“And Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David,” Luke 2:4.
This is probably the most familiar story in all of Christianity because it is the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. And a lot of folks know about Christmas, a lot of folks know something about the birth of Christ. Most people don’t know all of the rich detail that Luke provides for us here. And you can move through this rather rapidly and it seems pretty simple and straightforward, but if you slow down a little bit, and dig in a little deeper you find some profound things that are going on behind the scenes.
Luke wasted no time in making sure to those with whom his letter was targeting (the highly educated) knew that although Joseph’s home was in the town of Nazareth in Galilee, he was of the household and family line of a king – no ordinary king – but the highly revered and honored King David of Israel.
Why is that important in the story of the birth of Christ?
Nazareth was a crude, uncultured town, quite a distance from Bethlehem. The people of that region had a reputation for violence. Nathanael expressed the overarching opinion of that little town: “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).
But to be of the household and family line of King David was a detail in Luke’s account that would instantly put down a warm and inviting welcome mat to the Jews, to the theologians, to the scholarly, to those who needed to have their spiritual eyes opened to see beyond “from the town of Nazareth.”
When word got out as to where their long awaited Messiah’s lineage came in order to be counted for the census (Nazareth), Luke knew that would place such a mental block to their skeptical and unbelieving minds. But once he ended Verse 4 with the words, “he was of the house and family line of David,” that would immediately cause them to turn their heads and take notice. Cause them to sit up straighter and pay attention. Cause their jaws to drop, quite frankly, and stare down every word that would follow in Luke’s account of the birth of the Messiah.
What is the application in this?
You’ve heard the expression, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” That is what Luke is clearly pointing out. He is showing that Something good CAN come out of Nazareth. Someone Good. He is pointing out that what we may perceive as misfortune and misfits can actually be the place, the people where God displays His Majesty and Magnificence!
This Christmas don’t miss Christmas.
What I mean by that is this …
Christmas is undoubtedly a good time for giving. After all, we are celebrating the greatest gift ever given—God’s Son: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
God’s great Gift was born in Bethlehem, who’s earthly father and mother traveled over 90 miles from Nazareth – a place others perceived as “nothing.” God gave not because He had to, but because He loves us. And our giving this Christmas should reflect His love. If we can keep that perspective—especially in the minds of our children—this can be one of the most blessed and enjoyable aspects of the holiday.
It isn’t easy to keep one’s perspective so focused. Christmas has become too commercial, too carefully merchandised, too grossly materialistic to lend itself to teaching THIS spiritual truth about giving. If we aren’t careful, we will communicate to a watching world that Christmas has so very little to do with celebrating Christ’s birth, but has more to do with all the decorations, purchasing of material goods, and gluttony … in every sense of the word.
Luke knew the real message of CHRISTmas. He knew the truth of the celebration of Christ’s birth. He knew that a watching world NEEDED the truth of their Messiah, so he wrote in precise detail of His lineage so we would all know just how miraculous His birth truly was.
Is this where we place our hearts and minds at Christmas? To ponder and praise Christ’s birth so that our giving reflects our worship and gratitude for the virgin birth of our Savior?
It seems that every year at Christmas, the buying frenzy gets worse. Have you ever noticed, for example, how much stuff is sold that nobody needs, but wants? It doesn’t have any practical use. It just sits there, collecting dust. We feel we need to buy expensive things, spend an overly sufficient amount of money, give expensive gifts or even go into a little bit of debt at Christmas, and we think THAT is what God wants us to do in celebrating the birth of His Son? When did that start? Why did that start? Is that really what our Father “wills & wants” us to do in celebrating the birth of His Son….who was born in a manager, mind you, and in a barn? If God wanted us to go so big and elaborate in gift giving, wouldn’t He have set the stage for that? Wouldn’t He had set that example by having Jesus born in a million dollar palace, surrounded by the finest of things in His day, and wrapped in a royal robe?
When we read Luke 2:4, and understand a few reasons why God wanted that one verse in His Bible…it causes us to step way back from all the hoopla that is associated with this most sacred holiday and fall to our knees in worship of our Deliverer born as a precious and helpless baby, being coddled and fed by his teenage parents in a smelly barn, lying nestled and warm in a feeding trough, while wrapped in swaddling cloths.
When God gave His chosen GIFT to the world, He perfectly created a holy, humble and divine setting!
Our society is literally filled with the unnecessary, the insignificant, and the meaningless. And people spend a fortune on stuff for Christmas. Why? Often, it is the quickest and easiest way to complete what is communicated as an obligatory Christmas list. What biblical meaning is there in that?
If Luke were to peek into our Christmas-time-lives and see where all our focus can so easily tend to go, would he want to say, “No! No, that’s not what my letter was encouraging! It was to draw all hearts to the Miracle of Jesus. Don’t overlook the One who came as a baby to open heaven to sinners, and who will return again to reign forever.”
Ask yourself this year if your giving reflects the spirit of Him who gave His best for us—just because He loves us. Ask yourself this year if shopping and gifts has stolen even a smidgin’ of the real and true meaning of this time of celebration? As Luke wrote in verse 4, not only of Joseph, but of Jesus Himself — “he was of the house and family line of David,” and God our Father means for the world to know the earthly lineage of His only begotten Son, the Savior of the World.