Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Hope is on the way 13: The Christmas story

Today, Rebekah and Elizabeth are in a rush as they got an assignment due in tomorrow. There was no book club. Instead, she sent this.

Every birth is a miracle.  Some two thousand years ago, Jesus the Son of God was born. The Gospels of Luke and Matthew both give an account of Jesus’ birth, but Luke describes in detail several events that took place at the time of Jesus’ birth.


In telling the account of Jesus’ birth and childhood, Luke and Matthew differ in their approach.  Matthew focuses on Joseph and Jesus, arranging four stories as fulfilling prophetic expectation.  Luke, in contrast, tells seven stories in the first two chapters of his account of Jesus’ life.  He carries his narrative to Jesus’ twelfth year, concentrates on Mary’s roles, and portrays Jesus as the Son of God.


1. The angel announces the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:5-25)
2. The angel announces the birth of Jesus (Luke 1:26-38)
3. Mary visits Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-56)
4. The birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:57-80)
5. The birth of Jesus (Luke 2:1-20)
6. Jesus’ circumcision and presentation (Luke 2:21-40)
7. Twelve-year old Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:41-52)

Throughout the rest of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus shows love and compassion to those around him, no matter who they are or what their place in society.  Luke focuses on the pivotal reason for Jesus’ birth – to bring salvation to the whole world.


The lowly shepherds were among the first to visit Jesus at his birth.  The angel’s announcement of the birth of Jesus to the shepherds demonstrates God’s reaching out to the poor and despised ones in society and gifting them with a Savior.   Luke is the only Gospel to recount the visit of the shepherds.  The shepherds were guarding their flocks at night (Luke 2:8).  They took good care of the sheep, protecting them from danger, and quite often carried the lambs in their arms.  One can compare a shepherd’s relationship with his sheep to that of Christ’s relationship to us. (Isaiah 40:11).
Jesus spoke of himself as the “good shepherd” (John 10:11-18) who knew his sheep and would lay down his life for them.  He also told the parable about “The Lost Sheep” recorded in Luke 15:1-7. No wonder David said with genuine gratitude and exaltation, “You, LORD, are my shepherd.” (Psalm 23:1) Jesus, the Good Shepherd, associated with sinners because he wanted to bring the “lost sheep” – people whom others considered beyond restoration – home under his protection and care.


At Christmas, we celebrate the greatest gift given to us – Jesus.  Many people get excited when they see gifts beautifully wrapped.  But there are also gifts that come in “ordinary” wrappings.  Jesus, the Son of God, came in the “ordinary” wrappings of a human baby.  The greatest gift of all was given to us in a lowly manger.  No one threw a great big party.  No one dressed the baby in a royal robe. No television cameras were on the scene.  Angels told this joyous event to shepherds; the shepherds rushed to the manger.  After they had seen Jesus, they left praising God and telling others the good news.


1. What are your thoughts on God using shepherds to pronounce the greatest “birth announcement” in the world?
2. What do you think Mary was thinking about after the shepherds described their encounter with the angels?
3. According to the angel’s message to the shepherds, Jesus’ birth would bring peace “to everyone who pleases God.”  What is your reaction to that message?  How can we help to bring peace to others?
4. The shepherds were afraid when they saw the angel.  What situations cause you to experience fear?  How do you overcome this fear?
5. What is the message of hope to be found in the story of Jesus’ birth?

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