The Joy of Christmas Luke 2_8-20
The Joy of Christmas
Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grind- stone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dogdays; and didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas. External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth could warm, no wintry weather chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty. Foul weather didn't know where to have him. The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could boast of the advantage over him in only one respect. They often "came down" handsomely, and Scrooge never did.
- I have often felt a bit like Scrooge. Life can be hard and there is often no greater reminder of all that is not right in the world or in our relationships and we have no greater reminder of our failures and losses than Christmas.
- We can get caught up in gift buying, gatherings with family and friends, finances, and events to attend and find that Christmas lacks the magic that it once held.
- Joy in Christmas can be lost when we are too busy and too pre-occupied with festivities instead of our Faith.
- The Joy of Christmas can be captured, held unto and embraced when we venture back in time some 2000 years ago to a town in Judea called Bethlehem.
- Today we want to take a look back all those years and see what Christmas should be all about. How it is possible from just this one little story of the coming of the Messiah that we can find a renewed hope for our faith.
Open Bibles to Luke 2:8-20.
Joy comes from Christ Coming to the Ordinary. (8-11)
2:8 Now there were shepherds nearby living out in the field, keeping guard over their flock at night. 2:9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were absolutely terrified. 2:10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid! Listen carefully, for I proclaim to you good news that brings great joy to all the people: 2:11 Today your Savior is born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord.
He came to People with normal lives. (8)
- Shepherds being culturally despised comes from the 5th century
- They were ordinary people living ordinary lives
- The announcement was not made to a King, Governor, or Priest but the normal
- He did not come to the influential or the powerful
He came to People of typical Emotions. (9)
- The Shepherds were guarding their flock in spring during the birthing of lambs.
- They are sleeping or sitting around a fire keeping warm when they get the shock of their lives.
- They respond as any one of us would with complete terror. The Greek uses a Semitic idiom, “they feared a great fear.”
- He was revealed to people of typical emotions and responses. They laughed, cried, was angered and expressed fear.
He came to people from every place. (10)
- The Angelic message may have come to these shepherds but it was for everyone.
- This message of joy was not just the nation of Israel but every people group.
- The barriers to knowing God were not cultural, political, social or geographical
- Christ came to demonstrate that a relationship with God went beyond Israel
He came to People in an Ordinary Place. (11)
- The City of David relates Jesus in one more way with David for king David was from Bethlehem.
- It was a small community of possibly a couple of thousand occupants, hardly a great city.
- It was a simple and insignificant (Micah 5:2) agricultural community meaning “house of Bread” in Hebrew.
- The Messiah was not born in a great city such as Jerusalem, or Alexandria or even Nazareth but an ordinary place.
... At Sagamore Hill, Theodore Roosevelt and William Beebe used to play a little game together. After an evening of talk, they would go out on the lawn and search the skies until they found the faint spot of light-mist beyond the lower left-hand corner of the Great Square of Pegasus. Then one or the other of them would recite: "That is the Spiral Galaxy in Andromeda. It is as large as our Milky Way. It is one of a hundred million galaxies. It consists of one billion suns, each larger than our sun."
Then Roosevelt would grin and say: "Now I think we are small enough! Let's go to bed."
We should find Joy in the fact that Christ came to the ordinary because no matter where you find yourself in terms of wealth, popularity, honor, or worth, we are all pretty simple and ordinary.
Joy comes from Christ being Approachable. (12-15)
This will be a sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” 2:13 Suddenly a vast, heavenly army appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people with whom he is pleased!” 2:15 When the angels left them and went back to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, that the Lord has made known to us.”
He came not in a palace. (12)
- The Messiah, king of kings would be expected to come as royalty, but he did not come this way.
- He came with a sign that he would be found wrapped not in fine clothes but rags.
- He was not found in a fancy basinet but in a feeding trough for animals.
- Tradition has Jesus being born in a stable but more than likely they were staying in a crowded house with relatives. The manger was used because often homes were both living quarters for animals and people. The use of the word for ‘Inn’ in the greek in verse 5 may also refer to a guest room.
- He did not come and reside in a place that would intimidate anyone or require any special permission.
He came to all people. (13-14)
- Though he was born in humble circumstances he was given a royal welcome by the Angels.
- This pronouncement was given with peace in mind, the peace that comes from knowing and having a relationship with God.
- This peace is for his chosen people, whom he has set apart and called into relationship with him.
- He is approachable because he tore down the distinctions between people by only requiring faith for a relationship. The segregation of the Israelites over other people groups was over.
He came so that all could see Him. (15)
- The announcement was made to the shepherd not from many miles away but from close by. This nearness made the ability to see the Messiah possible.
- Even two years later the wisemen came having access because they were relatively geographically close by.
- The Messiah was not an earthy King only seen by appointment. Christ was no longer in Heaven but available in flesh and bone for anyone that wanted to see him.
- This same access is granted today through the work on the Cross and the Holy Spirit.
Long ago, there ruled in Persia a wise and good king. He loved his people. He wanted to know how they lived. He wanted to know about their hardships. Often he dressed in the clothes of a working man or a beggar, and went to the homes of the poor. No one whom he visited thought that he was their ruler. One time he visited a very poor man who lived in a cellar. He ate the coarse food the poor man ate. He spoke cheerful, kind words to him. Then he left. Later he visited the poor man again and disclosed his identity by saying, “I am your king!” The king thought the man would surely ask for some gift or favor, but he didn’t. Instead he said, “You left your palace and your glory to visit me in this dark, dreary place. You ate the course food I ate. You brought gladness to my heart! To others you have given your rich gifts. To me you have given yourself!”
We should find joy in the fact that Christ is available to us. He is approachable and always willing to be found. We do not need an appointment, or travel great distances or be of a certain nationality or status. He has come for everyone.
Joy comes from Christ being Reliable. (16-20)
2:16 So they hurried off and located Mary and Joseph, and found the baby lying in a manger. 2:17 When they saw him, they related what they had been told about this child, 2:18 and all who heard it were astonished at what the shepherds said. 2:19 But Mary treasured up all these words, pondering in her heart what they might mean. 2:20 So the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; everything was just as they had been told.
He came and provided proof of who he was. (16)
- The shepherds sought the sign and found Jesus just as was told to them.
- It was not some hoax or bad food that caused them to dream this, but it was actually true.
- Jesus was just as it was promised making him absolutely reliable.
He came and gave excitement to declare Him. (17-18)
- The fulfillment of the promise caused the shepherd to relay the story that brought them there. Note from the context that Mary, Joseph and Jesus were in a home surrounded by other people. The shepherd excited by the truth of what they heard could not contain their story.
- The reliability of Jesus when met face to face by people should have the effect of desiring to declare our story.
He came and gave reason to praise God. (20)
- When they were faced with the truth behind their Angelic encounter they responded in an appropriate manner with praise to God.
- They had seen God work and they had to glorify Him.
- The reliability of who Jesus is should not be contained, held back or stored away but expressed as much as possible.
For an extraordinary pitcher he performed few extraordinary feats. Though a veteran of 21 seasons, in only one did he win more than 20 games. He never pitched a no-hitter and only once did he lead the league in any category (2.21 ERA, 1980). Yet on June 21, 1986, Don Sutton rubbed pitching elbows with the true legends of baseball by becoming the 13th pitcher to win 300 games. His analysis of his success is worth noting. “A grinder and a mechanic” is what he calls himself. “I never considered myself flamboyant or exceptional. But all my life I’ve found a way to get the job done.” And get it done he did. Through two decades, six presidential terms, and four trades, he consistently did what pitchers are supposed to do: Win games. With tunnel vision devotion, he spent 21 seasons redefining greatness. He has been called the “family sedan” of baseball’s men on the mound.
We should find joy in the fact that in this encounter of Christ’s birth and the way that he changed our lives and the means by which he looks over us should transform us. The joy is found in his steadfastness, and ability to always come through. We are never left on our own and he has shown that in every way possible.
“Is Jesus the son of God or the sum of our dreams? No one could ever dream a person as incredible as Jesus is. The idea that a virgin would be selected by God to bear himself, the notion that God would don a scalp and toes and two eyes. The thought that the King of the universe would sneeze and burp and be bit by bugs…it’s too incredible.”
- If you lack joy this Christmas remember…Jesus came to you and me, ordinary people.
- If you lack joy this Christmas remember…Jesus came and allows us to approach him for everything.
- If you lack joy this Christmas remember…Jesus came and he is reliable, never failing.
The Joy found in the birth of Christ has the power to take simple, normal ordinary people and give them access to God no matter where they are from or their background or history with the knowledge and understanding that he can be relied upon for every thing.
- We seek him
- We declare him
- We praise him