1. A journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem God is no small ordeal for a young couple, especially when great with child as is Mary. Still, God is very much in control and this child, though jostled by powerful men such as Caeasar even before his birth, will arrive safely in the right place at the right time. This God can be be trusted and is more than adequate to the task no matter the circumstances, place or time.
2. The contrast in personalities could hardly be stronger than in this passage – the most powerful man in the world ruling from Rome and the power behind the world beginning his rule from an animal’s feed trough! Or think of it another way as a faceoff in the making – the greatest secular power vs. the power of the royalty established by God through the house of David.
3. Coming from the humblest of beginnings in an occupied land, we’re called to understand that this child will be able to relate to the lowest of the low on the social ladder.
4. There’s something to be said here of the difficulty Caesar causes for a poor, very pregnant couple, namely how the very fortunate and well off often unwittingly cause much trouble and stress in the lives of those who are less fortunate.
5. The effects of a single decree by a powerful Caesar ripple across an empire and touches the life of even a newborn child in a far away, tiny, obscure village, but, having read the rest of the story, I know it is nothing in comparison of the effects of this newborn on the rest of all of human history.
1. “Luke’s exquisite nativity story . . . does not claim in so many words that any prophecy was fulfilled; but, just as the prophecies of Malachi 3:1-4:6 and Isaiah 7:14 underlie the messages of Gabriel to Zechariah and Mary, so here many strands from Micah 5:2-5 are woven into the fabric of the narrative.” (Caird, 60)
2. “. . . if Luke 2:1ff has reference only to an initial enrollment, the census itself may have been in process throughout the period 9 BC – AD 6.” (Ellis, 80-81)
3. “. . . it is possible to translate Luke 2:2 . . . ‘The registration happened before Quirinius became governor of Syria’ . . . such a statement would fit well.” (Nolland, 101)
4. “. . . [though] Bethlehem [is] called the city of David, . . . David is not recorded as having any contact with it after he left. Similarly Jesus is never said to have visited it afer his birth there.” (Morris, 83)
5. “. . . swaddling clothes . . . these were strips of cloth like bandages, wrapped around young infants to keep their limbs straight. A child so wrapped would be recognized as newly born.” (Marshall, 106)
6. “At John’s birth there was a miracle (speech restored to Zechariah) and inspired prophetic song. Not so here; Luke has kept the story clean of any decoration that would remove it from the lowly, the poor, and the marginal of the earth. In the history of the church there may have been many so poor and abandoned as to be able to identify with this scene. In many quarters, however, the church has not resisted the temptation to run next door to Matthew and borrow his royal visitors with their gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matt.2:1-12), place a soft light in the manger straw, and fill the air with angels. Luke has a glow in the story, but it is shining elsewhere, in the shepherds’ field.” (Craddock, 35)