The Birth of Jesus and Jesus’ Rights — Luke 2:1-21 (and Acts 16:1-5)

God Running is a place for anyone who wants to (or even anyone who wants to want to) love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.

The Birth of Jesus–Luke 2:1-21

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 registered, 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.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Luke 2:1-21

Timothy Circumcised as an Adult

This will be published on Christmas Eve so of course we’re going to discuss the way Jesus came to us, but first I want to look at something from where we’re at in Acts, something that perfectly coincides with the way Jesus came into the world. (Read Acts 16:1-5)

In the previous chapter, Acts 15, the Apostles decided the matter of whether or not it was necessary for a Gentile believer to be circumcised. Their answer was no, it wasn’t necessary or expected of them and they put it in writing and distributed this document to all the Jesus followers in all the churches. (If you’re interested, you can learn more about our last blog post on the book of Acts here: Your Change of Heart, My Change of Heart, (and Paul’s change of heart)–Acts 15:36-41.)

Today we find ourselves in Acts 16 where Paul returns to Lystra. There he encounters a young Jesus follower named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer. Timothy was well spoken of by the local brothers and Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him on his mission trips. But there was a problem. Timothy’s father was a Greek. And Timothy wasn’t circumcised.

“So what?” you might be saying to yourself right now. “The matter of circumcision was already decided by those in authority over the church at the council of Jerusalem. It’s Timothy’s right to remain uncircumcised.”

If that’s what you’re thinking, you’re correct in that observation.

But look what happens to Timothy. There were some Jews in the area who were of the opinion that believers should be circumcised. So, Paul circumcised Timothy.

Jesus, Timothy, and Your Rights as a Christian

“Why,” you might ask, “did he do it?”

“Why did Timothy allow himself to be circumcised? He didn’t have to. It was his right not to.”

The answer is love.

Timothy and Paul knew Timothy would be more effective at communicating Christ to the Jewish people if he was circumcised. So Timothy allowed himself to be circumcised.

It’s the same reason Jesus came to us the way he did. Jesus, the Son of God, the Alpha and Omega, the prophet, priest, and King,

He came as a helpless infant. He was completely dependent on his parents and on his Heavenly Father.

His first bed was a feeding trough for livestock.

His adoptive dad was a carpenter. And Jesus learned the trade of carpentry himself. He earned his living doing manual labor.

During his ministry he was mocked, falsely accused, and abused. In the end, he was murdered.

Jesus came in the humblest of circumstances.

The thing about these two, the thing about Timothy and Jesus is they weren’t the least bit focused on their rights.

Timothy had a right to remain uncircumcised.

Jesus, as the Son of God and Co-Creator of the universe and all that’s in it, he gave up all kinds of rights.

When they came to arrest him and to take him into custody, Jesus said to Peter in the garden of Gethsemane, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53)

But here’s the question: Did Jesus call down twelve legions of angels?

No, he didn’t.

He didn’t because he wasn’t focused on his rights.

He was focused on love.

The people I know who are most effective at loving like Jesus, they aren’t focused on their rights or on what they have coming to them.

They’re focused on loving God well, and loving others well.

Even when that means their rights are compromised or disregarded altogether.

“Father, make me and the person reading this right now like Timothy and like Jesus. Do Your work inside of us and help us to be unconcerned about our rights. Fill us with the love of Jesus for You and for every human being You put in front of us. Please help us. Please change us.

“In Jesus’ name we ask this of You.



Image of Jesus’ birth via Biser Todorov on Wikimedia — Creative Commons

Available on Amazon!

Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus)

Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others.

Love Like Jesus examines a variety of stories, examples, and research, including:

  • Specific examples of how Jesus communicated God’s love to others.
  • How Jesus demonstrated all five of Gary Chapman’s love languages (and how you can too).
  • The story of how Billy Graham extended Christ’s extraordinary love and grace toward a man who misrepresented Jesus to millions.
  • How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
  • How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
  • How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
  • How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
  • How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
  • How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.

With genuine unfiltered honesty, Love Like Jesus, shows you how to live a life according to God’s definition of success: A life of loving God well, and loving the people around you well too.

A life of loving like Jesus.

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3 Comments on “The Birth of Jesus and Jesus’ Rights — Luke 2:1-21 (and Acts 16:1-5)

  1. Pingback: Paul–Heading Off in the Wrong Direction–Acts 16:6-10 | God Running

  2. I like reading your blog. I am happy to know that you are continuing to spread the Word.

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