Last week, we learned of the completely humble circumstances in which Jesus was born and lived. We were challenged to have the same heart of compassion that God has toward the underdog; the poor and oppressed.
This morning, we meet together with great joy as we celebrate the birth of our Savior – Christ is born! We now continue through the humble beginnings which wrapped the greatest gift that any of us could ever receive; Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior!
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.
Indeed, the angels were right. The birth of Jesus, the Messiah, the Lord, is good news that causes great joy for all people even to this very day! Us, so lost in our sin, have been set free and empowered to overcome sin and death even as Jesus, our forerunner has! God loved us so much and had such enormous compassion toward us that while we were yet sinners, He gave His only Son for us.
After Adam and Eve had sinned, God sacrificed an animal to cover their shame. After delivering Israel from Egypt, God established a system of animal sacrifices prescribed for the forgiveness of sins and way to worship. All of these were simply a foreshadowing of the reality that was to come as described in detail in the book of Hebrews.
These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
What these foreshadows could never accomplish, Jesus accomplished. He made a way for us to be forgiven and reconciled to Him where there was no other way.
In Christ alone, we have hope, life, forgiveness, reconciliation, and can truly and freely worship! In this world, we have troubles. In this flesh, we have struggles and temptations. In Christ alone, we find everything that we need. He is supreme over all things and yet He humbled Himself to become just like one of us, tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin. We now have a great High Priest who can fully relate to us and have empathy toward us. Jesus stands as our Defender who always hopes in us, always trusts in us, and who perseveres until the end and beyond!
1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved,through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
The fullness of our salvation is a gift of God. It cannot be earned by good works, in fact, it can only be gained through our faith alone. However, this gift that is available for all people is received by few. This Christmas, do not allow this gift to be shoved under the tree out of sight, out of mind, and forgotten about. This Christmas, unwrap God’s free gift of salvation and embrace it fully. Show it off to everyone and remind them that it is available for them, too!
Also, just like that new tech gadget that you might receive, don’t miss out on all of the benefits and features of your salvation!
Salvation is far more than just being forgiven and going to Heaven instead of Hell! The Greek word that is used in the New Testament for our English word “saved” is the word “sozo”. This word literally defined is to save, to deliver or protect (literally or figuratively), to heal, preserve, do well, be made whole. This is what the free gift of salvation found in Christ alone provides. Don’t miss out on any one of these benefits! Seek after God with your everything until the fullness of your salvation is embraced and experienced! Don’t accept anything less!
Cry out, even as David cried out:
1 Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.
19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the Lord, my soul.
This Christmas season, remember, embrace and share all of the benefits of the free gift of salvation made available through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of our savior, Jesus Christ. Praise Him and be richly blessed!