Christmas (12-23-2018)

Pastor's Summary of  Luke 2:1-20

Luke is concerned to place Jesus in the time-line of history, as a real human being.  We know of Augustus' attempt to clean up the taxation systen: as well as requiring more reasonable practices of tax collectors, he introduced a truly equitable tax: a poll tax.  Every 14 years, a census was held; people were required to present themselves in their ancestral town, to register for the tax. A census ws held by Quirinius of Syria in 6-7 AD. From Matthew 2:16, we know that Herod the Great sought to kill Jesus by slaughtering all children aged two or less. Because Herold died in 4 BC, Jesus was born no later than 6 BC Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem, the city of David, to  be registered. Jesus is born in Bethlehem in fulfilment of the prophecy of Micah 5:2-5: a shepherd-king is to be born there.

Jesus is treated like any other newborn of the time: he is wrapped in cloths, but there may be a message in his being born in "a manager"; animals normally fed from it; Jesus is sustenance for the world.  In vv. 8-14, we learn the meaning of Jesus' birth. Those who hear the pronouncement by the angels are "shepherds", lowly people. David too was a shepherd; in Luke, Jesus comes to the poor, the lowly.  The message of Christ's birth is indeed a joyful one---for all.

V. 11 mentions our great claims as to who Jesus is: "saviour", "Messiah" and "Lord". As Saviour, he restores us to wholeness, rescues us from sin and alienation from God. As Messiah, he inaugurates the era of heavenly peace: the end-time has begun. As Lord, he is God come in human form.  The kingdom is for all those whom God has chosen. The shepherds visit Jesus, Mary and Jospeh. They tell them and many others the good news the angels have told them.