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Lu 2:1-7. BIRTH OF CHRIST.
2. first . . . when Cyrenius, &c.--a very perplexing verse, inasmuch as Cyrenius, or Quirinus, appears not to have been governor of Syria for about ten years after the birth of Christ, and the "taxing" under his administration was what led to the insurrection mentioned in Ac 5:37. That there was a taxing, however, of the whole Roman Empire under Augustus, is now admitted by all; and candid critics, even of skeptical tendency, are ready to allow that there is not likely to be any real inaccuracy in the statement of our Evangelist. Many superior scholars would render the words thus, "This registration was previous to Cyrenius being governor of Syria"--as the word "first" is rendered in Joh 1:15; 15:18. In this case, of course, the difficulty vanishes. But it is perhaps better to suppose, with others, that the registration may have been ordered with a view to the taxation, about the time of our Lord's birth, though the taxing itself--an obnoxious measure in Palestine--was not carried out till the time of Quirinus.
4, 5. Not only does Joseph, who was of the royal line, go to Bethlehem (1Sa 16:1), but Mary too--not from choice surely in her condition, but, probably, for personal enrollment, as herself an heiress.
6. while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered--Mary had up to this time been living at the wrong place for Messiah's birth. A little longer stay at Nazareth, and the prophecy would have failed. But lo! with no intention certainly on her part, much less of Cæsar Augustus, to fulfil the prophecy, she is brought from Nazareth to Bethlehem, and at that nick of time her period arrives, and her Babe is born (Ps 118:23). "Every creature walks blindfold; only He that dwells in light knows whether they go" [BISHOP HALL].
yet the law, in speaking of the first-born, regardeth not whether any
were born after or no, but only that none were born
But some "guests went and came" not "rudely," but reverently. God sent visitors of His own to pay court to the new-born King.
Lu 2:8-20. ANGELIC ANNUNCIATION TO THE SHEPHERDS--THEIR VISIT TO THE NEWBORN BABE.
8. abiding in the fields--staying there, probably in huts or tents.
9. glory of the Lord--"the brightness or glory which is represented
as encompassing all heavenly visions" [OLSHAUSEN].
11. unto you is born--you shepherds, Israel, mankind
"Unto us a Child is born." It is a birth--"The Word is made
When? "This day." Where? "In the city of David"--in the
right line and at the right "spot"; where prophecy bade us look
for Him, and faith accordingly expected Him. How dear to us should be
these historic moorings of our faith! With the loss of them, all
substantial Christianity is lost. By means of them how many have been
kept from making shipwreck, and attained to a certain external
admiration of Him, ere yet they have fully "beheld His glory."
12. a sign--"the sign."
13. suddenly--as if only waiting till their fellow had done.
14. Glory, &c.--brief but transporting hymn--not only in articulate human speech, for our benefit, but in tunable measure, in the form of a Hebrew parallelism of two complete clauses, and a third one only amplifying the second, and so without a connecting "and." The "glory to God," which the new-born "Saviour" was to bring, is the first note of this sublime hymn: to this answers, in the second clause, the "peace on earth," of which He was to be "the Prince" (Isa 9:6) --probably sung responsively by the celestial choir; while quickly follows the glad echo of this note, probably by a third detachment of the angelic choristers--"good will to men." "They say not, glory to God in heaven, where angels are, but, using a rare expression, "in the highest [heavens]," whither angels aspire not," (Heb 1:3, 4) [BENGEL]. "Peace" with God is the grand necessity of a fallen world. To bring in this, and all other peace in its train, was the prime errand of the Saviour to this earth, and, along with it, Heaven's whole "good will to men"--the divine complacency on a new footing--descends to rest upon men, as upon the Son Himself, in whom God is "well-pleased." (Mt 3:17, the same word as here.)
15. Let us go, &c.--lovely simplicity of devoutness and faith this! They are not taken up with the angels, the glory that invested them, and the lofty strains with which they filled the air. Nor do they say, Let us go and see if this be true--they have no misgivings. But "Let us go and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us." Does not this confirm the view given on Lu 2:8 of the spirit of these humble men?
16. with haste--Compare
("left her water-pot," as they do their flocks, in a transport).
20. glorifying and praising God, &c.--The latter word, used of the song of the angels (Lu 2:13), and in Lu 19:37, and Lu 24:53, leads us to suppose that theirs was a song too, probably some canticle from the Psalter--meet vehicle for the swelling emotions of their simple hearts at what "they had heard and seen."
Lu 2:21. CIRCUMCISION OF CHRIST.
Here only recorded, and even here merely alluded to, for the sake of the name then given to the holy Babe, "JESUS," or SAVIOUR (Mt 1:21; Ac 13:23). Yet in this naming of Him "Saviour," in the act of circumcising Him, which was a symbolical and bloody removal of the body of sin, we have a tacit intimation that they "had need"--as John said of His Baptism--rather to be circumcised by Him "with the circumcision made without hands, in the putting off of the body [of the sins] of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ" (Col 2:11), and that He only "suffered it to be so, because thus it became Him to fulfil all righteousness" (Mt 3:15). Still the circumcision of Christ had a profound bearing on His own work--by few rightly apprehended. For since "he that is circumcised is a debtor to do the whole law" (Ga 5:3), Jesus thus bore about with Him in His very flesh the seal of a voluntary obligation to do the whole law--by Him only possible in the flesh since the fall. And as He was "made under the law" for no ends of His own, but only "to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons" (Ga 4:4, 5), the obedience to which His circumcision pledged Him was a redeeming obedience--that of a "Saviour." And, finally, as "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law" by "being made a curse for us" (GOTO NEXT CHAPTER - D. J-F-B INDEX & SEARCH