And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. — Luke 2:10
While looking through a coloring book of Nativity scenes one Christmas, I was struck by the contrast in the lives of the people God chose to receive the announcement of the birth of His Son.
On one page were the shepherds dressed in plain robes, sleeping in a field next to their sheep, with Bethlehem in the background. On another page were the Wise Men, dressed in the finery of a distant eastern country and carrying expensive gifts. In one picture, John the Baptist leaped as a babe in his mother’s womb at the salutation of Mary. In another, Anna, a woman over a century old, was shown giving thanks to the Lord as the Christ Child was dedicated at the Temple.
Shepherds of that day were the poor, despised, and often criminal outcasts of society. They were quite a contrast to the Wise Men who were granted an audience with King Herod to discuss astronomy. In looking at these pictures, it occurred to me that God didn’t leave anyone out. The Gospel is for everyone! That was not only true when Jesus was born, but it is also true in our day.
When my son was five years old, he came to me after dinner one evening and said that he wanted to ask Jesus to come into his heart, as I had done a few months before. I didn’t know if I should humor him or tell him that he was too young. I decided to humor him and we prayed. Over the next six months, there was such a change in his behavior that I realized God had saved him, and that the Gospel is for the young.
When my grandmother’s health began to decline, I knew she wasn’t ready for Heaven, but I had no intention of talking to her about the Gospel again because I thought it was too late. She was eighty-nine years old and had waited too long. However, two days before she died, she called me to her bedside and said she wanted to pray to go to Heaven. We prayed and afterward two nurses and my mother came into the room and asked, “Why is she suddenly so peaceful?” I knew then that the Gospel is for the aged.
God didn’t leave anyone out. As our focus verse says, “I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” God made it clear from the very beginning that the Gospel is for the poor like the shepherds and for the wealthy like the Wise Men. It is for the young like John the Baptist and my son; it is for the aged like Anna and my grandmother. It is for the near and for the far. It is for the uneducated and the learned. It is for the popular and the outcast.
The Gospel is for me, and the Gospel is for you.
In this chapter Luke gave the account of Jesus’ birth, emphasizing that the Son of God was born of low estate, and was sent as a Savior for all people.
Christ’s humble birth was by design. In Micah 5:2, it had been prophesied that “little” Bethlehem would be the birthplace of a “ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”
Luke opened the chapter by showing how God orchestrated events to draw Jesus’ parents from where they lived in Nazareth (verse 4) to Bethlehem, a distance of eighty miles, at precisely the time of His birth. Caesar Augustus (who was the first emperor of Rome, ruling from 31 B.C. to A.D. 14) issued a decree for all the Roman Empire to be taxed (verse 1). Luke said this took place “in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea” (Luke 1:5) and “when Cyrenius was governor of Syria” (verse 2). The exact dates in which these reigns coincided is not known. However, the dates have been narrowed to between 4 B.C. (the earliest date for Herod’s death) and A.D. 9 (the latest date for Cyrenius’ term as governor).
To register for paying the tax, the Jewish people were required to return to the place of their ancestry (verses 3-4). This was the case in at least two subsequent censuses as well (in A.D. 481 and 1042). Both Joseph and Mary could trace their lineage back to King David (see Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38), so they went to Bethlehem, known as the City of David. This town was part of the land allotted by God to the tribe of Judah which David was from.
At Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary found “there was no room for them in the inn” (verse 7). The word “inn” is a translation of the Greek word kataluma which can also mean “guest chamber” (see Luke 22:11 and Mark 14:4). Since it is possible that Joseph and Mary had relatives in Bethlehem, it may have been that the guest room where they expected to lodge was occupied, and so they stayed among the animals. A typical house of that time would have included a room where the family’s animals were kept overnight. These rooms had feeding troughs or mangers built into the floor.
It is also possible that Jesus was born in a cave. Bethlehem is a hilly area full of natural caves, and it was not uncommon for families to adapt them into homes, or for shepherds to use them for shelter. Elevated alcoves in these caves provided the living quarters while the ground floor was reserved for the animals at night. Feeding troughs were carved into these floors as well.
Luke described the conditions under which Jesus was born. He said that after Mary gave birth to Jesus, she “wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger.” The practice of tightly bundling a baby in strips of cloth was to provide warmth to the child as well as safety and a sense of security by restricting movement.
The angel’s proclamation to the shepherds introduced Jesus as “a Saviour,” but distinguished Him from all other deliverers by adding “which is Christ the Lord” (verse 11). The word “Christ” comes from the Greek Christos meaning “Anointed One.” Thus, the message of the angel was that Jesus came as the Savior, the Anointed One, the prophesied Messiah, the Lord. At this, an army of heavenly beings appeared and began to praise God for His good will toward mankind.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The advent of the Son of Man
C. The advent of the Son of Man
1. The birth of the Son of Man (2:1-20)
a. The declaration of His birth (2:1-7)
b. The adoration of the shepherds (2:8-20)
The angels rejoiced when God sent the gift of His Son as a Savior for all people. We too can experience the joy of our Savior’s birth by receiving this gift of salvation and sharing the Good News with others.