The Hallelujah Chorus of Luke 2

Do you have a favorite passage of Scripture you associate with the birth of Christ? Certainly Luke 2 comes to mind. Join us today as Brian Miller shares how he made a passage memorized as a child come to life and enrich his experience of seeing the glory of God in the stable in Bethlehem.
Luke 2:1-14, the Christmas story, was one of many Bible passages I memorized as a child, and one that we recited as a family every Christmas (and still do). Sometimes, repetition can, however, take the wonder out of things, so I decided to take a fresh look at this wonderful passage and share just a few thoughts that strike me.
I memorized this text in the original King James Version, so that is the one I will use here.

Luke 2:1-3
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

It should be noted that the Roman Empire was at that time at its zenith, reigning over territory from Britain to Parthia (modern Iran), and enjoying a time of relative peace under its first emperor. We see here God fulfilling His sovereign purpose through the decree of Augustus, a ruler He had designated to put in place— “God sets up kings and brings them down.” (Daniel 2:21). Whether this order by Augustus was one of self-indulgence—seeking to register all of his subjects for the vainglory of knowing the number over whom he ruled—or another reason, like clockwork, it set in motion the fulfillment of prophecy.

Luke 2:4-5
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:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

One cannot help but wonder if Joseph and Mary, knowing the child which she carried was conceived by the Holy Spirit and was the promised Messiah, were thinking of the prophecy in Micah 5:2: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
Surely, at least in hindsight, they marveled at the hand of God in causing them to travel in the late stages of her pregnancy to the place where it had been proclaimed that Immanuel (“God with us”) would be born.
Bethlehem (“house of bread”) was to bring forth Jesus, the “bread of life” (John 6:35), that “living bread which came down from heaven” (John 6:51). Bethlehem, “The City of David” was to produce the “Son of David,” the Promised One who would fulfill the prophecy made to David in II Samuel 6:17: “And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established forever.” God announced the heir to that throne in Luke 1:32: “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David.
It is marvelous to consider just these few of the Messianic prophecies.

Luke 2:6-7
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 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.

There is so much to unpack here. “No room” for Jesus is a common theme throughout history. Sadly, most people have “no room” for Jesus in their lives. He was not of this world, so the world rejected Him, and fittingly, it started at His birth, when no one would provide room for Mary and Joseph, so they found shelter in a stable. Jesus said of Himself, “The Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58)
He was “born to die.” The symbolism of Jesus being wrapped in swaddling clothes is obvious here, the redemptive mission of His life in stark picture. He was the perfect Lamb of God, born to take away the sin of the world. Mangers of that time were hollowed-out stone troughs, and they were often used as a place of safety for those unblemished lambs who were to be sacrificed in the Temple.
What a thought to fathom: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by Him… (and) The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:1, 3a, 14a) The Creator of the Universe Who made all things and upholds all things came to us as a newborn baby. How astounded must the angels have been to witness His birth.

Luke 2:8-9
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 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.

Imagine being one of those shepherds when the quiet night sky erupted in the brilliance of the glory of God’s messengers, and suddenly an angel is speaking to you. They had to be quaking in their sandals! But the words spoken were words of great comfort and gladness.

Luke 2:10-12
And the angel said unto them, "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."

The angel didn’t seek out the “good,” “religious,” or “well-to-do” sort of people to whom to announce this wonderful message. He came to the smelly, unclean outcasts of society—shepherds—those whom the well-to-do looked down upon. But the “good tidings of great joy” was to “all people”—the whole, wide world, and it should be noted, not just for that time, but for ALL of time.
Christ the Lord! Born in the City of David! The Promised Messiah! The shepherds had to go from shaking in fear to kicking up their feet in celebration. And remember the significance of the manger—the shepherds would have recognized it immediately—the Spotless Lamb of God being prepared to be a sacrifice for the sins of the world.

Luke 2:13-14
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Think of the “Hallelujah Chorus” to the nth degree. The manifestation of God in human form caused the angels to rejoice and to glorify God. They recognized this was God’s manifestation of peace and good will toward the wretched human race, which had been separated from Him by their sin.

In the little village of Bethlehem,
There lay a Child one day,
And the sky was bright with a holy light
O'er the place where Jesus lay.

Alleluia! O how the angels sang.
Alleluia! How it rang!
And the sky was bright with a holy light,
'Twas the birthday of a King.

Brian Miller is a longtime newspaper columnist and freelance writer. He and his wife Bethany, a fellow “preacher’s kid” (and talented musician and chef) split their time between Eveleth, MN, and South Padre Island, TX. Brian seeks to use lessons learned in his life of God’s unchanging love, grace, mercy, and faithfulness to bring hope to others who may be struggling. The Millers are seeking God’s guidance for future ministry opportunities and appreciate your prayers. You may write to him at bd1976@pm.me.

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