The Birth of Jesus – Gospel of Luke Ch. 1-2
The Gospel of Luke Luke investigated many of the earliest eyewitnesses of the life of Jesus and then composed this account. And the story begins up in the hills of Jerusalem. The place where Israel’s ancient prophets said that God himself would come one day to establish His Kingdom over all the earth. In this city is the temple run by the priests and one of them, named Zacharias, was working in the temple when he had a vision that freaks him out. An angel appears and says that he and his wife will have a son. What’s this all about? Well Zacharias and his wife were told are very old. They’ve never been able to have children. And Luke’s setting up a parallel here, with Abraham and Sarah, the great ancestors of Israel because they too were very old and could never have kids. Yet God gave them a son – Isaac which is how the whole story of Israel began. And so Luke’s implying here that God’s about to do something that significant for this people, once again. The angel tells Zacharias to name the son John and then he says that this son’s going to fulfill a promise of Israel’s ancient prophets that somebody would come one day to prepare Israel to meet their God when He arrived to rule in Jerusalem because right now, Jerusalem is ruled by the Romans. Yes, specifically, it’s governed by a man named Herod who’s a puppet king under the Roman Empire. And so the Jewish people wanted nothing more than to be free and govern themselves in their own land. So this is shocking news. Everything’s going to change. God’s on His way. But how is he going to arrive? Well to find out, Luke takes us out of Jerusalem and then up into a a small town in the hills of an out of the way region called Galilee. There we find a young woman named Mariam or we call her, Mary. She was engaged to be married and then an angel appears to Mary saying that she’s going to have a son. She’s supposed to name Him, Jesus, which in Hebrew means, the Lord saves. And He will be a King like David who will rule over God’s people forever. And then Mary asks, “Okay, well, how is this possible because I’m a virgin?” And she’s told that the same Holy Spirit that brought life and light out of darkness in Genesis, Chapter 1, is going to generate life inside her womb. God is about to bind Himself to humanity through the conception and the birth of the Messiah. And so Mary, goes from some back woods no name girl to the future mother of the King. Exactly. In fact, sings a song about how this reversal of her own social status points to a greater upheaval to come. Through her Son, God’s going to bring down rulers from their thrones and exalt the poor and the humble. He’s going to turn the whole world order upside down. So, when Mary was really pregnant, she and her fiancé, Jospeh, had to go down to Bethlehem. There was a decree across the Roman Empire about new taxes. And so everybody had to go get registered in the town of their family line. There was so many visitors in Bethlehem. They can’t find a guest room. And so the only place they can find, is a spot where animals sleep. Now, nearby, were some shepherds with their flocks. And an angel appears, which, of course, freaks them out. But, they’re to celebrate because tonight in Bethlehem, a Savior has been born. They’re told to go and find this baby. And they’ll know that it’s the Messiah because He’s going to be wrapped up and laying in a grimy feeding trough. Then these shepherds, who aren’t very clean themselves, they go and find the newborn Jesus, in this really dingy place and their minds are blown. They go home wondering, ‘What on Earth is about to happen?’ And this is all really strange. I mean, if God’s really coming to save the world, this isn’t how you would expect Him to arrive. Born in an animal shelter to a teenage girl, celebrated by no-name shepherds. Exactly! I mean, everything is backwards in Luke’s story and that’s the point. He is showing how God’s Kingdom was first revealed in these dirty places, among the poor because Jesus is here to bring salvation by turning our world order upside down.