************ Sermon on Luke 2:11 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on December 25, 2010
"He is Christ the Lord"
Every Christmas time I get somewhat frustrated as I try to pick out Christmas songs that focus on Jesus as Savior. I get frustrated because so many of the Christmas songs focus on Jesus as Lord and King. Did you notice our songs this morning: "come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the new born king; O come, let us adore Him – Christ, the Lord." Scripture does the same thing. In the Bible, the story of Jesus does not stop at the cross; rather, it finishes with a crown.
Look at what the angel says: "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord" (Lk 2:11). Yes, He is Savior. However, He is also Lord. And the two are always connected.
The connection starts way back in history with the Old Testament figure known as the Messiah or the Christ. The Messiah is a great warrior king. As David had slain the Philistines, so the Messiah, the new David from the town of David, would slay God's enemies (Is 63:1-6). The Messiah is also a man of sorrows who would be slaughtered like a lamb for the sins of others (Is 53). Finally, the Messiah is God Himself – Immanuel, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, a branch growing out of the Lord, the Lord Himself suddenly coming to His temple (Is 4:2; 7:14; 9:7; Mal 3:1).
This past week I noticed for the first time that Luke uses an unusual combination of words in our text. He calls the baby in the manger "Christ the Lord." Or, "Messiah the Lord." This is a combination that occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Luke wants to emphasize that Messiah Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords. That His is "power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise" (Rev 5:12).
When someone has been in the hospital for a long time or is recovering from surgery we use the expression "as weak as a baby." Humanly speaking, this expression applies to the babe in the manger. At the same time, as far as heaven is concerned, and as far as the Gospel is concerned, the babe in the manger is also the center of all power.
I don't know if you noticed the Bible verse on your bulletin covers: "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest ... and of his kingdom there shall be no end" (Lk 1:32-33). The same message as our text, "he is Christ the Lord" (Lk 2:11).
I want you to notice three points this morning. First, because "he is Christ the Lord" (Lk 2:11), Jesus' birth drew Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem (vs 1-7). Second, because "he is Christ the Lord" (Lk 2:11), Jesus' birth drew the angels from heaven (vs 8-14). Third, because "he is Christ the Lord" (Lk 2:11), Jesus' birth drew the shepherds from the fields (vs 15-20).
I Joseph and Mary (vs 1-7)
A "In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world ... And everyone went to his own town to register" (Lk 1:1,3). Rome took a census every fourteen years for both military and tax purposes, and each Jewish male had to return to the city of his father to record his name, occupation, property, and family.
B Caesar was ruling, but God was in charge. God used Caesar's edict to move Joseph and Mary eighty miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Eighty miles. In that time and place this was a 10-15 day journey. In that time and place, with a pregnant woman, this was a difficult journey. In that time and place, with a woman in her last days of pregnancy, Joseph had to travel slowly and carefully with lots of stops.
C So why the move to Bethlehem with a pregnant woman? To fulfill God's Word. Mary spoke of this to the angel when she said, "I am the Lord's servant ... May it be to me as you have said" (Lk 1:38). You need to realize God said many things throughout the ages about the Messiah. Way back at the beginning of time God said the Messiah would be human, of the seed of the woman, and not – for instance – an angel (Gen 3:15; Heb 2:16). He would be a Jew, not a Gentile (Gen 12:1-3; Num 24:17). He would be from the tribe of Judah (Gen 49:10). He would be of the family of David (2 Sam 7:1-17). He would be born of a virgin (Is 7:14). He would be born in Bethlehem, the city of David (Micah 5:2). He would be conceived through the operation of the Holy Spirit (Lk 1:35; Mt 1:20).
All of this occurred just as the Scriptures said. As God said through Jeremiah, "I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled" (Jer 1:12). And, Caesar unknowingly played an important part when he called for the census. Let there be no doubt about it: Caesar Augustus may have been ruling, but God was in charge.
Jesus is "Christ the Lord" (Lk 2:11). His birth drew Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem to fulfill God's Word.
II The Angels (vs 8-14)
A An angel of the Lord is sent out of heaven to announce "good news"(Lk 2:10). In Luke's Gospel, good news always has to do with Jesus. So, sure enough, the angel announces the good news of the birth of Christ the Lord.
When the angel makes this announcement, do you know what the angel becomes? The angel becomes the very first evangelist! He announces to others the good news.
What was the good news? That God sent a Savior, Christ the Lord (Lk 2:11), to meet man's greatest need. You need to realize life was as difficult back then as it is now. Taxes were high, unemployment was high, morality was slipping lower and lower, the military state was in control. Roman law, Greek philosophy, and a multitude of religions could not meet the needs of men's hearts. So, God sent His Son (cf Gal 4:4-5)!
B Do you remember how Job describes the reaction of the angels to the creation of the heavens and the earth? We are told "the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy" (Job 38:7). Today's Scripture tells us the angels' reaction when the eternal Creator was born as a human, when the Word became a speechless baby, when Mary gave birth to Christ the Lord:
(Lk 2:13-14) Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, (14) "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."The angels praised God at creation and now we hear them praising God at the new creation. The birth of Christ the Lord drew the angels from heaven to sing God's praises.
Take note of this: the angels were praising God! They were not singing for the benefit of the shepherds. They were singing to the honor and glory of God.
The angels remind us that the whole purpose of the plan of salvation is NOT salvation. How self-centered we humans be if we think this for even a moment. The whole purpose of the plan of salvation is God's glory (Eph 1:6, 12, 14).
Jesus is "Christ the Lord" (Lk 2:11). His birth drew the angels from heaven. First, one angel appeared and gave the glad announcement of the Savior's birth. And, then, a chorus of angels joined him and gave an anthem of praise.
C Now, these are the angels who live in the presence of God. These are the angels who have seen the light, the glory, the throne. These are the angels who have heard the voice like the sound of rushing waters. They saw the eternal Son before He took on human flesh. Why would they leave heaven to go to Bethlehem? Because they knew the babe in the manger was Christ the Lord.
Scripture tells us angels don't understand the plan of salvation like we do. So, how amazed the angels must have been when they realized the eternal Son of God was taking on flesh. How amazed they must have been by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, so that through His poverty we might become rich (2 Cor 8:9). How amazed they must have been as they saw God's Son taking to Himself a truly human nature. So what do they do? They go from heaven to earth to sing God's praises!
When we first see the baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger we are tempted to say, "Surely this cannot be the eternal Son of God." But when we see His birth attended by a choir of angels sent from heaven we can only say, "Surely this can be none other than the eternal Son of God."
D We are told the angels were sent from heaven to the shepherds of Bethlehem. Why shepherds? Why not priests or scribes? Why Bethlehem? Why not Jerusalem? After all, the two towns were only five miles apart.
Well, let me ask, how many of the chief priests and teachers of the law bothered to make the trip to Bethlehem to see the Messiah? Didn't they profess to be waiting two thousand years for the Messiah's coming? So how many made it to Bethlehem? None. Nada. Zero. The Lord Almighty knew and saw their indifference so He sent the angels to some lowly shepherds.
By sending the angels to the shepherds God was revealing something of His grace. God's grace and God's dealings were not just with the high and mighty – like priests and kings. God's grace and God's dealings were also or even especially with the poor and lowly. With outcasts like shepherds (cf 1 Cor 1:27-29).
Jesus is "Christ the Lord" (Lk 2:11). His birth drew Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. His birth drew the angels from heaven.
III The Shepherds (vs 15-20)
And, His birth drew the shepherds from the fields.
"Let's go to Bethlehem," they say (Lk 2:15). Suggesting that they were outside of Bethlehem. Suggesting that Bethlehem was a distance away. So, it meant leaving the flocks that were under their care. And it meant losing a night's sleep. And it meant moving away from the warmth of a fire or a sleeping bag.
"Let's go to Bethlehem and see if this thing has happened, which the Lord has told us about" (Lk 2:15). Is this what they say? NO. Of course not! "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about" (Lk 2:15). Notice their faith, their belief – as compared to the later unbelief of the Jewish religious leaders – that Jesus is Christ the Lord.
"So they hurried off" (Lk 2:16). As one commentator put it, this was the first Christmas rush. But it was certainly different from the Christmas rushes we see today!
"So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger" (Lk 2:16). Notice, they "found." In other words, they had to search.
Even the most lowly of shepherds knew the Messiah was a descendant of David in the town of David. After all, the Messiah was part of Jewish dreams and prophecies for thousands of years. Yet, how do you search for a descendant of David in a Bethlehem filled to capacity with the descendants of David? Furthermore, left to their own devices, I am sure they would have searched through the best homes of Bethlehem, looking for a baby lying in luxury, with a numerous train of attendants. So, the angel told them what to look for: "a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger" (Lk 2:12). That sure narrows down where to look and what to look for.
"When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child" (Lk 2:17). Shepherds, who for some reason are not allowed to testify in court, are the second ones – after the angels – to witness that Jesus is Christ the Lord.
"A Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord" (Lk 2:11).
Jerusalem and Bethlehem take no notice. But shepherds do. So do angels. And so does Joseph and Mary (cf Lk 2:19).
"A Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord" (Lk 2:11).
Do you take notice?
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