Jun 3

Rev Gav

Confrontation

Luke 2:1-7. Jesus was born at night — into darkness, away from his home town, and into the discomfort of an animal shelter. What does this mean for us?

Luke 2:1-7

The Birth of Jesus

2 At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

The Shepherds and Angels

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

Jesus Is Presented in the Temple

21 Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived.

Reflect

Caesar Augustus was the Roman emperor and the most powerful man in the world. Through the often brutal expansion of the empire, he claimed he brought peace and stability to the whole world, however he did not just claim he was king, he claimed he was a divine king. You see, the Roman government (or the senate) stated that Augustus’ father, Julius Caesar, was divine, and based on this, Augustus claimed that he himself was the ‘son of God’. He even put “Caesar, Son of a God” on his coins. People also said that Caesar Augustus was the ‘good news’ or ‘gospel’, and a ‘saviour for the people’. The angels that visited Zechariah and Mary used similar phrases about Jesus – ‘Son of God’, ‘saviour’, ‘good news’. These were statements of fact about the coming Messiah, but they also had massive political implications, and it is against the backdrop of Caesar — this self-titled, divine king of the known world — that the story of the birth of Jesus begins.

A national census was to be taken and each person had to head back to his home town. I say ‘his’ because the census counted only males. So why did Joseph take Mary along? Presumably because she was nine months pregnant! The couple journeyed to Bethlehem because Joseph was of the royal line of his ancestor, King David. The small village was rammed with visitors, and because there was no room anywhere, they had to kip down for the night in a room used for animals — probably on the ground floor of a two-story house. That night, Mary gave birth to Jesus in a room kept for animals. Really? The King of the Universe, God’s anointed one, the Messiah or Christ, the rescuer of Israel whose kingdom would be infinite, was born in an animal shelter? That cannot be right, can it?

God is saying something deeply profound through this story about what God is like and what God wanted to achieve; that Jesus was born at night — into darkness, away from his home town, and into the discomfort of an animal shelter.

Do

Thank God for the way that Jesus entered the world.

Pray

Holy God
You chose to come to us in humility,
into a dark time, into difficulty and into discomfort.
Thank you for taking the risk and identifying with humanity.
Thank you for taking a risk and identifying with me.
Help me to respond to your love.
This day and for ever.
Amen.

Think

Why do you think Luke starts the section about Jesus’ birth with Caesar Augustus?

How does it make you feel, that Jesus was born in the way he was?

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