What the Nativity Event Teaches Us (Luke 2:1-20)

By Donald Whitchard

Genesis 3:15, Numbers 24:17, Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:6-7, Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 2:1-20


Summary: The birth of the Lord Jesus Christ is the centerpiece of civilization.  It is also an illustration about the promises of God, our obedience of God, the accessibility to God, and the tragedy of rejecting God.


“AND it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So, all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for to be delivered. She brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and lay Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night, and behold, an angel of the LORD stood before them, and the glory of the LORD shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be for all people. For there is born to you this day, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the LORD. And this will be the sign to you. You will find a Babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger’. 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.’

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven that the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass which the LORD has made known to us’. And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now, when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying that was told them concerning the Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen as it had been told them.” (Luke 2:1-20, NKJV)

The birth of the Lord Jesus Christ as recorded in Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 2:1-20 is presented as historical fact backed by eyewitness testimony, such as the recollection from Mary (Luke 2:18), the surviving shepherds who were told by the angel to go to Bethlehem (2:20), and from the travelers who were on the road to Emmaus and encountered the risen Christ, who opened their eyes to the Scriptures concerning the birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of the Messiah (Luke 24:13-31).  I have no doubt that Matthew heard the story from the LORD as He and His disciples traveled throughout Judea, Galilee, and other regions spreading the Gospel (Mark 1:35; Luke 9:1-6; John 20:30-31, 21:25).  This wonderous and holy event has been, unfortunately, overshadowed and all but forgotten by this wicked world who sees the “Christmas Story” as an excuse for retail profit, parties, and giving people we hardly know unnecessary gifts that usually end up back on the shelves or returned to online retailers for a variety of reasons.  I believe that even the most devoted followers of the Lord Jesus at times overlook the significance of the Nativity.  Apart from the birth of our LORD, this story is also a lesson about the promises and plans of Almighty God that have been and will be fulfilled.

The first lesson about the Nativity is that, with the birth of Christ, the plan of redemption foretold in the book of Genesis came to pass (Genesis 3:15).  Adam and Eve fell from grace when they disobeyed the LORD and were made to deal with the consequences of their sins, including the cursing of the earth (Romans 5:12, 8:20-22).  This act of rebellion made them, and all of us, enemies of God (Romans 5:10).  This rebellious nature passed down to us.  Even if we wanted to “turn over a new leaf” and “be good,” our corrupt efforts amount to nothing.  Our wicked, self-centered works of “righteousness” are, in the eyes of God, are no better than using a filthy leper’s rag or worse to cleanse ourselves (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:10-18, 23).  None of us are exempt from the curse and consequences of sin.  The Redeemer that God promised to Adam and Eve was born at the right time (Galatians 4:4-5) in the right place (Micah 5:8: Matthew 2:6) and be the Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice who would take away the sins of the world.  That includes you and me (Isaiah 53:4-6; Matthew 11:28-30; John 1:29-30, 19:30; Acts 4:12; Hebrews 7:25).  God always keeps His promises, and the birth of the Savior was the greatest promise He gave to humanity.

The second lesson about the Nativity is that the LORD is that the manger is an illustration of God’s desire to have a restored, loving fellowship with us, although we do not deserve it.  The lowly arrival of the Lord Jesus is God’s way of telling us that the King of Kings is not Someone born in a regal palace and aloof from His subjects.  Our King comes to His people and cares for them as a shepherd would his flock.  In turn, we can have confidence that we can come to Him any time and talk with Him, pouring our hearts out to Him, and in turn, He listens with a sympathetic and loving attitude.  The King is one of us and offers His grace and mercy to everyone regardless of status, ethnicities, education, color, or nationality.  The King has no prejudices and turns no one away who come to Him.  The manger shows us the humbleness of the King and opens our eyes to the wonderful truth that we do not have to cower in fear and trembling before Him as if He were a tyrant like Herod or Caesar.  The shepherds, the lowliest of society, were given the honor of being the first to hear of the Savior’s birth and to tell others about the great King who chose to enter the world as a baby and be placed in the lowly manger.

The third lesson about the Nativity is that obeying the LORD often means being willing to leave that which is familiar to us and follow Him in an act of faith, regardless of what others might think or say, or even what we might think, say, or question.  The Old Testament is a written testimonial of people from humble and anonymous beginnings who were chosen by God to do what seemed on the surface to be an impossibility.  There is the story of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-4) who was told by God to leave his people, gather his things, go to a new land, and be given a promise of heirs as numerous as the stars.  Abraham is not only the father of the Hebrews but of everyone throughout history who walks by faith, trusting in God to accomplish what He asks of us.  Moses, eighty years old and living on the back side of the desert as a shepherd, was told by God to go deliver the people of Israel from the bondage they were suffering in Egypt.  God promised to be with Him on this venture, and we also witness the fall of Egypt, a symbol of the world and its tyrannical ways.  God’s power overcame the dictatorial actions of Pharoah and the demands of the state.  God’s power gives us freedom, while the state gives us a dystopian life of misery and hopelessness.  Mary and Joseph obeyed the word of the LORD and traveled dangerous roads and seemingly endless miles until they reached Bethlehem, only to end up as the temporary tenants of a stable, a place for the animals to dwell.  Obedience to God may not fit in with what we think or expect.  It turns out to be something far greater than we can imagine.  It also shows that the problems and inconveniences we experience here in this temporary world are nothing in comparison to what awaits us in the new heavens and earth where we will dwell with the LORD forever, free from sin, sorrow, sickness, and death.

The fourth and final lesson of the Nativity is that some people would rather erase it from history, demean it, hate it, deny it, and will do and say anything to turn others away from what it means.  The devil wants us to turn from it and instead pay attention to the decorations, presents, parades, elves, TV specials, parties, and anything else that can keep us focused on the holidays and not the holiness of season.  He knows that the birth of Christ signaled the end for him and his angels.  He knows that the resurrection and soon return of Jesus has sealed his doom.  The Nativity was the event that told him his number was up, and that the plans of God will never be overturned, thwarted, nor defeated.

Dictators, kings, tyrants, and petty officials throughout history tried to erase His existence.  Instead, they now lie in anonymous graves, their words forgotten, their deeds cast to oblivion, and their souls condemned to reside in an eternal hell that was not made for them or any of us.  Yet, to ignore and mock what occurred that night in the city of Bethlehem is to turn away from the promise of redemption and freedom from the bondage of sin that the Lord Jesus freely provided for us when He took our sins upon Himself while on the cross, paying our eternal sin debt in full.  His birth, life, death, and resurrection are the greatest gift we can ever receive in this life.  The Babe of Bethlehem grew up to be the Promised Redeemer, and He will return one day as the Conquering King to make all things new.  He offers you the best of all gifts.  Reach out and receive it today.




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Luke 21:36 "Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man."

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