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  • Writer's pictureMatt Beaney

#964. She placed Him in a manger - Luke 2:1-7 (21/12/23)

This Christmas, we are revisiting some of the teaching surrounding Jesus’ birth that we have looked at in our Luke series. I’ve entitled this teaching series, ‘Mary Treasured up These Things’ (from Luke 2:19) because my hope and prayer is that, like Mary, we will treasure the story the truths and the God of the Christmas story.   


Today, we reflect upon God’s sovereignty over the details of life, even if things are not as we might expect or prefer. 


You can listen to this devotional at:



If you could change anything about your life, what would you change? I’m sure we’ve all got circumstances or personal attributes that we wish were different if we were honest. We can deal with these, let’s call them thorns in the flesh, in different ways. I’ve heard of some people blaming the devil and robbing God of His power over all things. I’ve heard of some people blaming God and robbing themselves of His comfort. The Christmas story teaches us that God is sovereign over all the details of life, even the things that we don’t like and He decrees or allows these things for His good purposes. 


‘In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.  (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.  So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.’ (Luke 2:1-7)

i. God was fulfilling His promises

It could seem that the Roman authorities are controlling events as Joseph, Mary and the unborn Jesus were ordered to go to Nazareth for the census. I imagine that this may have been a bitter blow to Joseph and Mary; they had to travel to Bethlehem which was situated on a mountain 2,654 feet high and some 80 miles away - walking and on the back of a donkey that’s a long way! If this were not hard enough, Mary was at least 3-months pregnant when they left!  Through these events, however, the prophesied plan of God through Micah (5:3) is fulfilled. This is how Matthew puts it: 


‘After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem  and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.  When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.  “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’ (Matthew 2:1-6)

God’s works through this human decree; even through people and governments that are outside of His Kingdom He fulfils His promises through them. And, we may not like to hear it, but His promises are being fulfilled often inspite of our discomfort!


ii. Jesus is born and placed in a manger!

The exact duration of their stay in Bethlehem before Jesus' birth remains unknown, but it's important to dispel the notion that Mary arrived in labor. While the circumstances surrounding Jesus' birth are subject to speculation, Luke emphasises the humble and impoverished setting in which the King of Kings was born. Contrary to the conventional term "inn," Luke employs the term for a "guest room" or "lodging." In the backdrop of peasant homes with two rooms, the guest room was occupied (as mentioned in our narrative), leaving the main room where family life unfolded. During the night, animals were often brought into a lower section of this main room. It is within this unassuming context, marked by a feeding trough in the lower section, that Jesus was born, underscoring the humility of His entrance into the world. 


Luke’s and God’s heart for the poor is seen in this narrative. All of us should throw off all pride and shame regarding our background and also allow God to give us His heart for people from all backgrounds. 


Response

Today, we’ve reflected upon God’s sovereignty over the details of life, even if things are not as we might expect or prefer. God was over the events of Jesus’ very humble and inconvenient birth. As we, like Mary, treasure and ponder these events, may we find peace in God’s loving rule. Let’s pray:

“Lord Jesus, I thank you for revealing in your humble birth that you love people from all backgrounds and that you are over all difficult circumstances. Today, I choose to entrust myself and the concerns of my life to you. Amen.” 
 

COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY


1. Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.

In particular, we have services on Christmas Eve, Sunday 24th December 10:30am - 11:30am; Monday 25th December, Christmas Day Family Service

10am - 11am; and Sunday 31st December 10:30am - 12pm. 


2. Icebreaker

How has God been speaking to you from His Word this week and how has this helped you?


3. Worship together

Let’s begin our time together by lifting our eyes and hearts to worship our great God. Perhaps you have readings and songs that you would like to use together. Let’s be open to the gifts that the Spirit wants to give in order to encourage one another. 


4. Study and pray together  

This Christmas, we are revisiting some of the teaching surrounding Jesus’ birth that we have looked at in our Luke series. I’ve entitled this teaching series, ‘Mary Treasured up These Things’ (from Luke 2:19) because my hope and prayer is that, like Mary, we will treasure the story the truths and the God of the Christmas story. 


Prayer to begin

To begin, please read Luke 2:19 and pray for one another in light of this text


Please read Luke 1:39-56

  1. What is the great theme in verses 46-48 with which Mary begins her song, and what does this teach us about how we are normally to begin our worship and times of devotion? 

  2. What are the various things that she praises God for in verses 49-55? 

  3. How is Bible study and memorisation crucial in the development of our ability to worship? 

  4. David, also sets us a great example of worship from the mind and soul. Please read Psalm 103:1-5 and list the truths that David praises God for. 

  5. SIV - How does rich personal and corporate worship make us more effective in our evangelism? 

  6. SIV - Do we have any stories of how we have ‘Served, Invested, and inVited’ recently?

  7. SIV - Lets now pray together that, this week, we will have opportunities to SIV. 

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