December 23, 2016

Rejoice - Your Savior Has Come! - Christmas

The angels deliver this wonderful news to a group of frightened shepherds in the hills around Bethlehem. This is the one sentence version of the Good News of Jesus birth at Christmas. We are reminded that we are not alone. There is a God in Heaven who loves us and reaches out into this dark world in love to save us from spiritual death. God could have sent an army. God could have worked through the official church. God chose to do something very unusual. God chose to reach out to us through a baby born to an unwed 13 year old girl in a cattle ­­shed in an occupied country. It was a sign of God’s love – and a test of human faith and love. Each year we need to rejoice with the angels that our savior has come.

1. Luke gives us a very historical account of the Birth of Jesus
Luke’s tells us his mission is to “carefully investigate everything...” (1.3). In our time of questioning the authority and authenticity of the Bible, it is comforting to notice the historical details in the account:

  • ·         Caesar Augustus is the Emperor
  • ·         Quirinius is the Governor of Israel
  • ·         Mary “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” - connects us to an eyewitness, Mary, who Luke talked to when he was in Ephesus where she lived with the Apostle John.
  • ·         The story is so un-likely it has to be authentic.
  • ·         Nobody would have believed God (not Joseph) was the father – hence no room in the inn – shunned for pregnancy
  • ·         Nobody 9 months pregnant would ride a donkey 90 miles – unless their life was in danger

·         It is an authentic story of a man and a woman of faith.

2. The Prophet Isaiah helps us understand our need for a saviour
Isaiah prophesied 500 years before the birth of Jesus a “light dawning” for “people walking in darkness” (v2). What was this darkness that we all need to be saved from?  What was this light that we need from our saviour?
  • ·         We all know what it is to live in darkness – fear, shame, guilt
  • ·         Living in a dark time now – many people feel abandoned by God, alone in the universe, have not heard the Good News of Jesus – do not know about or have eternal spiritual life
  • ·         Many people carry burdens of guilt and shame from the past
  • ·         People feel they can not be in God’s presence because God is holly and they unholy – need forgiveness – have no hope
  • ·         Isaiah prophesied that God would intervene – like a light dawning
  • ·         People would be able to see clearly – find a way to a life of joy
  • ·         We all live in fear - “the shadow of death” – what happens?
  • ·         The Good News, the reason we rejoice, is that we believe our baptism into Jesus life, death and resurrection; has created a way for us to be forgiven and freed from the guilt that pollutes our spirit and prevents us from being in God’s holy presence.

2. Good News is that Jesus “...shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders. (v4)
What was this bar, this yoke?
·         Yoke – holds 2 animals together, control
·         Satan controls us through guilt, fear of judgement and death
·         Rod – used to punish
·         Satan deceives and tempts us into destructive behavior – then accuses us before God and steals our eternal spiritual life
·         The Good News is Jesus came to create a new way for us to be forgiven through faith and have spiritual life

3. Titus confirms our need for a Savior
Titus writes the “...grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.” (1.11) These words are important. We need to understand that “grace” means undeserved forgiveness. While Titus goes on to encourage “...self-controlled, upright and godly lives” (v 12); this is not what saves us.
  • ·         What saves us is the work of Jesus in bearing our guilt and shame on the Cross. There is nothing we can do to earn this salvation.
  • ·         The only ‘work’ we do is to learn about and believe in Jesus and personally accept Him as our Savior.

Today that love is reaching out to you and to me. The baby Jesus reminds us of the greatest gift of all - a Savior for all mankind.

Let us rejoice in the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ!

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