The Manger


Luke starts his story of the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:1-7) with a description of the Emperor’s decree for a census. There are two purposes to mentioning this decree. The first is to give a reason for why Joseph and Mary are in Bethlehem for Jesus’ birth.

The second reason is to put the idea of the Emperor in his reader’s minds. For Luke’s readers, who like him, are non-Jewish Roman citizens, the concept of the Emperor brings to mind images of largess. The start of the emperor’s reign was greeted with great fanfare. It was proclaimed throughout the empire as ‘Good news’ for everyone and celebrated with great ceremony. Luke’s audience will be aware of this. A new emperor or a new heir to the emperor was big news for them because for most of them, the Emperor was the most important person in the world.

In contrast to…

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