Summary: Christmas Day message. Though in unexpected arrival, Christ most assuredly is the One and Only Savior of the World. Leads into Communion.
CHRISTMAS STORIES OF HOPE
4: “An Unlikely Savior” Luke 2:1-20
Pastor Todd, BBC 12/25/2005 AM
Chuck Swindoll tells of a legend about when Satan and his demons were having a Christmas party. As the demonic guests were departing, one grinned and said to Satan, “Merry Christmas, your majesty.” At that, Satan replied with a growl, “Yes, keep it merry. If they ever get serious about it, we’ll all be in trouble.” Well, get serious about it. It is the birth a the Baby. It is the coming of God. It is the intervention of God’s presence among men. (from The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart)
Expectations of a Savior/Deliverer. William Wallace. Armored Knight charging in on grand white steed. Roaring Lion, ready to pounce with full force.
I.)AN UNLIKELY ASSIST (Luke 2:1-5)
Set-up By Caesar Augustus
+ Unlikely and even ironic that the temporal, earthly King, Caesar Augustus, would be the one to unwittingly set the stage for the prophecies to be fulfilled for the Coming King of Kings.
+ A clear demonstration of God’s sovereign control over history.
Yet, The Antithesis
+ The man born Gaius Octavius was setting himself up as the divine and supreme ruler of the civilized world. It is instructive to contrast the heritage he thought it necessary to present for this role versus God’s chosen means for bringing the One King of Kings into the world. His royal name Caesar Augustus was symbolic. Caesar being a title for a Supreme Ruler and Augustus, meaning the “exalted” or “venerable” one.
To boost his own stature, the rumor was spread into Octavian’s rule that he himself (like Romulus) was brought into the world via a miracle birth. Yet, the details were fuzzy, there were no witnesses, and no mention of such was ever made until after he ascended in power.
To the same end, it was further added to legend that Octavian himself, by virtue of his miraculous though mysterious birth, was divine and thus could rule with divine authority. There is even an inscription at Priene which celebrates the birth of Augustus, refers to him as a “savior” and says that “the birth date of our God has signaled the beginning of good news for the world.” He used this, of course, to control and manipulate people.
Finally, Octavian was a General-King. A Warrior. Though he did ultimately inaugurate the Pax Romana (“Roman Peace,” an unprecedented period of peace and stability throughout the Mediterranean region), even this was established due to Rome’s overwhelming military supremacy and display of power such that none would dare disturb it.
Now, compare Octavian and the world’s views of the birth and heritage of a World Ruler and the very real and substantiated birth and heritage of Jesus, the True King of Kings and Anointed One.
II.)AN INAUSTERE BEGINNING (vv. 6-7)
Born to Unmarried Parents
Born in a Stable/Cave
+ Not exactly the setting most would expect one would choose to affirm a Kingly and divine future.
+ The “stable” where Jesus was born was most likely a cave used as a shelter for animals. How inaustere, how strange and unlikely.
+ But, consider this reflection by Max Lucado after visiting the traditional stable in Bethelhem:
“There is one stipulation . . . You have to stoop. The door is so low you can’t go in standing up. The same is true of the Christ. You can see the world standing tall, but to witness the Savior, you have to get on your knees. So . . .
While the theologians were sleeping
And the elite were dreaming
And the successful were snoring,
The meek were kneeling.
They were kneeling before the One only the meek will see. They were kneeling in front of Jesus.”
(from The Applause of Heaven)
First Crib – a Feeding Trough
+ The lowliness and poverty of Jesus’ birth reminds us of how Jesus, though Lord of the universe, has humbled Himself to the utmost in order to sacrifice for our salvation!
Just imagine, Almighty God, King of Kings, Savior of the World, Lion of Judah, made his grand entrance in an obscure little cave used for animals, likely on the outskirts of town. Bethlehem was packed to bursting with people, and yet, not one of them seems to have had a clue that God had just entered town. You know, it’s not so different today either. We are so busy with our own hustling and bustling that we miss God right in our midst!
III.)AN UNUSUAL FOLLOWING (vv. 8-20)
An Appeal To The Weak & Meek (v 8)
+ Shepherds were considered among the lower class, the poor, dirty and unskilled.
But, Chosen By God (vv. 9-12)
Heavenly Cheerleaders (vv. 13-14)
Immediate & Faithful Witnesses (vv. 15-18)