In order for us to fully appreciate and celebrate Christmas in the joy that only He can bring, we have to first go to the beginning to see why Jesus’ birth brought such joy. It begins, well, at the beginning.Instead of reading through it in Genesis word for word, I’ll just briefly walk through it.
God created everything seen and unseen; all of creation. He created man uniquely in His very own image on earth in a state of paradise. He created woman from man as the perfect side-by-side companion and brought her to Adam at the very first wedding. All is good and exactly as God created it to be. God dwelt with man on earth in a perfect relationship.
Then it, happened… The serpent, Satan himself, who had been cast down to earth from heaven with a third of the angels tempted Eve to do exactly what God told her not to do. She, of course, did it and Adam followed right along with her. Sin and death came onto the scene from just that one simple choice. Since that moment, all of mankind are born with a sinful nature in control of our lives. Sin came onto the scene and corrupted that perfect paradise.
God could no longer dwell with man, so God made an animal sacrifice to cover their shame and proclaimed His plan of salvation to them to bring them back into a relationship with Him. I believe that this was symbolic of the first and second covenants, or promises, of faith that God made with mankind for the forgiveness of sins. The first was one of continual animal sacrifices looking forward to the second covenant. The second one was made with a perfect, and final sacrifice made once for all. God explained His plan of salvation on that day of Adam and Eve’s sin like this:
And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.
We know that this woman’s offspring that came and crushed the head of Satan and overcoming both sin and death that came and corrupted paradise was that of the birth of Jesus. Offspring of a virgin woman, conceived by the Holy Spirit; living the sinless life; choosing to make the perfect sacrifice of Himself to death on the cross; then raising again to life and being given the name above every name: JESUS!
We celebrate Christmas with great joy because Jesus left Heaven, lived as one of us on earth, and paid the price for our sins that we could never pay. For those who accept it, we are forgiven and free! Sin and death have no hold on or power over us!
Alright, now back to the shepherd scene when this plan of salvation began to come to pass, which is what we celebrate at Christmas.
1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
We’ve already discussed a few weeks ago about how this priceless treasure of God’s salvation came in a way that we would least expect it and would even likely reject it had we been there when these events unfolded. However, it’s how God chose to have it happen.
In the same way, the last people that we would expect God to specifically send a host of angels to in order to announce that the Messiah and our Savior has just been born would be a group of shepherds. We would expect Him to deliver the good news of His salvation to the religious leaders or the king or some other person who has a great area of influence. However, this is whom God had chosen. We also see that though we wouldn’t think that they would really have a lot of influence in Bethlehem, they still spread the word throughout the town and gave all praise and glory to God for what they had seen and heard; something that the others may have not done.
In the same way, God has chosen us today to spread the good news of His salvation to all people! We may live a life that looks a whole lot like these shepherds. Just plain, common, ordinary people. We may not think that we really have a lot of influence in our town, but that’s exactly who God chooses to work in and through. Those who are humble and lowly; who do what we can for God, and then give Him all of the praise and glory; boasting in Him alone. Paul said:
1 Corinthians 1:26-31
26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
This Christmas, we choose to celebrate and boast in the Lord. We celebrate not because of who we are or anything that we have done, but because of who God is and what He has done for us.
This morning, if you’ve never taken the chance to accept God’s salvation or you’ve found yourself slipping away from Him, let’s not let another moment pass before getting ourselves right before God. Again, it’s not about anything that we’ve done or who we are; it’s all about who He is and what He has done for us. He counted us worthy even while we were still far from Him. He saw us being so valuable to Him that He gave up everything to pave the way for us to come back home. None of us are too far beyond His forgiveness and He’s waiting with open arms to welcome us back home.
This morning, let’s bow our heads and close our eyes to focus on Him and pray together.