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Christmas Day 2016 - St. Luke 2:1-20

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Posted: Sunday, December 25th, 2016 by Pastor Westgate

He called himself “son of the divine.” His throne name told the world he was going to increase. So he decreed a census. The entire empire, almost all the known world, had to be counted. He needed to know what he could expect in tax revenue, how many soldiers he had, how many people he ruled.

But Augustus was soon to decrease, and Caesar is no god. His empire would pass into history, his money would soon be meaningless, his armies no match for, and the number of his citizens be surpassed by those of Him Who forever increases, Whose kingdom never ends. For The Child born this day is The Son of God, very God of very God, by Whom all things were made. He has come down from heaven and been made man for us men and for our salvation.

He is born in the hometown of King David, his ancestor. Though heir to the throne, it is not that throne He desires. Herod will fear that a King has come to take his throne, but his fear is senseless. He’ll die long before this Child reaches the age of majority. Besides this Child has in mind for Himself a different type of throne: The Cross. For the government was upon His shoulder when He bore His Cross to Calvary and bore your sins in His Body. He is born in Bethlehem, Bread City, because He Himself is your Bread of Life – you feed on Him in true faith, on His Word and Sacrament, and you receive eternal life.

He was born of Mary and wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger. He is born for us all. He is come for children and adults, for those just conceived and born and those about to die. The swaddling cloths point ahead to his burial cloths, and the manger points ahead to His burial slab, and The Altar, from which you receive His crucified Body to eat.

But why was He out in a stable, and not in an inn? Because the world has no place for Him. The world may celebrate the day of His Birth, but what they celebrate is a pagan winter festival, not The Birthday of The King. That’s why we repent in Advent while they celebrate and celebrate 12 Days of Christmas while they plow into a new year. The world only uses the day of His Birth for its own purposes. It has no use for Him. It opposed Him so much it crucified Him. It still opposes Him so much that it persecutes us for holding to different beliefs and morals than it does. The world often shows it has no place for Christ by giving no place to Christians. But this Child is born to prepare for us a place in His heavenly mansions, a place the world cannot have.

For whom does He prepare a place? For shepherds and those like them. What’s wrong with shepherds? They’re dirty cantankerous people, that’s what. Shepherding is not a happy job. It’s leading ornery animals and fighting off more ornery animals, getting dirty, outside in all temperatures and weather when you’d rather be inside and comfortable. This is a good picture of the sinner surrounded by bad circumstances and a bad life.

It is for such people that Christ the Lord came, such people as you. You know life is not perfect. It’s surrounded by job loss, family strife, civil distress, national outrage, disaster, and more. Yet He comes to save you. He does not shy away from you. He comes down into your muck and sin and death and gets utterly filthy in it. He carries all your sorrows and infirmities and sicknesses and diseases to His Cross and dies for them so He can give you in eternity a perfect life, a holy life, a life in glory, a life that will come with the resurrection of the dead.

But when God comes to sinners, they must be afraid. The shepherds were scared stiff. No one can see God and live. This is because we are poor, miserable sinners, and sinners are at war with God. But when sin is confronted by Him, it must fall over dead in His presence, like the guards at the tomb on Easter day or the soldiers who arrested Jesus. God must destroy the sinner. The sinner must fall over before its King, the Creator God of the universe, afraid because he knows deep down he must be condemned.

But the angel does not speak words of death. Instead He speaks words of great joy: “Fear not!” Don’t be afraid of God anymore? No, don’t be afraid of Him with deathly fear. For God has not come down from heaven to condemn us, but to save us. What good news! What great joy! Eternity in hell is replaced by eternity in heaven! For our sin we receive perfection! For our death we receive life! We have a new master! Christ instead of Satan! Good instead of evil! Glory be to God on high!

All glory be to Him and none to us. He’s The One Who saves us. We play no part in it. We don’t give Him anything but our sins. He comes and claims our hearts and purifies them and scrubs them clean with His Blood and calls us His own, children of His Father and He is our dear Brother. So glory be to Him, and peace on earth, goodwill toward men. For God and sinners are now reconciled. They are no longer at war with each other. Sin is done away with in the flesh of God Dead. Death is crushed in the flesh of God Resurrected. God loves you.

So the shepherds ran to Bethlehem to see what the angels told them about. You: run too. Run to His Word, every day, to hear what He has to say to you. Run to Him here, when His Word is preached, when His Sacrament is given, for this place is Bethlehem and The Altar is the manger, where The Body and Blood of Christ The Lord lie. Run here to your Salvation, to your God. Do not ignore Him. Do not leave Him behind. Run here and remain with Him.

But do go out. Don’t keep the message in. Take it with you to your homes and gatherings today, to your Christmas and New Year’s parties and throughout the coming year wherever you are. And don’t forget to study it more. Ponder everything in your heart. Read it every day – perhaps follow the guide in your bulletin from TLH. Come to Bible Class. Perhaps God will give you the opportunity even when you least expect it to confess Him before men.

And whatever you do, never stop glorifying and praising God. Do it here, and do it at home too. The hymnal was never meant to be just used here. It was meant to be at the heart of daily family devotions. It was meant to teach you The Faith with its sermons set to song. That’s what our chorales are designed to do: teach you The Faith. Through our hymns you sing into your heart the reason Christ was born and what it means for you in both this life and the next.

The wannabe son of the divine unwittingly brought about The Birth of God’s Son. The one who wanted to increase his kingdom is defeated by Him Whose kingdom never ends. For you are part of His flock, His Church. He is your Good Shepherd and Ruler, leading you to the green pastures of eternal life. The Son of God is your Savior. He is born in Bethlehem, and you are born unto eternal life. What higher gift can you inherit? This is faith’s bond and solid base; the strength of heart and spirit, the covenant of hope and grace (TLH 315:9). For God is born of Mary to carry your sins and sorrows. His Blood will for you plead, in all trial, fear and need. O Lord, have mercy! (TLH 313:1b).

Categories: Pastor Westgate's Sermons

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