Teacher Notes

Bible Stories for Adults

Jesus Is Born

Luke 2:1-20

Welcome and Announcements

    Next Week - The Presentation of Jesus (Luke 2:21-38)

Opening Prayer

What Year Was Jesus Born? (Luke 2:1-2)
    In 525 AD, Pope John I asked Dionysius (a Scythian monk) to prepare a calendar
      Saw Jesus' birthday as December 25, 753 AUC (anno urbis conditae) = yr of Rome
      Dionysius selected January 1, 754 AUC to be January 1, 1 AD (anno domini)
    When does Luke say that Jesus was born? = Augustus was first Roman emperor
      Luke 2:1 = During reign of Caesar Augustus (44BC-19AD)
    What does Matthew add that helps narrow down the date?
      Matthew 2:1 (Luke 1:5) = Herod was king of Jews (40BC-4BC)
    What other timemark does Luke give to narrow the date? = Same before as John 1:15
      Luke 2:2 = Before Quirinius (Cyrenius) was governor of Syria (3-2BC & 6-7AD)

    What event best nails down the precise date of Jesus' birth?
      Luke 2:1-2 = A census of the entire Roman world
    Historical records show that a census was taken every 14 years, One was known in 6AD
      Counting back leads to 8BC = Would have taken a few years to reach Palestine
    Herod disfavored by Augustus in 8-7BC, executed 2 sons in 7BC, serious health problems
      Historians believe Palestine census would have been pushed to 6-4BC
      Other details further narrow to late 5BC or early 4BC, some say 6BC

What Day Was Jesus Born? (Galatians 4:4)
    First known mention of December 25 is by Hippolytus (165-235AD)
      Confirmed as correct by Chrysostom (345-407AD) in 386AD
    Some feel winter date is wrong because sheep were typically penned up November - March
      Luke 2:8 = Shepherds attended flocks at night
    Others don't see conflict because:
      Could have been a mild winter, shepherds would have been outside with sheep
      Not for certain that sheep were brought under cover during winter
      Sheep were brought in from wilderness during winter, around Bethlehem fits
      Only 6 miles south of Jerusalem, Bethlehem shepherds raised sheep for sacrifices
        Sheep were in fields at least 30 days before Passover (as early as February)

    What is the importance of when Jesus was born?
      Galatians 4:4 = In the fullness of time, God sent His Son ...

The Census (Luke 2:1-3)
    Rome law: Whoever has property in another city must deliver his tax declaration in that city.
      In Palestine, many had ownership in property of "patriarchal houses"
      Romans surveyed & valued property, registered & verified owners, taxed accordingly
    What resulted in Palestine from this part of the Roman census law?
      Luke 2:3 = Everyone went to his own town to register, time to verify credentials

Bethlehem (Luke 2:4-5) = Bethlehem means house of bread
    Who specifically was affected by this need to travel to be registered?
      Luke 2:4 = Joseph went from Nazareth to Bethlehem (72 miles, 3 days)
    What did Joseph being of the line of David have to do with going to Bethlehem?
      1 Samuel 17:12 = David was from Bethlehem
      Ruth 1:22; 4:13, 17 = David's great grandparents, Boaz & Ruth, from Bethlehem
    Who went with Joseph to be officially registered as property owner?
      Luke 2:5 = Mary, Joseph's pregnant fiancee'

    Why was it an important part of God's eternal plan that Joseph and Mary go to Bethlehem?
      Micah 5:2 = Prophesy that Messiah would come from Bethlehem (David's town)
    Why does Micah refer to the town as Bethlehem Ephrathah? = Ephrathah means fruitful
      Genesis 35:19 = It was called Ephrath during Jacob's time, Rachel buried there
    Why was it important that Mary was only pledged to be married and not married to Joseph?
      Matthew 1:18-25 = Prophesy that Messiah would be born of a virgin, no union

The Birth (Luke 2:6-7)
    After getting the pregnant mother of His Son to Bethlehem, what does God bring about?
      Luke 2:6 = Mary goes into labor
    What royal and special treatment did God's only Son receive upon birth?
      Luke 2:7 = Poor, cast out conditions, no room or bed, just a feeding trough
    Did this change after Jesus was revealed as the Messiah?
      Matthew 8:20 = No, the Son of Man has no place to lay His head
    Why was this important?
      2 Corinthians 8:9 = For your sakes he became poor, so ... you might become rich
      Philippians 2:5-8 = Made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant ...

    Khan (caravansary) - Square, single-story building with open, unfurnished recesses
      Traveler brought his own carpet, food, water; Paid little for shelter
      Leewans (recesses) provided on first-come, first-served basis
      Late-comers could stay with animals penned in back of khan, often in caves
    Swaddling cloths - Strips of cloth wrapped around a baby like a mummy
      Intended to straighten body from fetal position & keeps arms & legs from flailing
    How widely were swaddling cloths used?
      Ezekiel 16:4-5 = Not having been wrapped was a sign of neglect & being unloved

The First to Hear (Luke 2:8)
    What important people did God select to first learn about the Messiah's birth?
      Luke 2:8 = Uneducated, unclean, smelly shepherds living in field tents, night shift
    Had God ever shown His grace to anyone like these before? = Unworthy to be presented by Jesse
      1 Samuel 16:11-12 = He chose another Bethlehem shepherd, David, as great king
    What other group of people did God call to see the newborn Messiah?
      Matthew 2:1-2 = Wise men from the east, Intelligent & blessed, but not Jews
    What point does God's selection make?
      Revelation 5:9 = Jesus was sent to save all types of people

The Glory of the Lord (Luke 2:9)
    How was the shepherd's normally quiet and boring night interrupted?
      Luke 2:9 = An angel appeared and the glory of the Lord shone around them
    How had God revealed His glory in the past?
      Exodus 40:34-35 = Filled the temple as a cloud, people couldn't enter
    How long had it been since the glory of the Lord had been revealed?
      Ezekiel 10:4, 18-19; 11:22-23 = Ezekiel saw it leave the temple 500 years earlier
    Besides being startled, why were the shepherds afraid of what they saw?
      Exodus 33:20 = No one may see me and live

The Message (Luke 2:10-14)
    After calming the shepherds, who did the angel say he had a message for?
      Luke 2:10 = Good news of great joy that will be for all the people
    What was this great news?
      Luke 2:11 = The promised Messiah has been born today in Bethlehem
    What names did the angel give Jesus that defined who He was? = Write names on board
      Titus 3:5-7 = Savior - Saved us to be justified by His grace for eternal life
      John 1:41, 45 = Christ (Messiah) - The one God promised, The Anointed One
      John 20:28 = Lord - God, ruler, king

    How would the shepherds know they weren't just hallucinating from the sheep smells?
      Luke 2:12 = The angel gave a sign - A baby wrapped in cloths lying in a manger
    How were all of the other angels in heaven able to hold themselves back at this great time?
      Luke 2:13-14 = They couldn't, they all joined in praising God

The Sign (Luke 2:15-16)
    Did the shepherds stay with the sheep and try to figure out what they had seen?
      Luke 2:15-16 = No, they left the sheep & hurried off and found the angel's sign
    Was it surprising that the shepherds were able to find the baby they were seeking?
      Matthew 7:7-8 = Seek and you will find

The First Evangelists (Luke 2:17-20)
    After seeing Jesus, did the shepherds remember their sheep and go back to them?
      Luke 2:17 = No, they spread the word
    How did Peter later explain why those who have received Jesus must spread the news?
      Acts 4:20 = We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard
    How was this strange message from the shepherds received?
      Luke 2:18-19 = All who heard it were amazed, Mary treasured & pondered them

    After running throughout Bethlehem, did the shepherds finally go check on their sheep?
      Luke 2:20 = Yes, they returned to their responsibility & praised God
    The shepherds give us the following sequence on responding to God's gospel (good news):
      Heard, Believed, Obeyed, Received, Testified, Rejoiced, Praised

Closing Prayer

Copyright © 1997 by Kurt Rosenhagen

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