By Kenny Bruce
Pastor Emeritus, Leawood East Baptist Church, Memphis
The birth of Jesus is the greatest event in the history of the world.
I. THE PROBLEMATIC ARRIVAL IN BETHLEHEM (vv. 4-7) God moved on Caesar Augustus to order a census of all the earth for the purpose of taxation. Joseph and Mary went to the city of David, Bethlehem, to register and for Mary to give birth to Jesus. God takes pagan rulers and uses them for His own purposes. He is sovereign over every ruler on earth. He even rules over hotel capacities.
There was no room for Joseph and Mary in the inn (v. 7). They spent the night in a stable where an animal feeding trough was located. It was a dirty and smelly place for Mary to give birth to baby Jesus. When God came down. He came all the way down to the poor and lowly in humble circumstances.
Those circumstances reveal the truth that God comes to lowly sinners. Just as God led Joseph and Mary through difficult circumstances to accomplish His plan, He leads us through adverse circumstances for the same reason. He gives us the confidence to address every situation in life with courage, knowing that since He overcame, we too will overcome (John 16:33).
II. THE QUIET ARRIVAL OF GOD (Luke 2:7) Mary wrapped Jesus in cloths for warmth and security. She surely kissed, caressed and nursed Him. Though He was God, He was treated like any other baby. Less than one mile from Bethlehem was the massive palace Herod the Great had built for himself. Why wasn’t Jesus born there? God wanted to quietly slip into this world in obscurity. Jesus was born in poor, humble circumstances for our sakes. “…Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor so that you through His poverty might become rich” (II Corinthians 8:9).
III. THE UNEXPECTED ARRIVAL OF THE SHEPHERDS An angel appeared to shepherds as they were watching their sheep at night and delivered the first gospel message. Because shepherds were lowest on the socio-economic scale, that proclamation reveals to us that the good news is for all people. The good news was that a baby had been born who was a Savior, Christ and Lord (Luke 2:11). As Savior, He saves people from their sins (Luke 19:10).
As Christ, He is the Messiah, God’s anointed one and King. As Lord, He is God and assumes the place of leadership and authority in our lives when we are saved.
The confession, “He is Lord,” distinguishes Christianity from all other religions. The shepherds could not keep quiet about what had happened to them since they had encountered the angel and met Jesus. On their way back to watching over their sheep they told everybody about what they had heard and seen, and all who heard were amazed (Luke 2:18, 20).
Our job is to witness like the shepherds did. Once we meet Jesus in salvation, our lives are changed and we can’t remain silent. The greatest gift we can give cannot be bought with money. It’s telling people about Jesus and leading them to receive Him as God’s gift of eternal life. B&R