Archive for December, 2012

The Christmas Chapter, Pt. 10

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2:9-11

We now get to what I consider to be the greatest verse in all of the Bible dealing with Christmas, verse 11.  “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”  That is the Christmas story summed up in one verse.  The angel of the Lord is speaking directly to the shepherds in this verse, but he could just have easily been speaking directly to any one of us.  “For unto you is born this day…”

This was not just some impersonal force coming into the world.  This was the Saviour of mankind coming into the world.  This was a person Saviour.  He would come to “seek and to save that which was lost.”  He would come to help individuals.  The angel may have been speaking to the shepherds, but he was also speaking to us.  He was speaking to the blind man who received his sight.  He was speaking to the lame man who had no one to help him and was healed.  He was speaking to the demon possessed man running around the tombs who ended up clothed and in his right mind.  He was speaking to a cursing fisherman named Peter.  He was speaking to a church persecuting Pharisee named Saul.  He was speaking to every sinner born since He came.  He was speaking to me.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour…”

The Christmas Chapter, Pt. 9

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

Luke 2:8-10

Yesterday, we looked at these same verses in Luke 2, and looked at the reaction of the shepherds to seeing the angel of the Lord.  They were, as it says in verse 9, “sore afraid.”  But in verse 10, the angel comes to their aid: “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”  The shepherds fell on their faces in fear, but the Lord did not leave them there in fear and terror, and He does the same for us.

When a sinner comes to the Lord, often he comes with “fear and trembling.”  But God does not leave us standing there alone and afraid.  He lifts us up and gives us comfort and hope.  In these verses, the angel of the Lord tells the shepherds that he is bringing “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”  The thing that helped and gave comfort and hope to these shepherds is the same thing that will help, comfort and aid us in our times of fear and trembling.

The shepherds received these good tidings of great joy.  As Christians, we have received these good tidings of great joy.  We need no longer cower in fear of an unapproachable, holy God.  We can now come “boldly before the throne of grace.”  And it’s all because of these “good tidings of great joy.”  What a wonderful Saviour!

The Christmas Chapter, Pt. 8

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

Luke 2:8-10

When we look at the angel of the Lord coming to the shepherds in their fields and telling them about the new born Saviour, we find an interesting reaction: “…they were sore afraid.”

The shepherds were not jumping up and down about being visited by the glory of the Lord.  They were afraid.  Throughout the Bible, this is a common reaction of men who have seen the Lord or seen His glory.  In many cases, they said that they “fell on their face as dead.”  We would maybe expect to see more excitement and jubilation, but that is not the case.

When we first came to realize just who the Lord is, we no doubt had some fear.  When we first see Him, it causes us to see ourselves as we truly are: hopeless sinners desperately in need of a merciful Saviour.  That is a cause for fear.  Sometimes, even after we have seen the mercy and grace of the loving Saviour, we get a small glimpse of His glory or His holiness, we still get that sense of reverential awe and fear.

That fear is a good thing.  The Bible tells us in Proverbs 9:10 that “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”  A fear of the Lord is going to keep us away from sin and it’s going to keep us thankful for His mercy and grace.  The shepherds were “sore afraid,” as they should have been.  Seeing the glory of the Lord at Christmas should give us the same reverential awe.

The Christmas Chapter, Pt. 7

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

Luke 2:8-10

As we continue to look at this “Christmas chapter,” we come to the part about the shepherds.  This is an interesting part to me because these shepherds really had nothing to do with the Christmas story.  They were not Mary and Joseph.  They had nothing to do with the taxing or the inn or anything else.  As far as we can tell, they were just normal shepherds “keeping watch over their flock by night.”  They were just average people doing their job.  But, by God’s mercy and grace, they became a part of the greatest story ever told.

As far as the Bible is concerned, there was nothing special about these shepherds.  In fact, in those days, shepherds were usually looked down upon.  They were definitely not among the “upper class” of society.  But God, in His infinite wisdom and grace, chose to allow them to be among the first to worship the child who would be the Saviour of man.

It is the same with us.  We have done nothing special in and of ourselves that we should be counted worthy to partake of His salvation.  We are not kings and queens, princes and princesses.  We are common people who have a very merciful God.  These mere shepherds were allowed to worship the newborn King.  We, as mere humans, are allowed to not only worship, but to fellowship with the glorious King.  What a wonderful Saviour!

The Christmas Chapter, Pt. 6

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:6-7

In this most famous “Christmas chapter” in the Bible, many people find it interesting that God would choose to send His Son to be born such a lowly birth.  Here He is, being born to a common woman, in a small town, apparently either outside or in a barn.  After being born, He was placed in a manger, which is basically a simple feeding trough for livestock.  That is definitely not the way that you would expect the Son of God to come into the world.

If He is the King, why would He come into such a lowly way?

I believe that the simple reason is that He came as a servant.  When He comes again, He will come as a conquering and unconquerable King.  But the first time, He came as a servant, doing the will of the Father.  He was obedient unto death.  He knew why He was coming – He was coming to die on the cross to save people from their sin.

He came as a representative of all of mankind, from the king in the palace to the homeless man on the street.  In His death He “tasted death for all mankind.”  He wasn’t coming the first time as a King, He was coming as a sacrifice.  In the Old Testament, they would sacrifice animals (bulls, goats, sheep, etc.).  I have always found it interesting that, as soon as He was born, Jesus was laid among those animals in the manger.  They had been the used as sacrifices for sin.  Now, God had sent the perfect sacrifice in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ.  What an amazing story and what an amazing Saviour!

Silent Night (Hymn)

Silent Night
Franz Gruber (1818)

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and Child.
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds quake at the sight;
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born!

Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love’s pure light;
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.

Silent night, holy night
Wondrous star, lend thy light;
With the angels let us sing,
Alleluia to our King;
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born!

When I hear the term “Christmas carol,” this is the one that comes to my mind.  It’s one of those songs that is everything Christmas.  “Christ the Savior is born!”  What a glorious thought.  This was my Grandma’s favorite Christmas song, and, as such, it always makes me think of her.  “Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace.”  Amen to that.

The Christmas Chapter, Pt. 5

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:6-7

As we read through the “Christmas chapter,” we come to verses 6 and 7.  This is where the Christmas story really begins in this chapter.  The first 5 verses give us some interesting background and highlight some fulfillments of prophecy, but Christmas begins in verses 6 and 7: “…the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn son…”  That is what Christmas is about.

All of the trappings of Christmas are nice.  The stories about the angels are nice.  It’s interesting to think about the Creator of the universe being laid in a manger.  Mary and Joseph getting to Bethlehem and finding nowhere to stay is interesting.  Thoughts of peace on Earth and goodwill to men is a welcome change of pace from our usual hectic lives.  But, as nice as all of the things surrounding the Christmas story are, the real story is found here: “she brought forth her firstborn son and… laid him in a manger.”

That firstborn Son was the Son of God.  The very Son of God entering the human race to save us from our sins.  That is not where the Christmas story ends, but it is where the Christmas story begins.  In a little out of the way place in the little town of Bethlehem, the seemingly insignificant event of a poorer woman giving birth to a Son would change the world.

This lowly birth changed the world, but has it changed us?  Hopefully, Jesus has changed our lives by changing our hearts. That is what Christmas is about.

The Christmas Chapter, Pt. 4

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:6-7

As we continue to look at the “chapter of Christmas,” we come to the verses in which Jesus was born.  Verse 7 tells us that “…she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger…”  Mary was “bringing forth her firstborn son.”  It all sounds so ordinary.  Women have children every day.  It’s been going on since Adam and Eve.  There is nothing extraordinary about this verse.  You see a woman having a baby, wrapping him in swaddling clothes and laying him in a manger.  The part about laying him in a manger sounds a little strange, but when you consider her situation (no room in the inn), she was just doing what any mother would do, given the same circumstances.

By all accounts, it was an ordinary birth, just one of millions and millions of ordinary births around the world.  But this birth was very, very different.  This birth would change the world.  This was the birth about which the prophets had prophesied.  This was the birth for which God’s people had been waiting.  It may have seemed ordinary, but it was far from it.

It’s hard for us to imagine the Son of God, Jesus Christ, being a baby in a manger.  It’s hard to see the One who would conquer death and hell as a small, helpless child.  It’s hard to us to think about how these things could be.  But with God, all things are possible.

The Christmas Chapter, Pt. 3

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David: )  To be taxed with mary his espoused wife, being great with child.  And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

Luke 2:4-6

As we continue through the most famous “Christmas chapter” in the Bible, we come to verse 6.  Verse 6 of Luke chapter 2 brings us to a changing point in world history.

“…the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.”

The angel had come to Mary and had told her what was going to happen.  Mary knew that she was carrying in her womb the child of God.  It’s hard to imagine what would have been going through her mind in the nine months leading up to this verse.  It’s hard to imagine what was going through Joseph’s mind in the mind months leading up to this verse.  But, whatever their thoughts and feelings, those were now in the past.  “The days were accomplished that she should be delivered.”

They might have thought that having the child at that time was an inconvenience.  I don’t know if they knew the prophecy from Micah 5:2, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from old, from everlasting.”  I don’t know if they knew why they were in Bethlehem having the Child.  But that is where God put them and where God wanted them.

When “the time was accomplished that she should be delivered,” the world was about the change dramatically.  Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, was getting ready to come into the world.  This even would change the world.  This event changed my life.

The Christmas Chapter, Pt. 2

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David: ) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

Luke 2:3-5

As we look at what is probably the most famous “Christmas chapter” in the Bible, one of the things that strikes me is the fact that, despite all of the seemingly strange things surrounding His birth, God had everything under control at all times.  That should not surprise us, as He is God.  But as humans, we tend to forget these things.

Yesterday, we looked at the fact that the powerful ruler in the world at the time, Caesar Augustus, sent out a decree that everyone should be taxed.  That decree was given to get Joseph and Mary (and the baby Jesus) to Bethlehem, the place that God decided that he wanted His Son to be born.  Today, we will look at the timing of this decree.

“And Joseph went up.., unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem… with Mary his espoused with, being great with child.”  (vs. 4,5)

The decree from Caesar Augustus came at the perfect time.  Joseph and Mary may have seen the timing of the decree as a great inconvenience.  Travel was not as easy in those days as it is now.  Traveling with a woman who was “great with child” would have been a difficult task.  As an outsider looking in on this story, it would seem that God’s timing was off somewhere.  But God’s timing is never off.  God’s timing is perfect.

God put Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem at exactly the right time.  When we find ourselves questioning the timing of the Lord in our situations, we can remember this story and can remember that God’s timing is perfect.