Luke 2:1-20 (Text = Verse 10)




Chestnut Hill UMC is a small congregation near Bradford, Tennessee.

They’ve had a Christmas dinner and program every year for as long as anyone

can remember.


And every year, for as long as anyone can remember, someone has read

Luke 2:1-20.

We call it the Christmas Story.


It’s the good news about the birth of Jesus.

Luke begins the story with a man named Caesar Augustus.


“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar

Augustus, that all the world should be taxed” (Verse 1).

Caesar Augustus was a powerful leader;


So powerful he decreed that all the world should be taxed;

All the territory controlled by the Roman Empire including all the Land of Israel.


Luke said, “this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria

(Verse 2).

Caesar Augustus ruled the world and Cyrenius was governor of Syria.


For years, historians said, “This can’t be true.”

They said, “Cyrenius was governor of Syria from 6-10 A.D.”

“Jesus was born before that.“

“We’ve found a mistake in the Bible.”


Guess what?

They were right when they said Cyrenius was governor of Syria from 6-10 A.D.;


Right when they said Jesus was born before that.

But they were wrong when they said, “We’ve found a mistake in the Bible.”


Historians now know that Cyrenius was governor of Syria twice.

His first term was from 4 B.C.- 1 A.D.


And Jesus was born during his first term not his second.

Beware of those who say, “We’ve found a mistake in the Bible.”


It’s happened over and over again.

But over and over again, the Bible has turned out to be right.


Luke said, “All went to be taxed, every one into his own city” (Verse 3).

Caesar Augustus ruled the world.


Cyrenius governed Syria.

But God was in control.


Why do I say God was in control?

I say God was in control because the Old Testament prophet Micah said the Christ would be born in Bethlehem Ephratah (Micah 5:2).


Caesar Augustus decreed that all the world should be taxed, every man in his own  

city, or his own hometown.

But God put it in his heart to do that.


He did it so the Christ would be born in Bethlehem and His Word would be fulfilled.

“And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea,     

unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem;


“Because he was of the house and lineage of David” (Verse 4).

Joseph lived in Nazareth.


But God wanted him in Bethlehem.

That was the ancestral home of King David.


And Joseph was a descendant of King David.

Luke said, he went “To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with

child” (Verse 5).


Joseph didn’t have to take anyone with him.

He could’ve gone alone.


But Mary was Joseph’s espoused wife.

They were planning to get married.


She was great with child.

She would have a baby almost any day.


It would be a long, hard trip;

A cold, dangerous trip.

A wise man wouldn’t normally take a pregnant woman on a donkey on a trip like    


But God said the Christ would be born in Bethlehem.


He even sent an angel to talk to this couple.

One angel said, “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.”


“And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt

call his name JESUS.”

“He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest:”


“And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:”

“And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever;”


“And of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:30-33).

Another angel said to Joseph, “thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary  

thy wife:”


“For that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.”

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS:”


“For he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:20-21).

So Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem because it was God’s will.


I read about a preacher who said, “My only son is going to Africa to be a


“I don’t want him to go.”


“It will be dangerous;”

“Hard on his wife and children.”


“I won’t see him for many years.”

“Christmas will be very lonely.”


“But what God is doing through his life fills my heart with pride and joy I cannot express.”

“I can let him go because it’s God’s will.”


Luke said, “And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were

accomplished that she should be delivered” (Verse 6).

Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem.


They were there when the time came for Jesus to be born.

God chose this time before the creation of the world.


Paul said, “When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made

of a woman” (Gal. 4:4).

So Mary gave birth.


“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes,   

and laid him in a manger;”

“Because there was no room for them in the inn” (Verse 7).


The inn was full.

Joseph and Mary didn’t have friends or relatives to take them in.


They moved into a stable.

Some say a cave where animals were kept.


Jesus was born.

And Mary wrapped strips of linen cloth around Him to protect His arms and legs.


She laid Him in a manger.

Later, John said, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we

beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace          

and truth” (Jn. 1:14).


The Son of God became flesh.

We are called to deal with this at Christmas.


It’s not a story about colored lights, decorations, malls and packages;

Not a story about Santa Clause and reindeer.


It’s a story about the Son of God coming into this world.

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch  

over their flock by night” (Verse 8).


Most shepherds spent a great deal of time in the field.

They went there to keep watch over their sheep.


Being out in the field with their sheep prevented them from observing the Sabbath;

Offering the required sacrifices;


Keeping the Mosaic Law.

So people looked down on them;

Placed them low on the social scale;

Made them a mistreated class of people.


But there are no second class citizens in God’s kingdom.

“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone

round about them: and they were sore afraid” (Verse 9).


Caesar Augustus didn’t have a heavenly visitor that night;

Neither did Cyrenius, the governor of Syria;


Or the high priest of Israel.

But these shepherds did.


And the whole sky lit up.

The shepherds had never seen anything like this before.


They were afraid.

What if you went outside at night and the whole sky lit up?


How would you react?

I don’t know how I would react.


But I know what several people said when it happened to them.

Daniel said, “I retained no strength” (Dan. 10:8).


Isaiah said, “Woe is me! for I am undone” (Isa. 6:5).

Job said, “I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6).


There’s something about being in the presence of heavenly beings that makes

people realize that God is holy;

That we are sinners;


And He can destroy us.

Luke said, “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good

tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (Verse 10).


The angel calmed the shepherds.

He had good news;


Good news to rejoice about;

Good news for all of us.


“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the

Lord” (Verse 11).

“For unto you” means God has a personal Gift for you.


Notice, three things:

1) A Saviour was born;


A Deliverer, a Redeemer.

Zechariah said, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel;”


“For he hath visited and redeemed his people” (Luke 1:68-69).

The angel told Joseph, “thou shalt call his name JESUS:”


“For he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).

2) A Christ was born;

The anointed One, the Messiah.

Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus reads, “Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary,

of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ” (Matt. 1:16).


3) The Saviour, the Christ is the Lord;

The Supreme Authority.


The Judge of all mankind;

The One who will determine where we will spend eternity.


Two women walked by a department store.

There was a manger scene in the window.


One woman said, “Look at that.”

“The Church is trying to horn in on Christmas too.”


The other woman said, “You don’t understand.”

“Christmas belongs to the Church.”


Next, the angel said, “And this shall be a sign unto you;”

“Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger”

(Verse 12).


A baby in Bethlehem wouldn’t be unusual.

A baby wrapped in swaddling clothes wouldn’t be unusual.


But a baby lying in a manger would be.

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising    

God, and saying,”


“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Verses   


“Heavenly host” is translated “heavenly armies” in some verses.


And “armies of heaven” in other verses.

It’s a military term.


It refers to the angels that are involved in spiritual warfare (Dan. 10:8-21; Eph. 6:12;

Heb. 1:13-14).

Luke is saying an army of soldier angels appeared.


They praised God.

They said the birth of Jesus will bring glory to God.


And peace to people on earth.

They were saying, “You can be at peace with God.”


“Or you can be at war with God.”

“Jesus is the way to be at peace with God.”


“And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another,”

“Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass,

which the Lord hath made known unto us” (Verse 15).


Predators and thieves made it risky for the shepherds to leave their sheep.

And we don’t know that all of them left.


But this was a rare moment in the lives of these men.

At least some left everything.


They went straight to Bethlehem.

They wanted to see Jesus with their own eyes.


“And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger” (Verse 16).

They rushed.


They found Him.

“And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told    

them concerning this child” (Verse 17).


They didn’t keep the good news a secret.

They received it from the angels of heaven.


And passed it on.

Christmas is about good news from heaven.


Pass it on.

“And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds” (Verse 18).


“Wondered” means they were a little curious.

But not sure about what to think.


It occurred to them that this could be really good news.

But they didn’t want to get too excited about it.


That’s how it is today.

Multitudes will see their children and grandchildren in the Christmas story.


“Janie was a cute little angel.”

“Johnny looked like a real shepherd.”


“I loved to hear the kids sing.”

“The Church did a good job.”


But most won’t get very excited about the really good news.

“But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart” (Verse 19).


She remembered all these things;

Reflected on them in her innermost being.


Luke is drawing a contrast between those the shepherds talked to.

And Mary.


Those the shepherds talked to didn’t try very hard to grasp the significance of these things.

But Mary remembered and carefully considered them.


Don’t let the Christmas story be like the morning cloud and early dew.

Don’t let what you hear fade away.


Remember it.

Mull it over.


“And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they

had heard and seen, as it was told unto them” (Verse 20).

The shepherds weren’t satisfied with just telling people what they had heard and     



They worshiped God.

The good news is more than a story about a little baby in a manger.


There’s more to it than angels, shepherds and wise men.

It’s a story about a God who loves us so much He went to extremes to do something about our greatest need;


A God who didn’t abandon this world.

A God who sent a Saviour.


Do you know this Saviour?

A father told his son to get a board, a hammer and some nails.


His son obeyed.

The father said, “Drive the nails in the board.”


His son did it.

The father said, “Pull the nails out.”

His son pulled the nails out.

The father said, “Pull the nail holes out.”


His son said, “I can’t pull the nail holes out.”

Our sin is like those nail holes.


We can stop sinning.

We can stop driving the nails in the hands of Jesus.


But we can’t do anything about the scars from the sins we have already committed.

God can.


God did.

The story of the cross and the resurrection begins with the birth of Jesus.


Before he died, Clovis Chappell said an old shepherd put his grandson on his lap.

He said, “I was one of the shepherds who saw the angels that night.”


His grandson asked, “What did you do?”

The old man replied, “I didn’t take time to go and see Jesus.”


“And it’s haunted me all my life.”

Christmas didn’t just happen.


It’s an opportunity to go and see Jesus.

If you fail to do it, it may haunt you forever.