Sunday School Lesson for Grades 3-6
Christmas: Lesson 3
A Humble Birth Day Party
Teacher’s Notes: First of all I’d like to wish every one of you a very Merry Christmas, as this week we’ll be celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! And in that spirit, today’s lesson will be the familiar story of that wonderful night. It’s a story that’s so often told…but certainly never grows old. What a privilege we have, to share with the world the news of the promised Messiah who came into this world to be our Immanuel, God with us!
Very soon, we’ll be celebrating Christmas Day! For many of us, it is a day we look forward to all year long. In many places around the world, decorations have been put up, lights have been strung. Trees have been decorated. But why? What are we celebrating on Christmas Day? Yes, it’s Jesus’ birthday!
Have any of you ever had a birthday party, to celebrate the day you were born? If you have, what are some of the things you might do to prepare for the party? (allow the students to answer, then offer these ideas)
When it came time for Jesus to be born, many of these same preparations were done. Today’s lesson is going to be an invitation to Jesus birth day. Would you like to come?
Memory verse: (Have the children repeat this verse with you several times, until they are able to say it themselves. And encourage them to repeat it to others several times during the week, so that it’ll have a place in their hearts.)
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11
Opening prayer: Lord, thank You for each student who’s here, today. And thank You for this wonderful time of year, when we remember the birth of Your Son, Jesus. Help each one here to remember, this week, that Jesus is the reason we are celebrating. Amen.
This Week’s Lesson: (A Humble Birth Day Party from Luke 2:1-20 )
(the party preparations)
One of the first things you do to prepare for a birthday party is to choose the location. And one of the most exciting birth-days in all of human history was about to take place. The Messiah, Jesus Christ was going to be born. And there were many Biblical prophecies He was coming to fulfill. This even included the location of His birth. And God, Himself, had selected the city hundreds of years before Jesus was born.
We can find this prophecy in Micah 5:2. It says, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”
This prophecy meant that Jesus was to be born in the city of Bethlehem. But Mary and Joseph, Jesus’ earthly parents, lived in the town of Nazareth, not Bethlehem. Of course, God had a plan to bring everyone where they needed to be to fulfill Micah’s prophecy. Let’s look into Luke 2, and see what special plans God had in mind.
1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
At that time, roads were not paved, and few people had horses. So an eighty mile trip, from Nazareth to Bethlehem, would only have been made if absolutely necessary; especially when Mary was about to have a baby. But no Jewish citizen would ignore a decree from the Roman ruler, unless he wished to be severely punished. So God used Caesar Augustus, to accomplish the task of getting Jesus’ parents where they needed to be for His birth. And the next few verses in Luke 2 tell us that this is just what Joseph did:
4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
The trip to Bethlehem would have been a long and difficult one for Mary. She would have been very uncomfortable, with the baby about to be born. And although she wouldn’t have known exactly when He would come, she would have known the time was near, and would no doubt have wished to be at home for the birth. But God had other plans. Let’s read on and see…
6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
Not only were Mary and Joseph far away from home and family, when they arrived in Bethlehem, the inn was full; probably because others would have been there for the tax registration, just like Mary and Joseph were. As the innkeeper turned them away, Mary and Joseph quickly became aware that the baby was coming, so they desperately needed a place to stay. And while it wouldn’t have been fancy, someone offered to let them stay in their stable, where there would at least be a little bit of warmth from the animals, and hay for bedding. And that is where the baby Jesus, the promised Messiah who had come to save the world, was born; in a stable, with an animal’s feeding trough for His bed.
Do you remember our lesson from a couple of weeks ago? We talked about how Jesus did not seem like the Messiah that the Jews were expecting. This is one example of that. If you were living back at that time, and knew that God had promised to send a Savior into the world, where would you expect him to be born? (allow the students to think about this, and answer) You probably would not have expected to find him in a stable.
If you were planning a birthday party for a King, where would you choose to have it? Perhaps in a palace, or the family’s home? Why do you suppose God the Father chose to have His Son born in such a humble place? (allow the students to offer their ideas) While the Bible doesn’t exactly tell us, we have a good clue. We can find it in the next few verses of Luke 2, where we learn who the birth-day invitations were given to.
8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Shepherds! Shepherds were the ones chosen to receive an invitation to the birth of the Messiah. Do you know what the Jews thought of shepherds? They were some of the least respected people in their society. No one else would have considered inviting shepherds to the birth of a King. But God did. And if Jesus had been born in a fancy palace, or even a respectable home, shepherds would never have been allowed to come. But God wanted us to know that no one is excluded from coming to their Savior. And the shepherds would have felt right at home in the stable.
But what about those you might have expected to come to the birth of Christ? Could kings or others who most people would think important have come to the stable to celebrate Jesus’ birth? Yes, no one would have been turned away. But it would have required a great deal of humility for someone of that cultural standing to come into a stable. But that is just what God desires of each of us, that we would come to Him in great humility; realizing that without Him, we are worthless. But with Him, we can be invited into His very presence.
Now, the invitations had been sent out for the celebration. The angels had personally gone and invited the shepherds to come to Bethlehem to see the Savior, Christ the Lord. But if you’ve ever sent out invitations, you might know that usually not everyone who is invited comes. The innkeeper could have been part of this exciting birth. But Luke 2:7 told us that he had no room. And now the shepherds have been given the exciting news. Would they choose to believe these miraculous beings, and go search for the Child? This was certainly exciting news!
What do you think might have gone through the shepherds’ minds? (allow the students to respond)
Regardless of what they might have been thinking, this is what Luke 2 tells us that they did:
15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
Just like angels had predicted, the shepherds found Mary and Joseph; and baby Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. Again, let’s consider what the shepherds might have been thinking as they went into the stable (allow the students to respond):
It must be that somehow the shepherds knew that this was not just any ordinary baby. No matter how much He might have looked like it, there must have been something special about Him; because here’s what the shepherds did, next:
17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
The shepherds were so excited about everything they had seen and heard, from the angels’ announcement to meeting the baby Savior, Himself, that they couldn’t help but share the news with others. That should be the way it is with everyone. When we have a personal encounter with God, Himself; when He reveals Himself to us, and invites us to get to know Him personally, we should be so excited that we can’t help but tell everyone we meet about our wonderful God.
There were probably many who gave them funny looks. There may have even been those who told them to keep quiet and go back to their field. But that did not stop these shepherds from sharing their exciting story with all who would listen.
And as the celebration came to a close, and the evening grew quiet again, there were two very different responses to the events of the day. Mary had just been through the biggest, hardest, most exciting day of her life. She would never forget this day, as long as she lived. Luke 2:19 says is this way, “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”
The shepherds, on the other hand, kept right on enjoying the excitement of the evening:
20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
Christmas day will be a very exciting day for many of us. There may be presents to open, and wonderful food to eat. But be sure to take a quiet moment, like Mary did, to really think about the impact of that day, and what it means for us, today. Remember that Jesus had to come to this Earth in order to save us from our sins. It was a great sacrifice for Him to leave all that He had and was in Heaven, to live as a human here in this sinful world. Take time, this Christmas, to thank Him for His willingness to come into this world as our Messiah, Jesus Christ.
We must be careful not overlook that little phrase, “there was no room for them in the inn.” Have you invited Jesus Christ into your life, to save you from your sin? Or have you found that you really don’t have room for Him in your life? If you’ve not yet made room for Him, what better time to do that than the time when we celebrate His coming to Earth for just that reason! Won’t you consider inviting Him in to your life, today?
Closing Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for setting a plan in motion, even from way back in the Garden of Eden, to save us from our sins. And thank You for loving us so much that You would be willing to send Your very own Son to be the One who would save us. We love You, Heavenly Father, and thank You for Your Son, Jesus Christ; and His life here on Earth. Help us to remember, this Christmas season, that Jesus is the reason we celebrate. Amen.
Fill in the Blanks
True or False
1. It’s about eighty miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. (true)
2. The innkeeper turned Mary and Joseph away because they were poor. (false – because he had no room)
3. Angels brought the news of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds. (true)
4. The angels told the shepherds that they would find the baby in a grand palace. (false – wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger)
5. The shepherds kept all they had seen and heard to themselves. (false – they made it known abroad)
Have You Any Room for Jesus
Have you any room for Jesus,
He who bore your load of sin?
As He knocks and asks admission,
Sinner, will you let Him in?
Room for Jesus, King of glory!
Hasten now, His word obey;
Swing the heart’s door widely open,
Bid Him enter while you may.
- author unknown