The Greatest Gift
Scriptures: Luke 2:1-21
Objectives: (From the D6 Fusion Sunday School Lesson book)
Know: Jesus was a gift of God who was born to a virgin. He was destined to save His people.
Think: Joy at what the Savior has done for me motivates me to live for Him and to share the good news.
Do: Take joy in celebrating the Savior’s birth and share the good news with others.
Notes and questions:
B1 Luke 2:1-7 NKJV And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
C1 What do you think Joseph’s thoughts were as Mary and he traveled to Bethlehem?
C2 What was Mary thinking at this time?
C3 Name 3 things that strike you as wonderful in this passage.
C4 Labor of Love
C5 Why did Jesus have to be born?
B2 Luke 2:8-21 NKJV Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger." 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" 15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us." 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them. 21 And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
C1 As an aside, I would like to mention that shepherds are in the fields in December.
D1 Genesis 31:38-40 WEB “These twenty years I have been with you. Your ewes and your female goats have not cast their young, and I haven’t eaten the rams of your flocks. 39 That which was torn of animals, I didn’t bring to you. I bore its loss. Of my hand you required it, whether stolen by day or stolen by night. 40 This was my situation: in the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep fled from my eyes.
D2 The word for frost means something bald and cold, so ice, hail, frost, etc. It is used 7 times in the Old Testament. Six of those times it refers to ice, hail, frost, etc. Genesis 31:40, Job 6:16, Job 37:10, Job 38:29, Psalm 147:17, and Jeremiah 36:30.
D3 Most Bible translations have cold.
D4 Weather in Haran, where Laban lived and Jacob took care of Laban’s sheep.
D5 So the likelihood of Bethlehem shepherds being in the fields are high.
C2 I don’t care what the date was. I rejoice and worship the Virgin’s baby, Jesus, God’s son.
C3 How could you argue that it is most reasonable that real angels gave this message?
C4 What was the effect of this on the shepherds, Mary, and Joseph?
B3 Luke 2:2 WEB This was the first enrollment made when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
C1 Critics attack this as proving that Luke did not write the Gospel or that he was in error. Either way, they state, this proves that the Bible is fallible, not infallible.
C2 Solutions (See here for further comments)
E1 Quirinius was governor 2 different times.
E2 There were 2 different census enrollments. (Compare Acts 5:37).
E3 The Greek word πρῶτος prōtos should be translated before as in John 1:15 and John 1:30.
B4 The journey
C2 The Journey:
D1 Nazareth to Jordan Valley (~1200 feet above sea level)
D2 Down Jordan Valley to Jericho (~853 feet below sea level)
D3 Up to Jerusalem (~2474 feet above sea level)
D4 The total distance would be about 80 miles.
D5 Joseph most likely had a donkey to help transport wood, etc. Mary probably rode the donkey.
D6 The journey would have taken 4-7 days.
D7 Mary was 9 months pregnant.
D8 How many miles would they have traveled each day?
B5 The birth
C1 Do you think there were any birth attendants at the side of the manager when Mary birthed the Lord Jesus?
C2 Where Mary and Joseph married?
D1 Since they were travelling together to be registered for the census, they would have been married.
D2 Luke 2:5 NKJV ...to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.
B6 Was Mary sinless?
C1 The Orthodox Church position as answered in a question:
D1 Mary could indeed have sinned, but chose not to.
D2 Humans do not accept that humans share the guilt of the first sin but, rather, only the consequences.
C2 Yes, Mary is sinless. The Roman Catholic view from the Catechism quoted here:
D1 Mary was redeemed from the moment of her conception.
D2 Mary was from conception preserved immune from all stain of original sin.
D3 The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”
D4 The Father chose her “in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love.”
D1 The Bible never states that Mary was sinless (without sin). An important doctrine would surely be written clearly.
D2 Luke 2:22-24 WPNT And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they took Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens a womb shall be called holy to the LORD”), and to offer a sacrifice according to what was specified in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
E1 One sacrifice was for purification so to be clean to enter the Temple.
E2 The other was for a sin offering. Because of impurity, Mary could not go into the Temple. This sin had to be atoned for. This was the least of the blood type sacrifices.
E3 Leviticus 12:8 NRSV If she cannot afford a sheep, she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement on her behalf, and she shall be clean.
D3 If Mary is the woman of Revelation 12:2 NRSV She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth, as Romans Catholics teach, then she would not have had birth pains. Birth pains were a punishment for sin: Genesis 3:16 NRSV To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you."
D4 Mary died; she is not living today. Humans die because they sin.
E1 Romans 6:23 NRSV For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
E2 James 1:14-15 NRSV But one is tempted by one's own desire, being lured and enticed by it; 15 then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death.
D5 In the New Testament, Mary is never exalted.
D6 There is no passage in the Bible showing Mary exalted in heaven either.
D7 Even seven Popes are quoted on the same side, and among them three of the greatest, viz., Leo 1. (who says that Christ alone was free from original sin, and that Mary obtained her purification through her conception of Christ), Gregory I., and Innocent III. (§29. The Argument for the Immaculate Conception. THE CREEDS OF CHRISTENDOM, WITH A HISTORY AND CRITICAL NOTES. BY PHILIP SCHAFF, D.D., LL.D., PROFESSOR OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE IN THE UNION THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, N. Y.)
B7 Did Mary have other children?
C1 There is no reason not to interpret the Bible in its plain, normal sense.
C2 The plain, normal sense states in
D1 Mark 3:32 HCSB A crowd was sitting around Him and told Him, “Look, Your mother, Your brothers, and Your sisters are outside asking for You.
D2 Mark 6:3 HCSB Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And aren’t His sisters here with us? ” So they were offended by Him.
B8 Who was the father of Jesus, according to the Scriptures?
C1 John 8:54 NKJV Jesus answered, If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God.
C2 John 17:5 NKJV And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
C3 Psalms 2:7 NKJV I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. WITH Hebrews 1:5 NKJV For to which of the angels did He ever say: "YOu are my son, today i have begotten you"? And again: "I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son"?
B9 In our Scripture passage, who are the one’s testifying about Jesus to others? (See Luke 2:10-13 and Luke 2:17).
B10 Let us know and follow the Scriptures to be good apologists.
B11 Let us tell others about the Savior, Jesus Christ.
B12 Next week:
C1 Glory Awaits
C2 Theme: The Promise of Resurrection
C3 Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 15:20-58