Advent Devotional: First Sunday after Christmas Day

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Once in Royal David's City

December 30, 2018

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered…. 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. —Luke 2:1, 4-5 (see Luke 2:1-7)

Luke Chapter 2 shows us the far reach of Caesar’s power, and also its undoing. Although he would never know it, by calling for a census Caesar had unleashed a chain of events that would turn the whole world upside down, for among the millions who had to register with the Romans was a man named Joseph, with his fiancée Mary. This one little family, seemingly swept up in the tide of earthly power, gave birth to a son who would rule the world.

Here King David receives double mention. Luke has already told us that Mary’s child would be David’s son, and the angel promised that God would “give to him the throne of his father David” (Luke 1:32). Now Luke tells us that Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, also came from the royal line of David.

The grand purpose of these statements is to establish the child’s credentials. In order to fulfill the promise of salvation, Jesus had to be a direct descendant of King David (cf. Romans 1:3; 2 Timothy 2:8). Joseph’s lineage also explains why he took his family to Bethlehem, which was the “city of David”—the hometown of the ancient king—and thus the place where Joseph was required to register. To qualify as the Savior, Jesus had to be born in Bethlehem. 

What at first appeared to be a great show of Caesar’s power actually proved the supremacy of God’s sovereignty. God rules all things for his own glory. This is true not only for the great events of salvation history, but also for the ordinary events of daily life. God is working out his will, and he will see that he gets the glory in the end, often in spite of the things that people do.

Reflective Question

Why does the Bible go to such great lengths to demonstrate Jesus’ direct lineage to King David?

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