The Arrival And The Shepherds
A Sovereign Census
Perhaps the most renowned Roman emperor was Caesar Augustus, born Gaius Octavius and ruled from 27 BC to 14 AD. Without Augustus realizing it, his political choices paved the way for the emergence of the ultimate ruler of the world, who was destined to be born in Bethlehem as foretold in Micah 5:2. The details surrounding the birth of our Lord are widely recognized—the Romans ordered a census for tax reasons. However, it's impossible not to notice that God is in complete control, using kings, governors, and nations to ensure the fulfillment of his promises and prophecies.
The couple must have found it unusual that they could not find lodging at the inn, especially given the angels' prophetic message about their child's magnificence. In the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, God's sovereignty is evident, seen from the decree of Augustus to the labor pains experienced by Mary. Jesus is a truly human newborn swaddled in the customary strips of cloth for infants during that time. Mary places him in a feeding trough for animals, also known as a manger. God ensured Mary, and her newborn remained unharmed despite the unsanitary conditions of the stable. There is no reason to be anxious when God bestows blessings and protection upon us. Despite his status as the ruler of the world, his birth takes place in modest conditions. However, Mary previously stated that the Lord brings down rulers and elevates those who are humble (Luke 1:52). In Psalm 89:27, David is referred to as the "firstborn" and the highest of all the kings of the earth. Jesus' sovereignty extends over all kings, including Augustus.
I Bring You Good News
A group of lowly shepherds is visited by an angel, who informs them that Christ, the Lord, and Savior, has been born and can be found lying in a feeding trough, swaddled in cloths. The armies of heaven suddenly appear, praising God for the Messiah's birth, thus confirming the shepherds' revelation. While Zechariah chose to ignore or question the angel's announcement, the shepherds exhibited faith in the good news (1:15). By quickly seeking out Jesus and sharing the news, they offer a valuable lesson in Luke on how to respond to the proclamation of the gospel. They make their way to the newborn and share their experience with others. While some are amazed, Mary ponders and reflects on the event.
Salvation Belongs To The Lord
God always makes good on his promises, and no one can hinder his plans. He orchestrates circumstances to bring about what he has intended, even if it means moving an entire empire. Mary and Joseph did not intend to travel to Bethlehem or for Mary to give birth there, but God had planned for Jesus to be born there. To accomplish this, God put it in Caesar's heart to order a census of the Roman world, though Caesar was unaware that he was fulfilling God's purpose. This story demonstrates God's sovereignty in salvation.
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