Summary: Who defined the history of the world at the time of Jesus’ birth- Caesar Augustus or.....
The Christmas Story Luke 2:1-14
”In those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered” (Luke 2:1)
And yet today there is no record left of that census. Other than as a part of the story of a Jewish baby born that year.
Story: History would have us believe that the kings and emperors and armies, navies and air forces shape our world.
Most items considered newsworthy revolve around these powerful figures.
In 1809, for example, the newspapers would have been full of the stories about Napoleon’s campaigns.
International attention was focused on Napoleon
marching across Austria and Spain.
Battles like Corunna and Talevera made the
headlines. Little else was newsworthy.
It seemed as though Napoleon was the only one shaping the destiny of the world.
Yet in 1809 at least seven remarkable babies were born.
1. William Gladstone, who was destined to become one of England’s greatest Prime Ministers.
2. Alfred Lord Tennyson, who was destined to become one of Britain’s finest poets and writers.
3. Edgar Allan Poe, the famous American writer, who was destined to live a short and tragic life
4. Louis Braille, famous for his invention to allow the blind to read.
5. Felix Mendelssohn, the famous composer.
And on the 12th February 1809 two remarkable men, one on each side of the Atlantic were born
6. In England Charles Darwin, who was to
achieve fame in science with his Evolutionary
Theory, was born and
7. In the USA - Abraham Lincoln – probably the greatest American President ever was born.
If there had been a review of the year 1809, I’m certain these words would have been heard:
"The destiny of the world is being shaped on the battlefields in Austria and Spain today."
But history was actually being shaped in the cradles of England and America.
Similarly, at the time of Jesus’ birth everyone thought that Caesar Augustus was shaping the destiny of the world.
But they were wrong. History was being shaped in a cradle in Bethlehem – where Jesus was born.
So what do we know about the birth of Jesus?
He was born in an obscure village, Bethlehem – in a stable rather than in a hotel room. Because a pregnant woman was not seen as important enough to shift another guest.
2. Second rate citizen
He was a member of a defeated race - a second-class citizen in his own country, with next to no rights at all.
His parents cwere poor and came from Galilee, a province that was looked down upon. A bit like the North –South divide in England today. Galileans were considered to be “hill-billies”.
Not great credentials to impact the world stage! So how come this baby become the greatest “mover and shaker” that the world has ever seen?
I think our Christmas readings give us some indicators.
1. A Saviour (Lk. 2:11)
In (one of ) our Gospel readings , Luke records how God sent a revelation to Shepherds in a field outside Jerusalem.
And the Angel who brought the message had this to say about the little baby born in Bethlehem:
“Do not be afraid; for see I am bringing you good news of great joy for all people. To you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord…” (Lk 2:10,11)
Man is separated from God by his sin. As St. Paul said: “The wages of sin are death” (Rom 6:23)
But Jesus came to this earth to bring us back into a right relationship with God. That’s what it means when we say he is the Saviour of the world.
2. Shepherds ( Lk 2:8-20)
You might ask – why was this wonderful revelation was given to the shepherds and not to
the “Good and the Great” in Israel at the time.
After all, shepherds had a bad reputation.
1. The very nature of their job kept them from observing Jewish ceremonial law.
2. And they tended to have a rather unendearing habit of confusing “thine” with “mine”. In other words, sheep stealing was rife.
They were treated very much like we think of gypsies are today. They were poor, common people and not socially acceptable.
But God sent them a revelation about the birth of Jesus.
Why? I think because God is not interested in
who you are in the eyes of the world or
what your station in life is or
what your job is.
He is interested where your heart is.
3. The Genealogy of Mt. (Mt 1:1-17)
And while we are on that tack, it is very interesting that if you look at St. Matthew’s genealogy of Christ, four women are mentioned.
And all four of them were “non Jews” – Gentiles-