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Who is God

Part 3: Prophetic Expectations

Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

This morning we are going to pick up in Luke 2:8-21 as we continue with part 8 of "Who Is God."

And today we look at Christ the Lord. This past week we celebrated the birth of Jesus. With that celebration there was lots of preparation and expectation, but did you know the first Christmas was actually something that history had been anticipating for tens of hundreds of years. I think it is easy for us to underestimate the longing… the expectation… and the anticipation of Christmas. From the very first sin in Genesis 3 and the promise of a savior… all of the Old Testament… a few thousand years of history… was pointing to and waiting for the coming of a Savior… a Rescuer… a Deliverer… and a Hero.

Along the way certain prophecies were given, promises were revealed by God, through his servants, that this coming… this advent… would be none other than Immanuel, God with us. And that he would be born of a virgin… that he would be born in the town of Bethlehem… and God did… He worked this all out so this couple from Nazareth would be in Bethlehem at just the right time for Jesus to be born, fulfilling all of the Old Testament prophetic expectations and promise.

And that’s where we find ourselves this first week after Christmas. Jesus is wrapped in swaddling clothes. He’s bundled up… he’s in a small town… he’s in a feeding trough... He comes into human history so humbly. That’s the story and that’s where we find ourselves in the Scriptures as we read from Luke chapter two…

Luke 2:8-20

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

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."

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen which were just as they had been told. NIV

1. Unlikely Hosts:

We know from Luke’s words that an unidentified angel shows up in the fields to announce this birth… to the shepherds. Now they were the most ulikely hosts of an angelic visitation… they were the least likely to succeed… they were unlikely to be chosen. And if you’ve ever played one of the shepherds in a Christmas play, it wasn’t the most wanted part was it?

The shepherds were outcasts. They lived by themselves; they were outside of town, sleeping in the fields with animals… all the time... day after day. That’s not the kind of job you shoot for… that’s the kind of job you end up with...

In addition to that, they couldn’t even make it to temple for sacrifices and feasts because they couldn’t leave the flock. So they weren’t able to practice their faith or religious devotion as the rest of God’s people did. So they weren’t hearing the Word of God… they weren’t living there faith… they were far from God… they were suspicious… they unlikely witnesses… they were the lowest of the low.

So when the angel shows up to these most unlikely hosts; it was unusual, and it was surprising, because no one hangs out with the shepherds. When he proclaimed to them that good news had come, these shepherds were the last people who would have expected to hear a message from God. Yet they do.

And it’s interesting how God comes to the humble Mary, He is born in such a humble way, and He announces it to humble shepherds. It’s amazing, that God takes these lowly people and things that are as nothing in the eyes of the world, and he works with them and through them for His Glory and by His Grace. Just think about it… this is nothing new… Moses was a shepherd. David was a shepherd when he killed the giant Goliath. Amos the prophet says, "I was neither a prophet nor a prophet's son, but I was a shepherd" (Amos 7:14). Jesus comes and says, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep" (John 10:11). And in 1 Peter, the Holy Spirit says, he is the "Chief Shepherd" (5:4). And so in this announcement made to the shepherds that Jesus has come; God redeems this really undesirable, insignificant profession, doesn’t He?

So Jesus comes as the Good Shepherd… God has become a man… A baby boy… And the angels report this. There is rejoicing and praising, hurriedly the shepherds gather their flocks and make the journey into town. But the little town of Bethlehem is packed… it’s full with people registering for the census. And I’m sure it took a while to gather the flocks… to make the journey… to ask questions… to seek this one son… to find this particular boy who was born in Bethlehem… But they do… they find Jesus!

And every Christmas we celebrate this, right? I imagine most of you have or visit a little nativity scene. You know there’s Joseph and Mary… a feeding trough… there’s the baby Jesus, and the shepherds, and all the animals right?

But you know this can be one of those sections of Scripture that we’re so familiar with that we’re not familiar with it at all. We know what it says, but sometimes we don’t know what it means. And there is a clue given to us by the angel in verse 11, when he says that Jesus is, quote, "Christ the Lord."

2. Angelic Visitors:

It is so easy just to skim over that announcement, but Christ is Greek for "the Messiah" which in Hebrew means "the Anointed One." This, the angel announces, is the One they’ve been waiting for. Some were waiting for a savior… One who would deliver them from the Romans... others hoped the Messiah would deliver them from the physical… still others expected to be ushered to Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. But Jesus, as the Christ, does a work that is more far-reaching than anyone expected.

He comes as "Lord" unsurpassed in power and glory, it means that he is the ruler, he is over all. And He offers us more than temporary political or physical changes… he offers us new hearts that will last for eternity. So as the Messiah… as the anointed One… he’s come to heal our diseases… to establish a spiritual Kingdom… and to pay the price for sin opening the way to peace with God. This I want to emphasize to you; is the rightful, exclusive position of Jesus Christ as Lord.

You know in all the other religions in the world: atheism or whatever ism, the one thing they all have in common is that God is not the savior. In some you’re your own savior. In the others there is no savior. But in Christianity, God is the Savior. He’s the hero. He’s the rescuer. He’s the redeemer. And He’s the hope. And I don’t know about you, but if there is no hope, that doesn’t sound like good news to me. If I’m the hope, that’s not good news either. But if God is the hope, that’s good news!

And that’s exactly what the angel says. And if you don’t trust an angel, who are you going to trust? I mean, the angel said… Look at verse 10, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people" (Luke 2:10).

Let’s dig into that a little... The angel says, "I bring you good news…" So this is personal. It’s you and me, we get good news. This is the gospel. Good news for you… for me… for us… and for who? "All the people." This is where we get missions… church planting… evangelization… because it’s for all the people. All the people need to hear that a Savior has come.

He’s come for them. This is the Good News! Look in verse 11, "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." This verse is so powerful; because these three titles… do you see them… Savior, Christ, and Lord don’t come together anywhere else in the Bible.

Savior means, he’s our hero. He’s the deliverer. He’s the rescuer. You see it’s God and Satan… it’s God the Creator and his creation who sinned and followed Satan. So we’re sinners and rebels. But we have a Savior, who’s come for us. He’s taken away our sin on the cross. He gives us new life through his resurrection. So He’s our Savior, the Christ, the anointed one. And he is Lord! He is Lord over all religions… over all nations… over all genders… and over all people.

And the angel says, this is good news, this is what’s happened in the city of David. Now David was a king… but like Jesus, he started out humbly. And David grew to be a great king, just like Jesus grew to be a great king. But what happened is that David was anointed king before he was the appointed king. So there was a great battle. And Jesus is just like that. Jesus is anointed king. And right now there’s a great battle between the kingdoms of this world, and Jesus. But Jesus is the king. He’s the anointed one. And he’s gathering the faithful… he’s saving men and women from sin and death. And one day Jesus will take His throne. He’ll return to establish his eternal kingdom.

But how we respond to the anointed One determines how we live and die today.

3. Wonderful Savior:

So the angel said, "Do not be afraid... a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:10-11)

This is good news. This is cause for great joy. We want to get this out. We want people to know that Jesus is the anointed king… He has been exalted in the heavens… and He’s coming again one day soon to be appointed king.

He’s the Savior. He’s the Christ. He’s the Lord!

And yet maybe you wonder, "What does this have to do with my life today?

Let me wrap all of this up for you…

We have come from God… We belong to God… We’re here for God… We’re known by God… We’re loved by God… God is present with us, and if we come to Jesus, he takes up residence in us. He changes us. He understands us and can sympathize with us because he suffered and has been tempted just as we are. And when we die, he’ll be there… we’ll see him face-to-face... He’ll wipe all the tears from our eyes. And he’ll welcome us into his kingdom. And that’s the hope of the good news, that a Savior has been born, He is Christ the Lord.

Here’s what you need to know as we close. In response to the announcement about the birth of Jesus, here’s what the angels do…

"Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." (Luke 2:13-14) NIV

In seeing the birth of Jesus, the angels rejoice… those who dwell eternally in the presence of God, are singing of his goodness and grace. They celebrate, but did you know that these angels aren’t demons? They serve God… they’ve never sinned... Jesus didn’t go to the cross and pay the penalty for their sin. They’re not even getting saved. They’re just so excited that somebody is, that somebody else can join them worshiping God, just because He’s so great. That’s the angels.

Then verse 19 tells us, "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."

Some of you are more reserved… some of you are contemplative worshipers... Mary had sang her praises earlier in chapter one, but here, she’s just overwhelmed. It’s like it finally dawns on her that the Savior, the rescuer, the hero, the deliverer, the dragon slayer, the king of kings, is here in my presence. It’s my son Jesus. Immanuel, God with us, is here. He’s here to be with us and to save us. And she’s pondering all this in her heart. And I think it’s like some of you hearing this today. It’s just kind of mind bending. It’s amazing. It’s heart wrenching. It’s life changing. And it’s something that you need to sit down and think about… to ponder for a while…

And the shepherds, in verse 20, "returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen..."

They’re not as contemplative at this moment… they’re active... The Savior’s here, sin is forgiven, the kingdom has come, the king has arrived. They sing, they celebrate, there’s gladness and joy, because there’s good news for you and for all the people. The Savior Christ the Lord has come. And our response is to ponder in our hearts like Mary did, to sing like the angels, and to praise Him like the shepherds. Amen.

As we close we’ll celebrate the Lords Supper together and we’ll take the opportunity to ponder these things in our hearts

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