In Luke 2, we find the narrative of Jesus birth and early childhood. It is interesting that the announcement of Jesus’ arrival is not given to heads of state, but to simple shepherds keeping their flocks by night. Jesus grows to maturity and gives evidence of His unusual nature, while Mary and Joseph marvel and hide these things in their heart as the young Christ grows to adulthood.
[Luk 2:1-52 KJV] 1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2 ([And] this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 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:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 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. 8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 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.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this [shall be] a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, 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, good will toward men. 15 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. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they had seen [it], they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard [it] wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered [them] in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. 21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present [him] to the Lord; 23 (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) 24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
In chapter 2 of Luke, we find the story of Jesus’ nativity. It is fixed at a time when Caesar sends out a decree regarding the collection of a tax. In this decree was a demand that all citizens return to their city to be leveed whatever amount Rome determined was due from them. Can you imagine the masses of people who would have been on the move at this time? For myself, I would have to go to Kansas City, Missouri, to pay my tax, where would you have to go? Interestingly, modern scholarship and secular history insist that this tax never took place and that there are no records of it. What they fail to tell you is that such taxes were taken and that there was known to be a similar tax levied in Judea in 6 AD, approximately three years after the birth of Jesus, which could have been this specific event or one like it. Regardless Joseph takes Mary and journeys to Bethlehem in the final days before Jesus is to be born.
Upon arrival in Bethlehem, there is no lodging to be found, so Joseph shelters Mary, already in labor in a stable where among the fodder and livestock Jesus is to be born. At this same time outside the city, shepherds report the visit of an angel appearing to them announcing the birth of the Savior. These events are as controversial in their day as UFO sightings are today. In the modern-day, if a CIA analyst or some high-ranking government official were to declare the visitation of aliens from another world, it would be taken more seriously than the ramblings of a rural housewife from Wisconsin who saw something out behind the barn. God doesn’t choose the elite of the world to reveal Himself. We might ask ourselves what our response would be to such things if they were reported in our neighborhood today?
Whatever the events are, the shepherds are convinced and leaving their flocks come to Bethlehem to find the Savior the angel spoke of. The angel must have given specific directions because the shepherds didn’t go knocking on doors, waking up every visiting family to the city, but rather “made haste” directly to where Jesus could be found, in the stable, in a manger. Upon seeing Jesus, they blaze abroad the matter, declaring the appearance of the angel over their flocks and the confirming fact of finding Jesus and His family right where the apparition of the angel said He would be located. We don’t know what Joseph’s reaction was to all of this, but Mary held her peace and simply pondered what it all might mean over the eight days before Jesus’ compulsory time to be circumcised. When the day came and the name of the baby was given during the ceremony, He was named Jesus, just as the angel so named Him before the Holy Ghost conceived him in the womb of Mary.