Luke 2: 8 - 12
Christmas 2013 - Christmas Joy
“Joy to the world, the Lord is come,” “O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,” “Good Christian men, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice,” “Joyful all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies, with th’ angelic host proclaim, ‘Christ is born in Bethlehem.’”
We tend to connect joy with happiness and think that joy depends on our circumstances. You can’t have joy by going from one party to another or frantically racing through the shops. In fact, going to the mall this time of year is an excellent way to lose your joy.
What is this “good news of great joy?” “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” If you are looking for Christmas joy, you can find all you need here.
1. The Prophecy of His Coming
“Born this day in the city of David.” The city of David is not Jerusalem—it’s Bethlehem. In 1867 Phillips Brooks visited the Holy Land at Christmastime. He wrote a Christmas carol - “O little of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie! Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.” 140 years ago Bethlehem was still a tiny village—a quiet and peaceful place. David tended sheep in the fields outside the village just the shepherds were doing the night the angel appeared to them.
700 years earlier the Lord had spoken through the prophet Micah and declared that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem - “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.”
When the shepherds hear the good news that Christ has come, they say, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem.” When we read “city of David” remember that Jesus was born to fulfil a 700 year old prophecy.
2. The Reality of His Coming
The angel says, “to you is born this day in the city of David.” Focus on the 3 words—“born this day.” What happened in Bethlehem was nothing less than the birth of a baby named Jesus Christ.
Even though we often speak of the Virgin Birth of Christ - the real miracle took place 9 months earlier when the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary with the result that although she was a virgin, she became pregnant. That was an enormous miracle which has never been repeated in the history of the world. From that point on Mary’s pregnancy followed the normal course leading to the momentous night in Bethlehem when she gave birth to the Lord Jesus in a stable. The delivery itself was normal in every way - as normal as any birth could be under such trying circumstances.
“This day” means that it really happened. Many people today read Luke 2 - simply too fantastic to believe. The Christian church has always professed its belief in the literal truth of the Virgin Birth. Apostles Creed -“Conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.” One truth - always been believed by all Christians everywhere. The birth of Jesus really and truly happened.
Not a legend or a myth or a nicely-told fairy tale. Everything about the story is true, including the central truth that there really was a baby born in Bethlehem who really was the Son of God.
3. The Result of His Coming
Climax - “A Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” When Luke wrote - no articles - reads - Saviour, Christ, Lord. Each word is important. Saviour - means “One who delivers his people.” Lord - term for Deity - synonym for God. Christ - Greek version of Hebrew word Messiah - means “the anointed One.”
We desperately need a Saviour! When the angel announced the birth of Jesus to Joseph, he said, “Give him the name Jesus for he will save his people from their sins.”
Not only that, but he came to be Lord or ruler of the universe. Today he is the Lord of heaven. One day he will return and set up his kingdom on the earth. Between now and then we Christians are called to make him Lord of our lives on a daily basis. That means surrendering your will to him and letting him lead the way.
He is the Saviour, he is the Lord, and he is the Christ—the one sent from God. This is the heart of Christmas. God loved us enough to send his only begotten Son. When God got ready to save the world, he sent the best that he had—his one and only Son. In sending Jesus, he was really sending himself. This is the stupendous truth of Christmas—Immanuel—God with us.
4. The Purpose of His Coming
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David.” When the shepherds heard these words from the angel, they must have been flabbergasted. Shepherds were often poor, uneducated and quite young. Not many people would pick “shepherd” as their career preference - many easier ways to make a living in ancient Israel.
When Christ came, his birth was first announced to the outcasts of society. They were the first ones to hear the good news of Christmas.
He Came For You
This is where Christmas becomes intensely personal. It’s not enough to say abstractly that you believe Christ came. Millions of people say that and are still lost in their sins. It’s not enough to say that Christ came for someone else. You can never be saved until you say, “Christ came for me. He died for me. He rose from the dead for me.”
He came for you. Do you believe that? Soon Christmas will be here. Families will gather around the tree to open their presents. When you receive your gifts this Christmas, what will you do? Will you not open them? What use is a gift that is never opened?
2000 years ago God sent a gift wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Jesus is God’s Christmas gift to you. But you will never experience Christmas joy until you personally receive God’s gift—the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Fear not, for behold I bring you good news of great joy which shall be for all people.” What is the source of that joy? “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
Joy to the world, the Lord is come.