The Birth of Jesus

Day 1

Luke 2:1-21

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 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 among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
I can’t even imagine how difficult this must have been for Mary and Joseph, especially Mary. If we are honest with ourselves, we don’t see this story in its historical context. We read it through the glamorized lens of children’s Christmas stories, church plays, and nativity scenes.

But this time read it through the eyes of Mary, a young teenage newlywed, 9 months pregnant with her first child. She is scared, extremely uncomfortable, enduring the most painful experience of her life without any medical assistance whatsoever. And think about Joseph. He is trying his best to make things better for his young bride but nothing seems to be helping.

The trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem was 80 miles; 4 days of walking if you walk 8 hours a day. They would have traversed dusty, rocky terrain, and slept on the ground under makeshift shelters. The final leg of the trip, from Jericho to Bethlehem, is an uphill hike of 3,500 feet.
When they finally arrived in Bethlehem conditions didn’t improve. There were no rooms, no beds, no bathrooms, no running water. The streets were filled with people pushing and shoving. You could hear the shouts of vendors trying to sell their goods. The only place Mary and Joseph could find to stay was a stable. There, in the filth and stench, surrounded by animals, Mary gives birth to her son.

Scared, alone, helpless, hopeless, we’ve all been there. Maybe you are there right now. Your job, your marriage, your finances. You don’t understand why things have worked out the way they have. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. This is not what you signed up for. You ask, where is God when you need him?

As difficult as it may be to believe, the truth is God is in control. If you turn and surrender to Him, He will begin to reveal his presence and plan for you.

For Mary & Joseph, the confirmation of God’s presence in their lives came in the form of Shepherds. Again, we think of cute little boys dressed up in our Christmas plays, petting their stuffed sheep beside baby Jesus. But shepherds were the most unlikely instruments of God’s Word in Mary’s day. They were known to be dishonest and immoral. That’s probably why God chose them. These guys show up telling their story of angels proclaiming the birth of the Messiah. When they fall to their knees to worship this baby in a manger, there is no doubt that God is in their midst. Mary and Joseph look at each other as a sense of peace comes over them. It’s true. God is in control. It’s going to be ok.

And after all isn’t that the message of Christmas? The beginning of the fulfillment of God’s plan to redeem his creation to himself. In the midst of our darkness, our sinfulness, our hopelessness a Savior is born, Christ the Lord. Jesus has come, Jesus is here, Jesus is coming again.
Paul Viers | Senior Pastor

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