Click here for the reading: Luke 2:1-14.

Caesar Augustus, seeking to further stabilize the Roman Empire out of the ashes of the Republic, ordered a tax registration. Since Herod the Great was a client king of Rome, his lands also fell under that decree. What are other Biblical examples of God using world events to carry out His will? Where do we see God at work in the world today? How does He use those events to aid the proclamation of the Gospel? What parallels exist between Augustus and Cyrus in Isaiah 45?

Joseph, since he is a descendent of David, travels southward from Galilee to the city of David. Instead of going to Jerusalem, the city of David in the Old Testament, he goes to David’s birthplace, the village Bethlehem. Augustus’ decree required that he travel, so he made the journey with a heavily pregnant Mary, all in fulfillment of a single prophecy. How many things had to fall in place to fulfill the words of Micah 5? How did those things come to be? What does this say about the sovereignty of God? In what ways do we see God at work even for a single event in our own lives? How does Jesus teach this truth in Matthew 10:26-33?

After what was likely a little while in Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to her firstborn. There was no space in the crowded house (since the word for “inn” is the same as “guest room” in Luke 22:11), so they laid the infant Christ in a manger, since poor Israelites lived with their animals in the same building. While this does not change the meaning of the story, what are other examples of Biblical passages which are frequently misunderstood? Why should we strive for a clear understanding, especially when dealing with cultural issues?

Shepherds occupied a low place in society. They did not own large amounts of land, as seen here in the group watching over their flocks together instead of on their own. Many hired themselves out to watch the sheep of others, which Jesus uses to make a point in John 10. They were sometimes even held in contempt, as the Egyptians did in the days of Jacob in Genesis 46. Yet they received the angelic message, not Augustus or any of the great ones of the world. How should this reality of God raising up the lowly encourage us? How should it humble us? How do the shepherds serve as an example of Mary’s song in Luke 1?

Angels sing God’s praises at all times. In Job 38:4-7, we learn that they praised God at the creation of all things. The seraphim declare His holiness in Isaiah 6. In Revelation 4, John hears the same song of praise among the cherubim. Why do the angels praise God in this moment? What makes this song of praise different from the others? Why should this difference comfort us? Compare the new song of Revelation 5 with the message here. Why is the song “new”?