Sermon: Peace for a People Luke 2:1-21

John Banner website_edited-1 Peace for a People

Luke 2:1-21

Primary Truth Taught- God receives maximum glory and we receive maximum peace as we are reconciled to God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Luke 2:1–21 (ESV)

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of 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.

21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

 

  1. Our World Has No Peace

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

We see an example of the turmoil in the world. Caesar Augustus was in charge of Rome and the Land of Israel. He was a merciless tyrant. The people were forced to submit to his rule and reign. There was no option for Joseph and Mary to stay home even though she was about to have a baby. You couldn’t go to the courthouse and get a pass to stay home when summoned by a Empiric Decree. You had to go.

We also see very clearly God’s providence at work even in our wicked world and through wicked rulers.

Micah 5:2 (ESV)

   But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,

who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,

       from you shall come forth for me

one who is to be ruler in Israel,

       whose coming forth is from of old,

from ancient days.

So God, in order to fulfill the Micah 5 prophecy raises up Caeser Augustus and causes him to issue the decree that a census would need be taken. Because Joseph and Mary have Davidic roots they go to Bethlehem, the City of David to be counted and to have a baby.
Micah, the prophet knew the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Do you know who else knew this prophetic truth? The scribes in the first century knew it…
Matthew 2:1–6 (ESV)

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

   “ ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;

       for from you shall come a ruler

who will shepherd my people Israel.’ ”

So, the Scribes and Chief Priests report to Herod that it was in Bethlehem where the true King was to be born. This news set Herod on edge. He sent the Magi to Bethlehem and said that he too would be coming shortly to worship but in reality Herod would dispatch soldiers to Bethlehem to seek to kill Jesus. Our world has no peace.

Matthew 2:16–18 (ESV)

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

18   “A voice was heard in Ramah,

weeping and loud lamentation,

       Rachel weeping for her children;

she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

In this world there is no peace.

  1. God Brings Peace to His People

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of 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!”

This account very quickly introduces a group of people who have been highly degraded by the sinful society in which they lived. Shepherds like these had probably hired themselves out because Augustus Caesar had taken their land from them do to extremely high taxes. These shepherds were in the fields of Bethlehem, the area famous for raising lambs for one purpose. These lambs were slated for execution. These lambs from Bethlehem were temple lambs. These would be sold to the sacrificial system. It seems very appropriate on a number of levels that God would dispatch the angels to announce the Messiah’s birth to these particular lowly shepherds.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Lets look together at verse 11. Jesus wasn’t just born, nor was He just born on a certain day. It is true and most amazing that God would step into time as a baby born to two lowly peasants. It is also important that we realize that what we are talking about here is a specific historical event. That’s why the angels report that today Jesus was born to the shepherds. The angel gives them the place, Bethlehem, the City of David.

The angels very pointedly say that Jesus was born for you…unto you this day. Jesus was not born to save the fallen angels or humanity as a whole that would be universalism but was born for and to save God’s people.

1 Peter 1:12 (ESV)

12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

It’s no mistake that the angels were echoing Isaiah 9 when they told the shepherds that Jesus was born for them.

Isaiah 9:6–7 (ESV)

   For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given;

       and the government shall be upon his shoulder,

and his name shall be called

       Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

   Of the increase of his government and of peace

there will be no end,

       on the throne of David and over his kingdom,

to establish it and to uphold it

       with justice and with righteousness

from this time forth and forevermore.

       The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

For us a child is born. Do you know that Jesus was born for you? His birth, God taking on human flesh, the incarnation was for you?
Verse 11 begins citing titles for Jesus. The angel said

Matthew 1:21–25 (ESV)

21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23   “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,

and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Joseph named Him Jesus because Jesus means Savior.

The angels announce to the shepherds that this baby born for them will be the Savior. These shepherds understood the darkness and evil of sin. Because of their profession they saw their flocks slaughtered for the sin of Israel. They knew they needed a Savior. We all need a Savior. If you have ever committed a sin, even one sin you need a Savior. Because all sin is against God our Savior had to be divine and human.

Hebrews 2:16–18 (ESV)

16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

The angels gathered and began praising God for His mercy and kindness to mankind. Now I’m sure one angel would have been enough but for news like this, Luke reports that there was a great multitude of angels…probably thousands and thousands.

14   “Glory to God in the highest,

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

When I’m watching parades I always think when I see the fire trucks, I hope there’s no fire anywhere close because all the trucks are here at the parade. I hope there wasn’t something of dire consequence that day because all the angels are announcing the birth of the Savior. That’s what angels do…that’s what the name angel means, messenger. They were all gathered with the greatest message the world has ever heard.

The birth of Jesus, Messiah Savior would also bring God the greatest glory He’s ever received. Jesus was always concerned with glorifying His Father. His sinless life brought God glory and brought us salvation.

14   “Glory to God in the highest,

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

The old King James Version translated verse 14b, “and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Virtually all the modern translations agree that this was not an accurate translation. The NIV says, “ . . . and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” The NASB says, “. . . and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased.” And the ESV says, “. . . and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

The point is that, even though God’s offer of peace goes out to all, only his chosen people — the people who receive Christ and trust him as Savior and Messiah and Lord, will experience the peace he brings.
You get a glimpse of this meaning in Luke 10:5–6, Jesus says to his disciples, “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ [that’s the offer of peace to all] And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you.”
God’s peace in Christ is offered to the world. But only the “sons of peace” receive it. How do you know if you are a “son of peace”? How do you know if you are part of the angels’ promise, “Peace among those with whom he is pleased!”? Answer: you welcome the Peacemaker, you receive Jesus.[1]
3. Let’s Go and See Our Savior
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. 21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
I really like these shepherds. They knew what was being offered to them and they went with haste to see their Savior.
The shepherds heard the message and saw the angels but notice who they attribute this good news to…Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us
Never get stuck on angels, they are just the Lord’s messengers. The words they spoke were God’s Words and the shepherds knew it.
When they get to the baby they find Him in the manger just like the angels told them. They began to tell the story to all who were there that night. Mary heard about the angels and their amazing message. It’s probably through Mary that Luke heard the story and recorded it for us.
Most all accounts of Jesus’ birth stop at verse 20. But today lets look at verse 21.
21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
We see God’s sovereignty in the life of Jesus. He is named Savior even before He was conceived by the HS in the womb of Mary. Before Jesus was ever made manifest in the flesh He was already named Savior. God knew and God decreed all that would take place…
John 4:42 (ESV)

42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

Application

Jesus was born to bring God maximum glory and to reconcile God’s people to Him, thus bringing peace.   Do you have peace with God through Jesus Christ?

So many people have imagined or have somehow convinced themselves that they are ok with God apart from a belief and commitment to Jesus. These are deceiving themselves. There is no cease-fire between God and humanity without the Savior Jesus Christ. That’s why He was born, that’s why angels sang His birth, that’s why all the events took place as they did.

I pray you have real peace with God through Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:1–2 (ESV)

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

 

Declaration of Grace

In the mercy and grace of Almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for us, and for His sake God forgives us all our sins. To those who believe in Jesus Christ He gives the power to become the children of God and gives to them the Holy Spirit. May the Lord, who has begun this good work in us, bring it to completion in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

[1] Sermon on Luke 2 by John Piper

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