Session 3- Luke 2:1-20
Central Theme: Responding to the Savior.
Objective Statement: When we see several facts about what happened when Jesus was born, it will help us know the right way to respond to the Savior.
Fact #1- God provided the Savior. V. 1-7
Fact #2- God announced the Savior.
Fact #3- They Experienced the Savior.
Fact #4- They shared the Savior.
Fact #5- They Worshipped God.
- There are 4 Seasons in a man’s life when it comes to Christmas.
- He believes in Santa Claus.
- He doesn’t believe in Santa Claus.
- He is Santa Claus.
- He LOOKS like Santa Claus.
- There are all kinds of traditions and fun things about this season of the year.
- I am not too much into Santa Clause, but he can be fun.
- Several words bring all kinds of memories to mind for most people this time of year:
- Christmas Carols
- Christmas Trees
- Christmas Movies
- Santa Clause
- Christmas Dinner
- All of these terms come with lots of fun and even great memories.
- If you were to use one term that encapsulates exactly what the Biblical Word for Christmas would be it might be the word “Savior”.
- You find this word in the passage we are going to read and study today:
(11) For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
- What exactly did Jesus come to save us from?
- He did not come to save us from mediocrity, although He can help us know how to work as unto the Lord.
- He did not come to save us from our anxiety, although He can give us a peace that passes all understanding.
- He did not come to save us from poverty, although He will spend all eternity showing us the riches of His kindness in Christ.
- First and foremost Jesus came to save us from our sin. He came to save us from the wrath of God for our sin.
- If you do not understand this simple word, Savior, you will miss the point of Christmas in its entirety.
When we see several facts about what happened when Jesus was born, it will help us know the right way to respond to the Savior.
Fact #1- God provided the Savior. (V. 1-7)
- The unfolding of the story of Christmas is quite unusual.
- Everything we see in this passage was not just about providing the Savior but helping the world to identify the Savior as He came.
How can we identify that Jesus was the Savior provided by God?
A. He was identified by His heritage.
- In verses 1-3 we see Caesar Augustus, emperor of Rome, make an executive order that there would be a census and a taxation.
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (2) (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
- Everyone had to go back to their family town. Everyone had to go into their “own city”.
(3) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
- Joseph went from Nazareth of Galilee, into Bethlehem of Judea with His wife “because he was of the house and lineage of David”.
- Interestingly, we know that the Messiah had to be of the house of David.
And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.
2 Samuel 7:16
B. He was identified by His birthplace.
- We also know that the Messiah had to be born in the town of Bethlehem, the city of David.
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. Micah 5:2
- The timing could not be more perfect.
(6) And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
- When they got to Bethlehem the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. We have all seen when ladies are at the place where the baby could come at any time.
- She had her baby in these very humble conditions.
C. He was identified by how Mary cared for Him.
(7) And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
- After delivering him, she did two things.
- She “wrapped him in swaddling clothes”.
- This phrase comes from one verb word in the Greek that means to wrap in strips of cloth.
- These were not special baby blankets.
- They were cloths that were available to keep this little baby warm.
- She laid him in a manger.
- A manger was a trough.
- It was a place for placing food for the animals.
- It was a lowly place for the savior to be born, but these two actions were used, as we will see in the next few verses, to help identify this newly born baby.
- She “wrapped him in swaddling clothes”.
- God has a plan.
- Isn’t it amazing that the big government of its day was being used by God to bring about His purposes and reveal what He was doing to the world?
- From Joseph and Mary’s perspective it must have been very inconvenient to travel the 90-mile journey while she was pregnant to be counted and to pay taxes to a foreign entity.
- God was at work through this human government to get the couple to the place where He had planned for them to be.
- In doing so we can identify Christ as the Messiah.
- The Bible says, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.”
- God still works this way.
- We may not understand every decision that our leaders are making right now.
- We may not understand why God is allowing certain people to lead or to make the decisions that they do.
- We must remember that God has an incredible plan. In today’s text He was providing a Savior.
- He has a plan today. We can trust him.
- Take a moment and thank God for providing Jesus for you.
Fact #2- God announced the Savior. (V. 8-14)
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.”
- In this passage we are introduced to some shepherds.
- Shepherds in that day were not looked upon as noble.
- The profession was done by the unskilled and uneducated.
- These would be among the lowliest of those in society.
- Shepherds could not testify in court.
- It was not forbidden to be a shepherd but doing what they were asked to do often made them ceremonially unclean and disobedient to certain parts of the law.
- These shepherds were in the field keeping watch over the sheep.
- They would often sleep outdoors overnight while each took their turn to keep watch.
- Many of the sheep that they were watching were likely to be used for sacrifice.
“(9) And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them,”
- Having read this passage so many times and having seen so many depictions at Christmas of what this could have been like, I automatically think of the angel as up in the sky at a distance from the angels.
- Yet, it says here that the angel “came upon them”.
- He could have been extremely near to them. The proximity makes it clear that his sudden appearance made them scared.
- Suddenly, a supernatural being was before them.
- The angel that appeared before this point was the angel Gabriel. This very well could have been Gabriel again, through the scripture does not say.
“and the glory of the Lord shone round about them”
- As you study this expression “the glory of the Lord” in scripture, it is often associated with light.
- Here it says that the “glory of the Lord shone”. This is no small thing.
- God’s glory is the radiation of who He is.
- There are moments in the scripture where God’s presence and God’s glory were so powerful that it killed those who were exposed.
- God told Moses that he could not see Him in His full glory, but only let him see the aftereffects of His glory. When Moses came off of the mountain from that experience the scripture says that people could tell by his countenance.
“and they were sore afraid.”
- This was a natural response in such a situation.
- I understand their response.
- Yet there was no need to be afraid.
- God was not coming in this moment to judge but was sending the angel with good news.
- We know this because of what they angel said to them.
“(10) And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy,”
- Notice this pattern is the same pattern as before.
- Appearance of the Angel
- Fear from the recipient
- Comfort- “fear not”
- News- The Message from God
- Sign- What they would see that proved the message
- Here came the comfort from the angel. “Fear not”.
- Get up guys. Don’t worry. You do not need to be afraid. I’ve got good tidings of great joy!
- The word here for “good tidings” is the word “euggelizo”. It is the same word we use when we talk about evangelism or an evangelist.
- Evangelize means to tell the good news.
- These shepherds do not have to be afraid because God is sending them a message that is good news.
- It would produce great joy, and it was for them and it was beyond them.
“which shall be to all people.”
- The word for “all people” here is a general word meaning everyone.
- The word is “laos” and it is where we get the word laity.
- The idea is that every kind of person is included in this message.
- Certainly, it would have included the children of Israel, but it did not stop there.
- This good news was for everyone.
“(11) For unto you is born this day”
- What an interesting phrase.
- I have three children.
- They were certainly born unto their mother and me.
- They are our kids. We had them in a sense “for us”.
- We brought them into the world and our effort as parents is really for them.
- But to say that a baby is born “unto you” to a bunch of shepherds who are not related and do not know this child is quite a statement.
- The good tidings of great joy were for “all people”, yet it was also specifically “unto you”.
- It was for these lowly shepherds in a field outside of this little town of Bethlehem.
- How was this baby born “unto you”? Well, notice the three titles given to this child at the end of this verse.
(11) For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
- There are 3 titles for Jesus in this verse.
- “A Saviour“- This is the most profound statement in the whole narrative. Jesus (Jehovah is salvation) is born to save. Forgiveness of our sins will be possible. Hell can be avoided. We can go to heaven, because God has come. He has been made flesh so that He can save us from our sins.
- “which is Christ“- The word Christ is the Greek word for the anointed one. It was the title describing Jesus as the Messiah. He can be our Savior because He is the messiah, anointed of God to do what He has been sent to do.
- “the Lord“- Even though He was a baby in this human form, He is the authority in the universe. He was before all things and by him all things consist. He is the Lord! He is in charge. He is still God!
“(12) And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
- The pattern of the angelic message continues.
- He has appeared.
- They were afraid.
- He comforted them…
- …and gave them this incredible message.
- Now the angel gives them a sign that what He is saying about this baby is correct.
- They would know which baby was come as Savior, anointed one, and Lord, by seeing this baby “swaddled in a manger”.
- The fact that he was in a manger would have distinguished Jesus from any other child in town that night.
“(13) And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, “
- What an incredible sight this must have been to behold.
- It must have been something to see just one angel, and to experience some level of the glory of God.
- That would have been by far the most interesting thing to have ever happened to this small band of shepherds.
- Next, they experienced a “multitude of the heavenly host”.
- The word here for “host” is derived from a word that translates as armies.
- Think less “choir” (because they are saying, not singing), and think more “army”.
- What is their expression of praise?
“and saying, (14) Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
- This is not an accidental, random expression of praise.
- This expresses the whole purpose for which God is doing his plan of redemption.
- He is doing it rightly for His own glory and His own praise.
- He is not sinfully arrogant or prideful.
- God deserves our utmost and highest praise.
- It is good for us to praise Him.
- Yet He is also doing this plan of redemption to bring about peace between Him and us.
- Peace and good will from God to us is only possible because there is a Savior.
- Our sins must be forgiven, because in our sin we are the enemies God.
- Our disobedience is a declaration of war against our maker.
- Yet God in His grace towards us initiated this plan of redemption.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (9) Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. (10) For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (11) And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (4) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, (5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (6) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (7) That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
- The good news of great joy is for everyone, and it is specifically for you.
- God the Father loved us so much that He sent this Messiah, Savior and Lord to become flesh and dwell among us.
- He did this so that He would rightly get glory and so that we would have peace.
- The question for us is this, have we believed this good news? Are we being obedient to the Gospel?
Fact #3- They Experienced the Savior. (V. 15-16)
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. (16) And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
- Now the rest of the passage is a good illustration of what happens when people hear the good news and respond to it in the right way.
- The shepherd’s response was, “let’s go see.”
- They were not commanded to go and see, but they did.
- This seems to me a natural response. Why wouldn’t they go?
- The event that they had just experienced was so momentous and incredible that we would hardly blame them for wanting to go see the sign of this good news.
- When they came what did they see?
- They saw exactly what God had told them. They saw the baby lying in a manger.
- Imagine the response of Mary and Joseph.
- Up until this point they knew only what God had told them through Gabriel’s appearance and Joseph’s dream.
- We could expect that the shepherds would have related how they heard about the news, and what was said.
- One may guess also that Joseph and Mary related to the shepherds what they had experienced as well.
- Did they tell the shepherds that this child was virgin born?
- Did they relate to them their revelation from God through the angel?
- Would they all be confused as to why these mightiest of all created beings would be coming to the lowliest of shepherds, carpenters and the “handmaiden of the Lord”?
- These angels told these shepherds to find the Savior, the anointed one, the Lord in an animal’s feeding trough.
- This experience would have been the high point of the life of everyone involved up until this point, and yet so different from anything anyone would have expected.
- That contrast is interesting. God displayed His glory for the lowliest. Note these verses in Hebrews:
Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: (8) Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. (9) But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. (10) For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
- What an incredible thing to experience the Savior.
- What an incredible thing to hear the good news, to believe in it, and to act on it!
- This was what the shepherds did.
- They believed the angel and because they trusted Him, they found what the angel was talking about.
- They saw the message to be true.
- That baby in a manger meant that God was come to get glory and that peace toward men was possible.
- This is true for us, too.
- We must believe this message from God about who Jesus is and why He came. When we accept Christ as our Savior God begins to change us.
- When we trust Him, we find what is said about Him to be true. He really does forgive our sin. We can then treat Him as Lord in our lives.
- Is Jesus your Savior? Do you see Jesus as Lord?
Fact #4- They shared the Savior. (V. 17-18)
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. (18) And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
- Once the shepherd’s received the message from God, understood and received that message, and then acted on it they experienced seeing this Savior who was Christ the Lord.
- When they did, they could not hold this message in.
- The scripture said that they “made it known abroad”.
- This means that they went all over telling people what they had experienced.
- The response of those that heard it was interesting.
- The word for “wondered” seems to have a largely positive implication.
- It can mean to admire or to marvel.
- There were people who believed what the shepherds had to say. There were probably different levels of acceptance of their message.
- The natural response that the shepherds had to the message was to first come and see, and then to go and tell.
- What an incredible example for us.
- We who have received the message of salvation, and who have experienced the forgiveness and presence of Christ in our lives must respond the same way.
- If we have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, we must go and tell people that good tidings of great joy is for all people!
Fact #5- They Worshipped God. (V. 19-20)
But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. (20) And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. Luke 2:19-20
- In these two verses we see two expressions of worship: meditation and praise.
“But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
- Mary’s introspection and meditation seems to stand in contrast to the shepherd’s evangelism about what they had seen.
- She “kept all these things”. She “pondered them in her heart”.
- This means that she was taking mental, and emotional note of what she was experiencing.
- She was processing in her mind and heart everything that she was experiencing at a level of intensity appropriate to the events themselves.
- We know from Luke 1 that she had expressed praise and worship to the Lord for what He was doing in her and through her. Certainly, these ponderings would have led to more of the same.
- We also see the praise of the shepherds.
(20) And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen…
- Their response to the good news was to tell others and then to glorify God. God had provided a Savior, announced a Savior, and had allowed them to experience the Savior.
- They had the chance to see the Savior and share the Savior with others. Now they worshipped God for all He had done.
- There are some things we experience that are so profound we must ponder them deeply and express the truth of them broadly.
- Both are natural and appropriate responses to the good news of Jesus Christ.
- The Gospel is simple enough for a child to believe and be saved.
- The Gospel is profound enough for us to dwell on its’ truth and implications for the rest of our lives. The Gospel is so important that it must move us to share the Savior with the World.
- Does the truth of the Gospel move you to introspection? evangelism? worship?