Galatians 4:4 - “When the fullness of the time was come (when everything was ready), God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, in order to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”
This sums up the plan and purpose of God in connection with the birth of Jesus. God arranged history so everything would be ready. The Jews no longer ruled themselves as God had prophesied (Genesis 49:10). So a Roman Emperor, looking for more taxes, served God's plan to have Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) just in time for Jesus' birth. Joseph and Mary registered there because they were descendants of the family of King David. But the birth of the King of Kings was anything but royal.
There was no room in the inn, so Mary and Joseph found themselves in a stable, possibly a cave for the animals. Jesus' first bed was the feeding crib or manger. Jesus' humble birth was in keeping with His work as Messiah - not to rule as an earthly monarch, but to serve under God’s law and to finally give His life as a ransom for all. Below are notes on each verse of the account:
Luke 2:1 Caesar Augustus : the first Roman Emperor ruled from 27 BC to 14 AD. Registered :This was a census in the Roman empire to be sure nobody was overlooked in taxes. To do this, the people of Palestine returned to the city of their family or heritage where family records were kept.
v. 2 Quirinius or Cyrenius: the Roman form and the Greek form of the name for the same man. He ruled over Syria including Palestine (twice) from 7-2 BC and again 6-9 AD. The census or registering took place during his first term in the office. (Note: We don't know the exact date of Jesus' birth, nor do we need to. The early church began celebrating Christmas in contrast with a Roman holiday which followed the shortest (darkest) day of the year - December 21.)
vs. 3-5 Joseph also went up.: He traveled among crowds of people, each going to the city of his family to obey the command to be registered. Mary, his betrothed wife, also needed to be registered, so she went along despite her condition.
vs. 6-7 Her firstborn son: Compare with Matt 1:25 (and the previous lesson) to recall the miracle within this simple, humble birth. Swaddling cloths: Strips of cloth wrapped securely around the Babe, as the angel had identified Jesus for the shepherds.
v. 8 Shepherds living out in the fields: Shepherds protected their flocks by remaining in the fields with their sheep. These particular sheep were raised to be temple sacrifices. The lowly birth, matching the humble purpose of Jesus' coming, was first announced, not to royalty, but to rustic shepherds.
v. 9 An angel of the Lord: The Lord's holy messenger produced fear in the hearts of these shepherds.
v. 10 Do not be afraid: Perfect love casts out fear. The angels had Good News of God's love to bring,. which will be to all people: the tidings of great joy are not meant to be hoarded but shared and enjoyed by all people.
v. 11 Born to you this day: The Savior of the world is born for you today. He is Christ, the long awaited Messiah, the Lord, who was promised to become your Savior. The most important news in all of history is brought first to humble shepherds.
v. 12 Shall be a sign to you: The angels wanted the shepherds to see this great event for themselves, so they enabled them to find Jesus.
v. 13 A multitude of the heavenly host: Countless angels of heaven filled the sky around these shepherds singing their praises of God. Amid the lowliness of Jesus' birth, the glory of His person shone through in the choir of angels that proclaimed Jesus' birth that night.
v. 14 Glory to God: God's greatest glory is his working out our salvation by His grace. This salvation, the forgiveness of sins, alone brings peace to human hearts and reestablishes good will between God and mankind. Surely it is worth singing about!
v. 15 Let us now go to Bethlehem and see: They wouldn't wait, but convinced each other to see the event announced by the angels on God's behalf.
v. 16 And they came with haste: Their hurried search was rewarded with the joy of finding the Babe as the angels had said.
v. 17 They made widely known: Probably for a long time to come they told people all about the angel's description of this one special child, for His coming was great news of joy for all Bible believing people.
v. 18 All of those who heard it marveled: The shepherds carried amazing news that caused everyone whom they told to be amazed.
v. 19 But Mary: Mary stored all these events in her heart and thought about them over and over again as she discovered more and more about God's wonderful plan of Salvation through the baby Jesus. Surely the Lord had given her and gives us much to think about.
V. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God: They returned to their duties but with joy in their hearts which they gladly shared with others.
PRAYER O Lord, dear Father in heaven, though we did not deserve it, You gave us such an amazing gift, Your own Son, to be our Savior. His humble birth hides the grand and noble work You sent Him among us to do. Jesus became our perfect Savior. He left the glories of heaven to be born a human baby and to live within the confines of the Law which we cannot keep. Then He also suffered the desolation and agony of hell and death instead of us. Help me, Oh Lord, to know and to share the joy, the amazement, and the peace sent through this wondrous gift You have given to us. In Jesus’ saving name, I pray. Amen.
Exploring God’s Word Birth of Jesus Luke 2:1-20 & Genesis 3:15
“Do not be terrified. I am your God.” (Isaiah 41:10 NIrV)
Just as the angel Gabriel had said, Mary was going to have a baby. During this time the government ordered a census to be taken. Everyone was to go to his hometown to register and be counted. Mary and her husband Joseph traveled to Bethlehem, because they were of the house of David.
When they arrived, it was already very crowded with visitors from everywhere. Mary and Joseph could not find anywhere to stay. They inns were already full. What would they do? Mary was about to have her baby. They really needed to find shelter.
A man let them spend the night in his stable with the animals, because there was no room for them in the inn. That night, Mary gave birth to baby Jesus, God’s son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes (strips of cloth) and laid him in a manger (a box filled with hay to feed animals).
There were shepherds out in the field near Bethlehem watching their flocks that night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them. And the glory of the Lord shone around them. They were afraid of what they saw. The angel told them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy. Today in the town of David (Bethlehem) a Savior has been born. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.”
All of a sudden a huge number of angels appeared with the first angel. They were singing praises to God. “Glory to God in the highest. And on earth peace and goodwill to men.”
When the angels had left, the shepherds said, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see what has happened.” They hurried and found Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus, who was lying in a manger.
When they had seen the child, they told everyone about it. They spread the Good News to everyone. They returned to the fields praising and glorifying God for all they had seen and heard.
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for sending Jesus to us. Thank you for the promise of peace. Thank you for watching over me, and loving me so much. Please help me remember your promise. Amen.
Lutheran Link 2nd Article of the Apostles’ Creed And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.
What does this mean? I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, Who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil’ not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, That I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, Just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.
Theme Verse: Luke 2:7 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.
Do It! Shepherd Game:
Divide into 2 teams. Create a masking tape "path" for the sheep to be herded through.
Teams line up on opposite ends of the track. Give each team a broom and 6 cotton balls (for younger children a small rubber ball can be used). The object is to herd the sheep down the path, to the other side and back.
Talk about the shepherds in the Christmas story.
Play It! Snowball Relay: Use masking tape to create a dividing line. Divide students into 2 teams.
Using cotton balls, place on the line.
At Go, students can try to get all of the snow balls on the other side of the line. Play continues until all of them are on one side, or you’ve had enough fun!
Gather children around you.
Pray: Dear God, Thank you for loving me! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.