Most of us enjoy Christmas. We have the food, carols, family, the gifts, just to name a few. But what about those that don’t have family, or their families are to far apart. What about those who must plan Christmas for another day due to work obligations or custody arrangements. The list goes on. We be amiss not to mention the homeless who have no one at Christmas.
The point here is that most people forget the real reason for the season.
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, everyone into his own city. 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:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 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. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 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. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, good will toward men. 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. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying, and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
How many of you thought we were doing a Christmas in July or something similar when you heard our worship song this morning? We are starting a 5-part series titled Jesus. What took 32 years to happen in the bible, we celebrate in matters of months every year going from Christmas to Easter. This will take us the road from just before Christmas to Easter and beyond. We say beyond because there is a lot that happens after the resurrection at Easter that we need to acknowledge.
The first character we see in this passage is Caesar Augustus. He is the Ruler of the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity, it included large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia, ruled by emperors. Today here in the USA, our country has a President, each state has a mayor, each county an executive of some sort, and each town or city has a government leader.
Before we get into what happens next, we must go back to Chapter 1 of the book of Luke to understand how we got to this point.
Luke 1:26-28 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, how shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore, also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
Here we have Mary, single, who has been selected by our creator to bring our future savior into this world. The pressure that has been put on Mary. But what do we learn from all of this:
God picked Mary for the job. Virgin Mary Was never a sinner. That is why she was chosen to be the mother of The Almighty, Jesus Christ. The Blessed Virgin Mary was born without original sin by God’s divine grace. Next to Jesus, only she is free from all sin
Be Prepared to be used by God.
1 Corinthians 16:13 Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity.
Put your faith in God.
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; And lean not unto thine own understanding.
Live your life as a servant of the Lord
Mark 10:45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
One of the many names Jesus was called. It originated back in the book of Isaiah (three times there) and once in the book of Matthew. Translated it means “God with us”.
Matthew 1:24 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Now back to today’s scripture, Mary has become pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is amazing and can only be done by the all-powerful creator. According to authoritarians on the bible, God was instrumental in women who were barren get pregnant six other times but not in the same powerful way that we receive Jesus in the New Testament.
Now the trip to Bethlehem took place because the government called for a census. Today they spend thousands of dollars sending out census surveys and having people go door to door. Back then however you needed to go to your ancestral towns by imperial order.
The Journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem Probably Took a Week. If the current hypothesis among biblical scholars stands—that is a four-day journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem—Mary and Joseph would have had to travel about 90 miles in four days, averaging a 2.5-mph pace for roughly eight hours a day.
Now they arrive in Bethlehem, Mary can’t travel anymore, and there is no room at the Inn. They are offered shelter in the barn. This is where baby Jesus is born.
God used humble people like Mary & Joseph, why can’t Jesus use humble people like you and me.
Psalm 25:9 The meek will he guide in judgment: And the meek will he teach his way.
- Small Packages
We have all heard the good things come in small packages. I know I hear this a lot around the birth of babies. This is so true when it comes to the birth of Baby Jesus.
2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
- Obey NOW
Remember you mother telling you to do something and generally followed by the words “And I mean now”? Let’s remember that God tells us to do something, He has a plan and for that plan to work you need to do it quickly.
1 Peter 3:17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
He came to show us the way and then our debt He paid