Birth  of  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ

Luke 2:1-14


1.    And it came to pass in those days that a degree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.


       During the reign of Augustus Caesar (31 BC and AD 14) the Romans reorganized their administration in several parts of the Empire and carried out fresh censuses of the population for the purpose of taxation.


2.    This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.


       Quirinius was the governor of Syria at that time and Israel was also governed by him.  Egyptian papyri records a periodic 14 year census.


3.    So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

4.    And 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.


       God’s providence working through Caesar Augustus and the imperial enrollment decree made it possible for Joseph and Mary, who lived in Nazareth of Galilee, to fulfill the prophecy of Micah relating to the Messiah’s birth in Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2)


       Notice that Joseph “went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem”.  Nazareth is situated on a hill in the Plain of Esdraelon about 65 miles north of Jerusalem. It was about 365 meters (1,197 feet) above sea level.  Bethlehem is about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) south of Jerusalem and is standing at 765 meters (2,509 feet) above sea level which is 30 meters higher than Jerusalem. 


       The distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem is about 70 miles as the crow flies, but the winding mountain trails that Joseph and Mary had to travel is about 90 miles, and the climb is about 400 meters (1,312 feet).  At walking pace it would take them more than a week to cover that distance and height.


5.    to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 


       The fact that Mary traveled with Joseph means they were legally married, but the description of her as “betrothed wife” to him shows they had not consummated the marriage (cf. Mt. 1:25).


6.    So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.


       The description “while they were there” indicates Joseph and Mary had arrived in Bethlehem earlier before the childbirth.  It was not a matter of rushing to Bethlehem for an emergency delivery.  God had well prepared them for the birth of His Son.  “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:  A time to be born, and a time to die;” (Ecc. 3:1-2)  But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law.” (Gal. 4:4)


7.    And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.


       Our Lord Jesus Christ was born in the most difficult circumstances “because there was no room for them in the inn.”  Unlike the modern health conveniences that we have today, there was no hospital, no sanitized labor or delivery room, no specialist doctor or midwife to deliver the baby, no nurses to assist in the delivery, no anesthetic to ease the labor pain and no comfortable bed to rest after the birth. 


       The infant Jesus was “wrapped Him in swaddling cloths” which are strips of cloths to keep the baby warm and also to give a sense of security.  These cloths were believed to protect the baby’s internal organs as well.  The “King of kings and Lord of lords” was born in a manger which is a trough from which livestock eat. 


       Jesus was born to a poor family and remained poor throughout His life on earth.  He said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” (Mt. 8:20)  Have you ever thought why He was so poor?  Here is the reason.  “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9)  Praise and thank God for His amazing grace.


8.    Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.


       Bible scholars interpret this verse to indicate the time of Christ’s birth to be from Spring to Autumn since shepherds in Israel customarily do not remain in the open with their flocks at night during the cold and wet winter months.  The traditional date of December 25 for Christmas was set by the Western Church in the Fourth Century.  The first recorded celebration of Christmas was in Rome in A.D. 354.  The Eastern Church celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ on January 6.  Actually the date is unknown and nobody should be dogmatic about it.


Please go to :à Timeline of the Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ


9.    And behold and angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.


       There may be a good reason why God chose to reveal the birth of His Son to the shepherds before anyone else.  The shepherds were often despised by others like young David was despised by his elder brother (1 Sam. 17:28)  Shepherds were regarded as inferior to others yet were responsible for keeping the sheep for the temple sacrifices that were performed for the atonement of sin.  God chose the simple folks so “that no flesh should glory in His presence.” (1 Cor. 1:25-29)  Here the angels invited these shepherds to greet the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the whole world forever.


10.  Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all the people.


       An angel is a messenger of God.  In the New Testament the words “good tidings” means good news and is called the “gospel.”  The first gospel message of God is the birth of the Savior Jesus Christ.  Although this message was first announced to the shepherds but it is given to “all the people” in the world throughout the ages.


11.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.


       This is the essence of the gospel message.  The Lord Jesus Christ is the one and only Savior of mankind. 


12.  “And this will be the sign to you:  you will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.


       The word “sign” in Greek is semeionwhich means a signal or a mark of identification.  The “sign” is the confirmation of the unusual significance of the Child as the Savior of mankind by the unusual place where He was to be found.


13.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14.  Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, good will toward men!”


Please go to :à  Glory to God in the Highest



May God bless you


A Bible Study based on this article was conducted by Paul Wong

to a Congregation in Houston, Texas on December 24, 2004

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Paul Wong is a Christian minister and the President of ARK International.
His ministry also serves as an architectural service company in Houston.
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