Verse of the Day 12-25-22

Christmas: A Celebration of the Birth of the Savior of the World

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived. (Luke 2:1-21 NIV)

            Luke is the only Gospel writer to give us a detailed account of the birth of Jesus. The events the Luke described here in Luke 2:1-21 are emphasized with angelic announcements. Luke begins his account of the birth of Jesus by telling us that an imperial edict has been announced that requires everyone in the Roman Empire to return to their ancestral home to be counted. Luke then tells us that this event occurred during the reign of Caesar Augustus (Octavian the man who took over for Julius Caesar, who was Roman Emperor from 31BC-AD 14 and was given the title Augustus in 27 BC). The whole point of this census is so that the people could be taxed properly. Luke even goes one step further in helping us to determine a date for this blessed event by telling us that this census occurred during the tenure of Quirinius the Governor of Syria.

            However, the big question that arises out this first part of the birth narrative is this: Why did Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem in Judea when they were living in Nazareth, which is located in Galilee? Remember that the requirements of this census were for the people to return to their ancestral homes, or too put it in this way they had to return to the town where their family was originally from. Joseph according to the genealogy of Jesus that we are given in Matthew 1 is a descendant of King David, who was born in Bethlehem, and it is largely believed that Mary was quite possibly, also a descendant of King David. Therefore, when this census was ordered both Joseph and Mary had to return to the Bethlehem, their ancestral home, to be counted.

            We can all agree that Jesus is Mary’s firstborn son. But the events of his birth are nothing like what would be expected for the birth of a firstborn son. We are told that Jesus is placed in a manger (or a feeding trough for animals usually located in barn) because there was no room for Mary and Joseph in the “guest room.” Now let’s deal with the popular misconception that there was no room from them in the “inn,” which is how a lot of older literal translations will translate the Greek word used here. Though this place of lodging could quite possibly refer to public accommodations in the town, but a different Greek term, that is translated “inn,” is used in Luke 10:34 to refer to public lodging. However, the Greek term used in Luke 2(“guest room”) is the same term used in Luke 22:11 and Mark 14:14, where it used for a room in a private house, which means that “guest room” and not “inn” is the likely meaning here. This simply means that Luke 2:7 is referring to the location of a “manger” and “guest room” within a first-century house or private dwelling place.

            The scene shifts in verse 8 from the town of Bethlehem to the hills surrounding Bethlehem. Where we find a group of shepherds tending to their flock. In this night setting, the brightness of the glory of the Lord shines around this group of shepherds, and naturally they are afraid. But this group of shepherds should not fear what they are witnessing, because the angel is announcing good news that will cause “great joy.” This joy is for all people, a group that will be clarified as one reads further into Luke’s Gospel. But what we do see clearly here and now are notes of joy that resound throughout these opening chapters of Luke’s Gospel, that serve as a frame for the “Good New” that he is trying to convey to each and every one of us. This Good News of great joy concerns what has happened “today” in Bethlehem. The birth of Jesus, who is the long awaited Messiah from the line of David, the anointed Davidic King. He is also the Lord who has come to save his people.

            The results of Jesus’ birth are declared with angelic praise. “Glory” in this context means giving honor to God. The praise emphasizes God’s initiative and purpose in salvation rather than salvation by human merit. In Luke 2:15 the angel’s message is seen to be from God. Whereas the crowds marveled at the news, Mary’s personal response is one of ongoing reflection (though this does not mean she has complete understanding). To give glory to God in praise is a regular response in Luke’s Gospel (often with reference to Jesus). Again, what the shepherds have heard and seen has taken place just as it had been told to them. Praise fittingly concludes this account. Mary and Joseph obey God’s instructions by naming the child Jesus, and they fulfill the old covenant law by circumcising Jesus on the eighth day.

            Now let’s circle back around to the most important verse in this entire passage, verse 11, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Jesus at his birth is called “a Savior.” But what does that mean exactly?

  1. As Savior, Jesus has come to rescue us from sin and its most costly result: spiritual death and separation from God. This mission includes freeing us from Satan’s power, preserving us from the ungodly influence of the world, relieving us of fear, giving us victory over death and saving us from the final judgement for our offenses against God.
  2. As Savior, he is also “Christ the Lord”-the only one worthy to be the leader and supreme authority in our lives. He has been anointed (set apart, commissioned, and/or empowered) as the Messiah (the “Anointed One”) and the Lord who rules with love over his people. No one can truly have Jesus as Savior while not submitting to his lordship. That is to say, he must be both the Forgiver of one’s sins and the leader of one’s life.

            As we gather all over the world today to celebrate Christmas remember this: “For a child will be born to us, a Son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6 NASB). Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of that prophecy, made some 800 years before his birth. Remember the real reason for the season: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:11 NIV).

Today’s Bible Readings:

Zechariah 8, Revelation 16, Psalm 144:1-15 and Proverbs 30:29-31


Make a one-time donation

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount


Or enter a custom amount


Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

Success! You're on the list.

Leave a Reply