Luke begins the story of the Bethlehem manger with a note of history. Joseph and Mary left their home in Nazareth to travel to their ancestral town of Bethlehem as a result of a census decree of Caesar Augustus, the emperor of Rome, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Such historical details must lead Bible students to appreciate Luke’s submission to the Holy Spirit, so that he would record the details of the Incarnation within the framework of history.
Reflect on the poverty of Jesus as seen in Luke 2:7. Compare the image of
swaddling clothes, the
no room . . . in the inn, with Paul’s description of the condescension of Jesus in Philippians 2:5-8. What kind of a road did Jesus walk on our behalf?
The story of the poor circumstances in which the Lord of heaven incarnated Himself continues with the first visitors the manger had: the shepherds. Not to the rich or the powerful, not to the scribes or the priests, not to rulers and the powers that held sway over the land did the
good tidings of great joy (Luke 2:10, NKJV) come, but to humble and despised shepherds. Observe the majesty and the simplicity of the message: A Savior is born to you. In the city of David. He is Christ the Lord, the Anointed One. You will find Him wrapped in swaddling clothes (author’s translation) . Heaven’s most precious gift came in such a simple package, as often it does. But the gift brings
glory to God,
on earth peace, and
goodwill toward men (Luke 2:14, NKJV) .
Luke’s record of the angel (Luke 2:9-12) brings out three vital matters of Christian theology. First, the good news of the gospel is for
all people. In Jesus both the Jew and the Gentile become one people of God. Second, Jesus is the Savior; there is no one else. Third, Jesus is Christ the Lord. These three themes, so clearly established early in Luke, later became the foundation of the apostolic preaching, particularly that of Paul.
Think about what we believe as Christians: the Creator of all that was made (John 1:1-3) not only entered into this fallen world as a human being but lived the hard life that Jesus did, only to wind up on a cross. If we really believe that, why should every aspect of our life be lived in submission to this amazing truth? What parts of your life reflect your belief in the story of Jesus, and what parts don’t?