The students will be able to recount the events which took place at the time of Christ’s birth. They should recognize the great love God showed to mankind in giving His own Son.
The Romans did not have dominion over all the world. The phrase, “that all the world should be taxed,” means just that part of the world that was under Roman government. One of those places, Bethlehem of Judea, was the ancestral home of Joseph, and was where he needed to return to be taxed according to the decree of Caesar Augustus. Even though there were two Bethlehems existing at the time of Jesus’ birth, one in Judea and one in Galilee, Luke writes that Joseph and Mary went “into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem.” This leaves no doubt as to which city was the birthplace of Jesus. King David, as a lad, tended his father’s sheep in the fields near Bethlehem, perhaps the same fields where his forebears, Ruth and Boaz, met. These may even have been the same fields where the angels delivered their message to the shepherds.
In verse 17 we read, “They made known abroad the saying, which was told them concerning the child.” These shepherds were the first to proclaim the Gospel of Christ. Jesus’ birth was announced by an angelic proclamation saying that a Savior was born “which is Christ the Lord.” His name, Jesus, was not mentioned at that time but His name had already been chosen—not by Joseph and Mary, but by orders from God through the angel Gabriel. The name Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua, both meaning “God saves,” or “Savior.” It was a favorite name and used often in those times, thereby becoming quite common. It is, no doubt, for this reason that in the Bible, Jesus is often called Jesus Christ to distinguish Him from others of the same name. The word Christ means “anointed one,” and referred to the One anointed by God to be the Savior of mankind.
The angelic proclamation, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11), announced God’s greatest gift to mankind. This message was given to the shepherds on the Judean hills. They did not doubt the wondrous declaration, for they saw the attendant glory, and they would soon spread the news to others. God’s angels must have realized the importance of the announcement, for as soon as the good tidings were made known, a multitude of the heavenly host joined in the exultation, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).
Take a gift-wrapped package to class. Discuss the various things that make up a package (ribbon, tape, paper, box). Ask your class how a three-year-old opens a package. The package is enticing but he knows that what is inside matters more than the outer covering! Tell them that our gift to Jesus should be ourselves. We come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, but God cares about what’s inside.
In the corner of your classroom, you might want to construct a manger. Build the manger by nailing pieces of wood together. In the manger, place some hay (or straw) and a doll. Wrap the “Baby” in swaddling clothes. On a large sheet of cardboard that can stand, write the key verse and place it beside the display.
Ask your students to make a list of some of the things they own that are precious, special, or important to them. Have them draw one or two items on hearts cut out of construction paper. On a large construction-paper heart write the name JESUS. Tell the students that Jesus is God’s only Son and He is very precious to God. But God loved us so much that He was willing to give His Son in order to pay for our redemption. If we want to be redeemed, we must give our hearts to Jesus.
Accordion-fold a long strip of paper, and trace an angel on the top section. Cut out the angels (keeping them attached at the sides) to make a fold-out of an angel choir. On the skirt of each angel, write a portion of the key verse, so that when the angels are stretched out the entire key verse is displayed. This could be a nice addition to a class bulletin board.
Use a nativity set to retell the Christmas story. Let each child move one of the characters as the narrative develops. They might enjoy putting voices with the characters; for example, saying what they think the shepherds may have said when they first saw Baby Jesus.