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Luke Chapter 2

Another similar message and another sign

If you haven't done so already, you might find it helpful to read the previous lesson from chapter 1. Read Luke 2:1-20.

Like the messages to Zacharias and Mary, the angel starts by telling the shepherds:

  • Do not be afraid

The angel continues:

  • As he did to Zacharias and Mary, the angel speaks a prophecy to the shepherds—2:10-11 "I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."

  • Zacharias and Mary were told that they would have a son; the shepherds were told that the Son, the Savior, has been born.

  • Zacharias and Mary were both told what to name their son; the shepherds were told the name of this Son—Christ the Lord.

  • Jesus is His name—Christ is His Title. He is Jesus the Christ (which is the Greek word for Messiah). The word Christ means anointed one, or chosen one. Jesus is both human and divine, and throughout scripture, you will find even more names—later in Luke, Jesus refers to Himself as the Son of Man, another Messianic title.

Like he did for Zacharias and Mary, the angel gave the shepherds a sign:

  • 2:12—"This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

The Sign—Bethlehem is not very far from Jerusalem (where the Temple was), so these shepherds may have been priests, birthing lambs for sacrifices in the temple. Such lambs needed to be without spot or blemish, so they would wrap them in cloths and lay them in a manger (which was a feeding trough) to protect them from being trampled. Thus, the meaning behind a baby being wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger was a sign that would have been something familiar to the shepherds. Jesus, our sacrifice, was wrapped in cloths and was lying in a manger, just like those sacrificial lambs. He is the Lamb of God who sacrificed Himself for us. Incidentally, the cloths were made from old priestly undergarments. Mary could have gotten them from Elizabeth, because Zacharias (her husband) was a priest. (Source: Unlocking the Secrets of the Feasts: The Prophecies in the Feast of Leviticus, by Michael Norten, WestBow Press (a division of Thomas Nelson) 2012, p. 17-18)

As was mentioned in the lesson from chapter 1, signs are given to verify God's Word. Jesus performed signs to authenticate His words, and so did His disciples. Mark 16:20 says "And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed."

Notice that both Mary (when she went to see Elizabeth) and the shepherds had to go and look for the sign the angel had given them.

The message from the heavenly host

Luke 2:13-14—"And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.'"

Some of you might be more familiar with the translation that says "goodwill toward men." However you translate it, the meaning of this passage refers to peace between God and man. Through Jesus, God made a way for man to find peace with God, to be a child of God. Jesus opened the door for both Jews and Gentiles to come to God—to be forgiven and have eternal life. Jesus ushered in the New Covenant of grace. John 14:6—"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.'"

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