Plans, dreams, and "thisworldliness" occupy the minds of many around us. The birth and life of Christ so many years ago is still easy to overlook. In many places and in many lives, there is still no room for Him.
  85. 85. Conclusion All the publicity seems to go to powerful governments, rich corporations, dynamic businesspeople, and famous entertainers. Perhaps we think that God’s message would be better received if the church had a more powerful, prominent identity.
  86. 86. Conclusion But the power of God does not operate like the power of the world. God’s work confounds how we look at life. It turns life upside down, beginning in a stable, leading to a cross, climaxing at an empty tomb. It is the power to save for eternity.
  87. 87. Conclusion Let us not fall into forgetfulness. Let us celebrate the birth of Jesus. Let us go over the story again and again. Let us remember that He is the Savior of the world. And let us proclaim this to a sleeping world so that perhaps God might awaken some afresh today.
  88. 88. Conclusion Christ is called here the "firstborn." Elsewhere in God's Word He is called the firstborn of all those who will be saved and glorified (Rom. 8:29). May many more be born anew to salvation.