Luke, like the physician he was, recounts this event with surgical precision. Uncovering one important fact after another, overlooking nothing.
First he reviews the history of the event, just like any good doctor would review the medical history of a patient. He tells us what was happening “in those days.” And what days were they ~ days of Roman rule. When Caesar called for a counting of people the people had to do the wishes of the one in power.
Luke also reveals to us previous events as this wasn’t the first time a Roman ruler called for the accounting of people in order to tax them. Everyone had to return to their place of birth to register. We so often think people of Biblical days as staying in one place when in fact they traveled around much like we do today.
After this brief but important review/introduction, Luke gets to the heart of the situation and we learn of Joseph. Why had Joseph left his hometown of Bethlehem, maybe for a better job in Nazareth, better living conditions or maybe a young Jewish girl named Mary caught his eye at a Passover celebration in Jerusalem and he moved to be close to her. We don’t know for certain but what we do know it was all part of God’s plan for Joseph’s life.
Now this man, Joseph, was returning home. Home to Bethlehem (meaning house of bread), the city of King David himself because Joseph was of the royal bloodline of David, and with him, Mary, his wife who was pregnant.
Luke continues to peal back layer after layer of facts as he continues and tells us “while they were there, the days were completed.” “The days were completed.” God’s timing is always perfect. He is never a minute to early or a minute to late. From before the beginning of time itself the events of history had taken place, one after another, just as God had designed them to happen. Like the ticking of a clock time had fled away and now it was the right moment for the next event in the history of mankind and the next event in the life of Mary. She gave birth to her firstborn son because God’s plan in her life was unfolding and “the days were completed for her to be” the mother of Jesus.
There He was, the Son of God, Deity, sleeping in a food trough for the animals. There were no attending doctors, no medication for pain, no sterile instruments, no private room or nurses to help with the birth. There was no one but Mary, Joseph, the sounds of people moving about in this small town and the smell of the animals.
She, Mary, wrapped Him (notice the H-it’s capitalized in your Bible) in swaddling cloths so he would not move around and harm himself. That is the love of a mother protecting her son.
But, the love of a caring God had sent His son and wrapped Him in human flesh. He had left His glory and place in heaven and stepped through its portals to be born into earthbound humanity. He had purposefully sent His son to be placed in harms way, for us. That is the love of God, to do for us what we could not do for ourselves ~ provide a way to pay the price of our sins penalty.
And He did it at the birth of Christ in this lowly manger. Why is it that we think of Joseph and Mary as being poor ~ because they had to stay in a stable? They were not poor, they had gone to the innkeeper but because of the number of people now in this small town “there was no room for them in the inn”. No, again God’s plan was perfect. Remember, Joseph and Mary had to come from Nazareth, and she was pregnant. The way wasn’t a four-lane highway or the autobahn and they didn’t travel in the luxury of a nice automobile or travel coach. No, the way was rough, dusty and rocky and most likely they traveled on the donkey express.
So why did God choose for His son to be born in an animal stable? After all, this was, and is THE SON OF GOD, GOD HIMSELF IN HUMAN FORM. Why not in a more pleasing place, fit for the King that He is? God knew if He was born into wealth and comfort only the privileged would have access to Him. But in this stable, this lowly place all of mankind would to have access to Him. However on this night of nights when our Savior was born, no one seemed to notice, at least not in Bethlehem.
I’ve often wondered what the Innkeeper would have said if he knew the savior of the human race was being born right in his backyard, right under his nose. But that is the way that it seems to be even today. We are so involved with our circumstances, jobs, hobbies, family, friends…. that we do not recognize what God is doing in our lives, not even if it’s right in front of us. We are wrapped up in our own lives. Time for God is nonexistent or little at best and we miss out on His blessings while we chase after things that will disappear with the passing of time.
Although the people of Bethlehem didn’t seem to notice there was one group of people that couldn’t help but notice. As we read in verses eight and nine:
“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night and behold an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them and they were greatly afraid."
God wasn’t about to let the birth of His son go completely unnoticed by mankind. So at the right moment God ordered His angel to open the gates of Heaven and step through into our world to announce the birth of His son to these humble shepherds. And in doing so the glory of God spilled out of Heaven and surrounded the angel and the shepherds. Notice it wasn’t the glory of the angel but it was the glory of God!
Can you imagine seeing the glory of God with human eyes! I can’t comprehend it. I don’t think anyone could this side of Heaven. No wonder the shepherds were greatly afraid.
But this angel didn’t come to pronounce judgment on the nation of Israel nor the inhabitants of the Earth but came to proclaim that salvation had come to mankind. (I love this next verse~ verse 11)
“For unto you (Pam, Joe, Billy, Sarah, John,..put you name here) is born this day, in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
Christ didn’t come to just a select few, the beautiful people, the lovely people, the rich people, the affluent people…and the list could go on. No He came for all people. I’m extremely thankful that the angel of the Lord didn’t say “For unto the Jewish people, or For unto the righteous people or For unto the Roman people.” If he had, we would still be without hope. Instead he said that He came for you!
That would give anyone reason to shout. And that is exactly what the multitude of heavenly host were doing ~ they were shouting. Notice the exclamation mark at the end of verse 14:
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, good will toward men!”
They weren’t singing as we so often think of in the songs we sing at Christmas time but they were shouting. I’m sure it sounded like heavenly music just the same.
What a great revelation from God to these shepherds. As Luke continues with his dissecting of the event we find that the shepherds went with haste to see for themselves this great event that the Lord had made known to them. Unlike the inhabitants of Bethlehem these shepherds paid attention when the Lord showed up. They not only paid attention they went to see Him and they found Him just as the angel had told them.
Let me interject something here before we move on. When we seek after the Lord, He has assured us we will find Him. God is moving in our lives! Are you paying attention and seeking Him? He has something for you; a specific plan for your life, a wonderful plan but we must seek Him.
When the shepherds found the Babe, Joseph and Mary I wonder what the conversation was like? We are told “But May kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
When the shepherds had seen Him they went and told everyone about this newborn Child. That’s the way we should be ~ when we come into the presence of Jesus we will want to tell everyone about Him. The people they told just “marveled” at what the shepherds told them. Wow! Is that right? Wonderful!! And in the next verses we are told of the crowd of people who like the shepherds, got excited and went to see this Christ Child for themselves. Right?
No, sadly the Bible never tells us of one person whom the shepherds told about this Christ Child ever going to see Him. They marveled at what the shepherds had told them but this great news never moved from their head to their hearts. They were too busy doing their own thing, living their own lives ~ they just didn’t take time to see for themselves.
Isn’t that the way it is still today? We can tell everyone about Jesus but they have to make the decision to come to Him and more times than not people are just too busy to take the time to learn of this Savior who came to die for them. Let us be like the shepherds ~ they were not deterred because the people didn’t accept what they had said. They had done their job and left rejoicing and giving praise to God for all they had heard and seen.
Let me say something to you. Yes, you. God has a plan for your life. Did you know that? Well, He does. Just like He had a plan for Joseph and Mary He has a plan for you. In this account we are told that while Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem “the days were completed for her to be…and she delivered…” (Luke 2: 6~7).
There was a point in time in Mary’s life when God made known His plan for her. As a young girl she boldly accepted His plan. And while she was in Bethlehem it was time for her “to be” the mother of Jesus. It was time for her to “deliver” a Savior to the world.
So let me ask you. What is it that God has asked you “to be” for Him? What is it that He wants you to “deliver” that will speak His love to a lost and hurting world? What is it? What is it that God has been tugging at your heart about? What is it that you can’t seem to get away from ~ something in your life that keeps coming to your attention? Listen ~ that’s God talking to you.
God has a plan for you. Are you willing to have the courage as Mary and boldly say ~ Yes Lord, here I am, use me? He is waiting for you to take a step of faith and start an adventure with Him like no other.
Let us boldly go into all the world proclaim this same good news that the angel had told the shepherds so many years ago ~ That A Savior has come into the world to pay sins penalty, to bridge the gap between God and man, to provide a way to have a relationship with our Creator. That is what Jesus did for you, for me and for all mankind.
I hope you have been blessed by this Christmas Account and pray God’s protection and blessings on you in the New Year. Who knows, in sowing the seeds of God’s word to the world our paths may cross.