Chapter 2 of Luke is what we think of when we think of the traditional Christmas story, as told by Linus in “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
Linus recites Luke 2:8-14. Those may be the most widely known verses to the general public. Charles Schulz left a beautiful mark on this earth.
Now remember we just read about the miraculous birth of John the Baptist. Chapter 2 begins with the Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus, ordering a census to be taken. That meant that everyone had to return to their town of birth to register and be accounted for.
There are arguments over whether the census was ordered for taxes, for regulating the food supply, or simply for Caesar’s pride. He wanted to rule over as many people as possible, and counting his people was like counting his wealth and power.
Whatever the reason, Joseph and Mary obeyed and returned to Bethlehem, the town of David.
“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”
Luke 2:6-7 NIV
Now this was a miracle. A world-changing event, yet he was born in a barn. Then the angels made the grand announcement to a band of shepherds.
What? God comes to earth, incarnate, as flesh and God in one, yet he’s born in a barn to an unwed mother, and the birth announcement, by angels no less, is made to dirty, lowly shepherds sleeping out on the ground, herding sheep.
Why wasn’t Jesus born into a palace? Why wasn’t he announced to royalty? Or at least to the church officials and leaders?
God came to serve, not to be served.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Mark 10:45 NIV
God sent Jesus to this earth to offer salvation to the humble, who realize their need for a savior. Shepherds represented the lowly, the poor, and the dirty, all in need of cleansing.
When Jesus was 8 days old, Joseph and Mary brought him to the temple for the naming ceremony and the circumcision, which was part of the Jew’s covenant with God. There were two very important people awaiting the arrival of Jesus, Simeon and Anna.
Simeon and Anna were both elderly and wanted nothing more than to see the fulfillment of the Old Testament promise of the Messiah.
Here I love the fact that Anna was a prophetess. People try to say women can’t be in leadership positions in the church, but here is a prime example of Old Testament and women in leadership roles.
The chapter ends with Jesus as a 12 yr old adolescent. He is already full of wisdom and gets so wrapped up in taking about His Father in the synagogue, that he gets left by his earthly parents.
Regardless of his youth, he is obedient. I love sharing this verse with teens, who think they know it all. This was Christ, who was going to change the world, yet he honored his parents.
“Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”
Luke 2:51-52 NIV
His obedience to his parents led to greatness. He was patient and grew in wisdom.
We should all learn from this.