Now it happened that in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus to register all the empire. (This first registration took place when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to be registered, each one to his own town. So Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, to be registered together with Mary, who was legally promised in marriage to him and was pregnant. (Luke 2:1–5 LEB)
The Roman emperor’s census assisted in fulfilling the prophecy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Mic 5:2). Proverbs 21:1 reminds us that God has the power to turn the hearts of kings in any direction he chooses. Sometimes Christians can place so much emphasis on government activism that we forget to pray for our elected leaders. Both are important. Let us pray that God would turn the hearts of those in government to accomplish his will.
And it happened that while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son, and wrapped him in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:6–7 LEB)
Jesus’ birth took place in humble conditions, foreshadowing that Jesus will not be given a king’s proper welcome. The endearing setting of a Christmas manger scene may cause us to forget that Jesus is the glorious King of Kings. We routinely offer God less than he truly deserves. Let us confess our deficient response to our majestic Lord and commit to conduct worthy of God’s incarnate Son.
And there were shepherds in the same region, living out of doors and keeping watch, guarding over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord stood near them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terribly frightened. (Luke 2:8–9 LEB)
The angel did not announce Jesus’ birth to dignitaries, but to lowly shepherds. He claimed that Jesus would bring joy to all people, not just important ones. Sometimes we classify people as important or unimportant based on the world’s standards. But God thinks all people are important. Do you extend preferential treatment equally to all people? Let us confess our predisposition to show favoritism and instead share the gospel without partiality.
And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring good news to you of great joy which will be for all the people: that today a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. And this will be the sign for you: you will find the baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace
among people with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:10–14 LEB)
According to the angel, the good news of our salvation should result in great joy. Many Christians today seem to lack joy, allowing their circumstances to determine their outlook and attitude. Do you experience joy? Let us recalibrate our perspective so that the life-saving gospel produces joy that overshadows life’s fleeting circumstances.
And it happened that when the angels had departed from them into heaven, the shepherds began to say to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has revealed to us!” And they went hurrying and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the manger. And when they saw it, they made known the statement that had been told to them about this child. And all who heard it were astonished concerning what had been said to them by the shepherds. (Luke 2:15–18 LEB)
Because they relayed the angel’s announcement about Jesus, these shepherds have been called the “first evangelists.” Their joy concerning the good news seemed to overwhelm them, and they shared it eagerly. Although many Christians initially have similar excitement, time tends to erode our zeal for Jesus. Let us glorify and praise God for the gospel we have heard and seen, and let us share the good news with others.
But Mary treasured up all these words, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them. (Luke 2:19–20 LEB)
Mary was a young mother entrusted by God to raise his only Son. Word began to spread about her special child immediately following His birth. Only a mother could understand the combination of joy and anxiety Mary felt as she “treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). Does the busyness of life prevent you from soaking up memories of your children? Let us treasure each experience we enjoy with our family.
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Adapted from Study, Apply, Share: Luke by Jeffrey E. Miller and Elliot Ritzema, 300 Christmas Quotations and Prayers, and the Lexham English Bible.
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