by Jonathan McLeod

This content is part of a series.

Laid in a Manger (2 of 4)
Series: The Birth of Christ
Jonathan McLeod
Luke 2:1-7

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be reg-istered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.


As a parent, it's fun to surprise your children on Christmas morning with a gift they aren't expecting.

There are many surprises in the Christmas story. In Luke 1, there are two surprises: (1) the choice of Mary, a young girl from a small town, to be the mother of the Messiah, and (2) the virgin conception. In Luke 2, we find a few more surprises.


About 700 years earlier, the prophet Micah foretold, "But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days" (Micah 5:2). The Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, but Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth. But God used a decree by the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus (also known as Octavian) to fulfill Micah's prophecy (v. 1; cf. Matt. 2:4-6).

The purpose of the "registration" ("census," NIV) was for people of the empire to register for paying taxes. "In calling the census one of the 'whole world,' Luke uses the standard description of any event that covered much of the Roman Empire" (Darrell Bock, Luke 1:1-9:50, p. 202). The decree required people to be registered in their an ...

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