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Luke Chapter 2:1-20—The Birth of Christ

1: And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

2: (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3: And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And so the land of Palestine was alive with travelers traversing from one city to another according to their lineage!

4: And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

 The little town of Bethlehem was the birthplace of King David. The very fields around Bethlehem were the fields where David had been a shepherd boy; where he had protected the sheep from the bear and from the lion.

Joseph was a descendant of King David, and his roots were there in Bethlehem. “Bethlehem” means “House of BREAD!” How appropriate that the Son of God, the Bread of Life, should be born in Bethlehem.

Why was Joseph going to Bethlehem?

o       Certainly not because he was “homeless”... he had a home in Nazareth,

o       Certainly not because he was “jobless”... he was a professional carpenter, and

o       Certainly not because he was looking for some handout… Joseph was fully prepared to purchase a room if one were available.

It troubles me so sometimes to hear society compare the plight of Joseph and Mary with the plight of the homeless today, claiming that the parents of the Lord Jesus were outcasts, hungry, jobless, with nobody to give them a handout or hand up.

I heard a secular Christmas song the other day that started out, “Just another homeless family, looking for a hand of charity...” The artist was supposed to be telling the sad story of Joseph and Mary. The song ended with the same line it began with; “Just another homeless family, looking for a hand of charity...” 

Well Joseph and Mary weren’t homeless.  They weren’t looking for a handout or a hand up, and they certainly weren’t looking for charity. They were in Bethlehem because God had arranged for them to be there. They were there, as the Scripture says,

5: To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

Joseph was not a rich man according to the standards of this world, but he was a responsible husband, a responsible father, and one who loved God! And what greater blessing could a wife or a son ask for in this world!

Albert Barnes writes the following:

It may be remarked that the fact that Joseph and Mary were in that place, and under a necessity of taking up their lodgings there, was in itself no proof of poverty; it was a simple matter of necessity; there was no room at the inn. Yet it is worthy of our consideration that Jesus was born poor. He did not inherit a princely estate. He was not a palace. He had no rich friends. Yet he had virtuous and pious (God-fearing) parents, of more value to a child than many riches....Happy is that child (and rich beyond measure) ...that has a pious father and mother.

I heard an older woman talking to a younger woman at McDonald’s one day. She was loud so I didn’t have to strain to eavesdrop!  I believe it was her daughter and they were speaking of a new male relationship the daughter had come into.  

“Well is he successful?” was the older woman’s question to the younger lady. 

“Yes. He works for so-and-so company.” 

“Well that’s wonderful!” was mom’s reply.

In Mom’s mind, the first priority for happiness in this world for her daughter was to marry a man that had this world’s goods. And yet, the successful in this world, more times than not, end up being the most dissatisfied, the most miserable, and least happy of all!

Joseph and Mary may not have been rich with this world’s goods, but they were rich in their love for one another. They were rich in their love for their new baby boy, and they were rich in their love for God, and in turn, His love for them. Mary and Joseph, far from being rich in this world, were rich beyond measure in God’s world!

6: And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7: And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

I was reading a commentary the other day on this very chapter. The writer wrote the following...“Jesus was born in poverty. If Joseph had possessed the money, he could have bought a room in the inn...” Well, the Scripture doesn’t even suggest such a thing! This is wild and, I believe, irresponsible speculation.

The Bible suggests to me that Bethlehem was overflowing that night with probably hundreds of travelers, no doubt coming into Bethlehem for the very same reason Joseph and Mary were there. The Inn was full! There was no vacancy! 

Two years ago, Martha and I went up to vacation for a few days in the mountains. We arrived at Maggie Valley on a Thursday afternoon without reservations. We have since learned a powerful lesson; don’t go to the mountains in the fall without reservations. We couldn’t find a room anywhere, at any price! We ended up driving all the way back to Asheville where we found a room, arriving at around 9:00 pm, completely exhausted!

The Bible doesn’t say that Joseph could have bought a room if he’d had the money. It says, “There was no room in the inn.”

And common sense tells you why! We have one motel in Clayton, North Carolina, population about 6000. Suppose the President of the United States was coming to spend a few days vacation in Clayton? Would you say that the news media couldn’t get a room at our motel because they were too poor to afford the price of that room? Of course not! There just wouldn’t be room. There would be no room for them in the inn.

And that, my friends, was the very situation with Joseph and Mary!

And then the writer of the commentary went on to say something else that troubled me! He wrote, “Jesus was born in obscurity and loneliness. The birth took place away from people, all alone!” I don’t believe for one moment that the Lord Jesus Christ was ever all alone in this world, save those difficult six hours on Calvary when all of the sins of the world were placed upon His body. At that moment in time, both the Father and the Holy Spirit departed the Son, leaving Him to die alone there on Calvary’s cross for our sins. Jesus cried, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” I believe these were the only trying six hours when Christ was all alone for the first time in all of history or of eternity!

But Jesus was not alone in the stable at Bethlehem. His mother, who loved him dearly, was there, keeping him warm and cozy through the still cold night. His earthly father, Joseph, was there making sure both mother and child were well taken care of.  And not only were his parents present at His side, but also the angels of God and the Shepherds from the fields of Bethlehem.

8: And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9: And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10: And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

The birth of Christ was a joyful occasion, an occasion for good tidings! The shepherds were awestruck!

But the angels said, “Snap out of it, and listen to this good news”

11: For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12: And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13: And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men

Even the angels were present that night when Christ was born. The glory of the angels, that radiant light that shone throughout the land, was present the night that Christ was born. And I believe that this was the light, the star, which the Wise men in the east saw. They saw a brilliant star in the east, a super nova, and they began their journey toward Palestine.

The Shepherds were anxious to see the Christ child.

15: And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16: And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

Jesus wasn’t alone in a stable the night of his birth, nor was he born in obscurity!

His mother was there, His earthly father was there, the Shepherds were there, the angels were there, and the beasts of the field were there the night that Christ was born. And God His Father was there, His Holy shekinah glory shining down own mother and child! What a wonderful and rich heritage belongs to the true Church of Jesus Christ today. The night that Christ was born was one of the most beautiful and wonderful occasions in the history of the Christian church. And the response to that event is found in the following verses:

17: And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18: And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19: But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20: And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

The lowly shepherds became the first evangelists!  The Bible says they, “made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.” This is the great commission of every believer in Christ, to make known the wonderful truth that God in Christ Jesus has come into this world and that He came to bring peace on earth and good will toward men.

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