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.
Since this will be the last devotion before we break for Christmas, I thought it fitting that we would prepare our hearts for Christmas by once again looking at one of the greatest stories ever told. In Luke chapter two, Luke records Mary’s account of the birth of her Son, Jesus. Here we find great details concerning the Son of God coming into this world to save lost humanity.
Today, I would like to point out several observations from this text. First, we see God’s hand of providence working through a secular world leader in order that events would unfold exactly as Scripture prophesied. The decree by Caesar Augustus to take a census of the entire Roman Empire guaranteed that the promised Messiah would be born in the tiny town of Bethlehem (see Micah 5:2).
Next, we notice the manner of Jesus’ birth. He was not born in a palace surrounded by servants and great wealth. Instead he was born in the humblest of settings. His birth took place in an animal stable. This signified what kind of King He would be. In His first advent, He did not come to rule and reign on high. No, He came as a humble servant to seek and to save that which was lost.
Next, we have the spectacular way His birth was announced to the world. First, a new star appeared in the sky to signify His coming. This is quite different from paying to have an already existing star to be named after you. Second, there was an angelic host of heaven declaring His arrival. “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.” No mistaken identity here! His birth was announced in spectacular fashion. This surely beats taking out an add in the Bethlehem Times.
Lastly, lowly shepherds were the ones that God chose to reveal His birth to. God did not contact King Herod so he could work it into his schedule. Instead, God chose to reveal the birth of His Son to “the least of these.” Once again, this signifies the kind of King He would be. Christmas is not about decorations, Christmas trees, or presents. Christmas is about a promise made and a promise kept. God sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. The only thing that really matters this Christmas is whether He is your Savior!
Questions to Ponder
What does Christmas really mean to you? This Christmas are you celebrating the first advent of your Savior and Lord? Are you looking forward to Christ’s second advent when He returns as King of kings and Lord of lords?
- Sing one of these Christmas songs: O Come, All Ye Faithful; O Come, O Come, Emmanuel; O Little Town of Bethlehem; Joy to the World!; O Holy Night; Away In a Manger; Hark the Herald Angels Sing. You can also find these songs on the Oak Pointe app from our 2019 Christmas Eve Service.
- Sing from your own heart (in Spirit and in Truth). Sing back to the Lord, or just use your words. Tell Him how thankful you are that He humbled Himself and was clothed in humanity, fully dependent upon Mary and Joseph.
- Marvel at the reality that the King of the universe, the Everlasting, Mighty God, who always was and always will be came and dwelled among us, took on the sins of the world, and conquered sin and the grave all so we could be with Him where He is.
- Pray for strength and boldness by the power of the Holy Spirit to go and share the love of Jesus Christ with someone in your Top 3 or with someone whom the Lord leads you to today. Joyfully share the Good News!
Son of God, Son of Man, Immanuel, Word made flesh, Eternal God, Great I Am, Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, I worship and adore You. Father, thank You for sending Your Son to be the Lamb of God, the Resurrection and the Life. Father, I am asking that this Christmas You would enable us, Your church, to set our hearts on You and those around us, especially those hurting in our midst. Even now, Abba, we lift up those who are oppressed, lonely, rejected by others, in jail or prison, and on sick beds or in nursing homes. Oh God, those who the world considers “the least of these” we lift up to You, Abba, and ask that You would touch their hearts and lives in an unusual way this year. I also ask that You would show each one of us how we can bless and encourage others with Your love every single day. Cause Your church to shine brilliantly by our words and deeds compelled by Your great love that sustains us. Cause Your kingdom to come and Your will to be done in and through us all. In the name of Jesus Christ, I ask. Amen.