Christmas Sermon: There is Born for You a Savior (Luke 2:8-20)

There is Born for You a Savior

What does it mean that God is Savior?  What does it mean that He is, for you a Savior?  We learned recently about the Law of God and how all people have failed to keep this law and are therefore under God’s just condemnation.  We are all Law breakers.  Man has always had an idea of his condemnation even those without the Law of God.  Man has also always had a concept of deity.

In his fallen state, he has even gone so far as to invent gods.  In the Old Testament we read about false or invented gods who were very different from the real God we worship.  Baal, for example, was a god worshiped by the Canaanites.  When the Canaanite priests had their confrontation with Elijah on Mount Caramel, they tried everything to get their false god to respond to them.  Praying, dancing, screaming, and even cutting themselves.

1 Kings 18:26-29 (ESV)

And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made.  [27] And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.”  [28] And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them.  [29] And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention.

There is a pagan idea of a god who in the end doesn’t answer and doesn’t pay attention.  Another false god found in the pages of the Old Testament is the cruel and hostile deity who required unspeakable sacrifices in order to be appeased.  Molech was worshipped by the Phoenicians.  Part of the worship of this god was to sacrifice their children.

On one hand, there is a false god who doesn’t hear and the other a false god who requires child sacrifice.  That’s about as good as man can do when he tries to invent a god.

The sad reality is, we at times may think of the true as being like Baal and not hearing or paying attention, or being somehow cruel like Molech and always ready to nail us when we make a mistake.    ***(Much of the idea for this intro came from MacArthur’s Commentary on Luke)

Our God shines forth as a totally different God altogether.  Our God, the God of the Bible, the real, true and living God is by nature compassionate, slow to anger, rich in mercy and abounding in loving kindness.  The God of the Bible, who has been deeply offended by our rebellion, doesn’t ignore us or require child sacrifice but instead has come to our rescue by sending us a Savior, His only Son, Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 53:3-6 (ESV)

He was despised and rejected by men;

a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;

and as one from whom men hide their faces

he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

[4] Surely he has borne our griefs

and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken,

smitten by God, and afflicted.

[5] But he was wounded for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his stripes we are healed.

[6] All we like sheep have gone astray;

we have turned every one to his own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.

There is one life changing point I want to make today, and that is that God entered into time and space as a baby in a manger because He gets more glory by saving us than in condemning us. The shepherds are a case study for this point.  God is more glorified when He acts as Savior than when He acts as Judge.

As we read this text this morning, notice the Good News that the angel proclaims.  Notice also, that this Good News brings God glory in the highest and brings humans peace.

Luke 2:8-20 (ESV)

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  [9] And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.  [10] And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.  [11] For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  [12] And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and 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 among those with whom he is pleased!”

[15] When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”  [16] And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.  [17] And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.  [18] And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.  [19] But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.  [20] And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

1. God’s Good News (2:8-11)

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  [9] And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.  [10] And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.  [11] For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

About 6 months have passed since the birth of John the Baptist.  Joseph and Mary find themselves in Bethlehem, the City of David because of a census which was called for by the emperor.  We also remember from last week that Mary had given birth to Jesus and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths and placed Him in a manger.  The same day the angels make their grand announcement of good news.

Most scholars believe this angel is none other than Michael the archangel who leads the hosts of heaven in this great and powerful declaration.  As is the normal response, the shepherds are fear struck.  The angel immediately gives the message that God has sent…

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.  [11] For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Who were these shepherds?  The only shepherds out in the fields at night in December were the temple shepherds.  These shepherds kept watch over the sheep that were to be sacrificed in the temple.

One Jewish historian shares with us,

It was then on that wintry night of the 25th of December, that shepherds watched the flocks destined for sacrificial services, in the very place consecrated by tradition as that where the Messiah was first to be revealed.

It was in this setting that the Messiah was announced.  It’s interesting to note that not too many years later sacrificial lambs would not be needed any longer.

The message was announced and heard by the shepherds and then all of heaven burst forth in a song of praise to God.  These shepherds were unclean as far as temple requirements but they were the ones to whom Jesus’ birth was gloriously announced.

2. God’s Glory in the Highest (2:12-20)

[12] And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and 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 among those with whom he is pleased!”

Only one other time had the earth heard this kind of singing.  When in Isaiah’s vision, the angel’s singing was heard in the temple and reverberation was so intense that the foundation of the temple itself was shaken.

This wasn’t the temple and these were not prophets.  These were shepherds out in a field looking over Bethlehem.

A. God is glorified as Savior

[14] “Glory to God in the highest,

It’s really the lyrics of the angel’s song that I want to examine this morning.

We see a very important point here.  That is, God is most glorified when He is viewed as or is in the process of acting as Savior.  This is a simple deduction.  The Angel’s song is totally accurate in revealing to us God’s true nature.  He is not Baal who can’t hear and He is not a hostile god like Molech but the true God is a merciful, saving God.

He doesn’t save by overlooking sin, the very opposite is true.  God saves as He looks sin straight in the eye and pays the sin debt Himself.  The only way this could take place is by coming to earth.  At the birth of Jesus, God takes on flesh.  He is incarnate.

So, when the angels sing their heavenly song of praise they are attributing glory to God in the highest.  Glory to God to the 100th power.  Glory to God like the earth has never seen.  Glory to God in unimaginable ways, because He has heard and seen and acted on behalf of fallen humanity.  God is most glorified when He acts as Savior.

B. God is glorified when His Word is fulfilled

[12] And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

[15] When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”  [16] And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.  [17] And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.  [18] And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.  [19] But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.  [20] And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Another reason for God to be glorified in the highest degree is because His Word comes true.  He told the shepherds the story.  He told them about the baby and about Mary and Joseph.  They went with haste and found everything to be just as God said it would be.  What were the two reactions to the fulfilled Words of God?

[19] But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.

[20] And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Mary’s response was a quite peace.  Her faith was even further increased.  She sat back looking at her baby and worshipped in wonder and in awe.  Her response was a quite internal praise to God.

The shepherds could not contain themselves.  They went back to the sheep praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, exactly as the angel said.  By this sign, they also knew everything else would come to pass as well.

This baby who had been announced so gloriously by the angels would, in fact, fulfill His role as Savior.  They sang and glorified God because now they had a Savior.

God is most glorified when He acts as Savior.

3. Mankind’s Peace in the Highest

The angel’s song had a second line.  Te second part had to do with mankind’s peace.  If humans are to experience true peace, they must first experience God as Savior.  Grace always precedes peace.  If someone you know displays a life of turmoil and constant anxiety, the first thing to ask yourself is, has this person experienced God’s grace? Perhaps it’s your life that is restless and anxious…

[14] “Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

When God is acting as Savior, man can have peace.  God’s grace and man’s peace go hand in hand.  As God is more glorified we experience more peace.

What’s great is, that for God, there is nothing more valuable than His glory.  He is in hot pursuit of His glory.  God’s glory is not to be given away or even shared.

In God’s pursuit of glory, He does what He does.  It’s this that motivates Him to love His people.  The Israelites were rebellious and chased after other gods.  But because they called Jehovah their God He treated them mercifully because of His namesake He is kind to His people.

Isaiah 48:11 (ESV)

For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it,

for how should my name be profaned?

My glory I will not give to another.

God’s pursuit of glory is our greatest means of joy.

Because God is pursuing glory and because He gets the most glory when He acts as Savior, He gets the glory and we get salvation and the end result is peace between a perfect and holy God and rebellious sinners like us.

We are saved and He is glorified.

We could look at verse after verse in the Bible to show this truth but one more should suffice:

Psalm 79:9 (ESV)

Help us, O God of our salvation,

for the glory of your name;

deliver us, and atone for our sins,

for your name’s sake!

What does it mean that God is Savior?  What does it mean that He is, for you a Savior?

It means that God the Father sent God the Son to earth to be born.  Jesus came as a baby in Bethlehem.  He came to be poor and despised.  He came to give up everything so that He could save sinners and be glorified.

As God chases after glory we are swept of our feet into His kingdom forever.  We hear echoing down through the centuries to our ears Paul’s typical salutation:

Grace to you and peace…

I say Paul because he wrote the words but who is really speaking?  God is.

This Christmas season and for all eternity God the Father wishes you Grace and Peace.

Through Jesus Christ, that’s God’s desire for you…grace and peace

In Bethlehem, 2000 years ago, There was Born for You a Savior , just one Savior, and His name is Jesus Christ

Will you trust Him today?

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