Text: Luke 2:1-20
The Promised Savior Comes
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen. The text for the sermon comes from the Gospel which was read earlier.
A roaming reporter stopped six people on the sidewalks of New York City and asked, “What is the most important happening in history?” Five replies from two men and three women were as varied as might be expected. “The settlement of Jamestown by the Englishmen.” “The defeat of the Saracens at Tours.” “The splitting of the atom.” “The defeat of the Japanese.” “The invention of the wheel.” The sixth answer came from a fourteen-year-old school boy, “The birth of Jesus Christ.” If we have the insight of the fourteen-year-old schoolboy as well as his wisdom, we will know at this moment that we find ourselves celebrating an event that has been called the greatest in human history since the creation of the world. It is a holy day as well as a holiday. It is Christmas!
A number of weeks ago, Pastor Firminhac and I took the confirmation classes to see The Nativity Story. In the movie, there was a man who was proclaiming the prophecies of the Old Testament, that one day, there would be the arrival of a King, the coming Messiah, who would save the world. Joseph and the pregnant Mary were walking the streets on their way to Bethlehem for the census and heard this man’s cries of the promised Messiah. Meanwhile, somewhere in the East, the three wise men embarked on their journey to find the coming Messiah in Bethlehem. They were learned men who had studied the prophecies of the Old Testament to better understand the Messiah that was promised of old. They had found the signs pointing them to the Baby in the manger. The world of the first Christmas was ready for the great birth.
Some 2000 years later, Christmas is come for us. But are we ready? It’s hard to be ready for Christmas when you still have presents to buy, cards to send out, and parties to attend. That is the whole reason for Christmas, isn’t it? That is what the world wants you to think.
Just this past week, as I was watching Monday Night Football, they showed downtown Indianapolis, namely the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Every year, they string upwards of fifty strands of lights to make it resemble a Christmas tree. But one of the announcers, when referencing it, called it a “holiday” tree. Several years ago, Wal-Mart got in trouble for telling people “Merry Christmas” as they left the store. They had to change it to “Happy Holidays” for fear of getting sued by non-Christians. More and more, we have taken Christ out of Christmas. But when looking at our Gospel reading, there are no cards, no parties to attend. There is only the story of a man and his betrothed wife who is pregnant, on their way to Bethlehem to register for the census.
As the shepherds are minding their own business, they get a special visitor, one who delivers a wonderful message which they had been waiting for and expecting, if they didn’t know it: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
This is the message which the people of Israel had been waiting for. This is the message that we have been waiting for. From the moment that Adam and Eve were displaced from the Garden of Eden, a promise of a Savior was given to them: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” The book of Isaiah is filled with prophecies of the coming of Christ. “He was despised and rejected by men…Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.”
This is truly what Christmas is all about. The birth of Jesus gave to us “an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” We now have a way to be forgiven of the sins which we cause. We now have life everlasting. We are once again made sons and daughters of God, the Father.
At Bethlehem, the best we could ever know became real. There the great event in history occurred that has changed the face of all of life: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” God has spoken through the prophets stating that salvation was to rest on nothing less than God revealed in human form. This was the one thing that all men could understand.
Unfortunately, this is the one thing that we seem to have forgotten. The focus goes from the child born in the manger to Christmas cards, parties and gift-giving and receiving. Jesus has been put on the back-burner, if we even remember Him at all. The saying that “Jesus is the reason for the season” is true only in so far as it is because of Jesus that we do all the things we do during the month of December. We all know that Christmas is the celebration of Christ’s birth, but we do not always keep in mind the meaning of the event. It was not just the birth of another child. It was God becoming enfleshed in Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary.
Following the messenger’s announcement of the great and mighty wonder, suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased!” Now heaven and nature may sing Gloria in Excelsis! Now angels and archangels and all the company of heaven may laud and magnify His glorious Name, evermore praising Him and singing and confessing and teaching and believing that this Baby is the King of king, the Lord of lords, the Savior of the world, the Redeemer of the lost, and the Word who has become flesh and dwelt among us. By the gracious working of the Holy Spirit through this Word, you and I may believe that this Jesus in an animal’s feeding trough is the Christ, the Son of God, and believing you may have life in His Name.
Let our focus be on what Christmas is all about. It is not about the commercialization that we have made it to be. It is not about the gifts and the parties and the like. It is about a baby who was born. This baby grew up in stature of a man. This man willingly gave His life so that you and I should not die, but have everlasting life. As the hymn says, “Christ, the Savior is born!” Let us rejoice in the Gift of all gifts which have been given to us, Jesus Christ, Immanuel, God with us, amen.
Now the peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus until life everlasting. Amen.
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