Use one or both of these questions to introduce the lesson:
1. What is the meaning of the expression, “a perfect storm”? Tell about a time in your life when many seemingly random circumstances came together all at once to create an earth-shaking event.
2. Complete this statement: “I remember where I was when [a specific historical event happened].” How does that memory make you feel a part of that significant historical event that happened during your lifetime?
Read Luke 2:1-3.
1. Why do you think Luke mentioned two secular political figures when beginning to tell of Jesus’ birth? How do people do something similar today to pinpoint the times of certain events during their lifetimes?
2. Verse 3 adds some important information to the account that will be told in subsequent verses. At a time when travel was not terribly easy compared to today, what would it take for someone to take a long trip? In your lifetime, when have you taken a trip that was mandated by political authority?
Read Luke 2:4-7.
3. While on the surface Mary and Joseph’s very inconvenient trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem seems to have been mandated by government power, there were other elements at play that made the birth of Jesus the proverbial “perfect storm.” What circumstances more than a millennium earlier led to Bethlehem being King David’s birthplace? See Ruth 1:1-7; 4:13-17.
4. What prophetic proclamation about seven centuries earlier set Bethlehem as Jesus’ birthplace (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:4, 5)? Look up the meaning of Bethlehem in a Bible reference book. Compare that meaning to what Jesus called himself in John 6:35. How do these “coincidences” affect your understanding of who was truly orchestrating Jesus’ birth?
Read Luke 2:8-14.
5. In Matthew’s account of events surrounding Jesus’ birth, whom did the Magi expect to be the first to know about Jesus’ birth (Matthew 2:1-3)? Why was that a logical assumption?
6. Underline “all the people” in Luke 2:10. Referring to Isaiah 42:6, 7 and Mary’s prophetic words in Luke 1:52, explain why God chose to make humble shepherds the first to know about Jesus’ birth.
7. It’s easy to feel like helpless victims of circumstance and other powerful forces when we face storms in life. What comfort does this familiar part of the Christmas story give us in such times?