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Luke 9:51-62
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CC Luke Notes - Online Lutheran Bible Study This page contains notes from the Concordia Commentary on Luke by Dr. Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church. Wisconson Synod 307 Iowa Ave, Eitzen (507) 495-3158 Pastor: Todd Krueger. Sunday Services (9:30 AM) Sunday School & Bible Study (10:30 AM). Glad you are enjoying the Lutheran Study Bible. I’ll have to get around to buying one when I actually have money. As for why it is called the Lutheran Study Bible, here is an article from Pastor Paul McCain’s (who is the Publisher and Executive Director of the Editorial Department at CPH) blog Cyberbrethen. Recommended Citation. Just, Arthur, '13 - What is an example of house worship in Luke's Gospel?' Congregational Courses: Lutheran Worship 2.

  • Reading the Text:
    • NRSV (with link to Anglicized NRSV) at Oremus Bible Browser.
    • Greek Interlinear Bible, ScrTR, ScrTR t, Strong, Parsing, CGTS, CGES id, AV.
    • The Bible Gateway: NRSV, RSV, NIV, NASB, CEV, The Message, KJV, etc.
    • The Blue Letter Bible. KJV, alternate versions, Greek text with concordance, commentaries.
    • The World Wide Study Bible includes commentary & sermons.
  • Historical References, Commentary and Comparative Texts:
    • The Five Gospels Parallels, John W. Marshall, University of Toronto.
    • Samaritans: New Testament Parallels to the Works of Josephus. From G.J. Goldberg's Flavius Josephus Home Page. (Some of these 'parallels' are speculative.)
    • I.VIII.3, Adversus Haereses, Irenaeus of Lyons. (c. 180)
    • Chapter XII, On Baptism, Tertullian (c. 198)
    • I.3, III.4, VII.16, Stromata, Clement of Alexandria (c 200)
    • Chapter III, On Patience, Tertullian (c. 202)
    • IV.23, Against Marcion, Tertullian (c. 210)
    • Chapter XII, Chapter XVIII, On Idolatry, Tertullian (c. 211)
    • Chapter VII, On Monogamy, Tertullian (c. 215)
    • Chapter VI, On Modesty, Tertullian (c. 217)
    • Epistle VII -- Cyprian of Carthage (c. 250)
    • From the Geneva Notes.
      • 'The calling of God ought to be preferred without any question, before all duties that we owe to men.'
    • From Matthew Henry's Commentary (c. 1700).
      • 'It is easy for us to say, Come, see our zeal for the Lord! and to think we are very faithful in his cause, when we are seeking our own objects, and even doing harm instead of good to others.'
    • From Wesley's Notes. John Wesley (1703-1791).
      • 'Suffer me first to bid them farewell that are in my house - As Elisha did after Elijah had called him from the plough, 1Kings 19:19; to which our Lord's answer seems to allude.'
    • From the Commentary on the Whole Bible (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, 1871).
      • 'As ploughing requires an eye intent on the furrow to be made, and is marred the instant one turns about, so will they come short of salvation who prosecute the work of God with a distracted attention, a divided heart. Though the reference seems chiefly to ministers, the application is general.'
    • From The People's New Testament, B.W. Johnson, 1891.
      • 'The plowman must look ahead instead of back. So, too, of the Christian. The Savior's words were suggested by a request of one to go home for a farewell before following him. In thousands of instances it has been shown that the convert who goes to confer with unbelieving relatives before the final step is likely to part with Christ instead. Heathen, ready to be baptized, who go home for a final farewell before the step, are likely to be persuaded not to take it, so missionaries tell us.'
  • Contemporary Commentary, Studies, and Exegesis:
    • Commentary, Luke 9:51-62, Mikeal C. Parsons, Preaching This Week, WorkingPreacher.org, 2016.
      • 'The Lukan travel narrative (chapters 9-19) begins with a notice of Jesus' resolve to go to Jerusalem and his inhospitable reception by a Samaritan village.'
    • The Center for Excellence in Preaching, resources from Calvin Theological Seminary: Comments & Observations, Textual Points, Illustration Ideas.
    • The Truett Pulpit, Stacey Simpson Duke, Co-Pastor, First Baptist Church, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 2016.
    • 'Letting the Dead Bury their Own Dead,' Janet H Hunt, Dancing with the Word, 2016.
      • 'When in your life have you found yourself making precisely this choice? For you is it a question you struggle with often, even every day?'
    • Commentary, Luke 9:51-62 Mark Quanstrom Dean of the School of Theology ONU; Pastor, College Church University Avenue A Plain Account, 2016
      • 'I'm thinking that if I were to preach from this passage, I wouldn't be preaching to the congregation so much as simply allowing them to eavesdrop on a message I would be preaching to myself.'
    • 'Let the Dead Bury Their Dead,' Mashaun D. Simon, Modern Metanoia, 2016.
    • 'Setting Our Faith Towards Paradox,' Andrew Prior, 2016.
      • 'The most important thing we can do is set our face to Jerusalem, and all the pain that may bring us. This discipline saves and heals us.'
    • Pulpit Fiction, with podcast. Reflections of lectionary text, pop culture, current events, etc. Robb Mc Coy and Eric Fistler, 2016.
    • 'Every Moment Counts,' Karoline Lewis, Dear Working Preacher, 2016.
      • 'In what increments will you measure your life? Your ministry? Because every moment counts, says Jesus. You count. You matter. And God counts on you.'
    • 'Following Jesus?' Alan Brehm, The Waking Dreamer.
      • 'The kind of sacrifice following Jesus demands means that the Kingdom of God takes priority over everything else. It means working for compassion, justice, peace, and freedom simply because it's the right thing to do. It means giving yourself away in service to others without looking for a reward.'
    • 'Christian Freedom,' John W. Martens, America: The National Catholic Reporter, 2016.
    • 'Blessed Are the Fanatics,' Glenn Monson, Law & Gospel Everywhere, 2016.
    • Commentary, Luke 9:51-62, Michael Rogness, Preaching This Week, WorkingPreacher.org, 2013.
      • 'Whether we think of ourselves as aliens, strangers, nomads, or pilgrims on this earth, it is because we follow Jesus, and that often takes us into new ways of living!'
    • 'Out of Control,' David Lose, Dear Working Preacher, 2013.
      • 'So what if the deepest calling of a Christian disciples isn't to be in control – ourselves or vicariously through God – but rather to give up the illusion, to take some risks, and to throw ourselves into this turbulent life and world God loves so much trusting that God will join us in the adventure, hold onto us through all the ups and downs, and brings us in time to the other side.'
    • 'Stay Close,' Ragan Sutterfield, Ekklesia Project, 2013.
      • 'I would love to be an ecclesial entrepreneur and I have deep respect for those who are creating new expressions, but that's not where Jesus is going in front of me, I'm staying close right into the troubled institutions of church until staying close leads me out. In or out doesn't matter, staying or going, organized or not, dogma or the floating currents of the latest of radical theology–it doesn't matter. What matters is staying close, watching Jesus up ahead, and running my hardest to keep up.'
    • 'Outright Rejection and Hesitant Responses,' D Mark Davis, Left Behind and Loving It, 2013.
      • 'Jesus' reaction is a rather capacious, 'Whoever is not against us is for us.' Here, it seems that following is a much more difficult matter.'
    • 'The Tensions of Discipleship,' Kathryn Getek Soltis, Catholic Moral Society, 2013.
      • 'Is kissing one's parents goodbye a sign of the relational sacrifice that may be demanded to follow God? Or is this actually about our reluctance to leave our property and inheritance?'
    • 'Keep Your Hnad on the Plow!' Alyce M. McKenzie, Edgy Exegesis, 2013.
      • 'Keep your hand on the plow. Do not grow weary in doing what is right. Hold fast to the confession of your faith without wavering. Why? And, more importantly, how?'
    • 'Midsummer Wisdom,' Nancy Rockwell, The Bite in the Apple, 2013.
      • 'Instead of anger, Jesus gives us three sweet, short wisdom sayings, sayings for hard times, sayings that reflect his sorrow, sorrow that the time sweet and full times are over and time itself is growing short now. Sorrow that what lies ahead will be difficult, and he must set his face into the cold wind of it.'
    • 'Home Free,' Anne Howard, The Beatitudes Society, 2013.
      • 'I'm convinced that this is really the only good reason we make church: it's because we want a home. We want that dwelling place, a safe place to engage the questions of our day and the daily decisions of our lives. We want a place of refreshment but not retreat, a place that calls us to be all that God created us to be, even as we learn that God loves us just the way we are right now.'
    • 'Resistance is Futile,' Rev. Dr. Karyn L. Wiseman, Odyssey Networks, 2013.
    • 'Face Palm,' Rick Morley, 2013.
      • 'God certainly desires our devotion, love, and thanks. But, when we trade those in for a crusade…we can all too often end up looking like James and John.'
    • 'Jesus the Jerk,' Russell Rathbun, The Hardest Question, 2013.
      • 'No infectious smiles today.'
    • Holy Textures, Understanding the Bible in its own time and in ours, Luke 9:51-62, David Ewart, 2010.
      • 'I'm hoping Jesus is saying: Make sure that following me is what guides all that you do. Don't put me aside to go bury your father; make following me guide you as you bury your father. ... I admit my hope is but a poor scrap of what Jesus has actually said, but I remember a time when even a scrap was good enough for Jesus to grant a woman's heart-felt desire.'
    • 'No Turning Back,' Janet Hunt, Dancing with the Word, 2013.
      • 'What do you think Jesus means when he says the dead should bury their own dead? How have you experienced this to be true in your life?'
    • The Lectionary Lab, Pentecost +6, the Rev'ds Dr. John Fairless and Delmer Chilton (aka 'Two Bubbas and a Bible'), 2013. Lectionary Lab Live podcast.
    • Pulpit Fiction, podcast. Reflections of lectionary text, pop culture, current events, etc. Robb Mc Coy and Eric Fistler, 2013.
    • Radical Gratitude, lectionary-based stewardship, Northwest United Methodist Foundation. (.pdf)
    • Evangelio, Comentario del San Lucas 9:51-62, Lisandro Oriov, 2013.
    • Commentary, Luke 9:51-62, Marilyn Salmon, Preaching This Week, WorkingPreacher.org, 2010.
      • 'But in this lectionary year, Jesus' journey to Jerusalem is placed near the beginning of Ordinary Time, or Pentecost Season, in which the focus is on the Christian life.'
    • Comments (commentary) and Clippings (technical notes for in-depth study), Chris Haslam, Anglican Diocese of Montreal.
    • 'First Thoughts on Year C Gospel Passages in the Lectionary,' Pentecost +6, William Loader, Murdoch University, Uniting Church in Australia.
      • 'Churches have often reinforced the values which have prevented people from growing up. It is not just a therapeutic issue for individuals - and that alone is worth a sermon about liberating grace and some exorcism. It is also what it does to our community and our world when local family values, systems and loyalties, even local racial and national loyalties, lead us to betray other people, usually those much worse off than ourselves.'
    • Exegetical Notes by Brian Stoffregen CrossMarks Christian Resources.
      • 'We can neither wallow in our past sins nor boast of our past successes if we are to be fit for the kingdom of God.'
    • Lectionary Blogging, John Petty, Progressive Involvement, 2010.
      • 'In God's kingdom, we are not defined by our past, however, but by our future.'
    • A Samaritan Village Refuses to Receive Jesus, audio telling, story in episodes, graphic, audio and written commentaries. Go Tell Communications, Biblical Storytelling for the Global Village, 2010.
    • First Look: Luke 9:51-62, Lee Koontz, Reflectious, 2010.
      • 'The fact is that for those who would follow Jesus, nothing must get in the way. Following Jesus required the ultimate sacrifice and the ultimate commitment.'
    • Dylan's Lectionary Blog, Proper 8C. Biblical Scholar Sarah Dylan Breuer looks at readings for the coming Sunday in the lectionary of the Episcopal Church.
      • 'Jesus instructs a man to abandon his family. This is serious stuff, and it deserves to be taken up from the pulpit in parishes -- most especially in this age in which being a 'Christian' is supposedly synonymous with 'family values' that are identical with those held by respectable people in our culture.'
    • 'Jesus and the Samaritans,'Gospel Analysis, Sermons from Seattle, Pastor Edward F. Markquart, Grace Lutheran Church, Seattle, Washington. Detailed background and exegesis.
      • 'This past week I read an absolutely wonderful quotation from Dr. George Caird. He is my favorite author on the book of Luke, and he gave me this wonderful quotation: 'The most difficult choices in life are not primarily between good and evil, but the most difficult choices in life are between what is good and what is best.'
    • 'The Call of Jesus,'Rev. Bryan Findlayson, Lectionary Bible Studies and Sermons, Pumpkin Cottage Ministry Resources. Includes detailed textual notes.
    • Laterally Luke, by Brian McGowan, Anglican priest in Western Australia.
    • Kairos CoMotion Lectionary Discussion, Luke 9:51-62, 'A place of conversation regarding Progressive Christianity.'
      • 'It is so easy to take the flame of self-righteousness (always, of course, disguised as well-meaning for another) and to advocate for utter destruction of those who don't see what we see and respond as we respond.'
    • 'The Role and Commitment of the Disciple,' Larry Broding's Word-Sunday.Com: A Catholic Resource for This Sunday's Gospel. Adult Study, Children's Story, Family Activity, Support Materials.
      • 'Whom do you admire as a Christian? Why?'
  • Articles & Background:
    • 'Jerusalem,' 'Samaritan,' wikipedia.
    • 'The Historical Jesus and the Historical Samaritans: What can be Said?', John. P. Meier, Biblica, 2000.
  • Recommended articles from ATLAS, an online collection of religion and theology journals, are linked below. ATLAS Access options are available for academic institutions, alumni of selected theological schools, and clergy/church offices. Annotated list of 'starting place' articles at ATLAS for this week's texts (includes direct links).
    • Allison, Dale C., Jr., 'Rejecting Violent Judgment: Luke 9:52-56 and Its Relatives,' Journal of Biblical Literature, 2002.
      EBSCO ATLASerials, Religion Collection
      EBSCO ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials
    • Brueggemann, Walter, 'The Stunning Outcome of a One-Person Search Committee,' sermon, Journal for Preachers, 2001.
      EBSCO ATLASerials, Religion Collection
      EBSCO ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials
    • Conn, Harvie M., 'Lucan Perspectives and the City,' Missiology, 1985.
      EBSCO ATLASerials, Religion Collection
      EBSCO ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials
    • Evans, Craig A., 'Luke's Use of the Elijah/Elisha Narratives and the Ethic of Election,' Journal of Biblical Literature, 1987.
      EBSCO ATLASerials, Religion Collection
      EBSCO ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials
    • Fletcher-Louis, Crispin H.T., 'Leave the Dead to Bury their own Dead': Q9.60 and the Redefinition of the People of God,' Journal for the Study of the New Testament, 2003.
      EBSCO ATLASerials, Religion Collection
      EBSCO ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials
      • Brockmuehl, Markus, 'Leave the Dead to Bury their own Dead': A Brief Clarification in Reply to Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis,' Journal for the Study of the New Testament, 2003.
        EBSCO ATLASerials, Religion Collection
        EBSCO ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials
    • Hawkins, Peter S., 'Still Small Voice,' The Christian Century, 2001.
      EBSCO ATLASerials, Religion Collection
      EBSCO ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials
    • Kodell, Jerome, O.S.B., 'Luke and the Children: The Beginning and End of the Great Interpolation (Luke 9:46-56; 18:9-23),' The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 1987.
      EBSCO ATLASerials, Religion Collection
      EBSCO ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials
    • Matera, Frank J., 'Jesus' Journey to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51-19:46): A Conflict with Israel,' Journal for the Study of the New Testament, 1993.
      EBSCO ATLASerials, Religion Collection
      EBSCO ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials
    • Nuechterlein, Paul J., 'The Work of René Girard as a New Key to Biblical Hermeneutics,' Currents in Theology and Mission, 1999.
      EBSCO ATLASerials, Religion Collection
      EBSCO ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials
    • Reid, Robert Stephen, 'On Preaching 'Fictive Argument': A Reader-Response Look at a Lukan Parable and Three Sayings on Discipleship,' Restoration Quarterly, 2001.
      EBSCO ATLASerials, Religion Collection
      EBSCO ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials
    • Spencer, F. Scott, 'Follow Me,' The Imperious Call of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels,' Interpretation, 2005.
      EBSCO ATLASerials, Religion Collection
      EBSCO ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials
  • Sermons:
    • 'Demon Possession and Why I Named My Depression 'Francis',' Nadia Bolz-Weber, Sarcastic Lutheran, 2013.
    • 'The Cranky Jesus,' the Right Rev. Stacy Sauls (TEC), Day 1, 2013.
    • 'Radical Commitment,' Pentecost +5, 1 July 2007, Hubert Beck, Goettinger Predigten: Every Sunday Sermons based on the RCL by a team of Lutheran theologians/ pastors.
    • 'Jesus and Rejection,' the Rev. Dr. Kenneth L. Samuel, Day 1, 2005.
    • 'The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost,' 27 June 2004, Walter W. Harms, Goettinger Predigten: Every Sunday Sermons based on the RCL by a team of Lutheran theologians/ pastors.
    • 'The Color Purple,' the Rev. Mark Sargent, Day 1, 2004.
    • 'Three Sermons For The Price Of One,' Pastor Edward F. Markquart, Grace Lutheran Church, Seattle, Washington.
    • 'Hide and Seek,' the Rev. Rosemary Brown, Day 1, 2001.
    • Father Andrew M. Greeley, 'Priest, Author, Sociologist,' Commentary and Homily
  • With Children:
    • Worshiping with Children, Proper 8, Including children in the congregation's worship, using the Revised Common Lectionary, Carolyn C. Brown, 2016.
    • Storypath, Connecting Children's Literature with our Faith Story, Union Presbyterian Seminary, 2016.
    • 'When the Going Gets Rough,'Charles Kirkpatrick, Sermons4kids.com.
    • 'Making Excuses,' children's sermon, coloring page. Charles Kirkpatrick, Sermons 4 Kids.
    • 'Jesus Asks His Followers to Leave Everything Behind,' Sunday School Lessons: Family Bible Study, art projects, music, stories, etc.
  • Drama:
  • Graphics & Bulletin Materials:
    • Clip Art Images: Luke 9:51-62, Luke 9:51-62 #2, Misioneros Del Sagrado Corazón en el Perú.
    • Luke 9:57-62, Liturgical Drawing, Maria d.c. Zamora, Claretian Resources, Philippines. ('Download and use these for free.')
    • Luke 9:51-62at Cerezo Barredo's weekly gospel illustration. Liberation emphasis.
  • Hymns and Music:
    • Hymnary.org, hymns, scores, media, information.
    • Contemporary/Praise Song suggestions, Together to Celebrate, David MacGregor.
    • Hymns with Scripture Allusions: Luke 9:58. The Cyber Hymnal.
    • Hymnal Scripture References, The Lutheran Hymnal, Lutheran Worship.
    • At Digital Hymnal (midi files, guitar chords, karaoke files, projection text):
  • Fine Arts Images Linked at The Text This Week's Art Index:
  • Movies scenes with the following themes, listed at The Text This Week's Movie Concordance:
  • Find Worship Resources & Suggested Other Readings for use with this text:
  • Study Links and Resources for the Book of Luke

The Birth Of Our Lord

Luke 2:1-7

If there ever was a time for God to show His majesty and glory around an event it was the birth of His only Son, Jesus. John the Baptist was born with a grand announcement at the temple in Jerusalem. He was born to a righteous priest. Jesus was different.

His birth was more secluded and quiet at least from an earthly perspective. This should reinforce the truth to us that appearances are very deceiving. What seems to everyone around Joseph and Mary is that this is just another ordinary couple expecting an ordinary baby who live in an ordinary little town in Judah. But what seems ordinary from a human perspective is actually very extraordinary. Appearances are deceiving. What seemed mundane from an earthly perspective caused all of heaven to turn out and sing.

It seems to me that when we compare this humble event against the backdrop of Christmas that the two, it seems cannot go together. In other words, God intentionally had Jesus to be born into a humble family with humble surroundings in a nowhere place. Why He did this, we can only speculate. Some say, Well, it’s to show us that Jesus is not only for the upper class but also for the lower class. Others believe that it was Joseph and Mary’s piety that was behind God’s selection. Regardless what your opinion is, you have to say that this humble birth and the gaudiness of 21st century Christmas don’t go together.

Most folks today don’t even think about Jesus Christ at Christmas. Most are more concerned with Black Friday and getting just the right gift. Most are concerned with wrapping paper and price tags. My challenge for us this year is to remember what we’re doing when we celebrate Christmas. We are celebrating the birth of King Jesus, the One who would give us the greatest gift which is the gift of salvation.

Romans 6:23 (ESV)

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God Himself has given His people a free gift through His Son, this is the real meaning behind Christmas.

As we begin this morning unpacking the test, I want you to notice that in the scheme of the universe God is in charge. He rules the world. Next, notice that God also rules over the lives of individuals and finally, I want you to notice that in writing this account the way he does, Luke highlights the supreme power and authority of Jesus Christ.

Luke 2:1-7 (ESV)

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.

1. God Rules the World (Luke 2:1-3)

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.

As we begin the birth narrative of our Lord it’s important to look back briefly in order to get an idea as to what God is doing.

It was a well known fact in Jewish tradition that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. The problem is that Mary and Joseph don’t live in Bethlehem but in Nazareth of Galilee. I’m sure that Mary, being a good Bible student would have known this bit of information. She probably studied the events surround the birth of the Messiah especially carefully given her immediate circumstance. She may have wondered, How in the world is God going to pull this off? How will Jesus be born in Bethlehem when we live down here in Nazareth? Then one day, Joseph comes home from work and tells her of a new census put together by the emperor in which everyone must go to their city of origin to be counted and to pay a tax. Then it hit her, God is at work

So, how is God going to get the family to Bethlehem at just the right time for Mary to give birth to Jesus while they are there fulfilling OT prophecy? God shows His power over a pagan ruler. God rules over and uses evil men to do His will. They do His bidding. The decree comes from Caesar Augustus, better known as Octavian, who ruled alone from 27 B.C. to A.D. 14. The administrator of the census was Quirinius governor of Syria, however, God’s hand was at work guiding these rulers. God controls all events at all times to bring about His will.

For many, that’s a new concept. To think that God uses unsaved evil pagan people who worship other god’s to do what the true God wants accomplished. God placed it into the mind of Caesar Augustus to take a census at just the right time when Mary was 9 months pregnant. God also had Mary and Joseph to be descendants of King David whose city was Bethlehem. Everything is working according to God sovereign decree.

Galatians 4:4 (ESV)

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,

2. God Rules Individuals (Luke 2:4-5)

[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.

Joseph and Mary are both descendants of King David. Both go to their homeland in Bethlehem. By this time, most theologians believe Joseph and Mary have been married and are now husband and wife. Luke uses the term “betrothed” to indicate that they had still not had intimate relations and wouldn’t until the baby was born.

Some believe Mary could have remained at home and that Joseph could have registered her for the census. However, I believe it was the Micah prophecy coupled with the cencus that caused Mary to make the hard 90 mile journey. Perhaps it was also the fact that she was very far along and Joseph knew she was about to give birth. Perhaps another factor was the gossiping people back in Nazareth who saw her pregnancy as a scandal that made Joseph bring her along. Or maybe it was all of the above?

The great NT commentator Leon Morris makes these remarks,

We should perhaps reflect that it was the combination of a decree by the emperor in distant Rome and the gossiping tongues of Nazareth that brought Mary to Bethlehem at just the right time to fulfill the prophecy about the birthplace of the Christ (Mi. 5:2). God works through all kinds of people to effect His purposes. –Leon Morris The Gospel According to Luke

It’s important to understand that God’s power over events is big enough to affect nations and even the world and also powerful enough to affect the acts of individuals as well. Joseph and Mary went up to Bethlehem because there was a census, indirectly. They went up to Bethlehem because God wanted them in Bethlehem, King David’s city.

Bethlehem is David’s city.

1 Samuel 20:6 (ESV)

If your father misses me at all, then say, ‘David earnestly asked leave of me to run to Bethlehem his city, for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the clan.’

It was in this town that David was born and tended the sheep.

Everyone from David’s line had to make the trip to Bethlehem to be counted and to register.

God sovereignly directs Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem to fulfill OT prophecy concerning the Messiah.

Micah 5:2 (ESV)

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,

who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,

from you shall come forth for me

one who is to be ruler in Israel,

whose origin is from of old,

from ancient days.

This passage is not referring to King David because David had already died by the time Micah wrote. Micah’s king was off in the future somewhere.

But Micah’s King Messiah would come.

3. Luke’s Simplicity (Luke 2:6-7)

[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.

As we read these verses we’re left wondering. It’s like we only get a very small part of the story. All Luke records of the greatest event to ever take place on earth is: The time came for her to give birth; she gave birth and wrapped Him in a blanket, set Him in a manger because the inn was overcrowded.

I truly believe Luke, by his simplicity, is setting us up for a paradox. The paradox is power in weakness found in Christ and the weakness of power found in Caesar Augustus.

Caesar could command the entire known world and they responded by obeying his decree to go to their hometowns to be counted and registered. For all intents and purposes Caesar Augustus was in charge…or was he? Prior to Ceasar Augustus, the Roman Empire for 20 years had suffered from discord and multiple rulers. Finally, when Caesar Augustus stepped into power the Roman Empire now was experiencing peace. The Pax Romana as historians call it, the peace of Rome.

In comparison we see the power, fame, and glory of Augustus and the weakness, humility, and obscurity of this little baby born in Bethlehem. Caesar Augustus commanded the known word and was very wealthy where Jesus as a baby was poor and lowly. Caesar’s glory was incomparable. Jesus was lowly and obscure.

and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Do you this Caesar Augustus at his birth would have ever been wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger? Of course not. He would have been born in a palace and been given the absolute best of everything.

If you want to read the rest of the story, the stuff that Luke seems to leave out, just read the NT account. Keep reading.

Next week we’ll look at real glory but for know, I want to take you to the Apostle Paul’s explanation of why Jesus was born in lowly circumstances to a poor family in a no name town. Why wasn’t there room for the family in the inn?

2 Cor. 8:9 (ESV)

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

Finally, to reinforce this point, I want to compare two verses of Scripture.

Luke 2:7 (ESV)

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.

John 14:2 (ESV)

In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

Jesus took His place in a humble stable so that we could have the door to heaven open to us. He made Himself poor to give us eternal life. He suffered rejection so we could be accepted.

What are some things we learn from this amazing text of Scripter?

Appearances can be deceiving– We must be very careful that we don’t pass judgments based on appearances. The Apostle James gives us the same warning.

James 2:1-7 (ESV)

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. [2] For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, [3] and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” [4] have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? [5] Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? [6] But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? [7] Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?

We must not judge the end of anything by its beginning– The beginning of Jesus’ earthly life was veiled in poverty. When the veil is lifted at the end of time we see the reality of the glory of Jesus Christ.

Rev. 5:9 (ESV)

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And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll

and to open its seals,

for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God

from every tribe and language and people and nation,

Rev. 5:12-13 (ESV)

saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” [13] And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

As we think about these things we must remind ourselves that we shouldn’t be too quick to make comparisons because we don’t know how God will work in the future.

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(Much of this section came from James Montgomery Boices The Christ of Christmas 59-61)

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You might feel as if your efforts for the Kingdom of God are feeble and meaningless and your evangelism is overall pretty pitiful. Take heart, God can use even the smallest effort. Or you may be thinking that your obedience to God isn’t at all what it should be. Take heart, God isn’t through with you yet and one day all believers will be like Jesus.