THE BIRTH OF JESUS
Luke 2:11, ESV
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
LUKE 2:1-5, NIrV
1 In those days, Caesar Augustus made a law. It required that a list be made of everyone in the whole Roman world. 2 It was the first time a list was made of the people while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 Everyone went to their own town to be listed.
4 So Joseph went also. He went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea. That is where Bethlehem, the town of David, was. Joseph went there because he belonged to the family line of David. 5 He went there with Mary to be listed. Mary was engaged to him. She was expecting a baby.
Growing a child in your belly isn't the easiest thing in the world. After all, you’re lugging around an extra human being inside you all the time! Mary was super pregnant and ready to pop. I'm sure she didn't feel like going on a 75-mile walk away from her cozy hometown of Nazareth. But she had no choice. The ruler over her land, Caesar Augustus, had given an order: “Everyone in my kingdom must return to their family’s hometown and sign their name to a list!” With Joseph at her side, Mary was forced to waddle her pregnant body all the way to Bethlehem, her hubby's hometown.
+ What famous person was born in Bethlehem? (Hint: his name is written in verse 4.)
+ Bethlehem and Nazareth were about 75 miles apart. If the average person walks at 2.5 miles per hour, how long was their journey? (Hint: solving 75 ÷ 2.5 will tell you how many hours they needed to walk.)
LUKE 2:6-7, NIrV
6 While Joseph and Mary were there, the time came for the child to be born. 7 She gave birth to her first baby. It was a boy. She wrapped him in large strips of cloth. Then she placed him in a manger. That’s because there was no guest room where they could stay.
When it comes time for a baby to be born, they’re going to pop out of their mama whether she's ready or not! Mary ending up giving birth in the town of Bethlehem instead of back home in Nazareth. The place was packed with people who’d come to sign Caesar’s list. With so little space, Mary had to get creative to find a place for her baby to sleep. She used a manger, a box that barn animals ate food out of. Knowing what you and I know, this is incredible. Jesus, the Son of God, deserved a crib fit for a king. Instead, he spent his first night on earth sleeping in an animal’s food dish!
+ What did Mary do to keep her baby warm and cozy? (vs. 7)
+ Christmas is the day each year when we celebrate Jesus’ birthday. It happens on December 25. Look at these verses again. Do they tell us the actual day of Jesus’ birth?
LUKE 2:8-9, NIrV
8 There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby. It was night, and they were taking care of their sheep. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them. And the glory of the Lord shone around them. They were terrified.
Every baby’s birthday is certainly a time for celebration. Moms and dads are eager to share their good news with anyone who will listen. But Jesus was God’s Son, born to save the world from their sins. A one-of-a-kind birthday like that called for a spectacular celebration! Who did God invite to come to his Son’s birthday bash? Someone rich, famous, and powerful? Nope. He chose ordinary shepherds: men with the exciting job of babysitting sheep all day and night! Imagine the surprise of the shocked shepherds (and their sheep, too) when the dark night sky exploded with the light of an angel!
+ When the angel appeared to the shepherds, how did they feel? (vs. 9)
+ Why do you think God picked shepherds to be the first ones to hear the good news?
LUKE 2:10-14, NIRV
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news. It will bring great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 Here is how you will know I am telling you the truth. You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a large group of angels from heaven also appeared. They were praising God. They said,
14 “May glory be given to God in the highest heaven!
And may peace be given to those he is pleased with on earth!”
The sudden sight of an angel left the shepherds shaking in their sandals. But they had nothing to fear – this angel came to share good news! "Christ the Savior had been born in Bethlehem!" What in the world is a “Christ” and why was this such good news? We’ll talk more about that later this week. In case the scared shepherds thought they were having a crazy nighttime dream, the angel gave them a strange clue to look for: a brand new baby sleeping in a manger. If they found a brand-new baby boy dozing in an animal’s dinner dish, they could be certain the angel was telling the truth!
+ How could the shepherds know that this wasn’t all a crazy dream? (vs. 12)
+ Who suddenly joined the angel? What did they say? (vs. 13-14)
LUKE 2:15-20, NIRV
15 The angels left and went into heaven. Then the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem. Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby. The baby was lying in the manger. 17 After the shepherds had seen him, they told everyone. They reported what the angel had said about this child. 18 All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary kept all these things like a secret treasure in her heart. She thought about them over and over. 20 The shepherds returned. They gave glory and praise to God. Everything they had seen and heard was just as they had been told.
After the angels left, the shepherds sprinted into Bethlehem to play a midnight game of Hide & Seek. The angel had told them exactly what to look for: a baby sleeping in an animal’s food box. And what do you know – they actually found one! I’m sure Mary and Joseph wondered why a bunch of unexpected guests were knocking at their door in the middle of the night. But they quickly found out why when the shepherds shared their strange story of an angel singing about a savior in a manger! With all this excitement, baby Jesus might have been the only one who got any sleep at all that night!
+ What did Mary do after hearing what the shepherds had to say? (vs. 19)
+ What did the shepherds do after they left Mary and Joseph? Why? (vs. 20)
MICAH 5:2, NIRV
2 The Lord says,
“Bethlehem Ephrathah, you might not be
an important town in the nation of Judah.
But out of you will come for me
a ruler over Israel.
His family line goes back
to the early years of your nation.
It goes all the way back
to days of long ago.”
Micah was a prophet, a man who heard messages from God and repeated them to the people. Can you guess what Bible book contains the messages God spoke to Micah? If you said, “Micah!”, you were right!
Micah lived about 700 years before Jesus’ birthday in Bethlehem. You might be wondering, “What in the world does this guy have to do with what we’ve been reading about this week?” To answer that question, we’ll need to finally talk about the strange word the angel spoke to the shepherds: Christ.
The Bible book of Genesis tells the sad-but-true tale of the first ever sin. Adam and Eve, our ancient human parents, ate fruit from a tree that God had forbidden them to eat from. With that single sin, the curse of sin and death slithered into God's world. And like a disease, sin spread to every human being who ever lived, including you and me! This was obviously terrible news! But there was a reason to hold on to hope.
God made a promise to the woman, Eve: one of her great-great-granddaughters would give birth a special son. When this chosen child came, he would defeat the curse of sin once and for all. There are two special words we use when we talk about this promised savior-child: Messiah and Christ. Both of these words point to the same person: the promised child of Eve born to save us from sin.
Throughout the first part of the Bible, the Old Testament, God scattered clues about the secret identity of the Christ/Messiah. By following these clues, God’s people could be ready to recognize the Messiah when he finally arrived. And that’s why we read from the book of Micah today. It contains one of these “Christ clues.”
What hint did Micah give us about the Christ? He wrote that the chosen child would come from the tiny town of Bethlehem. And who did we learn about this week that just-so-happened to be born in Bethlehem? Why, Mary’s son Jesus, of course!
Think back to what the angel told the shepherds that night. “I bring you good news for everybody. A savior has been born today in the city of David; he’s Christ the Lord!” Do you understand now why this was such exciting news? The angel was saying, “Remember the Christ, the chosen child that God’s been promising to send for thousands of years? Guess what! He was born in Bethlehem today!”
Jesus’ birthday is so important, we have an entire holiday to celebrate it. It's called “Christ-mas” for a good reason. It’s the day when the Christ, the long-promised child of Eve, finally arrived on planet earth. It’s a birthday worth celebrating again and again. Why? Because that special birthday boy grew into the man who saved all of us from the dreadful curse of sin!
+ What did Micah say would happen in Bethlehem? (vs. 2)
+ What do we celebrate on Christmas? Why is it worth celebrating?