In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 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, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 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)
Here we are given the story of Jesus’ birth. There are several items which are interesting about the details Luke records surrounding this event. First, we are told that Joseph was “from the town of Nazareth.” Nazareth was a rock quarrying town about fifteen miles southwest of the Sea of Galilee. It was a city of low economic standing. Certainly not a vacation destination. Remember that the entire northern part of Israel was once a separate Israeli kingdom ruled by illegitimate rulers from about 930 BC to its fall in the 8th century BC. Those living in the northern kingdom of Israel engaged in false worship as the Temple, the legitimate kings of Israel, and the legitimate priests resided in Jerusalem in the south. It is for this reason when Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’ Nathanael says to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" (Jn. 1:45-46). The idea that the long-awaited Messiah would come from a place like Nazareth was simply hard to believe.
What is of further interest is that Joseph, the father of Jesus of Nazareth, is from “the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David.” Thus, Joseph is born and raised in despised Nazareth, but his family and lineage is from the city of David. He has royal blood in him. This was to show that Jesus was the Messiah for all Israel—north and south. The north could embrace him because Joseph and Mary were from Nazareth, and the south could embrace him because Joseph is from the line of David and Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
The third interesting point about Jesus’ birth is that he was born in a stable and lain in a manger, an animal feeding trough. Here is the son of David, the long-awaited Messiah, the one who would be called Immanuel (God with us), Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace (Isa. 7:14; 9:6), the Creator and Sustainer of the universe (Heb 1:3), the King of kings and Lord of lords. He could have chosen to be born in a palace in the most wonderful city on earth, but instead he chooses to be born in a stable. Why? Had he been born to the rich and powerful, the elite would have claimed him as their own and prevented the poor from approaching. The poor would have thought the Messiah to be beyond their reach. But Jesus was born from the lowest of families, a couple from Nazareth, in the lowest of places, a stable and lain in a manger, because he was born for the lowest of men. Jesus was born as a gift not just to the rich and powerful, but for the lowest of low, a gift for all humanity—Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, black and white, men and women, adults and children. The gift of Jesus Christ is given to all who believe.
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