Scripture: Luke 2:1–20
Born in Bethlehem, City of David
Think of the stress that Joseph and Mary must have been facing. They were not yet married but had a baby on the way, for which there was no explanation that would satisfy gossips. It was Roman tax time, and the Romans were calling everyone back to their family homes to pay up. So off they went to Bethlehem. Escape from their neighbors’ malicious gossip might have seemed a relief, but the trip would certainly have been bad time for a very pregnant Mary. The Romans had arranged it for tax purposes, but God had arranged it to fulfill messianic prophecy that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem (Mic 5:2).
It’s interesting to note how God went about sending out his birth announcements. He didn’t send them to the Jerusalem Symphonic Guild, but to shepherds who heard an angelic choir. He didn’t send them to the diplomatic elite in Jerusalem but to pagan magi from the East, who came and let slip the nature of their mission so that Herod found out only by round-about means.
The angelic choir told shepherds about this greatest of all sons in the Jesse Tree. This was going to be the Son who brought peace everywhere that God’s favor rested. So these shepherds went off and became the first gospel preachers. They told everyone the gospel (“good news”).
We’re still hearing this good news, and perhaps even from unlikely sources. Perhaps you heard it from your own children, who you sent to church rather than taking them yourselves. Perhaps you heard it in a radio broadcast, even though you hardly ever listen to the radio. Perhaps you even heard it from some now-discredited preacher. But then the shepherds were hardly the likely voices for great imperial pronouncements about the King of kings. And what can we say of how the message came to the magi?
Perhaps even you could be a gospel messenger, spreading this good news. Certainly you should pass the good news on to your children, as you have been doing with this Jesse Tree this month. Perhaps you have others who would be your natural audience if you would only speak up with the good news.
Questions, Reflections, & Commitments
- If you were a shepherd who had just heard that message, who would you meet in the next seven days? “The shepherds told everyone” (Luke 2:17), shouldn’t you?