Merry Christmas friends, I hope this is a time of blessing, I hope the presents are to your liking. Every parent thinks their kids are special, we grandparents are even worse. As my friend Al says ‘If I knew it was going to be this good I would have bypassed being a parent and gone straight to being a grandparent’.
Some parents think their kids are exceptional, you find them standing on the sidelines shouting at the ref. They are sure their child can sing better than Adele, play soccer better than Lionel Messe. I guess we are all a little guilty trying to live out our dreams through our kids.
But only one set of parents had the right to think that their kid was out of this world... That would Joseph and Mary for their Son was God their son literally came from out of this world. And you can tell by heavens reaction to his birth.
1. I bring you Good news
At the birth of any child, there is a lot of fuss, cameras, light, actions, visits and presents. But at the birth of Jesus, the angel of the Lord turns up and makes a big announcement to the shepherds. Since I'm the son of a goat herder shepherds have a special place in my life.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. ~Luke 2:10-11 (NIV)
Here is God's comment on Jesus birth, God wants the shepherds (and you) to know that the birth of this child is Good News. Who doesn’t want good news?
Once I heard that we are going to have 25,000 cases of COVID per day by the end of January, I needed cheering up. We need good news because you can't live life without hope. It's always good news when a baby is born, this is Good News because the waiting is over. For today, in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; at that moment in history - the long awaited Saviour has arrived.
It's been a long time coming. In the bible, 2000 years before the first Christmas Day, God said to Abraham that he would have a descendant who would bless the world. 1000 years before the first Christmas day, God spoke to King David and said that his descended would be a king whose kingdom would never end. 500 years before the first Christmas day, God spoke to the prophet Micah and said that God's king would be born in Bethlehem (11.4 km from Jerusalem). Here is the promise
“But you, Bethlehem ... out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, ~Micah 5:2 (NIV)
The wait has been so long. It's like when my kids would say on those holiday trips up the coast ‘WHEN. ARE. WE. GOING. TO. GET. THERE?!’ God's people knew that the Saviour was coming, they just did not know when he was coming, only Mary could lock in the date, once conceived by the Holy Spirit there was only 9 months go. But at the birth of Jesus, the waiting was over, no more wondering when. Today in the town of David (Bethlehem) a Savior has been born to you; Today, it may be old news for us but oh its still good news. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
It's good news because he is a Saviour, the same angel told Joseph “You shall name him Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.” Born in Bethlehem and DIE in Jerusalem, so you can live forever. Born to die and to take upon himself your sins and guilt.
We need a Saviour just as much as they did. We need to be forgiven just as much as they did. With this Saviour, there is nothing that he can't forgive. It's good news because he is God's forever King. Someone is in charge of this crazy world.
Your forever story is bound up with this forever king, it's good news because he is the Son of the Most High. God has made himself known. He has come for one thing, for you to be in a personal relationship with him on his terms.
God went to a lot of trouble to make sure that you would know that the Christ had to be born in Bethlehem.
Question: How did a couple living in Nazareth end up giving birth in Bethlehem? (128 kms walk away.) That is one long donkey ride. It's not like Joseph said to Mary “Well my darling we better get going, so climb on this donkey because we are going to Bethlehem to fulfil Micah's prophecy”
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world… And everyone went to their own town to register. ~Luke 2:1-2 (NIV)
God worked in the heart of an Emperor living in Rome 2000 kms from Bethlehem. He gets the emperor to organize a Census across the whole Roman empire. The Census required Joseph and Mary to move to their hometown of Bethlehem, just when the baby was to be born. And so fulfil the prophecy in Micah. A reminder that this is not a myth or Middle Earth, we are not dealing with an episode in Stars Wars “A long, long, time ago in a Bethlehem far, far away” Let's not also miss the phrase He is born to you...
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. ~Luke 2:11 (NIV)
Born to bless you; born to do you good.
Martin Luther once said "Why is it when I go into my Garden all the birds fly away as though I mean them harm." If he was Maltese and had a shotgun sure.
This one born on Christmas Day has come to save not to condemn you, He has come for you.
Why is it when I mention Jesus among some of my friends they change the subject as though Jesus meant them harm?
Could it be that some of you love Christmas but are afraid of Christ? Right now running away from him in your heart?
Could it be that you’re thinking, ‘I'm too ashamed Ray, I cant be saved’
Could it be that you’re thinking, ‘I am upset with God taking my loved one away? This Christmas will be an awful one.’
Could it be that you’re thinking, ‘I am afraid of what the Saviour will ask of me because he wants to be my lord as well?’
Or maybe you’re thinking, ‘I don't want to be disappointed yet again, this is truly a broken world.
In the kid's movie "The Incredibles", it opens with the main superhero, Bob Par, engaging in a quick run of heroic acts, he saves one person after another, but as soon as he saves one person another person is in trouble, needing to be rescued, a bit like a Bondi lifeguard. At one point he is frustrated and says “Why doesn't this world stay saved?” It keeps breaking down.
God's Word to you is this: I have good news for you, I’ve not just come to forgive you, I’ve come to bring in a new world where there is no more crying or grief or pain or death. Yes, no more COVID. As Saviour, Lord and King nothing less than a new creation is on God's agenda. I've come not just to save you but save this world. This baby has been born to you and for you. With good news comes Great Joy. Whenever the angel meets up with shepherds fear turns to joy.
I don’t know what happened when you were born. If you're the firstborn, then I’m sure they made a fuss, if you’re the 4th born, like me, then you’re lucky if they take a photo. When Jesus was born Heaven opened up and the Angelic Hallelujah chorus turns up
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.” ~Luke 2:13-14 (NIV)
Not just one angel but an army of angels burst on the scene, louder than a Wanderers soccer match, praising God “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.” Notice God's glory is tied to our peace, what is good for us, is good for God.
LOOK! the angels may not have burst into song when you were born - sorry to disappoint but did you know that they burst into song every time a person is born again
I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. ~Luke 15:10 (NIV)
Since Jesus is Saviour, we need to surrender to him, since Jesus is Lord we need to serve him. As Maltese we grew up calling Jesus I’ll 'Bumbein' - The Baby. There is nothing intimidating about a baby, but this Jesus is no mere baby, He is Lord, Saviour, King of Kings. When he becomes YOUR Lord, Saviour and King then you are born again. Those who have a personal relationship with Jesus
... are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, ~1Peter 1:8 (NIV)
This is a flabbergasting joy, a joy so wonderful that at times you won't be able to find the words to describe it. If you are not born again, you don’t know this joy, you may know happiness but not joy. Joy, the one unique Christian emotion where you’re gripped by a deep sense of thankfulness for being rescued by Jesus, from hell itself. And friends that is why when the Saviour comes, praise and thankfulness always follows. As we know, you can't silence a person who’s in love.
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. ~Luke 2:20 (NIV)
I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
For all people and that includes you. They had no room for Jesus when he was born, I wonder if you have room in your heart for this Saviour, Lord and Christ?
This is my last Christmas sermon at this church, so please hear me. Jesus doesn’t need you but you need him! He doesn’t need you but he wants you and is for you he is offering you the greatest gift - himself. But like any gift it must be received. Today a Saviour is born to you and for you.