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Christmas Day 2017 - St. Luke 2:1-20

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Posted: Thursday, December 28th, 2017 by Pastor Westgate

It was horrible timing. Advent was only 3 weeks this year. Sure, the stores have been ready for Christmas since probably August. Sure, there was a week between Thanksgiving and Advent. But it was horrible timing. Christmas came far too quick for the pastor. Did it come too quick for you?

It was horrible timing. I’m not complaining. I’m trying to put myself in Joseph’s shoes. It was horrible timing for Augustus’ decree to finally reach Palestine and force him to go home to Bethlehem. His betrothed, Mary, was great with child. She was ready to give birth at any moment. Today’s doctors might never have let him let her travel. But travel they did. They went home to Bethlehem to be registered in the great census.

To Bethlehem they went. Perhaps they were expecting this. He was a righteous man. He knew The Scriptures. He knew Micah said Israel’s Ruler would be born there, and that Micah had basically said this Child is God’s Only-begotten Son. He would have known the prophecy said that when his beloved gave birth, Israel’s brothers would return to the people of Israel, though he may not have realized that meant the Gentiles would believe in this Baby Boy. And the prophecy also said this Child would shepherd His people with the LORD’s strength and majesty and they would dwell secure to the ends of the earth. He would be their peace. And He is. It is all true. So He went. Augustus sent him, but the LORD used him to send him.

So to Bethlehem they went. Perhaps they were there a week before she gave birth. Perhaps they got there just that night. He just says “while they were there, the time came.” They had found no room in the family’s guest rooms because everyone else was home. Perhaps the stable was the lower level of the house, or a cave, but it was the best they could do. Eventually they would move up to the main floor. But for now, there was no choice. The Christ was born where baby animals were born and laid where they ate: in a manger.

Then shepherds in Israel came to the Shepherd of Israel. They had seen an angel. No, they’d seen every single holy angel. They’d been very afraid. After all no one ever sees angels, and they’d scare you too. They are holy warriors, not chubby or dainty cuties. You would be afraid too if you saw them, O sinner. But the first angel spoke. He spoke words of good cheer: Fear not – Messiah is born. The LORD is born of Mary to save you. Go, worship Him. So they said to each other the only thing they could: “Oh come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!”

So they went and worshiped. They told Mary and Joseph what happened. They told anyone they ran into about it too. And Mary pondered these things. In holy fear she thought about them, desired to learn what they meant. She wanted to learn from it all: Gabriel’s words, Joseph’s dream, later the time with Simeon and Anna and the Magi, just Who her Son is and why He is born for us men and for our salvation.

So let us ponder and tell. Who is this Child Mary bore? He is not Joseph’s son. He is The Only-begotten Son of God. He is The Word of God through Whom The Father spoke all things into existence over 4000 years before. He has always existed, always been at His Father’s side. He had been speaking to His people for as long as time has existed. He gave the promise of His Birth to Adam. He sent Abram to the promised land and stopped him from killing Isaac. He sent Moses back to Pharaoh. He gave Joshua victory after victory over the Canaanites. He spoke to the prophets. Now He has taken on flesh. God has become a man. No false deity has done this. The pagans did deify their ancestors, but a god would never become a man. That would be beneath them. They wouldn’t want to have anything to do with weak, puny humans. But the true God does. The true God made humans and wants to be with us as close as He can be. So He became man.

But there’s just one problem with us humans. We aren’t what God wants us to be. There’s a reason the shepherds were sore afraid of just 1 holy angel accompanied by the LORD’s glory. We are sinners. We ought to be perfect. God created us perfect. He created us in His image and likeness, but we lost it immediately. God is so opposed and opposite to sin that He cannot abide its presence and sinners can’t stand before Him. They were sore afraid because they knew they could die at any moment and even see the flames of hell which they would never escape.

That’s what Christ the Lord is born to save us from. He is Savior from hell. He is Savior from death. He is Savior from the sin that condemns us to death and hell. God saw that no human could save himself. Everything a sinner does is tainted with sin, so we can never save. Only a holy, sinless person could do it. It had to be a man because we’re the guilty ones, but it had to be God, because He alone is holy and strong to save.

So God was conceived in Mary’s womb. He became a baby. He was born this night 9 months later. But He’s not in that manger anymore. He couldn’t stay there, just like our babies never stay in their cribs long. He grew up. He grew up and carried His Cross to Golgotha. There He saved you. There He suffered hell to keep you out of hell. There He died to pull you out of death. There He was punished for sin to free you from sin’s punishment. There He refused sin to the very end and gives you the ability to please God.

You are saved. He has sent His Spirit to you to guide you into His fold. Now He is shepherding you. He is guiding you through to eternal life. He feeds you all the way. For Bethlehem is the house of bread, and He was laid in a manger, a feeding trough. So He feeds you. He feeds you with His Word, which proclaims to you everything He has done for your salvation, which tells you how He was born for you, lived and died for you, and rose again.

He feeds you His Word in this place and in your devotions at home, and He feeds you in another way as well. For here you come to the rail for bread and wine. But it is not ordinary bread and wine. It looks ordinary, and like almost nothing. But it is everything. It is the most important meal in the world, far more important than your Christmas meal later today. It is the Body born of Mary, the Blood shed on The Cross – given for you for the remission of sins.

The Child born of Mary is our Shepherd. He is leading us to life eternal. He gives us His own self as the greatest Christmas gift of all time. He doesn’t give Himself once a year though. He gives every day. So come to Bethlehem and adore Him. This is Bethlehem. This is where He is born in you today and every time we come to meet Him here. May He often be born in you in this place this coming year, and may He bring many more to this place. So yes, tell everything you have seen and heard. Confess Him and sing His praises. Merry Christmas!

Categories: Pastor Westgate's Sermons

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