December 19, 1993

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Christmas 93

Luke 2:8-20

There are many things that can be said at this time of the year. Let me make a point in opening without perusing it at this time. I may next week because New Years celibrates the passing of time.

OT Israel had several special festival days. These days celebrated God's control of time. Of course, those OT festival days which were under the law were done away with in Christ.

The church, though, now has two special festival days which also speak of God's control of time and history. Those days are Christmas and Easter. Christmas tells us that God entered history in the person of Jesus Christ. Easter tells us that God destroyed the power of sin and death through the work of Jesus Christ. The world is sinful, fallen and immature; therefore, time is a necessity because time means change.

Time means that good can be developed for the glory of God. Time, to a Christian, means the chance to develop the word and work of God on earth.

To fallen man, time allows him to develop evil; therefore, we should rejoice that time passes quickly. It means that Christ, the righteous Judge Who will make all things right and new is near.

We can also mention that as God's judgement increases against sinful man, time appears to speed up.

Luke 2:8-20 records the message of the angel of God that was given to the shepherds. There is a note on the bulletin that would confirm the actual birth as being somewhere around this period of the year.

I would like to look at the angels message for a few moments today.

1) The birth of the Christ child was the first prophecy delivered by God to man. Christ's birth was prophesied more times and more specifically in OT Scripture than any one other event. This glorious event of the first coming of Christ was the most looked for event of His day. All of the 4,000 years of OT history pointed to this event. Of course, His second coming is what all history is pointing to now, and is the most looked for event today

V. 7, the prophesied, glorious event took place in a most unusual and unexpected place, a stable. This marvelous evidence of the hand of God working in the affairs of men is unnoticed by man. This is typical of the Lord's working in history. He works without the knowledge of men.

2) Christ distinguished Himself, not by birth into high class society, but by humility. Thus every person can distinguish himself also by humility.

3) Though this event was looked for with great expatiation by every one who was anyone of this day, the good news, the glad tidings was delivered to shepherds. The first message of good tidings went not to the priests, religious leaders or the exalted of this world. It went to and was gladly receive by shepherds. The message going to and gladly received by the "under class" here would be indicative the gospel of Christ:

Isa 29:18, 19, And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness. The meek also shall increase [their] joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

2 Co 8:9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

Furthermore:

The Lord called Moses as he watched the sheep.

The Lord called David while he watched the sheep.

The Lord is called the Good Shepherd, and we are the sheep of His pasture. Who could be more fitting to receive the first good news message about Christ than shepherds?

4) note what the shepherds were doing, they were watching their sheepat night. Knowing how most babies come, this was probably soon after midnight, but the shepherds were not asleep. The angles did not have to shake them, but they were in the field, keeping watchful care of their charge.

These men were faithful in their assigned task that was their duty. They were not in some act of devotion, but working hard at their calling when they received the message from God.

God speaks to those who are hard at work at their task; He speaks to those who are busy; He speaks to the faithful.

I know of no one in Scripture who was spoken to by the Lord while loafing and killing time, or standing around waiting for the Lord to speak to him. God speaks to people who are faithful where they are in their calling.

5) V. 9, the word upon indicates that the shepherds were not looking for the Lord: they were quite surprised. The message from heaven here was very unexpected.

Also, the messengers of the Lord found the shepherds, they did not find the Lord.

This also is typical of the Jesus, the Great Shepherd. He goes looking for His sheep. He found me, I did not find Him.

Compare Lk 2:10 with Isa 40:

Isa 40:9, 10, 11, O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift [it] up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong [hand], and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward [is] with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry [them] in his bosom, [and] shall gently lead those that are with young.

The shepherds feared, but were told that they had no need to fear.

We are commanded not to fear what men can do to us, and because of Christ, we should not be sore afraid of the heavenly Father. God has notgiven us the spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind.

6) V. 11, the message was a joyful message, and look at what the message said:

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

In Peter's words, He is both Lord and Christ, Acts 2:39.

He was born on the first Christmas day, both Lord and Christ.

He rose from the dead the first Easter, both Lord and Christ.

Thus He lived, died, rose from the dead and today reigns as both Lord and Christ.

Yes, Jesus, the son of David, is the Saviour as promised to all the saints of old. But He is much more than Saviour, He is both Lord and Christ.

There is a tremendous message preached by a black pastor, HM Lockridge. The title of the message is Jesus Christ is Lord. In that message, he rightly distinguishes between the word Christ and Lord. Christ, said he, means what Jesus has done for us; Lord, said he, means what we are to do for Him.

Jesus Christ is the Saviour; He came not only to save His people from their sins, but to reign over them, Lk 1:31-33

Mat 1:21, And thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

 

Right from the very beginning, Christ the Saviour is identified as Lord of all. Someone has said, "Either He is Lord of all or He is not Lord atall." Clearly, Jesus the Saviour cannot be separated from the Lord. The one who refuses to recognize that Christ is Lord over all things, including his own personal life, has denied Jesus as Saviour. Jesus is Christ the Lord: The two cannot be separated.

He was born Jesus Christ the Lord

He died and rose from the dead as Jesus Christ the Lord

and He rules over all creation, man included, as Jesus Christ the Lord.

And the Kingdom of Jesus Christ the Lord shall have no end.

The angles told these shepherds that this was a matter of great joy.

7) V. 10, the good tidings of great joy were

First, given to the Jews, who received it not.

Second, given to the shepherds, poor and cast down, who acted upon it.

Third, given to all people of the earth, Jews and Gentiles.

The Lord Himself commanded His message to be spread world-wide to every living human being.

8) The joyful message to all men is one of peace and good-will toward men. The message is the gospel of peace

Isa 2:2-4, And it shall come to pass in the last days, [that] the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Isa 11:1-9 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

That peace is the gospel of peace; it is peace with God and peace with our fellow men through the work of Christ in redemption and conversion. Through faith in Christ, we are converted from our old war-like ways (war with God, war with man) to peaceful ways.

Peace, Look up Eph 2:13...

9) glory to God in the highest... The proclamation of the message of peace is the highest glory to God there is. God's redemption through His Son born 2000 years ago is the highest glory to God. What can top the message of Redemption?

He is the only Mediator between God and man.

He is the only One Who can provide peace: a clear conscience before God and man.

10) The angles speak and return about their business as soon as they are finnished. The shepherds act upon what they are told. Note here that God speaks to man so man can act, not so man can brag about special favors.

Furthermore, these men acted by faith in the message delivered to them. They did not sit around and discuss it and share their individual experiences; they set about doing what they were to do.

11) They met the child and saw nothing in the child or the child's circumstances to cause them to believe that He was indeed the Son of the Most High God, yet they believed. The sign that the angles spoke the truth was the babe in a stable.

12) V. 17 is interesting. According to the law, there had to be two or more witnesses to confirm any story. The Heavenly Father provided the needed witnesses by speaking to and sending the shepherds to witness the event of the birth of His Son.

The witnesses according to the law saw the angles, heard the glorious message, saw the babe according to the message, and now, as the first preachers of the good news, they all go and proclaim the message.

But notice the response to message of the witnesses: people wondered what was going on and were impressed, but no one went to check it out.

Indifference to the message of Christ is not new. The very first preachers also encountered indifference to their message.

13) finally, Mary: She just kept quiet. She was a perfect model of a woman, and set an example for every person, man or woman, to follow. All things came to pass just as the Lord promised to her, yet she remained a humble, Godly woman.

Would we have been able to keep quiet and humble?

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