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The Undermentioned Exploits of Quirinius and God’s Plan | Luke 2:1-7

Guest host, Julie Lyles Carr is filling in for Erica this week and she begs the question, who is Quirinius and why is he mentioned here? There’s a lot to dig into, so let’s jump right in!

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Erica Parkerson: Welcome to The Bible for Busy People. I’m Erica Parkerson. This is the place where we meet up to read half a chapter of God’s word together and remember how loved we are. Jesus extends an amazing invitation to us in the Bible. He says, come to me and I WILL give you rest. This is us RSVPing: Yes!! to that invitation. So take a deep breath, and let’s get started. 

Julie Lyles Carr: Hi, I’m Julie Lyles Carr and this is The Bible for Busy People. I am so honored to be guest hosting this week. If my voice sounds familiar to you, that might be because I’ve been part of the SPIRIT 105.3 and the CRISTA Media family for a long time now. So grateful for that. And I’m the host of the All Mom Does podcast. And so that is part of the Purposely podcast network on which you’re listening to The Bible for Busy People. So come on over sometime, check it out. We’re neighbors. I would love to have you over there as we talk about all things parenting and marriage and career and faith. I would just love to see you over there at some point.

But I’m so grateful for a resource like The Bible for Busy People, where our goal is to share some encouragement and some passages from God’s word in seven minutes or less. So let’s jump right in today. Yesterday we looked at a passage from Acts 17 in which Paul tells the Athenians that he’s visiting with, that God has placed them specifically where they’re supposed to be for exactly his purposes, both in time, in geography, all of it. Today I wanna introduce you to someone that I did a lot of research on in my Bible study called, Footnotes. It’s someone that you might have just blazed right past his name, but he really speaks to me in this idea of there’s the life that we often plan and think we’re going to have, and then there are God’s purposes and the way that God puts things together. So let’s pick up today, let’s go to Luke. We’re going to go to chapter two.

“In those days, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem, the town of David, because he belonged to the house and the line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there. The time came for the baby to be born and she gave birth to her first born, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger because there was no room for them in the Inn.”

Now I have to say, when I look at this passage of scripture from the book of Luke, this is probably one that we hear quoted perhaps, maybe not quite as much as John 3:16, but you have probably heard this passage of scripture a lot, particularly around the Christmas season. I had read that passage of scripture, I don’t know how many times. And I was very familiar with most of the major players, Caesar Augustus, and then Joseph taking Mary and going to Bethlehem because he was of the tribe of David and, and I was familiar with all of those characters. But there was something that I feel like God dropped in my heart quite a while back that led me on a pretty fascinating chase. And that is on the people that are sometimes just barely a mention, barely a footnote in the word of God, and yet their lives have such tremendous impact on ours, and that’s why I wanted to draw your attention in Luke two. And in the second verse, this guy where it says, this was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria. Who is Quirinius? And why does he get mentioned here? Well, I wanna read a little bit to you from this Bible study, The Footnotes, and this is just a guy that I became deeply fascinated with.

He is someone who unknowingly would become known for something far different from what he set out to become. It’s difficult to overplay or to overstate what a major player Quirinius was in the Roman scheme of things. His full name was Publius Sulpicius Quirinius, and he was born in 51 BC in a small town outside of Rome. He was born into an aristocratic family, which in Roman times meant that his family had achieved position and power through generations of outstanding military achievement on behalf of Roman emperors. But it was through his ambition and drive that he achieved far more than his illustrious ancestors.

He used his military achievements to ultimately make his way into the complex world of Roman politics. A climber who didn’t rest on his family’s military background, but smartly used the benefits of his family name to leverage even greater glory. When you dig back through the annals of history, you find all kinds of fascinating achievements of Quirinius. He won decisive battles, he was highly valued by Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman empire that legend to battled Mark Anthony and Cleopatra. Augustus would ultimately be known as one of the most powerful and successful leaders of Rome and our guy Quirinius, he was all up in the middle of that achievement and expansion.

So trusted was Quirinius by Augustus that Augustus appointed him the tutor for his grandson, Gaius Caesar. Quirinius knew how to play the game. He moved his allegiances to whomever he needed for maximum networking advantage. He married a girl with the right pedigree and then he divorced her when a more popular woman became available. He had the right education, the right mentor, the right standing, but we don’t study about him in history. We don’t remember him for all the things he was striving to be remembered for, and that is what I find fascinating in his life and a question I have to ask within my own. The reason we know about Quirinius is because of the birth of Jesus.

Quirinius becomes this moment where we can place and understand the time in which this census was taken. This census that was brought up, that ultimately helped fulfill prophecy, that this Savior would be born in this area of Israel. So here’s Quirinius out here, spending all the things, doing all the things, going to all the networking meetings, using the family name, doing everything he knows to do to be known in his own time and in eons that would be in the future. And I have to think that he was thinking we would probably know about him because of all of his military exploits and his education and his savvy. And yet the reason we know about him is because of Jesus. Because he’s a footnote that helps us identify that a baby born to these two people in very poor conditions, who was not necessarily in all the right places with all the right connections, is actually the one who would go on to change the world and far outlive the exploits of the Roman Empire.

When I read this passage in Luke, what it reminds me of is there are all the things I can be striving for, and then there’s what God is going to allow my legacy to truly be, the things that I may truly inspire. So I wanna encourage you today is you’re going about doing all the things great, but let us never be confused that our legacy has everything to do with Jesus and his place and his time in our daily lives. His legacy is far beyond anything that we can come up with, any kind of goal sheet, any kind of 10-year plan. And you know what, that’s the best kind of legacy to have, Jesus as our Savior. God bless you today. And we’ll see you tomorrow on The Bible for Busy People.

Thank you so much for listening to the Bible for Busy People. If you need prayer or you’re ready to go a little deeper in your faith, we’ve posted some resources for you in our show notes. We’d love for you to share this podcast with a friend and leave us a review. It helps us reach even more people with the hope of Jesus. This podcast is part of Purposely, a podcast network designed with practical podcasts to help you find and live in God’s purpose for your life. Find more podcasts that will recharge you at

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