His birth at Bethlehem – Session One
His birth at Bethlehem – Session One
This session looks at the lessons we can learn from Jesus' birth at Bethlehem.
Buy the book
100 Stand Alone Bible Studies

Bible passage

Luke 2:1–20

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Luke 2:1–20


Back in the 1980s I took part in a national Methodist investigation into all aspects of poverty. My role was to explore with individuals and families living in poverty what were their experiences, hopes, and aspirations. I learned that, though money was short in every case, it was not money that mattered most to the people with whom I talked. What they really wanted was someone to stand by them – a friend to go with them, a companion on the journey. With that, they could tackle their problems one by one without handouts. As I listened, I realized that this was exactly what Jesus did: he came to be with us, one of us, in our poverty. He found us where we were and came to make the journey with us.

In his birth at Bethlehem, Jesus came to be the child of poor parents (we know this because they gave the offering of the poor when they took him as a baby to the Temple). Not only that, but he was born at a time when they had to be on the road, going from place to place, turned away at every door. And not only that, but he shortly afterwards became a refugee, in flight from Herod’s persecution. On the occasion of his birth at Bethlehem, angels announced his arrival – but to shepherds, not to dignitaries. Herding sheep was a lowly occupation; the guests invited by angels to adore the infant messiah were rough and humble people.

The birth of Jesus at Bethlehem introduces us to what will be a radical
reinterpretation of what it means to be the messiah. The words “humble”, “simple”, and “unnoticed” all apply. And “accessible”. And “miracle”.



God of love, we can never thank you enough for coming to be with us in Jesus. As we think of his birth at Bethlehem, the difficult start of a life that was to ask everything of him, we acknowledge that without him we are nothing, that our lives depend upon his love, his grace, his humility. And in his holy name we give you thanks for so great a salvation. Amen.