LUKE 2:1-20 – BETHLEHEM BLESSING
A CHRISTMAS LESSON
Carl Sandburg’s definition of a baby – ‘God’s opinion that the world should continue’ – admirably sets the stage for the Christmas story of Luke 2:1-20. The birth of Jesus Christ our Lord accentuates the doctrine of the incarnation, that God has entered the world by becoming human. The humble circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth convey the message that God has identified Himself with the human condition. C. Marvin Pate, Moody Gospel Commentary, Luke (Chicago, Moody Press, 1995), p. 77
THE STAGE IS SET – Vss. 1-5
- How and why does God influence history? Romans 11:33-36, Romans 13:1-2, Proverbs 16:24,
- 1-2 – Caesar Augustus, originally Gaius Octavian, was the grandnephew of Julius Caesar. When Julius Caesar was murdered it was learned that his will declared Octavian his son and heir.
- Augustus made a decree calling for a census. There is much debate concerning the time of this census. Luke’s dates do not seem to match what we know from history. However there are some plausible explanations.
- We need to remember that Luke was an accurate historian and has never been proven wrong after all the facts were gathered. Also remember that we are dealing with God’s Word which is infallible.
- 3-5 – This census required that people return to their own city. In this case Joseph had to go to the “City of David”. Often Jerusalem is thought of as the City of David, but Bethlehem is Jesus’ hometown.
- This passage also tells us that Joseph is of the “house and lineage of David”. Why is this important?
- It does not seem that Mary’s presence was necessary. What are, humanly speaking, possible reasons that she came? What is the Scriptural reason for Mary to make the trip (Micah 5:2)?
- We need to remember that when God makes a promise, that promise will be kept (Numbers 23:19). He will even influence the ruler of the whole civilized world to do His bidding. How does this encourage you?
THE BABY IS BORN – Vss. 6-7
- Mary gave birth. Of course, it was a boy! She wrapped him in “swaddling clothes”. These were long strips of cloth wrapped around the limbs to give strength to the child and perhaps a sense of security.
- Our understanding of an “inn” is nothing close to what the inn was like where Joseph and Mary sought lodging. It very well could have been a crude place where caravans stopped. All that was available was a stall to sleep in and a place for the animals. Every spot for human beings was filled. It was in a stable, perhaps even a cave, where Jesus was born. The manger, most likely, was a feeding trough for animals.
- How was it a demotion for God the Son? 2 Corinthians 8:9, Philippians 2:5-8
- How was it a show of love from God the Father?
THE ANGELS ANNOUNCE – Vss. 8-14
- 8 – Shepherds were on the low end of the social ladder. They were usually ceremonially unclean because of their work. They did not have a good reputation for integrity and their testimony was not admissible in the law courts.
- Why do you think the announcement of Jesus’ birth came to shepherds? Psalm 138:6, John 1:29, 10:11
- 9 – An angel, reflecting the glory of God, appeared to the shepherds. They were scared!
- 10 – The angel is quick to comfort the shepherds. The angel was not there to cause grief but to bring good news! If this was good news for all people, why are we hesitant to share it?
- 11 – Who do you think the “you” is in this verse? Does it apply to us?
- There are three titles given to Jesus here. First, He is Savior. At Jesus’ birth most Jews were looking for a political Savior, giving salvation from Roman domination. But this was not God’s plan for Jesus during his first appearance on earth.
- Jesus, of course, came to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21). Why was this salvation necessary? Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3:10-18
- Jesus was also called “Christ”, or “the anointed one”. This was the Jewish Messiah for which the Jews were waiting. Isaiah 9:6
- Jesus was also Lord. The word conveys the idea of supremacy. It was often used as a term for deity. Peter affirmed that Jesus was both Christ and Lord in Acts 2:36. What implications does Jesus’ Lordship have for our lives? Romans 10:9-10.
- 12 – While there might have been other babies born in Bethlehem and wrapped in swaddling clothes that evening, there was only one lying in a manger.
- 13 – The news was of such great import for both Heaven and Earth that a multitude of angels had to proclaim His praise!
- 14 – “Glory to God in the highest!” – Why?
- Luke 2:14 (ESV) – “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
- Who are the ones with whom God is pleased? Ephesians 2:8-9, John 1:12
- What is the peace that God gives to those with whom He is pleased? Isaiah 48:22, Romans 5:1
THE SHEPHERDS SEE, SHARE AND SING – Vss. 15-18, 20
- 15 – How is the response of the shepherds natural and admirable?
- 16 – When the shepherds arrived, was there a halo around Jesus head? How could they tell that Jesus was different from any other baby they had ever seen?
- What do you think the shepherds said to the Wise Men? (Careful! Trick Question! Matthew 2:1, 11)
- 17 – Why could the shepherds not keep their mouths shut? I think that by the time the shepherds arrived and saw the child, it might have been dawn. Hence there would have been great opportunity for the shepherds to spread the good news. What obvious lesson do the shepherds teach us?
- 18 – Why were people amazed at the shepherds’ message? Why are people amazed today at the Gospel message?
- 20 – If you were one of those shepherds, what would you specifically praise God for?
- How do you think that this event affected the shepherds over their lifetime?
MARY MEDITATES – Vs. 19
- The word “kept” has been translated “treasured up”.
- How were the things that Mary had experienced and been told treasures worth pondering?
- We should follow Mary’s example by treasuring the Christmas story and meditating on its implications for us.
- In a broader sense, all of God’s Word is to be treasured and pondered.
- Psalm 119:97 – O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
- Psalm 119:111 – Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart.