A Baby Savior and Bold Shepherds Luke 2;1-21 122506
A Baby Savior and Bold Shepherds (Luke 2:1-21)
Intro: The words to the carol, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," flowed from the experience of the great writer and poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Henry married Frances Appleton in the Summer of 1843, and they settled down in a beautiful home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They were blessed with the birth of their first child, Charles, in 1844, and eventually, the Longfellow’s were to add four more children.
Tragedy struck both the nation and the Longfellow family in 1861. Confederate Gen. Pierre Beauregard fired the opening shots of the American Civil War on April 12th, and Longfellow’s wife, Francis, was fatally burned in an accident in the library of their House on July 10th.
The first Christmas after His wife’s death, Longfellow wrote, "How inexpressibly sad are all holidays." A year after the incident, he wrote, "I can make no record of these days. Better leave them wrapped in silence. Perhaps someday God will give me peace." Longfellow's journal entry for December 25th 1862 reads: "'A merry Christmas' say the children, but that is no more for me." " Almost a year later in 1863, Longfellow received word that his oldest son Charles, a lieutenant in the Army, had been wounded in battle and was in critical condition. The Christmas of 1863 was silent in Longfellow's journal.
Finally, on Christmas Day of 1864, he wrote the words of the poem, "Christmas Bells,” from which “I heard the bells on Christmas Day,” is based. Perhaps he actually heard the church bells in Cambridge, MA. We do not know, but what we do know is that Longfellow's “Christmas Bells” loudly proclaimed, "God is not dead." Even more, the bells announced, "Nor doth He sleep." God's Truth, Power, and Justice are affirmed, when Longfellow wrote: "The wrong shall fail, the right prevail." The message that there can be peace with God and that there will eventually be peace on earth is found in the final words found in scripture, "Of peace on Earth, good will to men."
The bells that Longfellow heard on the Christmas Day in 1864 renewed in him a spirit of joy. He experienced a joy that he may not have felt for some time. Today, we can experience joy this Christmas as we focus on two unlikely types of people, A Baby and Shepherds.
Read Luke 2:1-7 and Give Background. We have a Little town, unknown people (Mary, Joseph, shepherds), a humble birth (feeding trough for a bed and delivered in a place where animals stayed. “It is not the circumstances that make the event of Jesus’ birth so great, it is the God behind all of these events fulfilling His purposes.” Darrell Bock in Baker Exegetical Commentary No one expected God to work this way.
ILL: In many ways, Christmas is about the unexpected.
1. A baby Savior (vv. 8-14)
ILL: Secular songs top Christmas carols for radio airtime
New York (RNS)—. “The Christmas Song”—with its “chestnuts roasting on an open fire”—was the most performed holiday song on the radio in the last five years. Only one song in the top 25 was a religious Christmas carol.
The list of “Top 25 most performed holiday songs” was compiled by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
Oh, there was, 2. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” 3. “Winter Wonderland,” 4. “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” 5. “White Christmas,” 6. “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” 10. “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,”
But there was no “Silent Night” or “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” on the list. Only one explicitly religious song—“Little Drummer Boy”—made the list, coming in at No. 8. This report shows that many are not experiencing the true meaning of Christmas, and neither are they experiencing the true joy of Christmas.
a. You will never experience the joy of Christmas until you recognize that the joy of Christmas is about the message from God. God speaks, are you listening? (v. 10c)
b. You will never experience the joy of Christmas until you recognize that this baby Jesus is …
i. The Savior. He came to save. (v. 11)
ii. The Messiah. (v. 11)
iii. Lord over all. (v. 11)
c. You will never experience the joy of Christmas until you understand that baby Jesus has come to save all kinds of people. Joy for “all kinds” of people. The Shepherds’ were the outcasts. The unlovable, unsuitable, and undesirable. But, God can save anyone- no matter what the background or past. (v. 10d) ILL: Four Stages of Life
d. You will never experience the joy of Christmas until you understand that baby Jesus will save those who Trust and Follow Him. We must believe that he was born, that he lived, died and was buried, was raised, and lives now and forevermore. We must admit our sinfulness and lostness. We must ask for and receive forgiveness. We must trust and following Jesus. A life changed by Jesus. A saved person is a changed person. (v. 13-14). Joy comes as a result of the peace God brings between God and man through the Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.
Application: Take joy in the fact that Jesus Christ was born in that humble manger. For if He had not been born, then we would have no salvation. We would still be in our sins. Have you experienced the joy of Jesus’ birth? Many people believe that Jesus is merely a symbol of peace, a good teacher, a good man, but the Holy Spirit conceived, virgin born baby, named Jesus, was and is God. Oh! What joy! That we can receive forgiveness in Jesus Christ.
Take joy in the fact that forgiveness is offered to you no matter where you have been or where you are today. God can save you. Trust Him Turn to Him.
2. Bold Shepherds (vv. 15-20)
a. You will never experience the joy of Christmas without obedience. Their Obedience (15-16) (Obedience is the litmus test for determining whether one is in the faith. Not perfection or to come to the point where we never sin, but that one’s life is marked by obedience to God. Obedience is giving up and giving.)
b. You will never experience the joy of Christmas without being a witness. Their Witness (17-18a) (Spread the Word – The task of the church and the individual believer is made clear in the Bible.)
c. You will never experience the joy of Christmas without worship. Their Worship (20) (Worship is the Goal of God’s plan of Redemption. God created us for worship. Not just sitting around singing, but it is worship where everything that we do is an act of worship or brings glory to God or magnifies God.)
Conclusion: Are you experiencing Joy this Christmas? I hope so. And I hope the joy you have is not only the joy of family or gifts given and received, but the Joy of knowing God. Knowing that He is in control. Knowing that Jesus Came to save sinners. Knowing the joy of following the example of the shepherds through obedience, witness, and worship.
Invitation: Experiencing joy this Christmas has all to do with, what you do. Will your life magnify Jesus? Or, will it minimize Jesus? Let us make a commitment today to obey, witness, and worship and then we will magnify Christ!
CHRISTMAS IS ABOUT THE UNEXPECTED. I read about a children's pageant
recently. The innkeeper was played by a boy named Ralph who had very much
wanted to play the role of Joseph. He didn't get the part, and had refused to
be part of the program -- but his mother and his director insisted that Ralph
do his duty and be part of the pageant. So he was the innkeeper.
But Ralph decided on revenge. When that part of the pageant occurred in
which Joseph inquired about a room, Ralph grinned and announced, "Come on in.
We've got plenty of room!" The audience, especially Ralph's mother and the
director, gasped. Joseph and Mary were stunned. They expected to be turned
away. Obediently, they walked into the inn. But the young man playing
Joseph was equal to the occasion. He looked around, turned to the audience,
and said, "Hey, this place is a dump. We'd rather stay in a stable!"
THE FOUR STAGES OF LIFE:
STAGE 1: You Think There Is A Santa Claus.
STAGE 2: You Find Out There Is No Santa Claus.
STAGE 3: You Think You Are Santa Claus.
STAGE 4: You Begin To Resemble Santa Claus.
May the Christmas cheer remind you of Him who said, "Be of good cheer."
May the Christmas bell remind you of the glorious proclamation of His birth.
May the Christmas carols remind you of the song the angels sang,
"Glory to God in the highest."
May the Christmas season remind you in every way of Jesus Christ your King!