This is probably the part of the story I'm most familiar with. It is the part I've seen in almost every Christmas production I've watched. Luke 2:1-21 - the birth of Jesus and the visit from the shepherds.
A census is decreed. Joseph had to go to his hometown to register. Joseph takes Mary with him to Bethlehem and while they are there the time comes for Jesus to be born. The inns are all full, so they end up in a stable and that's where Jesus is born.
Angels visit shepherds and tell them of the birth. The shepherds hurry to visit and then told everyone else on the way as they were leaving.
(If you want the full story, click here.)
I wonder if you're like me and you sometimes miss the beauty and the wonder of stories like this, because of the familiarity of the story. I stop paying attention to the details because I think I know what's coming next.
As I was reading this passage and spending time on it, I didn't have any new discoveries. Nothing jumped out at me as significant. I was actually left with a lot of questions to think about.
For those of you who prefer a post that wraps up with some kind of conclusion, this is your warning that this post won't that. I'm going to share the questions I've been thinking about in regards to this passage.
As you read through the questions, I encourage you to take a fresh look at this familiar story. Think afresh about this account. Let the significance wash over you again.
"He went there with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child." (vs. 5)
What was the relationship like between Mary and Joseph at this point?
How did Mary feel about taking a journey like this at this point in her pregnancy?
How did Joseph feel about his journey having to happen now?
"She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them." (vs. 7)
What was the reaction of Joseph and Mary when they could only find a stable to stay in?
Were they relieved? Frustrated? Worried?
"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over the flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified." (vs. 8-9)
Why did God choose to send His angels to shepherds?
"Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
'Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom His favour rests'." (vs. 13-14)
Why did God choose to make such a production out of telling shepherds this message?
What did the angels look like when they all appeared?
Was there music? Dancing? Loud voices declaring the words?
Is it something that can even be properly described?
"When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord told us about.' So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby . . ." (vs. 15-16)
Were the shepherds pondering why they had been chosen?
Was their response one of disbelief? Excitement? Confusion?
"When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them." (vs. 17-18)
What did the amazement of the people who heard what the shepherds were saying look like?
Did anybody have to go right away to see it for themselves when they heard it?