John T. Willis

Friday, December 09, 2011

The Savior of the World is Born--Luke 2:1-20

After describing the birth and growth of John the Baptist, Luke gives an account of the birth of Jesus, which appears in Luke 2:1-20. This paragraph falls into three parts.

I. The Setting of Jesus' Birth at Bethlehem. Luke 2:1-5.
a. The triumvirate of the Roman world [composed of Octavian, Mark Antony and M. Lepidus] was set up in November 43 BCE]. Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus was recognized as a god on 1 January 42 BCE. On 16 January 27 BCE, the Roman Senate bestowed on him the name Augustus. In 7-6 BCE, Quirinius became governor of Syria. Herod the Great was king of the Jews. He died in 4 BCE. Augustus issued a decree that everyone in Judea was to be registered. Apparently, this decree occurred ca. 6-4BCE. 2:1-3.
b. Since Joseph descended from the house and family of David, he went from his present house in Nazareth in the north to Bethlehem. "The City of David" was the citadel of Zion or the former Jebusite stronghold that David captured and transformed into Jerusalem--see 2 Samuel 5:7, 9; 6:10, 12, 16; 2 Kings 9:28;
12:22. Joseph was engaged to Mary. They went to Bethlehem to be registered. 2:4-5.

II. Jesus' Birth. Luke 2:6-7.
a. 2:6-7 parallel the account of the birth of John the Baptist in 1:57-58.
b. Mary was her firstborn child. This prepares the hearer stated in 2:23 [which we will discuss in the next blog as we study the Gospel of Luke]. Mary wrapped in Jesus in bands of cloth, as in the case of Solomon, according to Wisdom of Solomon 7:4; cf. the same practice stated in Ezekiel 16:4. Mary laid the baby Jesus in a manger, a feeding trough for domesticated animals, an enclosure where animals could be penned inside or outside--see Luke 13:15. The language of Luke 2:6-7 contains some similarities to the metaphor stated in Isaiah 1:3.

III. The Manifestation of the Baby Jesus and the Reactions. Luke 2:8-20.
a. In the region of Bethlehem, shepherds were keeping watch over their flocks by night. An angel of the Lord stood before them, the glory of the Lord shone around them, and the shepherds were terrified. "The glory of the Lord" is a well-known term in the Hebrew Bible symbolizing Yahweh's perceptible presence to his people--Exodus 16:7, 10; 24:17; 40:34; Numbers 12:8; Psalm 63:3. 2:8-9.
b. The angel declared: "Do not be afraid"--see 1:13, 30. Further he announced: I am bringing you good news of great joy FOR ALL THE PEOPLE--in this context, the people of Israel. This day, in "the City of David"=Bethlehem near Jerusalem, is born: (1) a Savior; (2) the Messiah=the Christ; (3) the Lord. See further Acts 2:36. The angel tells the shepherds that they will receive a SIGN: they will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth lying in a manger--see 2:7. 2:10-12.
c. Suddenly, a multitude of angels accompanied the announcing angel. Together they were praising:
"Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors."
"Glory" here means "Honor"--see Romans 11:36; Hebrews 13:21. 2:13-14.
d. This led to two reactions. First, the shepherds discussed and agreed to go to Bethlehem to see the newborn Jesus. They went quickly to find Joseph and Mary, and Jesus lying in a manger. Immediately, they told the people of Bethlehem, and the people were amazed. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Second, Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 2:15-20.

What an amazing, wonderful account. We are so thankful that God our Father sent Jesus his Son into the world. Praise God.

Share YOUR thoughts and insights with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis