Rev. Ronald C. Purkey, an ordained Baptist minister, claims no originality for this Bible study outline.
However, every Bible study posted on this website has been taught by Rev. Purkey.
To see more Bible study outlines go to page two: More Bible Study Outlines.
THE FIRST CHRISTMAS
December 19, 2021
SCRIPTURE: Luke 2:1-20
KEY VERSE: 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. (Luke 2:7)
Hope In Jesus The Messiah
(Read Isaiah 9:1-7)
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end….” (Isaiah 9:6-7a)
Isaiah 9:1-5 brings both a promise of future blessing and the reality of then-present judgment. The reference to the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali points to the northern kingdom of Israel. At this time, it was already a part of Assyria and headed for destruction because of the people’s sins. Yet God would one day bring honor to this land, for God’s Son would live and minister there (Isaiah 9:1). There would come a day when the people walking in darkness would see a great light (Isaiah 9:2), and the kingdom of heaven would come near (see Matthew 4:15-17). In the future the Messiah (Jesus Christ) will reverse the humiliation and bondage of Israel and usher in an era of peace in which the garments of war will be no more (Isaiah 9:5).
In Isaiah 9:6 is another messianic prophecy. Its language is very precise. Isaiah said a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us. This tells us that Jesus had to be born as a child to come to us, but he is also the preexistent Son of God who was given to us. The child would be born in time and space in Bethlehem, but the Son has existed from all eternity. And since the government will be on his shoulders, which is a reference to Jesus’s coming rule in the millennial kingdom, he rightly bears the great names ascribed to him: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
Here again we see the “near” and “far” aspects that frequently occur in Old Testament prophecy because Jesus was born two thousand years ago as a child, but the government of the universe has yet to be placed “on his shoulders.” This will happen at his coronation as King of kings and Lord of lords in the millennium.
In Isaiah 9:7 notice the description of Jesus’ kingdom rule: He will reign on the throne of David and over earth’s kingdoms, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness. In other words, his reign will have social and political aspects as much it will have spiritual aspects. This detail has implications for the church today as we seek to live in accordance with God’s perspective.
One of the most respected TV journalists of our time was Harry Reasoner. In 1971 he gave a Christmas commentary that bears repeating. Here, in part, is what he said:
“Christmas is such a unique idea that most non-Christians accept it, and I think sometimes envy it. If Christmas is the anniversary of the appearance of the Lord of the Universe in the form of a helpless baby, it’s quite a day. It’s a startling idea, and the theologians, who sometimes love logic more than they love God, find it uncomfortable. . . . It is either all falsehood or it is the truest thing in the world. It is the story of the great innocence of God, the baby, God in the power of man. And it is such a dramatic shot toward the heart that if it is not true, for Christians nothing is true. So even if you have not got your shopping all done and you are swamped with the commercialism and the frenzy, be at peace. . . . The story stands.”
Perhaps you have been feeling the stress and anxiety that are so much a part of the Christmas rush. If so, take a few minutes to contemplate again the miracle of Christmas: God came down to earth as a baby to become our Savior. Focus on that message today and every day. It will help to slow you down and keep the right perspective on Christmas. – Dave Branon, Our Daily Bread, December 25, 1994.
I. JESUS’ BIRTH WAS A HUMBLE BIRTH. (Luke 2:1-7)
A. The Registration For Taxation. (Luke 2:1-5)
(Luke 2:1-5) And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 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:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
1. Caesar’s law.
“And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.” (Luke 2:3)
It was no accident that Luke mentioned the name of Caesar Augustus. This man signed a tax bill that the whole world (of that day) be taxed (i.e., “register for taxation”).
2. Caesar’s agenda.
Caesar needed money to raise an army to control his vast empire and to live in luxury himself. Notice Luke’s historical reference that this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.
INSIGHT: Caesar Augustus was the adopted son of Julius Caesar. Actually his name was Octavianus and he took the name Caesar -- I think he had a right to it. Now the name Augustus was not a name at all but a title.
When the senate submitted to him certain titles like king, emperor, and dictator, he was not satisfied. Instead he chose the title “Augustus.” It had a religious significance, and it was an attempt to deify himself. – Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee
B. The Birth Of The Savior. (Luke 2:6-7)
(Luke 2:6-7) And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 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.
1. Bethlehem was a chosen city.
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:). (Luke 2:4)
That Jesus would be born in Bethlehem was ordained by God long before Caesar Augustus made his decree (Micah 5:2; Acts 15:18). The difficult three-day journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem may have taken longer because of Mary’s condition.
2. The inn was a ready place.
Some preachers and some people who present Christmas pageants like to condemn the innkeeper because he did not give Mary a decent place to give birth to her Baby, but the Bible is silent about the matter.
The “inn” was probably a typical Eastern “caravansary,” a two-story structure (the lower level was for animals) built around a courtyard where travelers could camp. Jesus must have been born in one of the cattle stalls; the feeding trough was His bed. (See Philippians 2:1-11 and 2 Corinthians 8:9.)
II. A HOLY PROCLAMATION (Luke 2:8-14)
A. The First Christmas Celebration. (Luke 2:8-10)
(Luke 2:8-10) And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 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. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
1. When was Jesus Christ born?
It could not have been in the dead of winter or the shepherds would not have been out at night with their sheep. But the date of His birth is irrelevant, just as the day upon which He was crucified is irrelevant.
2. One day Jesus Christ WAS born.
The Scriptures do not say when the Christ child was born. The important thing is that (1) Christ was born. The Scriptures do not say when Jesus Christ was crucified; the important thing is that (2) Christ died for our sins. Jesus is the Savior who died for the sins of the whole world.
(John 3:16.) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
B. The First Christmas Sermon. (Luke 2:9-11)
1. The sermon was preached by an angel. (Luke 2:9-10)
(Luke 2:9-10) 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. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
a. It may have been the angel Gabriel.
When the angel appeared to Mary he explained how the Savior would come into the world – through the Virgin Birth (see, Luke 1:26-40). When Jesus Christ came into the world, He did not lay aside His deity; He laid aside His glory. There should have been more than just a few shepherds and angels to welcome Him -- all of creation should have been there.
b. But Caesar was in the wrong place.
Instead of collecting taxes, that fellow Caesar should have been in Bethlehem to worship Him. Jesus Christ could have forced him to do that very thing, but He did not. Jesus laid aside, NOT His deity, but His rights of deity. He came a little baby thing.
2. The Savior was born in Bethlehem. (Luke 2:11-12)
(Luke 2:11-12) For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
It is wonderful to see a little baby come into the world, and your heart goes out to him; there is a sympathy that goes from you to a baby. That is the way God entered the world.
The Savior could have entered -- as He will when He comes to earth in the Second Coming -- in power and great glory. Instead, Jesus Christ came in the weakest way possible, as a baby. George MacDonald put it this way:
They all were looking for a King
To slay their foes and lift them high:
Thou cam’st, a little baby thing
That made a woman cry.
C. The First Christmas Carol. (Luke 2:13-14)
1. The angels were the singers. (Luke 2:13-14)
(Luke 2:13-14) 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.
The angels did not say, “on earth peace, good will toward men.” What they actually said was, “peace to men of good will,” or “peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
The angels did not make the foolish statement that many men make today which goes, “Let’s have peace, peace, peace.” “There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked” (Isaiah 48:22).
INSIGHT: We WILL have peace when Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace returns in the Second Coming. We do not know when He will return, but, just as sure as He came the first time in Bethlehem, He is Coming Again! That is His promise. Perhaps today!
2. The shepherds were the spectators.
In that day, shepherds were considered to be at the lowest rung of the social ladder. Their work not only kept them away from the temple and the synagogue, but it made them ceremonially unclean. Yet in His grace, God gave the first announcement of the Savior’s birth to lowly shepherds! (See Luke 1:52)
III. A HEARTFELT TESTIMONY. (Luke 2:15-20)
A. The Shepherds Went To Find The Savior. (Luke 2:15-16)
(Luke 2:15-16) 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. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
The shepherds found Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus. They were probably the first to visit the baby Jesus.
INSIGHT: For the sake of accuracy, Matthew tells us that the Wise Men did not arrive until much later. When the Wise Men finally found the Lord Jesus, He was living (1) in a house...and (2) probably many months had passed.
B. The Shepherds Told Others About The Savior. (Luke 2:17-20)
(Luke 2:17-20) And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
1. The first human “preachers” of the Gospel.
The first human “preachers” of the Gospel were humble shepherds who hurried to see the baby Jesus. After they visited the baby Jesus, they praised God and proclaimed this glorious event to all who would listen to them. The shepherds, like the angels before them, glorified God and praised God (Luke 2:20).
2. The 2022 human “preachers” of the Gospel.
Today’s human preachers are you and me! Our job as Christians is to tell others about Jesus Christ. Just like the shepherds of old, we are to praise God and proclaim this glorious event to all who would listen to us. We, too, should glorify God and praise God.
He was born in
an obscure village
The child of a peasant woman
He grew up in another obscure village
Where he worked in a carpenter shop
Until he was thirty
He never wrote a book
He never held an office
He never went to college
He never visited a big city
He never travelled more than two hundred miles
From the place where he was born
He did none of the things
Usually associated with greatness
He had no credentials but himself
He was only thirty three
His friends ran away
One of them denied him
He was turned over to his enemies
And went through the mockery of a trial
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves
While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing
The only property he had on earth
When he was dead
He was laid in a borrowed grave
Through the pity of a friend
Nineteen centuries have come and gone
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race
And the leader of mankind's progress
All the armies that have ever marched
All the navies that have ever sailed
All the parliaments that have ever sat
All the kings that ever reigned put together
Have not affected the life of mankind on earth
As powerfully as that one solitary life
By Dr. James Allan Francis (1926).
CONCLUSION: What have we learned today from our lesson in Luke 2:1-20?
· We learned that the true story of Jesus’ birth has the power to appeal to people from any background and with any temperament.
· “Whosoever will” may be saved by faith in the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (See John 3:16).
· We learned that it is up to us Christians to strip away the materialistic elements of Christmas and tell the world about Jesus Christ and how He can give them true life as God’s children.
· We learned that “Jesus is the reason for the season!”
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: “God came to live with us so that we might live with Him forever.”
REFERENCES: References used in these Bible studies are the Moody Bible Commentary, J. Vernon McGee’s Thru the Bible Commentary: (www.ttb.org), the Scofield Study Bible, the Believer’s Bible Commentary, Dr. Charles J. Woodbridge Bible Outlines, Dr. Lee Roberson’s Sermons, Dr. Charles Stanley: (http://www.intouch.org/), Don Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Women’s Study Bible, The Bible Reader’s Companion Ed. 3, The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version, Dr. Tony Evans (https://tonyevans.org/), KJV Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the New Testament ed. 4, Dr. David Jeremiah: (http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/), Dr. Cliff Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Dr. Robert Jeffress’ Pathway to Victory (https://ptv.org/), Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the Old Testament, Dr. Alan Carr’s The Sermon Notebook (www.sermonnotebook.org), With the Word Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s “Be” Series: Old & New Testaments, Radio Bible Class Ministries (http://rbc.org/), selected illustrations and other references.
E-Mail: Ronald Purkey