Joy To One and Joy To All!
by Pastor Doug
As we are looking forward to a new year and looking back over the amazing cast of Christmas characters that were all involved in bringing forth the Christmas story, we see so many involved in this great ADVENTure. We have looked at the prophets. We have looked at the angels, as there would be no Christmas story without them, we have looked at the shepherds and the wise men. Let’s remember the most important cast member in this miraculous story and the ones He loves. Luke 2:1-8 says 1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered, that’s one way of saying taxed. (If we were to put it in a language we can understand today it would be something like this. Caesar just issued another mandate…heavy sigh.) 2 This census (that is the government way of trying to brighten up how it sounds) This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was (scandalously) with child. (Thankfully the couple were both from the same lineage, otherwise they couldn’t have been able to be together at this important time.) 6 So it was, that while they were there (in Bethlehem) the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son. (brought forth makes it sound so casual and easy, moms and moms only, know much more about this than dads- when it says she brought forth her firstborn son. (Moms know about the pain, moms know about the agony of having a child, basically all Joseph had to do was boil the water and maybe faint. So let’s not let that detail slip past us and don’t forget sometime soon to thank your mom for bringing you into this world if you can.) “Mary brought forth her firstborn Son and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths (it is very likely she was using strips of abandoned priests clothing to wrap up the little baby Jesus’s legs and arms individually and then His body) and then laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Verse 8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. (So let’s take some time right here to try to put ourselves in their shoes.
The shepherds were out there in that dark night listening to mostly silence, the crickets, the frogs, coyotes howling in the distance, the occasional bleating of a sheep here and there. They were straining their eyes towards the shadows to see if any of them were moving hoping they wouldn’t spot any predators, man or beast but ready to spring into action if they did. 9 And behold an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 “And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” 15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
Now let’s talk about the main character of all the characters in the cast of the Christmas story. His Name is the Savior, His Name is Emmanuel, He is the Messiah, He is God with us, He is the Prince of Peace, He is the Prince of princes, He is the bright and morning star, He is the King of kings, He is God made flesh, He is the sin bearer. His name is Jesus. His name is Jesus. And according to the angel who came to Joseph when he was tossing the idea around to walk away from Mary, to abandon her the angel told him not to do it. Because that which was conceived in her was of the Holy Spirit and His purpose was to save His people from their sins. He was born into this earth for the purpose of taking our sins away. We are born into this earth not understanding that. We don’t really comprehend the meaning of sin. We grow up knowing there are issues. We never assume that we are the problem when there is a problem. It’s so easy for us to cast blame on others and we know were not perfect. But we don’t consider ourselves that bad so it’s only with the help of the Holy Spirit do we see our own desperate need, corruption and depravity.
Scripture tells us two things. # 1. God loves us. # 2. We are born not having a clue about what that really means. Romans 5:8 – says But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Here is the dilemma. We are born sinners, we enjoy sinning and we don’t realize the depth of what that means. We could go a whole lifetime not understanding it. And if that’s you please think about this God loves you, it doesn’t matter if you believe it or not, it’s true. You may not believe in oxygen but that doesn’t make a difference as to whether oxygen is real or not. God is real, Jesus is real and God loves you. Someday in the future every person who has drawn a breath will discover that. But right now the Holy Spirit is at work making it clear to hungry hearts. Making it clear to people who really want to know that Jesus and God are real and salvation is real.
Sin is real and sin is powerful. There is nothing you can do to defeat it other than to ask for help and that is why Jesus came, to save us from our sins. This long drama where a battle for the soul and lives of mankind has played out over the ages through the prophets, through the angels, through the shepherds finally came to a crescendo. A crescendo is a maximum buildup,. It is a climactic point in a story or a piece of music. This story leading to Christ was building, building and building over time. God used men like Noah, like Abraham, like Joseph, skipping many. Like David. like Samuel and Isaiah and Jeremiah and let’s not forget Deborah and Ruth and Esther. The Word of God ended at Malachi.. Then it seemed there was silence. The four hundred years before Christ’s birth are called the silent years. There were no prophets during that time but that doesn’t mean nothing was happening, there was still a lot happening.
Some of the Jewish people were able to leave the Medo-Persian empire and go to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple. Then the Greek Empire defeated the Persian Empire. The Greek language came into common use during this time following that, the Old Testament was translated into Greek. We know it as the Septuagint. What is interesting is the rise and fall of Empires predicted by Daniel happened. All these things led up to that one glorious night, the night that Mary’s womb opened and out came the Savior of the world. He would live His life in purity and truth revealing the perfect will of God. He heals the sick, rebukes the hard hearted religious crowd, raises the dead. Life is suddenly exciting and hopeful for the Jewish people and then just as suddenly that hope was silenced at Jesus death on the cross.
The first day, the blaring silence of death screams in the ears of His followers. The same on the second, deafening silence. The first night and the second night of the mourning disciples were sleepless ones, they tossed in their beds. The question of how could this happen shouted inside their minds? They were troubled in their minds and knotted in their stomachs. But then on the third day early in the morning, as the first rays of sunshine barely peaked over the horizon. If you were there you would have heard the familiar sounds of life, birds chirping, bees starting to buzz around. But also the sound of women weeping, weeping as they went on their way to finish preparing Jesus body for burial. Then came the sounds of rejoicing as these same women run to the hiding disciples and break the exciting news, He’s alive and I’m forgiven! He’s alive and you are forgiven! That’s the whole purpose of the Christmas story. There was born unto us in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord. That means you and I can be recipients of God’s gift of grace and eternal life. And if you haven’t already you can have your sins forgiven and your spirit made alive. That’s why Christ came to forgive you but not only that to make you brand new on the inside. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says “if any man comes to be in Christ he is a new creation old things have passed away all things are made new and all things are of God”.
We get to have more than forgiveness we get to be born again, born from above. Born of the Spirit. You can become a brand new person. From there we are to be starring cast members in this vital story as it plays out to the end. We don’t know when the Lord is coming back but we know He is coming and we want to be ready and we want others to be ready. So let’s not let His love go unclaimed. Let’s not let His love go unused. Let’s not let His message go undeclared. Let’s open our hearts and receive what He has for us, forgiveness and eternal life and then let’s let Him use us to spread the message to others. He did His part, let’s do ours. Let’s not short change the world around us.
Joy to One joy to all! Let’s put joy in the heart of the Father by receiving the gift of His Son and sharing it with others. Joy to One, our God and Joy to all! For those who want this change in life pray this prayer… Lord Jesus I admit I’m a sinner and have fallen short of Your glory. Thank You for coming to save me from my sins. I believe you died on the cross for my sins and God raised You from the dead. Come into my heart and be my Lord and Savior. Give me this new birth in Jesus Name. Father we all thank You for loving us so much. Help us walk in humility. Please empower us to share Your gospel and love with others in Jesus Name…