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LUKE - Christ, the Savior of the World
A Bible Study Course on the Gospel of Christ according to Luke


5. The Birth of Jesus in Bethlehem (Luke 2:1-20)

LUKE 2:1-7
1 Now it happened in those days, that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. 2 This was the first enrollment made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to enroll themselves, everyone to his own city. 4 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 family of David; 5 to enroll himself with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him as wife, being pregnant. 6 It happened, while they were there, that the day had come that she should give birth. 7 She brought forth her firstborn son, and she wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a feeding trough, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Every country needs an abundant supply of money to equip a strong army, organize state departments all around the country, and build grandiose palaces. This is why the Roman state regulated the law of census once every fourteen years, when all people of the entire Roman Empire must be registered with all their properties, to enable tax collectors to control and collect taxes. The governors registered all trees, houses, animals, and men by force and warning and spread their spies everywhere to arrest those who might avoid giving exact numbers. Then they could raise taxation for the coming years taking no consideration of the harvest, death, or other eventualities. Thus, resentment grew increasingly in the hearts of many because of this injustice at the time of Christ’s birth. All citizens hated this census, and everyone hastened to his homeland and birthplace to be registered there for fear of severe punishment.

In compliance with the order of Caesar, Joseph the carpenter accompanied his fiancée Mary from Nazareth toward the south to the town of Bethlehem. Bethlehem signifies the house of bread; a fitting place for Jesus to be born, who is the Bread of life, the Bread that came down from heaven.

Joseph faced the dangers of that long journey of 170 kilometers with his fiancé among the mountains, hills, and the robbers who lurked there to attack travelers, rob and kill them. Joseph was anxious about this journey with Mary, who was in her last days of pregnancy. However, he was required by the government to obey the decree.

Here, we may find a distinguishing feature of the account of Christ’s birth. God employed the great Caesar Augustus, who called himself the wonderful savior of the world, to move the officials of his state all around the world, in order to accomplish the promise that was summed up in the Old Testament in the Book of Micah that the true Savior of the world would be born in Bethlehem and not in shining Rome, or Nazareth, or pious Jerusalem, or the holy temple, but in a despised village, unknown to the world. Thus God begins his great things quietly with small things. He employs kings and countries to fulfill his redemptive plan, and reaches the goal of his plans away from those who are great and important in human societies.

When Joseph arrived at his town late, all the houses and inns were overcrowded with newcomers who came from everywhere because of the census. He could not find a place to sleep. In such hard times, none but the rich and notable could find a house to receive them and provide them with food. The Son of Mary was born in a lowly stable. From the first day of his birth he was like the homeless. From his first day he began to face the calamities of our world. His lowly birth-place indicates that God has no place in the world of man, for hatred of the selfish drives away the love of the Eternal One to a place such as the dark stable, filled with microbes and bad smells. However, the mother looked after the beloved child and wrapped him in swaddling cloths to keep him warm. Joseph must have put straw and hay in the manger, and covered them before the child’s birth, and thus the stable was changed into a place of love, which lit up and overcame poverty and distress.

The appearance of the Son of God in the stable means not only comfort for men, but also hope for animals, for all creatures expected the revealing of the Son of God and the appearance of the new creation (Romans 8:19-23). The Son of God came down from the glory of heaven to include in his redemption all creation, even animals.

Thus the Son of the Highest was born, and nine months of spiritual striving with faith and trust ended for Mary and Joseph, for the incredible and wonderful event, that is, the incarnation of the Spirit of God, was beyond the understanding of the Virgin and Joseph. Yet, both the angel and the Holy Spirit confirmed that the child in Mary was truly the Son of the living God. He was a firstborn son. What joy, thankfulness, and hope encircled the poor manger!

The fullness of time was now come when God visited the world, reconciling it to himself. Let us not forget that God’s descending took place in a stable and not in a palace, so that men might realize that God comes down and does not require us to go up. The Holy One seeks those who are sinful, going astray, unsuccessful, and repentant, not those who are content, clever, rich, proud, and pious.

What does your heart look like? Does it look like a stable full of faults and sins, having no comfort, but evil smelling? Have you become a poor manger prepared for Jesus? No doubt, all people are filthy, but when Christ enters one’s heart, divine cleansing begins, and the Son of God gives us love, thankfulness, and hope. There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. So prepare your heart as it is so that Christ may dwell in you and sanctify you, and his presence illuminate your mind and your heart with the Holy Spirit.

PRAYER: Thank you Christ, for you became a man. We ask forgiveness, for we had only an unclean stable. Please possess me and cleanse my heart so that it may become a manger for you and you may continue in me forever.

QUESTION 22: Why was Christ born in a stable?


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