O Little Town of Bethlehem (Luke 2:1-7)
First Scripture Reading: Micah 5:1-15
Second Scripture Reading: Luke 1:26-56
Sermon Text: Luke 2:1-7
A close reading of Luke 2:1-7 reveals something of the mystery of how God uses what is seemingly weak in this world to shame the strong. Luke begins the passage by naming Caesar Augustus, one of the most powerful men in the known world at that time. Luke concludes it with a description of Jesus’ birth. In the eyes of the world, Caesar held all the power and this baby born in Bethlehem was a nobody born out of wedlock. And yet in God’s economy, Caesar was the nobody—a mere pawn—in God’s plan to bring salvation to his people. God used the selfish and cruel mandates of a tyrant to draw Mary and Joseph from their home, that the prophecy uttered 700 years before by the Prophet Micah might come to pass: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days” (Micah 5:2).
1. Read Luke 2:1-2 and Galatians 4:1-7. In what sense was Jesus born at the right time? What does this teach us about God’s decree and his providence in our lives?
2. Read Luke 2:3-5 and Micah 5:1-6. Along with the place where he would be born, what other Old Covenant prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus’ birth? What does this teach us about God’s faithfulness to his covenant promises? How should knowing this affect our daily lives?
3. Notice how simply Jesus' birth is described in Luke 2:6-7. What does this tell us about his humanity?
4. Read Romans 5:12-21 and Hebrews 4:14-16. What do these passages teach us about the humanity of Christ? How does knowing that Christ is like us in every way, yet without sin, comfort and encourage you?
5. In preparation for next week, read Luke 2:8-14. What titles do the angels use in verse 11 to describe Jesus? What do you think is the significance of each title?
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