Summary: So on the night of the birth of Jesus, before the nation had an opportunity to reject Him, or even be made aware that He had come in the flesh, the angel announces that this good news is of a ‘great joy for all the people.
1. Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.
2. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
3. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.
4. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,
5. in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.
6. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.
7. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8. In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.
9. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.
10. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;
11. for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
This passage from the second chapter of Luke is one of the most familiar passages in all of scripture; even among the unchurched. We seldom hear these verses read other than during the Christmas season, and even Christians probably seldom see them except when they are going through a planned yearly read through the Bible; but this passage is so widely read just during the Christmas season, - in church programs and sermons - special newspaper sections - even on some television programs - that people from every walk of life, Christian or non-Christian are very familiar with this chapter’s cadence and its basic message.
To get a full understanding and feeling for the significance of the events on the night of Christ’s birth though, we have to take a little trip back in time.
Mankind has always looked for the coming of a Redeemer, even since long before there was a Jewish nation. In Genesis 3:15 God promised Adam and Eve that through the seed of the woman, a Savior would come to crush the serpent’s head and save men from sin. From that moment on, the one and only distinction between men, in God’s eyes, has been that they believe that promise and live accordingly, or they do not believe it, and (unfortunately) live accordingly.
At first we only get hints of men’s faith in a specific promise. Abel’s offering of a blood sacrifice over Cain’s unacceptable sacrifice without blood, is one of them.
As the accounts in Genesis unfold, we see other indications that men of God continued to believe in that promise given in the Garden, and we know by these things that the things God said to the first couple in Eden had been carefully preserved and passed down from generation to generation.
When the time finally came for God to repeat His promise, it was to Abraham, who was told that through his descendants all the nations would be blessed.