SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Because of a required census, Mary and Joseph had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem in her late pregnancy. God was using these events to pave the way for Jesus to be born in Bethlehem, in a barn, which is where scripture had promised the Savior would be born (see Micah 5:2).
- We then see angels appear for the third time in Luke. This time they appear to a group of shepherds to tell them of Jesus' divine birth.
- It was customary, according to Jewish law, to offer a sacrifice to God after the birth of a firstborn male. This was usually a pair of doves. However, Joseph and Mary were very poor, so they sacrificed pigeons instead (see Leviticus 12:6-8).
- The chapter suddenly fast forwards 12 years. This would imply that Jesus led a very quiet and normal childhood in Galilee. The story of Jesus at age 12 in the temple is the only glimpse we get of Jesus between his birth and when he begins his public ministry at age 30.
- The scene of Jesus in the temple at age 12 gives us a small glimpse of who this Messiah would be. It was clear to everyone in the temple that this was not a normal boy. Most 12 year old boys want to be out playing ball or with their friends. But this young man sat in the temple for days with the priests discussing spiritual matters and showing a deeper understanding of scripture then many men who were scholars.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- The story of Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem is a clear reminder that God is always in control, even in the chaos. Often, when things are not going according to plan, we assume it is because God is absent or indifferent. But God works in the silence, orchestrating his bigger and better plan for us.
- In Jesus' time, the religious leaders had a strict caste system, similar to the one in India today. Shepherds were at the bottom of this caste system. Shepherds were so low class that they were deprived of most civil rights, could not fulfill judicial offices, and were not allowed to be witnesses in court. Yet this is who God appears to, making it clear that Jesus really is for all people.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Are you in the midst of chaos today? Do you feel like God just doesn't hear you? Take time to see the situation for what it really is. God is with us, even in the quiet. Are you busy making plans for your life but not leaving room for God? Let go of your plans today and let God shine light on his bigger and better way for you.
- God does not discriminate based on class, color, or gender. Do you? Do you only befriend the wealthy, or the cool, or the powerful? Check your heart's motives today. Ask God to help you show love to everyone, not just those with influence.
- Who could you tell this week that Jesus came for them? What is the most loving and effective way you could share it? When will you do it?