Skip Navigation

Humility and Authority – Luke 2

Luke 2:1-7 – Kingly Humility

This is a familiar story. Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem and try to find a place to stay, but there is no room for them. They end up staying in what basically amounts to a barn or stable, which is where Jesus was born. We must not let our familiarity with this story detract from what is happening. Jesus, the Son of God, the Word of God by whom all things were created, the King of all Kings, doesn’t descend to earth on the clouds; he doesn’t reside in a palace; he is born to a poor, young couple in a barn and laid in an animal’s feeding trough.

Nothing other than Christ’s death portrays humility like this. Nothing but humility like this could set him up to pay for our sin, live the life we could not live, and die in our place. His humility identifies him with us so he can save us. Shortly after this most humble birth, we see a magnificent picture of his authority.

Luke 2:8-21 – As Shepherds Watch Their Flocks by Night

Just down the road from Jesus’ makeshift crib, shepherds were watching their sheep. Then, out of nowhere, in the middle of the night, an angel came to them and proclaimed the birth of their Savior! And if that wasn’t crazy enough, a huge crowd of angels joined the first angel, and they all started singing praises to God! Christ’s humble birth authoritatively demands the worship of angels and men alike.

After the angels disappear, the shepherds decide to go see what they are talking about. They wanted to behold the glory of which the angels sang, and again, we see the bold contrast of humility and authority. Angels proclaimed the birth of God, but they proclaimed it to lowly shepherds. Then, these lowly shepherds went to witness the greatness the angels spoke of and saw a baby in an animal trough. But this baby was God in the flesh, immortality cloaked in mortality, glory beyond display displayed in a manger. The contrast between humility and glory is vividly displayed in Luke chapter 2.

Luke 2:22-38 – Poverty and Riches

This theme continues when Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the temple as a baby (Luke 2:22). We see here that Jesus’ parents were faithful Jews, obeying the laws of God in how they raised Jesus. We also see that they offer a pair of birds for his purification. This continues to display Jesus’ humility because Leviticus 12:8 tells us this was the acceptable offering if a family couldn’t afford a lamb. Jesus’ family is poor, and so we see the theme of Jesus’ humility and lowliness continue.

While they were at the temple, a man named Simeon took the baby Jesus and proclaimed that he would be salvation for Jews and Gentiles. God promised Simeon he would see the Christ, so when he sees Jesus, he bursts out in praise and proclamation. Simeon takes this baby, whose parents couldn’t afford the normal offering, and rejoices that he has seen the light of the world. Jesus lives a life of poverty but grants us the riches of his grace. What a glorious knitting together of humility and authority.

Luke 2:41-52 – A Glimpse at JesusTeaching

The last picture of Jesus’ authority in this chapter comes when his parents accidentally leave him in Jerusalem. Again, we see Jesus’ parents obeying the Jewish laws and customs, but that’s not what this text is about. This narrative lets us glance at Jesus’ authority and future ministry. Somehow, Jesus gets left behind when his parents leave Jerusalem to return to Nazareth. After days of searching, his parents find him in the temple. Luke 2:47 tells us that “all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.” Jesus, as a young boy, astounds the teachers of Israel with his wisdom.

This is a beautiful glimpse into the future ministry of Christ. The word “amazed” in Luke 2:47 is also used in Mark 2:12 and 5:42 to describe people’s reaction to Jesus healing the paralytic and raising Jairus’s daughter back to life. It is also the word used in Acts 2, expressing the people’s feelings when Peter was preaching just before the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost. The amazement people experienced listening to the boy Jesus would continue and increase throughout his ministry and beyond as he empowered believers with the Holy Spirit.

Luke 2 condenses the first years of Jesus’ life into 52 verses, and even with this extremely condensed picture, we clearly see Jesus’ humility and authority on display. These traits continued to be on display and exemplify his ministry. In the end, the greatest display of Jesus’ humility and authority came when he died in our place on the cross. Praise Jesus that he had the humility to suffer death for sin and the authority to take up his own life and rise from the grave.


Think about the shepherds watching their sheep at night. What would it have been like to behold the heavenly host proclaiming the birth of the Savior?

Take a moment and consider that all of history centers on Christ’s birth. All of Scripture either points forward to his birth or looks back at it. Even secular historical dating is based around his coming. How often are you taking time to look back at Christ coming to save us?

Whether or not you grew up in church, this Christmas story is very familiar. We don’t want to let our familiarity with a story make it dull. Pray that the Lord gives you fresh eyes to see how miraculous and amazing this story really is.


What other stories have you heard about Jesus that display humility and authority working together?

Read Hebrews 2:17 and 5:2. Discuss how significant Christ’s humility was to his exaltation and the authority he has.

Memory verse:

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying.

Luke 2:13

Want to get this Luke Bible Study delivered via 4 daily emails?

April 19, 2024

Subscribe for Updates