Thursday, January 8, 2015

“Humbled By A Visitor!”

S-1466 CE/3B 12/24/2014 Hymns: (O) #102; 97; 647; 92; (S) #109; (C) # 94

Texts: Micah 5:2-5; Galatians 3:26-4:7; Luke 2:1-20

Theme: “Humbled By A Visitor!” (Luke 2:8-12) 4th in sermon series on: “Humility in the Holy Land”

Question: “Who is visiting you tonight?”

Faithful followers of the Savior, Merry Christmas to one and ALL! Alleluia. The text for this blessed celebration of Christmas is the Gospel Lesson: And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger (Luke 2:8-12).

Children of the heavenly Father, this night is special and beautiful for so many reasons. By the grace of God and His mercy we have been brought here to celebrate the birth of the Savior—OUR Savior, Jesus Christ. Tonight as we continue on the journey in the Holy Land, we find ourselves just outside the small and lowly town of Bethlehem—in the hills of Judea with some shepherds watching their flocks at night.

Bethlehem is the home of David the shepherd boy who became king and shepherded the flock of God’s people—Israel. Into this setting—out in the hill country we travel. Upon arriving at the scene we see sheep lying down and shepherds standing watch over their flock around the fire. While they are there, a most unusual event takes place. A visitor comes to them. At his sight they are frightened. But the heavenly visitor comforts them with the words of the text. “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger The visitor proclaimed to them the joyous reason for his visit: to announce the glorious news of the birth of the Virgin’s Child—the Babe of Bethlehem.

To be sure what these shepherds saw was no-man-made production. It was God’s matchless production and presentation over the skies of Bethlehem on that first Christmas. And to whom that message was announced—to lowly, looked down upon and humble shepherds. The humbled shepherds got front row seats as the sky lit up before their own eyes by this visitor.

What an unusual evening that was for these shepherds. It changed their lives forever. They were the sons of Abraham. They had heard the promises of God. They had been taught of the coming Messiah in their Synagogues and waited patiently for His arrival to give them freedom, peace and joy. Tonight with the announcement of this visitor life had more meaning. PAUSE.

As the humble shepherds were on those hills of Bethlehem one glorious visitor lifted their lowly estate to a glorious and wondrous one. At the great news, these lowly and often overlooked and even despised shepherds ran in haste to see this thing which was told them. And when they got there they beheld with their own eyes God made manifest. Immanuel had come. God entered time and space. God takes upon Him humanity and its filthiness. God becomes man for us and for our salvation.

Come closer beloved and see and hear the characters in the Christmas scene and their words which we read every year during this time. We see clearly and plainly that Christmas is more than just one night, it is an ongoing celebration for you and for me. We see this in the familiar conduct of those wonderful shepherds. 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. They heard this wonderful message and they couldn’t help but go find the sign that the angel promised. And what do you know, they found Him! And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. What they found there in Bethlehem didn’t look like a Savior. What they found was a baby, a young mother and a father only marginally less scared than they were as they were serenaded by the Angels. They would never had known unless they were given the sign. But they had been given the sign. The arrow pointed to the Babe! This unassuming Child is the glory of God and the peace of man all wrapped up in One neat little package!

Can you imagine their joy? You can imagine that when they found what the Lord had made known to them it would be quite impossible to keep quiet. Luke tells us And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. As they left the manger, they spoke with all people. They told Mordechi the butcher, Yitsaach the Rabbi, Yoseph the scribe and Rachel the seamstress. Everywhere they went they told of the message that had been shared with them. Their lives had been changed indeed—because of this precious Baby. PAUSE.

However, let be known among us that a baby won’t save anyone. The birth of this Holy Child does not save you. No, there is so much more to this journey. While it is good that we have been brought here in humility by the Holy Spirit, to see with eyes of faith again the story of Christmas—there is so much more for us to know, learn and appreciate about this Holy Child in the manger.

The story of Christmas is simply the first step that will lead Jesus from the Manger to the Cross. There He will trade His swaddling clothes for grave clothes. Those angels who were so magnificent announcing the birth that First Christmas will be eerily silent as the Father will turn His back on this Child of Bethlehem grown to be a Savior and sacrifice Himself as the Lamb on Good Friday at Calvary! This is where the Babe of Bethlehem seals the deal for us! This is where the payment for sin is made! This is where we see the enormous gift of this Holy Child, which was announced by the visitor to the shepherds. By faith these humble shepherds believed and trusted in His work of redeeming mankind and gave them forgiveness of sins.

Precious sons of Adam and daughters of Eve, if we stop here and treat the wonder of this night as a destination, we will never arrive at the place the Lord REALLY wants us to be. He wants us to be with Him not only for a day but for an eternity.

As the glorious visitor made His announcement to the humble shepherds, they left everything, went and saw and told others. That is what we should be doing as well. as the followers of this Holy Child.

My prayers for us this evening and in the coming days that we would do the same as these shepherds have done. Let’s enter the stable where the Savior lies bedded on the hay and wonder at the wondrous gift we have in Him. By the power of the Holy Spirit, may we pick this Baby up cradle Him both in our hands and hearts and never put Him down. And when we have drunk from His grace leave this place to tell others of His coming to save us.

There may not be Mordechi the butcher, Yitsaach the Rabbi, or Yoseph the scribe and Rachel the seamstress, in this community or yours. But we have people right here in this community who don’t know the Savior. What a privilege the Lord gives us to be humbled by a visitor and share the greatest story ever told—the story of our salvation, redemption, restoration and rejoicing all because the Babe of Bethlehem has come to us tonight and always. Merry Christmas!!! Amen!

Now the peace…


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