Lesson Info:

Lesson 4 Winter Quarter
Lesson Text:  Luke 2:1-17
Golden Text:  Luke 2:11

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For the past three weeks, we have taken a look at the foretelling of Christ in both Old Testament prophecy and in New Testament scripture.  On this, the last Sunday of the year, we are celebrating the birth of Christmas.  I hope all of you are having a wonderful Christmas and I thank all of you for stopping by to read or listen to today’s lesson.

Birth of the Savior

Our lesson opens with scripture that is very familiar to believers.  We are told that “it came to pass” that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that “all the world” was to be registered (v.1).  Now, this decree did not mean that the whole world had to literally take part in this census but the regions that were under Roman authority had to take part in this census.  Therefore, those living in the land of Judea were required to take part in this census because Judea was a province of Rome.

O little town of Bethlehem

Let us notice that Luke mentions that everyone was required to register to his own city (v.3) – where they or their family originated.  So, the census decree required Joseph to travel with Mary from Nazareth, a city of Galilee, to Bethlehem so that they could register (vss.4-5).  Now, this brings up a very interesting point that I actually made in our lesson last week.

Scripture makes it very clear for the reader that glances at scripture as to why Joseph had to go to Bethlehem in order to register.  Scripture tells us that he had to go to Bethlehem because he was of the house and lineage of David.  Yet, why did Mary have to go with Joseph to Bethlehem?  Did it have anything to do with the fact that they were engaged to be married?  Answer:  absolutely not.

If you recall our lesson last week, we took a look at the lineage of Mary as it is recorded in Luke 3:23-38.  The opening of the lineage shown in this passage of scripture is a bit misleading because it reads as the lineage of Joseph, the son of Heli.  However, if we look at the genealogy shown to us in Matthew’s gospel, we will see a difference in the lineage.  In that lineage, we are told that Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus (Matt. 1:16).

So, have Matthew and Luke messed up and taken down Joseph’s lineage incorrectly?  Absolutely not.  The fact of the matter is that Joseph was the son Jacob, not Heli.  So, who is Heli?  Heli was the father of Mary, not Joseph.  In those days, it was more common for the lineage of the wife to be referred to under the name of the husband which is why Luke used Joseph’s name rather than Mary’s name.

So, why did Mary need to return to Bethlehem?  What is the significance that we find in her lineage?  Mary returned to Bethlehem because, like Joseph, she was of the house and lineage of David.  We see through her lineage that her connection to David is through David’s son, Nathan.  Nathan was the third son born through David and Bathsheba (technically the fourth since the first died as an infant); he was a direct younger brother to Solomon.

So, now we know why both Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem.  While they were there, we know how the story goes: Mary gave birth to Jesus,  wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn (vss.6-7).

Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem fulfilled the prophecy found in Micah 5:2-5.  The prophecy stated that though Bethlehem Ephrathah was little among the thousands of Judah, one would come forth to the Lord, the one to be Ruler in Israel.  The prophecy spoke of the birth of the Savior – the Messiah – God’s only begotten Son.

Rejoicing at the birth of the Savior

As the telling of Jesus’ birth continues, we are told that in that same country, there were shepherds living out in the fields that were keeping watch over their flock by night (v.8).  As they were overlooking their flock, an angel of the Lord stood before them and told them of the Savior’s birth in the city of David (vss.9-11).  This is the second time in our scripture today that we see mention of the city of David – the city of David is Bethlehem.

Scripture shows us one of the most joyful sights that we see in scripture – the rejoicing of the angels at the birth of Christ.  We are told that suddenly there was with this angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and shouting, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill, toward men (vss.13-14)!”

The writer of Hebrews wrote about the angels rejoicing at the birth of Christ and I want to share that scripture with you today.  The reason I want to share this scripture with you today is because everyone ought to be rejoicing at the birth of the Savior rather than a few.  Again, it is very saddening to me that the Lord/Christ is not recognized on the days that we have designated to be our ‘holy days’.

In Hebrews 1:1-14, the writer wrote, “to which of the angels did He (God) ever say:  “You are My Son, today I have begotten You”? and again “I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son”?

What do you think the writer of Hebrews was pointing out here?  Clearly the writer states that God never said to any of the angels you are My Son, begotten of Me.  I think what is very interesting about this point is that in the book of Job, the angels are actually referred to as the “sons of God” (Job 1:6).  Even more interesting in that verse from the book of Job is that Satan is referenced in that scripture with the “sons” of God.

To be “begotten” means to produce or to procreate as the father.  Now, here’s the thing, we know for a fact that God created the angels.  The angels are heavenly beings, they are in heaven and they serve the Lord.  Though they are heavenly beings, the difference between the angels and the Son is that the angels are not of – or like – God.  God the Son, was not created by God — He is God (Gen. 10:30).

God is three distinct persons – The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  We should understand that there is no hierarchy between the three distinct persons; each is equal to the other and has their distinct roles.  The Son, in Hebrews 1:1-3, is described as “being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person.”  The Son, the writer wrote, “having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.”

So, though Christ was born in the world in ‘human form’ the angels they still rejoiced.  They rejoiced because Christ is God, their creator, in the flesh.  They also rejoiced because they knew the reason as to why the Son was given.

The Savior was born

In my opinion, the reason why the date that Jesus was born is not mentioned in scripture is because the date does not matter when it comes to having faith in Him.  Do you really think knowing exactly when Jesus was born would make a difference in your choosing to have faith  in Him or not?

When we look back at our lesson, the last thing on the shepherd’s minds was the date of Jesus’ birth.  The shepherds heard the good tidings from the angel and then they said among themselves, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us (v.15).”

Guess what, God has made known His only begotten Son to the world through the witness of the apostles and others that lived at that time.  God has made known His only begotten Son to the world through all of those who join in the ministry of the Great Commission.  So, those living today must answer, have they come to see and learn of what has come to pass in the life of Christ?  You see, this is the part that is most important – do you believe?

In Psalm 34:8, David said taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him.  David, in other words, was simply saying to give the Lord a try.  If there is anything that we should take away from the lesson today is that we should be like the shepherds and move to see (to learn) what the Lord has shown and made known to us.

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