The Promised Christ is Born: Bible Survey for New Christians

March 13th, 2009

Luke 2:1–20

Augustus taxes all the Roman empire.
The nativity of Christ.
An angel relates it to the shepherds, and many sing praises to God for it.
The shepherds glorify God.

 2:1.  And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.
 2:2.  This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.
 2:3.  So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
 2:4.  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,
 2:5.  to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.

 2:6.  So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.
 2:7.  And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

 2:8.  Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
 2:9.  And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.
 2:10.  Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
 2:11.  "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
 2:12.  "And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.''
 2:13.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
 2:14.  "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!''

 2:15.  So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.''
 2:16.  And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
 2:17.  Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.
 2:18.  And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
 2:19.  But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.
 2:20.  Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

Comments:

At a certin, specific time in history, as is mentioned here, Caesar gave the decree for people to be enrolled. To be enrolled was a term that dealt with being enrolled to pay taxes. The Romans probably didn't care where a person was enrolled as long as they paid. It was likely the Jews who wanted people to return to their home cities. Possibly as a way to express tribal strength or identity.

David and Mary were living in Nazareth, located in Galilee. Both were descended from David, so both were to go to Bethlehem for this registration. Such convoluted circumstances, but God used it to make sure prophecies were fulfilled. While there, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, as foretold. He was from Nazareth, a Nazarene, also as foretold.

In this passage, Mary and Joseph are said to be "espouced", which is to be engaged, but not having gone through the marriage ceremony. She is pregnant, and has her baby. In the preceding chapter, it discusses all the details of her virginity and how God moved to cause her to be both a virgin and pregnant.

In verse 17, Jesus is called Mary's "firstborn" son. Obviously that means she didn't have any kids before Jesus, but he was called "first", not "only" son of Mary. I mention that because there are those who believe that Mary was a perpetual virgin. That means that even after her official marriage to Joseph, she never gave up her virginity, that the brothers and sisters of Jesus that are later mentioned in the Bible came from somewhere else. Likely a previous marriage of a woman to Joseph.

To be first, implies that he was first of others, Mary's virginity served its purpose in demonstrating the special nature of Jesus, and in fulfilling prophecy. To believe that she continued in it is to incorrectly make her holier than she really is. Another of those hard things in the Bible to understand. Believe what you want about her and her virginity. Whether you believe she was a perpetual virgin or not, whether you believe she has some godly character or whether you believe that she was a simple vessel, a regular human being used  to bring about God's will, your belief of her cann not, and will not  make a person any more or less saved. Only Jesus has been chosen for the position as savior. Trust in him. Only he has the title of King of Kings. Only he has been given all authority to rule.

Meanwhile, while Jesus had been born and was laying in the manger,shepherds were visited by angels. The shepherds, regular working men and not priests, were first to recieve word of the birth of the Messiah. The angels had a message of joy, not fear. They told of the savior who had been born. He was the Messiah, or in Greek, the Christ. Both mean the chosen one, or the anointed one. Suddenly there wasn't just one angel, but armies of them. They were singing.

Then just as suddenly, the angels were gone. The shepherds left to look for the baby. They found him, just as the angels told them. The shepherds went around telling everybody. Whether folks believed it or not, or even understood it, the people they told marveled at the news.

The time had come. the spirit God had finally entered the world as a regular human. As with most things in life, he chose a quiet, humble beginning. One that fulfilled all the known prophecies of the old testament, and some that possibly hadn't been realized. Of all the people who ever has lived, or will live, the birth and life of Jesus is the only one to completely fulfill Bible prophecy. He's the one, the only one. There are most definitly many paths to him, many paths to the cross, but he is the only way to get to God. Only one way to be part of the relationship that God wants to give to all of us.

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