Day 16: Caesar Augustus Issued a Decree

Who Was Conceived by the Holy Spirit, Born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate; Was Crucified, Died and Was Buried

READ

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 his 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 room for them in the inn.

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 of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ 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, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor 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.

MEDITATE

The birth of Jesus is a fact of history. The claim that he was born of a virgin is an affirmation of faith. Though some contest even his existence, many vehemently deny the virgin birth. Birth is normal. Birth to a virgin is impossible. Just because an occurrence is categorized as an article of faith does not somehow remove it from the category of history. An article of faith takes us beyond the stage of history and into the backstage world of the Director of the drama. From this vantage point, we can see how the impossible becomes reality.

How could God really have a son? Ahhhh, conceived not by a man but by the Holy Spirit who impregnates a woman while preserving her virginity. Though it cannot be proved, it can be trusted. The Creed is not anchored in history. It is anchored in eternity, albeit through real historical events. When eternity breaks forth into history we enter the realm of faith, a place where the natural and the supernatural fuse into a new normal, where we find the very Son of God laid in a feeding trough, where the veil of the sky can be pulled back on occasion to reveal the army of angels who were always there. The Creed aims to usher us into this new normal, the place we were intended to live all along, the world where “nothing is impossible with God.”

Do a little fact-checking on that phrase. See Genesis 18:10–14, Jeremiah 32:17, Luke 1:37, and Mark 14:32–36.

Now think on these things.

REFLECT

When the angel Gabriel told Mary, “You will be with child and give birth to a son,” she had a simple question about the natural: How can this be since I am a virgin?! The answer had to do not with the natural but . . . something, in fact, entirely supernatural: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35 NIV). That was too wonderful, and Mary was silent. She had no question about the supernatural. She was satisfied with God’s answer. The truth about the Incarnation is a thing too wonderful for us. . . . Mary’s acceptance of the angel’s answer to her innocent question was immediate, though she could not imagine the intricacies and mysteries of its working in her young virgin body. She surrendered herself utterly to God in trust and obedience.

—From Keep a Quiet Heart
Elisabeth Elliot

ASK

Express your questions, doubts, curiosities, and conundrums.

AFFIRM

Write any fresh affirmation stirring in your heart and mind from today.

Now affirm the Apostles’ Creed aloud:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord . . .