Summary: The third is a Christmas sermon series
Happy Birthday Jesus
Text: Luke 2:1-7
By: Ken McKinley
God’s eternal plan for redemption was perfectly laid out. When you look at the details you can’t help but be in awe of that fact. God planned redemption from the foundation of the world. Sending Jesus into the world was not a back up plan, it was the original plan, from the beginning. A couple of Sunday’s ago, we looked at Paul’s words from Galatians 4:4-5 where he wrote, “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” We looked at how the birth of Jesus took place at exactly the right moment, exactly as God had ordained it. The prophet Micah had prophesied 700 years earlier that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem; Micah 5:2 says, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” And here, 700 years later, a young couple who just so happen to be descendents of King David, are living in Nazareth, Joseph and Mary. Mary was due to give birth any day, and in the natural mind we would think there’s no way that this girl is going to make the 2 to 3 day trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem being so close to delivering her first born son. But God’s Word and God’s prophets have said that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. So when you look at the details you can’t help but be amazed at how God worked all these things out. The birth of Jesus shows us that God is in complete control of the events of human history.
Let’s look at our text there in Luke again (Read vv. 1-2).
When Christ was born, Israel was part of the Roman Empire. Caesar Augustus was the emperor. He ruled from 27 B.C. to 14 A.D. Julius Caesar was his grand uncle, and he had adopted Augustus and made him the heir to his throne. When Julius was assassinated in 44 B.C. Augustus returned to Rome to claim his throne and a power struggle broke out that resulted in a civil war of sorts. But in the end Augustus managed to take the throne, and eventually peace was restored to the empire. And it was around 5 B.C. or so that Augustus decided that he would take a census of the people under his rule. The census was taken in order to levy a tax later on. At this same time Herod the Great was king in Judea, and the Herod family was known for its cruelty and brutality. Augustus once said, “I would rather be Herod’s swine than his son.” And that’s because Herod was so paranoid that he was going to be usurped that he murdered his own wife and several of his children.
The entire Roman world was a peace thanks to Pax Romana, the “Peace of Rome,” but in reality it was peace at the point of a sword. But it was still a type of peace, and this peace brought about empire wide travel, roads, protection, a common language used for trade, all of that would be important for the spread of the Gospel later on.
Also, the Greek philosophies were falling into decay, and the so called “mystery religions” left a vacuum in people. And in Judaism people were becoming more aware that complete obedience to the Law was impossible, and that a better sacrifice was needed.
So God had set things up perfectly, His timing is always perfect. Not only that, but God is sovereign, He is in complete control.
Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart plans his ways, but the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water, He turns it wherever He wishes.” Ephesians 1:11 says that God “works all things according to the counsel of His will.” And Daniel 2:21 says God, “changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings…”
Caesar Augustus was the Emperor of Rome because God allowed him to be. Caesar Augustus ordered a census because God works all things according to the counsel of His will. God’s Son, the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, and that’s exactly what happened.
We may not know why things happen the way they happen, we don’t understand everything or the reasons for everything, but one of the many truths that the Christmas story teaches us is that God is in control.