Summary: A Christmas Sermon taken from Luke Chapter 2.
What do you love most about Christmas? Do you love the lights, the tree and the decorations? Do you love the music, the food and the gatherings? Do you love the anticipation and preparation? How about the shopping and wrapping of gifts?
You have heard it said that “it is more blessed to give than to receive”. When a child hears that phrase, they think to themselves…. “I don’t know about that!” but when they get a little older they start to realize it’s true. We know it’s true because that saying came from the mouth of Jesus Himself and He more than anybody knew what it was like to give for He gave EVERYTHING!
This passage that we are about to read speaks of the greatest gift God the Father ever gave to the world in the sending of His only begotten Son and it is one of the most beloved passages in all the Scripture. The New Testament of course begins with the announcement and birth of the Lord Jesus and these verses here in Luke chapter 2 are really the climax of the Christmas story.
Read LUKE 2:1-14 KJV
We are going to look at three things this morning: #1 A Providential Decree, #2 A Promised Delivery and #3 a Powerful Display. First verses 1-5 A Providential Decree – Chapter 2 begins with the mention of Caesar Augustus. Caesar Augustus also known as Octavius was the adopted son and heir of Julius Caesar. The Old Roman Republic was now The Roman Empire and Octavius was the Emperor. It’s worth pointing out that not only was Caesar Augustus regarded as the first Roman Emperor he is wildly regarded as the greatest and most powerful of all the Caesars.
His power and influence was so great he was given the name Augustus which mean venerable or sacred, this of course led to men worshipping the Caesars as Gods. He was so influential we even have a month named after him – August. Also much of our government structure is based on the Roman model. If you have ever been to Washington D.C. (or even seen pictures) you would see that the architecture is very similar to the architecture of ancient Rome, even the Washington monument – the obelisk is based on the one taken from Egypt and erected in Rome.
Why do I mention all that? Because this man, Caesar Augustus who was one of the most powerful men in human history, was essentially just a puppet in the hands of all mighty God. Augustus, while we would say he was exercising his free will in issuing this decree for the world to be taxed, he was in fact fulfilling the will of God in moving the holy family from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Now somebody might say, “Couldn’t God have done it an easier way?”
Did the Lord really have to maneuverer The Roman Empire and the rise of Caesar Augustus and his decree etc. Couldn’t God have done it an easier way? With God nothing is impossible and with God nothing is difficult! The promise was given in Micah 5:2 that the Savior would be born in Bethlehem. The problem was that Mary & Joseph were living almost a 100 miles away in Nazareth and Mary was pregnant, so they were not about to make the journey if they didn’t have to.
If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times “God is in control!” He is not only in control of the big things, He is in control of the little things! Why? Because He is in control of everything! On the other hand we make decisions, we have a will of our own but even when we exercise our will God is still working in and through it. Now maybe we don’t understand all that or even how that is possible but the simple word for it is Providence. Providence is the hand of God which is guiding human history.
That being said, don’t think for a moment that because God is in control that that lets us off the hook, God is sovereign and we are accountable. I have heard several people say things like “I want spirituality or I want a church experience just without the guilt! One person said they were looking for a Christmas eve service with no guilt. Listen to me right now: To ignore guilt is to ignore why Christ came in the first place!
It amazes me when I hear people say things like “If I could live my life over again, I wouldn’t change a thing!” Who here this morning has ever done something they wish they hadn’t done, who here has ever said something they wish they didn’t say? Were all guilty, but do you want to live your life in guilt? Do you want to feel guilty all the time? I don’t! There is only one remedy for guilt and that is forgiveness, that’s why the Father sent the Son into the world.