Luke 2:4-20 Believers must learn to assess people and circumstances through the eyes of God, not men

Luke 2:4-20 Believers must learn to assess people and circumstances through the eyes of God, not men

4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, 5 in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. 6 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. 17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

Background

The shepherds were greeted by a host of angels announcing the birth of the Saviour in the city of David. The shepherds received the sign from the angels through which they identified the Child as the Messiah. Who can guess the Child in a manger was in fact, the Lord of creation! For anyone would have considered Him as a descendant of the cursed. Indeed, true glory is often cloaked in an appearance of servitude and poverty. Today’s devotion teaches us: Believers must learn to assess people and circumstances through the eyes of God, not men.

Observation

Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem.

Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem, Joseph’s ancestral home for the region wide census. It was during their time in Bethlehem that the Child was due. As there were no facilities available at that time, the Holy Family was forced to deliver their Son in a barn. Her mother then laid Him in a manger, a feeding trough for animals, unfit for humans.

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.

The appearance of the angels impressed upon the shepherds the divine significance and identity of the Child they were about to meet. The sign of the baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger was significant, without which the shepherds would never recognise the Child lying in the manger was indeed the Saviour of the world. Having been convinced of it, the shepherds proceeded to seek out the Child who was to bring peace among men. “Peace” connotes salvation and blessedness which God would bring upon men. The angels, in declaring “Glory to God in the highest” announced the successful implementation of God’s salvation plan for humanity and no evil would be able to thwart God’s salvation plans. Being a descendant of David and birthed in the city of David, Christ is a type of king David who brought salvation to Israel.

“Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.”

The news of the Saviour’s birth brought indescribable joy to the people who were oppressed by the rulers of darkness. The Child is to grow in wisdom and stature, in favour with God and man (Luke 2:52). And having obtained all authority from God (Matthew 28:18), He will disarm the powers of darkness that oppresses the righteous (Colossians 2:15). Having done so, He will entrust His supreme authority to faithful believers (see John 20:21) who will reign over creation by destroying the powers of darkness. Having learned of so great a salvation, the shepherds returned with great joy being assured of imminent liberation from poverty and oppression.

Truth

Believers must learn to assess people and circumstances through the eyes of God, not men

Through the instructions of the angels, the shepherds came to acknowledge the Child in a manger as the Messiah. Who can guess the Child in a manger was in fact, the Lord of creation! For anyone would have considered Him as a descendant of the cursed. Indeed, true glory is often cloaked in an appearance of servitude and poverty. Therefore, we must learn to assess people and circumstances through the eyes of God and not the eyes of the world. In so doing, we may experience God’s unprecedented favour and live life abundantly.

What constitutes divine glory?

A divine identity – Jesus’s open acknowledgement of God as His Father spoke of His divinity (see John 5:17-18). That said, Jesus did not flaunt His divinity by a display of power and wealth but humbled Himself as a condemned criminal. Jesus believed that His glory as the Son of God could not be diminished by circumstances forced upon Him or by His human weakness. The people of the world derive their identity through an appearance of power and wealth. They spend unnecessary resources to deliver their children in prestigious hospitals. But Mary laid the King of kings in a manger. Many churchgoers put on an appearance of blessedness by the clothes they wear and the cars they drive. Such do not have a divine identity, for they have bought into a false gospel, and are in fact children of the world.

How do the sons of God manifest divine glory?

Through the fruit of love and righteousness – Jesus said in no uncertain terms that true believers would bear the fruit of love (see John 13:34-35) and of righteousness (see John 8:31). Just as a tree is known by the fruit it bears, a person’s true nature will be known by the motives of his heart. Good fruit represents motives of goodwill and love. Bad fruit represents evil and self-serving motives. Jesus said,

So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. … Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from ME, you who practice lawlessness.’ – Matthew 7:17-23.

Therefore, the believer’s glory is his fruit of love; which is to put the interests of the community above his own. And his fruit of righteousness; which is to do what is right despite inconveniences. A person may exhibit great abilities, but without love and righteousness, there is no glory.

Through miraculous signs – Jesus taught His disciples to use miraculous signs to authenticate the gospel message. Miraculous sign is a manifestation of spiritual gifts.

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptised shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” – Mark 16:15-18

Most churches taught their members to be Christ-like in bearing the fruit of the Spirit (divine virtues) but not the gifts of the Spirit (divine power). However, an indispensable part of Christ’s divinity is His supernatural abilities. Therefore, the pursuit of Christ-likeness must involve the bearing of fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. Without the gifts of the Spirit, the glory of Christ cannot be fully manifested through us.

Through divine wisdom and prophecy –Prophecy, the utterance of divine wisdom is another of the believer’s manifestation of heavenly glory. Jesus said when believers are placed under various circumstances to preach the gospel, divine wisdom will be given to them (see Matthew 10:18-20). In an occasion recorded in Acts 4. Peter defended himself with such wisdom and confidence; the authorities had nothing to say in reply (see Acts 4:13-14).

Application

As believers, we must know the truth and not be deceived by popular opinion in the guise of worldly success and approval. A large following does not infer that the truth is preached. For Jesus on several occasions had large crowds following Him because of the signs but quickly deserting Him when He preached the truth. We must read the word, and understand what Jesus taught in the gospels. In so doing, we acquire wisdom to perceive people and circumstances through the eyes of God. Most will follow a populist, but few will follow Christ. Jesus said,

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” – Matthew 7:13-14

Experience tells us that something may not seem valuable at the onset, but on closer examination it yields great price. Some may not seem competent at the onset but blooms with excellence when given some training. May God gives us wisdom to see the hidden gem within people. The people of the world enter the wide gate: that which meet the desires of their heart. And those who enter through the narrow gate will undoubtedly face a lonely journey. However, they will be vindicated by the applause of the heavenly saints and angels on the day of resurrection.

Dear Lord, I desire to know the way of the truth and walk in. Even though there may not be a large crowd, grant me the fellowship of the like-minded few. Cause me to perceive people and circumstances in the light of heavenly wisdom. In so doing, I will increase in divine favour and experience eternal life. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.


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