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Christmas Reflections: Walk Through Luke - Chapter 2



The Gospel of Luke tells of the origins, birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.


December 2

Luke chapter 2

There are 24 chapters in this book

Every one leads us closer to Christmas

This is my commentary


As mentioned yesterday - I’m going to post my thoughts on each of the chapters of Luke which take us all the way to Christmas Eve. I’m also going to post a very special note and video at the end so be sure to check that out!


You can read Luke 1 here on my website blogs or on my Fb wall from yesterday if you’d like to read along!


This second chapter introduces even more new people to the story.

- Caesar Augustus, Emperor of Rome

- Quirinius, governor of Syria

- Shepherds

- more Angels

- unnamed people

- Simeon, a wise elderly, devout, good man

- Anna, an elderly widow who lived in the temple

- unnamed family and friends and unnamed religious teachers in Jerusalem

Jesus is not yet born at the beginning of the chapter - there was a lot stirring in the world.


Don’t you ever look back in your life and marvel at how God weaves together a perfect quilt for us despite our conscious understanding of what is happening in the moment?

Here begins one such moment:

Augustus called for the very first census and wanted every name of every person who lived in Roman territory to be accounted for. Each person needed to return to their ancestral town.


What a tourism nightmare for the little town of Bethlehem. There were likely little to no preparations made for crowd control, food, sewage and trash control, or housing since they didn’t have any records of how many people exactly would be coming. There was no social media, hotels.com, or Airbnb and the situation was likely worse than it was trying to find toilet paper during the pandemic. Crowds and more crowds.


Side note - I will say I bet the metrics are super low for in store shopping. This Black Friday we saw no "real" deals. No papers. No people except the overcrowded outlet malls in Daytona and St. Augustine (which was causing major traffic delays on I-95). We did our shopping also mostly online.


Back to the story of this census.

BETHLEHEM

Joseph had to bring Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem since that is where David was born (his family tree is mentioned in 1 Samuel). This was the hometown for Joseph.


Mary was due to deliver Jesus but there were simply no hotel rooms available so she delivered him in a cave used for a barn (not like the clean little nativity scenes we see during the holidays - think of dark and really stinky place with lots of animals) and they wrapped torn cloths around him, laying Him in an animal feeding trough. Gross. But oh how thankful they had an enclosed place.


Think about this. We do not know if they showed up after the long journey and as soon as they got there she went into labor. Perhaps they wandered around for a few days trying to find a place to rest. I remember how uncomfortable I was leading up to Olivia being born and can’t imagine riding a donkey through the desert right before having her. Vincent was born on his due date and I worked right up to the day he was born. Either way - they were both born in the clean and sanitary rooms at Northside - not in a smelly barn full of 💩 and 🐐 🐄 🐖


SHEPHERDS

That night, the nightshift shepherds were working and watching their flocks (another thing to think about - shepherds couldn’t watch the flocks around the clock so these were the ones that had the most dangerous task - watching in the dark when predators loom 🐑 🐺) - working the night shift was not the desired shift and likely not like today where you get paid extra to work at night or overtime.


THE FIRST ANGEL

Suddenly an Angel and a very bright light appeared to them. They were scared. It was nighttime. There were no streetlights - only the light from the stars and moon. The angel told them to not be afraid and that he was bringing very good news - an awesome event had just happened that would bring great joy to all people (everyone).


All means all.

Super important for this time in our lives when “all” really only means “some” in some circles. THIS evening the event was for ALL people living all all of us to come.

All.


Key things to note:

1. The Messiah/Savior/Master was born that day in David’s town

2. The shepherds LEFT their sheep. What happened to them? Did they wander? Did the wolves come in and attack while they were alone? Did the day shift shepherds wake up and come too? Or did they stand watch? Were they annoyed or also in awe?

3. The shepherds would recognize Him by a sign - He’d be wrapped in cloths lying in an animal feeding box - how many barns did they have to approach late at night looking? Was there commotion in the town or was everyone asleep? Remember it was a small town - was it not strange for a band of shepherds to be wandering around barns at night without their flocks?


A LEGION OF ANGELS

Next - a vast host, (meaning) huge army of angels joined the first angel and started praising God and singing “Glory to God in the highest Heaven, peace on Earth and in the minds of all men and women who please God.”


SINGING - (not a silent night)

Peace. We all seek it. Here was a song proclaiming peace to be on the land and in our minds. It was likely not feeling like a peaceful night and there was way more unrest to come. We may not feel we have this peace even still but these angels promised that peace would come to the earth and into our minds if we continue to seek after and please God.


After they sang, they returned to Heaven and the Shepherds didn’t just dawdle, the Bible says they RAN to find the baby. Well, seeing was believing. Can you even picture this even happening? Of course they ran!


They told Mary and Joseph what the angel said and sure enough there was the baby exactly as they were told. They left telling everyone they passed what had happened and everyone was astonished. They went back to their sheep and were praising God and thanking Him.


NEIGHBORS

What we don’t know is if other people went to the barn or if somehow God let them be astonished and kept Jesus safe and private.

  • Wouldn’t everyone want to see the baby?

  • Or did they think the shepherds were a bit crazy.

  • Why didn’t anyone else see this light or hear the loud singing?

  • How far did the shepherds have to run?

  • What did they think for the days to come when something really terrible in the next few years would happen. (Keep reading to find out what happens)


MARY, MOTHER OF JESUS

Verse 19 says that Mary kept all of these thoughts dear to her heart and thought about them often trying to understand them.

  • Remember she was just a teenager.

  • An angel visited her.

  • God hovered and she became pregnant without being with a man.

  • She was bethrothed to Joseph. Did she love him? Or was it an arranged marriage and they still had to get to know each other?

  • She was probably uncomfortable and tired.

  • She just had a baby in a really substandard place. She didn’t come from wealth but here she was in a strange town away from her mom or her family and friends who may have helped her deliver her first baby. She was probably a sweaty, bloody, smelly, hurting mess. How did they cut the cord? Where did the torn cloths come from? What did they do to soothe any pain?


She didn’t have much. What she did have was faith. And now what she also had was the King of the universe swaddling in her arms.

SACRIFICE - GIFT OF A TRUE LOVE

8 days later the family went to Jerusalem to have Jesus circumcised. According to Moses’ law the family also had to sacrifice 2 turtle doves (perhaps Jesus was to become the partridge in a pear tree - our savior hanging from a cross). Turtle dove sacrifices were in place of a lamb and usually from people who had no money. This precious Lamb would be sacrificed for us 33 years later.


TWELVE DAYS

You can read more about these birds and my interpretation of the meaning of the lyrics of the 12 days of Christmas in my book Twelve Days: A Christmas Exploration. It's available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble online and signed copies are at Northland Church bookstore in Longwood Florida.


SIMEON

Simeon was already at the temple when the family arrived. The Holy Spirit told him he would not die until he met the Messiah. Today was that day. Upon seeing the baby he said “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace as you promised. I have seen Your salvation which you’ve prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the Nations. He is the glory of Your people Israel. He is a light to show Your way to all others.”


Do you ever meet someone and just know you’re going to be friends? Have you ever met someone and felt like you saw goodness or light in them? Imagine this but magnified. Somehow Simeon saw that light in this tiny baby.


Imagine how amazed Mary and Joseph must have felt hearing those words! It was not just like when someone sees your baby and tells you how precious and cute he is. When Olivia was a baby people would literally stop us in stores and comment on her beauty. One time mom and I counted more than 2 dozen people stopping us. For this couple - imagine someone speaking words like this (in one version) - they were speechless.


Simeon wasn’t speechless. Please read what he profoundly said to Mary:


Simeon then looked into Mary’s eyes and deep into her heart and said (paraphrased) “He will be a sign pointing to God, but will be misunderstood and contradicted. This child is destined to cause many people to fall and many others to rise. Many will oppose Him and not accept Him but the rejection would force honesty as God would reveal the “real” in all of us and as a result the deepest parts of our hearts would be illuminated. A sword will pierce your very soul and things will happen that will be very painful for you as His mother.”

ANNA

Anna was also in the temple - the book tells us a bit about her and where she came from - the tribe of Asher was known for producing very beautiful women and means “face of God”. She became a widow after only 7 years of marriage - and was now 84. She spent every day and night in the temple praying and fasting. When she saw the baby she started praising God and talked with every person about what she saw - as they too were all waiting for a Savior to rescue Jerusalem.


GROWING UP AND PILGRIMAGE

Soon after, the family went home to Nazareth. We don’t know much about Jesus’ elementary years but the text says “the child grew up to be healthy and strong, filled with wisdom, God’s favor, grace, and blessing was upon him.”


Every year the family made a trek back to Jerusalem for the Passover festivities. When Jesus was 12, at the end of the event the family and their large caravan of extended family and friends left to go home. A day later Mary and Joseph realized Jesus wasn’t with them. Frantically they went back to the large city and looked for him for 3 days. I can’t even imagine this. There must have been just so many people but how do you lose your child? I can tell you that I get frantic when the kids don’t answer the phone or aren’t home from school when I expect them to be. But it is not unimaginable to think that the large caravan from Nazareth likely had men walking together. Women together separately. And the teens together. They just expected everyone would be - together.


Meanwhile Jesus was in the temple listening to the teachers and asking questions. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his ability to answer very difficult questions. When his parents found him - they were not impressed or amazed. They were angry and upset (his absence not only frightened them but remember they were walking and had to go all the way back). They asked him why he hurt them by staying back and not being easy to find.


Jesus said “why did you need to search? Didn’t you know I would be in my Father’s house where His work is?” At this time they didn’t understand what he meant by that. I wonder if they punished him when they made him follow them. Did they think he was being “smart” and disrespectful or did they start to realize it was all part of that plan for him to become More and them to become Less.


THOUGHTS

Did Mary not remember Gabriel? Elizabeth? Simeon? Anna? What about those things?


  • How many things do people say to you daily. You’ll never remember all of it.

  • How many times do WE know what God said and promised but we forget or don’t “remember”?


The Bible says all of these things happening were all kept in Mary’s heart.


They returned back to Nazareth and Jesus obeyed his family and grew up. He grew in wisdom and stature and in faith with God. All the people were pleased with him - and so was God.


Please stay with me. We have several chapters to go. It’s just starting to reveal who Jesus was and why He came and what we should know about His love for us.


Since I’m mentioning the verses about the shepherds I want to also share this short film from the creators of The Chosen - a project we are supporting and helping finance. It’s worth the 20 minutes to watch. https://youtu.be/OtMA_weta7A


PRAYER

Lord, this verse today celebrates the day You came to Earth and were recognized by many. May we all have clarity to see You still. This chapter is about also the heart of a mother. You know the deepest prayers of my heart as a mother. Please guide, protect, and be in front of, next to, above, and behind my children all the days of their lives. Lord - thank you also for shepherds. The job isn't easy or glorious - but necessary. May the lessons we learn from them help us all to be better leaders personally and professionally and remember that the task is to protect and correct and to stay vigilant even when it's dark. Lord - may Your rod and staff comfort me. Amen


MUSIC


Tomorrow - chapter 3


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