5 Things to Notice When You Read Luke's Christmas Story This Year
- Cold-Case Christianity
- 2020 14 Dec
This Christmas season, Luke 2 will probably be the most-read passage of Scripture. It is the well known story that tells of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem, the birth of Jesus, the angels’ announcement to the shepherds in the fields, the shepherds’ visit to the stable, and even Jesus’ childhood. This chapter of the New Testament tells the age-old Christmas story, but it’s also extremely relevant to our lives today in practical ways.
The Christmas Story Found in Luke 2
Luke 2:1-21: "In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)And everyone went to their own town to register.
So 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. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 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.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When 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.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived."
Here are five takeaways from Luke 2 that we can apply to our lives today:
1. Even Jesus Wasn’t above Simple Circumstances
When you think of kings, you think of crowns and thrones and palaces...not stables full of smelly farm animals and a feeding trough as a bed for a newborn baby. Yet Jesus, King of Kings though He is, came into the world in a remarkably simple, lowly, and unassuming way. His birth was the furthest thing from a King’s welcome. Few of us are acquainted with the ways of royalty, and it’s hard to even fathom how elaborate and exquisite that lifestyle is. Many more of us, however, can describe in detail what a barn is like. I find this part of the Christmas story so beautiful-- Jesus didn’t come to earth as a mighty, majestic King who would be intimidating and untouchable. He instead came as an innocent, needy, dependent baby born to parents who were poor and as simply normal as could be. Everything about the very beginnings of his life on earth was humble and unassuming, giving us a Savior we can easily relate to and understand, not one who is distant or on a lofty throne. This is such a comforting truth-- we don’t have to have prestigious job titles or well-stocked bank accounts or fame to be used by God, because not even His Son required those things.
2. God’s Glory Is Worthy of Our Praise, even when We Feel Afraid
When the angel of the Lord stood before the shepherds who were keeping watch over their sheep during the night, verse 9 says “they were terrified.” I would be too! Even though they were afraid and probably trying to make sense of what they were seeing and hearing, wondering if they were dreaming or if this really was happening, the angel’s first words were “Do not be afraid.”
3. When the Lord Makes a Promise, We Can Trust He Will Keep it
The shepherds heard from the angels that the baby had been born, and they didn’t doubt it. Verse 15 says, “when 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.’” They heard the message and immediately acted upon it, never hesitating or questioning that what the angel of the Lord had said to them. We should do the same in our lives. We have Scripture as tangible documentation of the Lord’s promises and truths, and we should act on them without questioning His faithfulness and trustworthiness.
4. Words from and about the Lord Are to Be Treasured
When the shepherds visited Mary and Joseph and the baby in the manger, verses 17 and 18 say, “they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” I can’t even imagine what the shepherds’ stories must have been after seeing the angels in all the glory of the Lord out in the fields, but I know it must have been powerful and beautiful. Verse 19 says, “ Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Verse 51 later says, “His mother treasured all these things in her heart,” after Jesus was found in the temple learning from the teachers. The things Mary heard about her son and the things she saw Him doing were beautiful treasures to her, and they should be for us as well. The stories we have in Scripture tell us about who Jesus is and what He did on this earth, and we should hold them dear in our hearts.
5. We Should Make Time to Learn from Those Older than Us
Jesus did this as a child in the temple, painting a beautiful picture for us. Jesus was the all-knowing and all-powerful Son of God, yet even he sat among the temple’s teachers to listen, ask questions, and learn. Verse 47 says, “Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.” Verse 52 later says, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” He knew as a boy that his elders had wisdom that he could grow from, and he sought it out. We should do the same, seeking the advice and knowledge of those who are more mature and knowledgeable in their faith. We can learn so much from mentors, teachers, and pastors when we listen to their words, ask them questions, and just spend time among them.
When you hear Luke 2 this Advent season, remember these five things. Look deeper beyond just the familiar story of Christmas and see that these verses are practically relevant for us even thousands of years later.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/@annhwa
This article is part of our larger Christmas and Advent resource library centered around the events leading up to the birth of Jesus Christ. We hope these articles help you understand the meaning and story behind important Christian holidays and dates and encourage you as you take time to reflect on all that God has done for us through his son Jesus Christ!
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