JESUS – GOD’S SON IS BORN TO REDEEM MANKIND – Jesus brings salvation to all who trust in Him
MEMORY VERSES: LUKE 2:11
At Christ’s birth, it had been over 400 years since a prophet of God had spoken in scripture. People wondered if God had forgotten them. The Scribes of the scriptures knew of the promised Messiah that would come. At this time in Israel’s history, Rome was the ruler of the land and of the whole known world. Israel longed for a Messiah who would conquer and defeat the Romans and remove them from the land. Their promised Messiah came, but they did not recognize Him.
God had plans for a Messiah that operated on a much grander scale. His Messiah would not rescue only the Jews from the Romans, He would also redeem those who believe all over the world. God made mankind in His own image. Showing His boundless love, He would provide His way of redemption that would be available for all.
THE CONTEXT (LUKE 2:1-20)
Caesar Augustus was the Roman emperor and Quirinius governed Syria. Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem as part of the census ordered by Caesar Augustus. Augustus was another name for Octavius, grand-nephew of Julius Caesar. He commanded that a census, which was vital to taxation, be taken of the entire empire. Joseph had to go to Bethlehem, the ancestral home of descendants of David. The journey covered about ninety miles from Nazareth to the Judean hills about ten miles south of Jerusalem.
The Son of God was to be born and come into the world to redeem it. God chose not to raise His son in a temple or palace, but to place him in a loving ordinary family. Jesus was born in humble circumstances. The influx of travelers filled every room in town, so Mary gave birth in a stable. Using a manger, or feeding trough, for a cradle, Mary laid down her newborn that she had clothed in infant’s wrapping. At the same time, no birth has been proclaimed by greater heralds. Notice the contrast between the humble circumstance of Jesus’ arrival and the grandeur of this announcement.
The angels did not appear to the religious or political leaders in Jerusalem, but to shepherds outside Bethlehem. These men worked in a lowly occupation but were faithfully watching their sheep when their night was interrupted by the heavenly visitors. As an angel of the Lord proclaimed the Messiah’s birth, he was joined by a large multitude of angels who praised God.
FULFILLED (LUKE 2:4-7)
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
Joseph and Mary traveled from Nazareth where they had been living. Any time someone traveled towards Jerusalem, biblical texts use the phrase “went up”, regardless of where the person had been. The area around Jerusalem occupied a higher elevation, being built on hills.
Bethlehem was called the city of David because King David grew up there in the home of Jesse. God had sent Samuel to Bethlehem to find and anoint David as the future King of Israel (1 Sam. 16).
Being of the house and family line of David meant that Joseph’s genealogy traced back to David (Matt. 1:1-16). Around 700 years earlier, Isaiah had foretold that the Messiah would come from the descendants of Jesse, namely David (Isa. 11:1). Jeremiah also prophesied that the Messiah would rise from David’s lineage (Jer. 23:5-6).
The emperor had issued an order for everyone in the empire to go to the city of his ancestors to be registered. This registration was part of a census that covered most of the known world, including Israel. A census was important to Caesar’s new taxation system.
Mary was engaged to Joseph, indicating a year-long period between the original marriage ceremony and the culmination of the marriage. During that time, an espoused couple did not engage in sexual relations. Other than Joseph, no one knew the role the Holy Spirit worked in Mary’s becoming pregnant without a sexual relationship. The fact that Mary was pregnant could have alienated her from family members. Also, because she was near the point of giving birth, Joseph would naturally want her with him if she delivered before the return trip.
6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,
7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Mary and Joseph were in the town at least a few days before the birth. God designed all of history for this moment. Rome unknowingly participated in God’s plan by building an extensive road system and establishing a time of peace. Alexander the Great of Macedonia contributed the Greek language to provide a standard of writing that benefited the gospel and other New Testament books. Centuries of Hebrew prophecies were known to the people of God and awaited fulfillment in the Messiah. Yes, the time was ripe for Jesus to be born.
Jesus was her firstborn son, meaning that she had other children. Luke 8:19 describes Jesus’ other family members. Mary wrapped the newborn baby in strips of cloths just like other babies of this period. Joseph did not put his family in the location because he was poor, but because there was no guest room available for them.
ANNOUNCED (LUKE 2:8-14)
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Just imagine being out at night, then all of a sudden the sky brilliantly lights up all around with a different kind of brightness. The shepherds were terrified by this supernatural appearance. Immediately, the angel encouraged them: “Do not be afraid”. The angel’s purpose was to proclaim something that would benefit them. The good news of Jesus should be proclaimed not only by angelic beings, but by everyone who has received Him as Savior. This joy is not limited to a particular ethnic group, but reaches around the globe and across all generations of people who find salvation in Christ.
11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Each bit of information revealed important information about this newly born person. He would save them from their problems and sins. He was the fulfillment of God’s promise for a Messiah – the Anointed One. From His birth, Jesus was the Lord. His sovereign reign was over everyone and everything. The shepherds were even told how to find him by looking for a newly born baby wrapped in cloths lying in a manger. Can you imagine the shepherds running through Bethlehem trying to find this new born baby that the angels had told them about?
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
We have no idea what it would be like being in the presence of multitudes of heavenly host who are praising and giving glory to almighty God. That is an indescribable occurrence that I’m sure the shepherds treasured for the rest of their lives. What a blessing and privilege to behold such a sight.
God’s glory offers peace on earth. This peace is not merely the absence of conflict. The kind of peace Jesus brings reaches even into the hearts of people (John 14:27). Not everyone chooses to accept Christ and His peace, but God offers salvation to everyone because of His favor. God’s peace comes from God’s gracious favor which we do not deserve but can receive through Jesus.
Jesus alone is the Savior. The angels of heaven rejoice and glorified God for the Savior who was born in that humble town and announced to simple people. The good news of Christ offers each of us the promise of salvation if we will repent and receive Him as our Lord.
FOUND (LUKE 2:15-19)
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
After the angels left, the shepherds were ready to find the baby. I don’t think they were very concerned about the sheep at that moment. This event took priority. The Lord had made known this unique event. They also appreciated that the message had come from God to them personally – to us.
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,
18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Following the angel’s description of the location, they found Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus lying in the manger. They discovered a truth that God gives all of us; we can seek Him and find him when we search for Him with all our hearts (Jer. 29:13).
People who received such a message and find its truth naturally want to share it with others. The shepherds wanted to share what they had experienced with all those that they came in contact with. What an occurrence. Mary and Joseph would have understood the divine source of the proclamation, but the revelation of the shepherds still caused them to marvel.
Like any new mother, this child lying before her and these sayings about Him filled her with wonder. Even though she had carried this baby within her womb for many months, she still had much to ponder.
Jesus is available to all who seek Him. As Isaiah urged, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call to him while he is near” (Isa. 55:6). The Lord wants us to know Him and in Him to find salvation.
John 6:35 Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.
38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.
39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.
40 For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."