Submitted by Ahmi K. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church
What contrasts and ironies are in Luke 2:1-20? What do these tell you about how God works, and the preoccupations of people?
Caesar was taking a census to determine his kingdom and power. Jesus was the true King, promised and fulfilled, unhampered by Caesar.
The whole nation and Israel was being moved around because of Caessar’s decree (he was this powerful), but the real power was Jesus, being born just as the Scripture promised, not hidden or secretive, but openly, and, in fact, THROUGH Caesar’s decrees.
The King of Kings was born in a manger, whereas the worldly king is born in a palace.
The angel proclaiming good news appeared to a group of shepherds lying watch in the night, not to the highest officials in the land.
This tells me that God is not hindered by the greatest authority on earth – in fact, He is the One who makes things happen – He arranged it so for Jesus to be born in Bethlehem at this time in such a way, while Caesar had no idea what was going on with God. Caesar thought he had control over this situation but it was God who was in control. Mary and Joseph thought they were just obeying Caesar’s decrees, when in fact, they were doing exactly what God was leading them to do.
I can learn how God is sovereign and powerful, the true authority over all. He is the one at work, even though the authority of the time – Caesar Augustus – seemed to be so powerful.
He is faithful and true to His Word and promise. He fulfilled the prophecies of long ago.
I can learn to humbly submit and obey Him through the circumstances in my life and not be frustrated. What I see is so limited. God chooses not to reveal everything to us, but that is okay, because I know He is in control. I need to lift my eyes from my self-centered world and see the truth of God’s sovereignty.
What are some responses that the hymn calls for in stanza 1? Given that only the shepherds ended up hearing the Angel’s song and responding, what can we conclude about what it takes to give “glory to the newborn King?”
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph in skies;
With angelic host proclaim,
‘Christ is born in Bethlehem!’
Hark! The herald angels sing,
‘Glory to the newborn King.’
The hymn calls for a response of the shepherds to joyfully rise, join the triumph and proclaim the good news together. It is a majestic, mighty proclamation and exhortation, but it was given to a group of lowly shepherds. I can learn that to be a herald of Jesus does not require any worldly qualifications but to simply hear and obey. What it takes is immediate obedience, regardless of the cost. In order for the shepherds to respond and look for the king, they had to leave behind their post. However, they risked it all, like the magi, to find the King. Shepherds got up and responded to the call.
As you read the description of Jesus in this hymn, which ones cause you wonder and praise? Which ones bring you comfort and encouragement?
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus our Immanuel
I think this aspect strikes me the most, because it is such a wondrous and mysterious thing how Jesus came to DWELL and be WITH.
How much He descended and came down to the lowliest.
Write a prayer of worship and gratitude for the veiled, incarnate deity, son of God, Jesus our Immanuel, who was pleased to take on flesh to dwell with men, and even now, dwells with all his followers.
Dear Heavenly Father,
I praise You and worship You for Your Son – Jesus. Thank You that He incarnated and descended to the lowliest depths. Thank You that He was pleased to take on flesh and blood and dwell with men, with me, and dwells with me today. In this world of failed and broken relationships, there is nothing everlasting or secure, and, even the best of things ends in death.
I praise You and thank You, O Lord. Please help me to dwell and wonder in this amazing truth, and be alive in its light.