Christmas Music 3: The Angels’ Song
Luke 2:8-14 December 23, 2018
[Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for sermon outline in Word.]
People have a lot of fun with birth announcements. I remember many years ago calling my wife's parents in Italy and telling them they had a little grandson. What joy! Now people even have gender reveals at showers. Some good friends of ours were expecting their first baby. They didn’t know the gender, but her sister knew. The soon-to-be dad was a car enthusiast, so he parked his Vintage Mustang ’77 next door to the party. Then everyone gathered outside. The brother-in-law got ready to start it up. And the sister, who knew the gender, announced to the crowd that the color of the exhaust would announce to everyone, including the soon-to-be parents: pink for a girl or blue for a boy. And out came the pink exhaust! How exciting! Modern technology, huh?
Some 2,000 years ago, an angel showed up to a bunch of shepherds in the fields around Bethlehem, and that angel gave a birth announcement, followed by a song from an amazingly large gathering of angels. The announcement itself is in verse 11. Let me read it to you again (“I’m actually going to use the King James Version, which is rare for me, but I love the sound of it there), and then we’ll unpack it: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” Let’s think about each of the phrases in this most impactful of all birth announcements. First, consider the phrase...
1. For unto you – This is personal
Wow! When you think about it this way, the Christmas message becomes very personal. A Savior was born...to you, to me. Now you say, “Pastor, those words were spoken to the shepherds. The angel was talking to them.” And you’re right. But think about a shepherd. He was not among the cream of the crop in society. He had an important role, but he wasn’t respected, kind of like our trash collectors. We rely on them but don’t respect them much. Remember when Samuel came to anoint the next king of Israel, and David’s father forgot about him, because he was out taking care of the sheep? Overlooked. Unimportant. Inconsequential. And yet, somehow important to God. The shepherds mattered to God. You matter to God! Consider that most famous of verses in the Bible, John 3:16. It starts off, “For God so loved the world...” He’s not talking about the globe there; he’s talking about the people on the globe. Insert your name: “For God so loved...Kerry.” Let’s try it together: we’re all going to say, “For God so loved,” and then we’re each going to say our own name. Ready? (Do it.) Christmas is very personal. It’s about God’s love to you!
“For unto you...”
2. Is born – He is one of us
The wording here is an echo of the ancient prophecy of Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a Child is born...” Our Savior was born as a human into the miserable mass of humanity on the globe. God became man. Jesus stepped out of the glories of heaven to live among us: Emmanuel, God with us. Jesus was born into a poor family, with a feeding trough as a cradle. Pretty common, for common folks like you and me. Pastor James Howell writes, “It’s the Incarnation. God became flesh; God came down; God is as close as my own heartbeat and the breath I just took. God understands us, and redeems us from the inside out. This is why God’s revealing of God’s heart and mind came through an infant — something we all once were, something that elicits tenderness from even the hardest among us.”
“For unto you is born ...
3. This day – Right when I need him
The angel told the shepherds, “This happened today. The birth just took place.” And in some sense, the birth of Jesus is a timeless event. What I mean is, when history was at its darkness, back during the evil Roman Empire, hope was born into the world. And now, whenever we cry out to God, hope is born into our hearts. Christ is ready to be born in our lives today, not yesterday, not tomorrow, but right now. “Today is the day of salvation!” (2 Corinthians 6:2). Don’t procrastinate. Let Jesus come into your life today.
“For unto you is born this day ...
4. In the city of David – Promise kept
This phrase ties in a very important prophecy, that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, the hometown of King David. Micah 5:2 reads, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” Jesus did not replace the Old Testament; he fulfilled it. That’s why 2 Corinthians 1:20 says, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.” This little prophecy, that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, reminds us that God always keeps his word.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David...”
5. A Savior – My rescuer
This is the first of three titles the angel will give Jesus in the birth announcement: “A Savior.” Listen to what the angel told Joseph when he encouraged him to take Mary as his wife. He told Joseph, in Matthew 1:21, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." The name “Jesus” means, “God saves.” Jesus’ name is Jesus’ job description. He was born to save, and he accomplished our salvation once and for all through a cross on Calvary. Jesus brings us our only lasting salvation.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior...”
6. Which Is Christ – My hope
“Christ” is the Greek word for “Messiah” in the Hebrew. Both words mean “Anointed one.” The Jewish people had longed for their Christ, their Messiah, their hope of rescue, for hundreds of years. In fact, there is a 400-year gap between the Old and New Testaments when God was silent. People were desperate to hear from him, to know he still cared, to know he was still at work. And then he acted. The Messiah came. Galatians 4:4 says, “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son.” Hope came. Hope will come for you, just in the right time. Christmas is all about hope.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ ...”
7. The Lord – In charge of my life
You see, this baby was born to rule. Think about the words of the carol: “Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let earth receive her .... King!” He is not just a cute baby lying in a manger. This Messiah is Christ the Lord! For you see, he was born to to secure your salvation with his very life. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We should die for our sin, yet the perfect sacrifice, the only one who never sinned, died for us at Calvary. And on the third day God raised him up to be victorious over sin and death forever. Like the Christmas carol says, “God and sinners reconciled.” Christmas is really about Easter.
This baby has a claim on our lives. Will we accept him, like the shepherds, like the wise men to come later? Or will we reject him, like jealous King Herod, who tried to have him killed? Those are really the only choices. Someone once said Jesus is either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. Christmas calls us to confess he is Lord. Romans 10:9 says, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” What will you do with this newborn Jesus? Will you allow him to be born in your heart? Will you allow him to guide you and direct you each day in ways that honor God? Let’s pray:
Thank you, Father, for Christmas. With all the craziness of the season, we can also catch some of the real meaning, as we ponder the young teen Mary trusting God with this baby within, her new husband Joseph trusting God as well, the shepherds receiving good news in the middle of the night, and a little baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. Please help us to commit ourselves to this baby, this Lord, this Savior, this Messiah, to crown him Christ the King over our lives. In Jesus’ name, amen.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,? and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
For welcome time:
Two young boys were spending the night at their grandparents a few days before Christmas. At bedtime, the two boys knelt beside their beds to say their prayers when the youngest one began praying at the top of his lungs.
“I PRAY FOR A NEW BICYCLE…
I PRAY FOR A NEW BICYCLE…
I PRAY FOR A NEW BICYCLE…”
His older brother leaned over and nudged the younger brother and said, “Why are you shouting your prayers? God isn’t deaf.” To which the little brother replied, “No, but Grandma is!”