4So 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. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
you; he is Christ[a] the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
15When 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."
16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
21On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived. (NIV)
Gleanings from this Passage
1. God's rule is such that even great world powers can be controlled to bring about the fulfillment of His promises (vv. 1-7).
- As a result of Augustus' decree for a census, Joseph and Mary went to the very town that was prophesied in the Old Testament as the one from whom a Great Ruler would come (Micah 5:2-5a).
- all power and authority is with God (2Chr 20:6); he does as he pleases with kings and kingdoms (Pr 21:1; Dan 2:21; 4:35).
2. It pleased the Lord Jesus to enter our world not by spectacle and grandeur, but by poverty; He identifies with humanity, especially in its most unfavourable condition.
"...she wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger" (v.7).
- by becoming a human, Christ "emptied himself", i.e. gave up the right to carry out the prerogatives of Deity (Phil 2:6-11).
- and He "did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many" (Mk 10:45).
- His poverty ensured that He could identify with humanity -even at its most troubled - and this helped make him suitable to be the perfect human representative to bear our sin (2 Co 8:9; Heb
3. Angels bring with them the presence and glory of God; therefore, they put unease in anyone whom they reveal themselves to.
"an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and they were terrified" (v. 9).
- in their response, the shepherds echo Zechariah in 1:11-13, and Mary in 1:29.
- this incident shows that the biblical portrait of angels is far from the cutesy depiction made of them in popular culture.
4. The gospel of the Savior is to be proclaimed to all people, yet it is only good news for those who trust in it.
"good news for all the people" (v. 10)
"on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests" (v. 14) - more literally, "peace among men with whom He is pleased" (NASB). Christians know peace with God (Rom 5:1-2) and the peace of God (Phil 4:6-7) through faith, without which "it is impossible to please God" (Heb 11:6).
5. Angels give all of their praise and service to God alone (vv. 13-14).
- They do not desire any attention for themselves, but insist that human beings look to, and give praise to, the LORD alone (Rev 22:8-9) for the arrival of the Saviour.
6. The LORD puts His praise in the hearts of those who pay attention to His words.
- Because the shepherds give heed to the angel's instructions to see the LORD (vv. 15-17), and
proclaimed Him to others, they were full of joy and praise (20).
- Mary "pondered" the things of God and found them a treasure (v. 19).
- "Blessedness" is found among those who not only hear God's words, but also meditate upon them (Ps 1:1-3) and do them (Mt 7:21-27; Lk 11:27-29; Jn 13:17; James 1:22-25)
i. What aspects of this passage comfort or encourage you?
ii. What aspects of this passage instruct you?
iii. What aspects of this passage are important reminders that you find easy to forget?