Background: In the 1st chapter of Luke, it is told how Mary became pregnant from the Holy Spirit without the contribution of any man. Relatives and neighbors, of course, thought that the child was Joseph’s. In that culture, starting a sexual relationship before the wedding was a terrible sin and a terrible shame. Note that the Jews had been waiting for the birth of David’s son, Christ the King, already for hundreds of years, because it had been prophesied in the Old Testament.
Consider what kind of mood prevails in a country where the foreign occupier is planning general taxation and ordering all people to register on the tax roll in the city of their birth?
The distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem is about 130 km. Approximately how many days does such a journey take if you travel by donkey or on foot?
For the Romans, it would have been enough if one male person from each family had registered on the tax roll. Why did Mary, who was pregnant and near her time, most decidedly want to go on such a difficult journey? Why did she not want to stay in Nazareth without Joseph?
Verses 6-7. A manger means a feeding trough for animals. Based on that, it has been concluded that Jesus was born in an animal shelter, possibly in a cave.
Think of different reasons why no one – not even Joseph’s relatives – took the engaged couple under their roof?
What kind of difficulties will arise if the baby has to be born in a cattle shelter?
How may the young mother Mary have felt when realizing that God had not arranged a safer place for her to give birth?
Usually a midwife washes the baby and wraps him in cloths so that the tired mother doesn’t have to do it. What do you think was the reason that there wasn’t even a midwife there?
Why did the Savior of the world have to be born in such conditions?
Verses 8-9. Shepherds were discriminated against at that time because they could not “keep the Sabbath holy”, i. e. not to work on the day of rest. They were also not accepted as witnesses in courts due to their alleged unreliability.
Let’s think about the life of shepherds. What might have been their joys and sorrows?
How might the shepherds have felt about God, whose commands they could not obey?
According to verse 9, the shepherds were terrified when seeing the angel. What were they afraid of?
What is the thing that you are most afraid of? You may answer either out loud or quietly in your heart.
What in the angel’s words made the shepherds especially happy?
Why does the birth of Jesus mean great joy for the whole mankind?
The angel called the newborn child Savior. From what did Jesus come to save the mankind and in what way?
What does it mean that Jesus is “Christ, the Lord”?
What might the shepherds think when they heard that the long-awaited Savior is indeed sleeping in a manger?
Why did God want to show his son to the shepherds on the very same night he was born?
Why didn’t the angel say the name and address of the newborn child’s parents, but only gave a sign: the child would lie in a manger?
What reason did the army of angels have to rejoice when God had just been born in the midst of dirt, cold, enemies and bacteria?
How was God’s glory revealed in the events of Christmas night?
Think about how the shepherds managed to find the right animal shelter in the middle of the night without an address?
What in the shepherds’ story was perhaps most comforting for Mary and Joseph, who had a hard day behind them?
Why didn’t God send his angels to Mary and Joseph in the animal shelter, but instead sent them to the shepherds?
The shepherds told many people about what they had seen and heard. Why do you think Jesus didn’t become a celebrity already then?
Most of the shepherds were probably already dead when Jesus began his public ministry 30 years later. How did this one encounter change their lives?
Glad tidings: Jesus was born into this world so that you too would have great joy in your life. He wants to be your Savior and forgive you your wrongdoings. These “glad tidings”, however, had a high price, which Jesus himself had to pay. He started paying it in the manger and finished it on the cross.