Summary: Today we learn about the birth of Jesus Christ so that we can understand the reason for his birth.
We are studying the Gospel of Luke in a series of sermons I am calling, “To Seek and To Save the Lost.” Today I would like to study one of the best-known passages in all of Scripture. It is read every Christmas in almost every church all over the world. It is Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus in Luke 2:1-7 (quickview) .
1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7 (quickview) )
One commentator says, “If you try to point out something to a dog, the dog will often look at your finger instead of at the object you’re trying to point to. This is frustrating, but it illustrates a natural mistake we all make from time to time.”
It’s a mistake that many people make when thinking about the Christmas story. What do people in our culture think about when they think of Christmas? They think about gifts and angels and shepherds and wise men and animals and a manger and parents and, oh yes, a baby. Most people in our culture really do not understand why Jesus was born.
And yet, Jesus’ birth is the most significant birth in all of history. Our western calendar recognizes this by dividing history into events Before Christ (BC) and events Anno Domini (AD), that is, After Christ.
Today I would like to examine the birth of Jesus Christ. I would like to explain the details of his birth, and then conclude with the reason for the birth of Jesus Christ.
So, let’s learn about the birth of Jesus Christ so that we can understand the reason for his birth. Let’s learn about:
1. The Decree by Caesar (2:1-3)
2. The Destination of Joseph (2:4-5)
3. The Delivery by Mary (2:6-7)
I. The Decree by Caesar (2:1-3)
First, we learn about the decree by Caesar.
A. The Person Behind the Decree (2:1a)
First, notice the person behind the decree.
Luke began his account of the birth of Jesus by stating that in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus (2:1a). Caesar Augustus was not his name, but rather his title. Caesar means “emperor,” and Augustus means “majestic, sublime, highly revered.”
Caesar Augustus was born on September 23, 63 BC, and his name was Gaius Octavius. His grandmother was Julius Caesar’s sister, making Octavius his grandnephew. After Julius’s assassination in 44 BC, Octavius learned that Julius Caesar had adopted him and made him his heir. In keeping with Roman custom, he took the name Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (usually shorted in English to Octavian).