************ Sermon on Luke 2:10-12 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on December 25, 2003
"The Messiah's Birth"
Christmas Day 2003
Who is that baby in the manger? What is so special about Him that angels announced His birth and shepherds went to see Him? Why is His birth "good news of great joy"? And why do we, some 2000+ years later, still celebrate His birth?
The angel of the Lord that appeared to the shepherds tells us everything we need to know:
(Lk 2:11-12) "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. (12) This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Do you know what this angel is telling the shepherds – and us? Do you know what He is really saying? He is telling the shepherds that the Messiah has come. The angel talks about "Christ the Lord." "Christ" is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word "Messiah." So, the angel is announcing the birth of the Messiah. That's the good news of great joy – the Messiah is born.
I The Messiah in the Old Testament
A To understand what the angel is talking about, we have to go back to the Old Testament. You need to realize that the coming of the Messiah fills the pages of the Old Testament.
Now, in the Old Testament the Messiah is presented in three different but related images. Sometimes He is presented as the great warrior King of the line and city of David Who someday will slay all of God's enemies (Micah 5:2; Is 63:1-6). Sometimes He is presented as the Suffering Servant, the Savior, Who will be led like a sheep to the slaughter for the sins of the world (Is 53). Other times He is presented as the Immanuel, the Son of God, the Lord Himself suddenly coming to His temple (Is 7:14; Mal 3:1).
B The Messiah, the Christ. Every Jewish child of God was waiting for His appearance. For centuries they dreamed and prayed and spoke with longing of His coming. They were waiting and dreaming and praying because it is the Messiah Who will bring about the glorious future promised by God.
According to the prophets, the appearance of the Messiah will herald the beginning of a golden and glorious age for Israel. Listen to these promises:
(Is 2:2) In the last days the mountain of the Lord's temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.
(Is 2:4) They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.
(Isa 9:6-7) For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (7) Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.
(Is 35:5-7) Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. (6) Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. (7) The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
(Is 60:3,10-13) Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. (13) "Foreigners will rebuild your walls, and their kings will serve you ... (11) Your gates will always stand open, they will never be shut, day or night, so that men may bring you the wealth of the nations-- their kings led in triumphal procession. (12) For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined. (13) "The glory of Lebanon will come to you, the pine, the fir and the cypress together, to adorn the place of my sanctuary; and I will glorify the place of my feet.
(Is 65:20-21,25) "Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed. (21) They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit ... (25) The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent's food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain," says the LORD.
Let's try to summarize the promises of the Messianic Age. According to the prophets, the Messiah's coming means:
- The glory and splendor of David's rule will return to the Promised Land.
- There will be prosperity for all.
- There will be no more hunger.
- God's people will be set free from foreign domination.
- The wicked heathen will be punished.
- The rich will no longer oppress the poor.
- The lame will begin to leap and jump and dance.
- The blind will see a world of vivid color.
- The deaf will listen to the songs of birds and the music of harps.
- The deserts of Israel will be turned into fragrant gardens.
- Swords and spears will be hammered into plows and hoes.
- Every valley will be filled in, every mountain and hill will be made low, crooked roads will become straight, that rough ways will become smooth.
- The temple will be rebuilt and God will fill it with His glory.
- All that is wrong will be set right
- Sins will be forgiven and peace will prevail.
- Enemies will become friends.
- Jerusalem will be at the center of the world, and all the kings and rulers of the earth will come there to worship Israel's God.
Do you know what the Messiah's coming means? The Messiah's coming means Paradise. It means a return to the perfection of the Garden of Eden. It means the glory and splendor of heaven.
Can you imagine a perfect world? A world without the darkness of sin, oppression, idolatry, and ignorance? A world without crime, drive-by shootings, pollution, death, hardship? A world without war, struggle, injustice? A world without the threat of a nuclear holocaust? A world that doesn't have to worry about mad men like Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden? A world without racial violence? A world without desperate poverty? A world without civil war? A world without war lords or crime lords or drug lords? A world without floods, hurricanes, droughts, famines, earthquakes, explosions? A world of love, peace, joy, hope?
That's the kind of world the Messiah will bring. His coming heralds the beginning of a glorious, wondrous, beautiful time for the people of the Lord. No wonder they could hardly wait for His appearance.
It is the Messiah in all three roles – as warrior King, as Suffering Servant, as God Himself – Who will bring about the glorious future that God's people have been waiting and praying for.
Who is that baby in the manger? He is the Messiah! No wonder the angel can say, "I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people" (Lk 2:10). This isn't just good news – it is great news, the best news ever.
II The Messiah in Luke
A As I already mentioned, the angel announces the birth of "Christ the Lord," the Messiah!
As a messenger from God, the angel ties together the various Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah and announces that they are fulfilled in Jesus. Let's take a closer look at what he says.
The angel says, "Today in the town of David ..." Don't forget, the Messiah is the great warrior King of the line and city of David Who someday will slay all of God's enemies. We aren't told if the angel of Christmas Day is the same angel who was sent to Zechariah and Mary. But similar language and description leads us to conclude it was Gabriel all three times. I want you to notice what the angel said to Mary:
(Luke 1:32-33) "He will be great ... The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, (33) and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
Have you ever noticed all the Christmas songs that celebrate Jesus as King?
-Come and behold Him–born the King of angels. [O Come, All Ye Faithful]And, this is just from the songs we are singing this morning.
-Worthy, You are worthy; King of kings, Lord of lords.
-Joy to the world! the Lord is come; Let earth receive her King.
-Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn king ..."
-Twas the birthday of a King.
Who is that baby in the manger? He is the Messiah, the Christ, the great warrior King of the line and city of David.
B The angel says, "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you ..." Don't forget, the Messiah is the Suffering Servant, the Savior, Who will be led like a sheep to the slaughter for the sins of the world. Again, we hear similar language to Mary:
(Luke 1:31) You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus."You are to give him the name Jesus." "Jesus," as all of you should know, means "Savior."
Lots of people like to celebrate Christmas but they want nothing to do with the Savior or His cross. But He is the Messiah, the Savior. You can't celebrate Christmas without the cross.
Title: Keeping the Spirit in Christmas
Two water towers have always served as landmarks for travelers heading for their homes near Wauconda, Illinois. But especially at the holidays.
More than 40 years ago, John Kuester, then village police chief, suggested mounting large twin crosses on the towers to luminously mark the season. Adopted by the village, the display of crosses became a tradition. Right after Thanksgiving, when Christmas decorations went up, the crosses also lit the sky from their near-heavenly height.
In 1989 Robert Sherman, spokesman for American Atheists, Inc., heard about the crosses. Since Wauconda's crosses were on government property, Sherman saw an alleged violation of church and state. He delivered an ultimatum: remove the crosses from the water towers or meet in court.
Several town hall meetings followed. Resident Joyce Mitchell, a member of Crossroads Community Church, says,"The Christians in the community were united with the rest of the community--whether they were churchgoers or not--in refusing to let some outsider tell us how to celebrate Christmas."
But the decision was forced by economics. Realizing a similar case had lost in court, the residents of Wauconda opted not to burden themselves with hundreds of thousands of dollars in court costs.
Then a grassroots group of residents had the final say.
"Our business, Wauconda Boat Company, is located across from the village hall," resident Rosemary Buschick explains. "The meeting about the crosses was on a Tuesday night, and when it was over, we knew the crosses would have to come down. Then my husband, Chuck, went to the back room of the shop and constructed a window-sized cross with lights to display the next day. Will Shumaker, whose home appliance store is also on Main Street, also put up a cross. Within weeks, crosses were appearing on houses everywhere--attached to antennas, stuck in yards, beaming from trees, shining in windows. It seemed to just happen."
When Joyce Mitchell drove around the village with her daughters, who were 6 and 9 at the time, she began to cry. "The media portrayed us as losing the fight, but we didn't lose. Two crosses had been replaced with hundreds. God was glorified in the end."
The crosses continue to shine each year. "No one will tell us to take our cross down," says Rosemary Mers of Mers Restaurant, which inherited one of the original tower crosses. "That cross is up there forever."
Who is that baby in the manger? He is the Messiah, the Christ, the Suffering Servant, the Savior, Who will be led like a sheep to the slaughter for the sins of the world.
C The angel says, "You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Don't forget, this is not just any baby. This is the Messiah. This is Christ the Lord. He is the Immanuel, God with us, the Son of God, the Lord Himself suddenly coming to His temple. So, it is the Son of God, the Immanuel, God Himself, Who is wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.
Title: Big God in a Little Baby
We have an observatory in California called Mount Palomar. It has a great telescope that can look out into space and pick out light so far away that it takes one hour of focusing upon that light for it to make even the faintest impression upon a photographic plate–what tremendous capacities for focus in that telescope. But that is nothing compared to the way in which God focused Himself in that baby.
-- Bruce Thielemann, "Glory to God in the Lowest," Preaching Today, Tape No. 75.
Again, we notice that similar language is used in the angel's words to Mary:
(Luke 1:32) He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High ...
(Luke 1:35) The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
Who is that baby in the manger? He is the Messiah, Christ the Lord, the Immanuel, God with us, the Son of God, the Lord Himself suddenly coming to His temple. God focuses Himself in that baby.
Who is that baby in the manger? What is so special about Him that angels announced His birth and shepherds went to see Him? Why is His birth "good news of great joy"? And why do we, some 2000+ years later, still celebrate His birth? The angel tells us:
(Luke 2:11-12) "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. (12) This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."He is the Messiah!
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