December 24, 2021
Good News. Christmas is all about good news. The Good News that God broke into our world and gave us the greatest gift we could ever imagine when He gave us Jesus. In fact, when the Angel announced to the Shepherds that the birth of Jesus was good news of great joy for all people, that message of good news not only changed everything for those shepherds, but it changed everything for us as well.
For His Birth is indeed, good news for all people. For if we ever needed good news, it’s today. The world we live in today seems to be full of bad news that’s constantly playing on our fears – bad news that make us fear for our health – bad news that make us fear for our freedoms – and bad news that makes us fear for our futures.
So this announcement of good news to all people is just as relevant today as when it was delivered on that dark night over 2000 years ago. Because imbedded in this good news of great joy for all people is the gift of Jesus to us. So tonight, it’s my privilege to remind you of what God has given us in Jesus so that we don’t have to live in fear, but with the joy of His presence and love every day.
So would you join me as we listen once again to the announcement of good news given to us by the Angel: And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Fear not, for I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all people. For today in the city of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.” Luke 2:8-14
What makes this such good news? Well, first of all, the Angel declares…He was born to you “Fear not, for I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all people. For today in the city of David a Savior has been born to you.” Now, the first thing we see about this announcement is that Jesus was born into this world as a gift to shepherds. Of all the people in the world, God in His infinite wisdom chooses to announce His good news to Shepherds – the least likely recipients of God’s grace. After all, shepherds were the dirtiest, scabbiest, low-life of Israel. If you asked a righteous Jew, “Who’s the last person on earth that God would come to?” They’d tell you, “The shepherds.” And the reason for this, was that every knew these guys were on the outs socially and religiously. They were considered such low-life they were not even allowed to worship with at the Temple. And they were held in such disdain, that to associate with the likes of a shepherd, would tarnish your reputation. So, they were kept at arms-length. They were ignored and excluded. They were overlooked by everyone, but God. So, out of all the people in the world, God sent His Messenger to tell them, Jesus was born to them.
So here’s the good news of Christ’s birth: If Jesus was born to the disdained, ignored and forgotten… then no one is outside the scope of God’s love. That’s the good news of Christmas: Jesus was born to you. You matter to God. You have always mattered to God. In fact, if anything, He knows all about you. He knows all about your life. He created you. The Bible says, God created your innermost being, and that He knit you together in your mother’s womb. The Psalmist David understood this when he wrote: Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be Psalm 139:16. You see God has known you from the moment of your first breath. He knows your story. He knows your heartaches and hopes. He knows your deepest desires and longings. And one of our longings is to be fully known and loved for who you are. You see, you were created to be known and loved by God. And you were created to know Him.
That is why Jesus was born to you. Jesus came into the world to make the Father known. Jesus came into the world for you. God doesn’t hold you in contempt. God hasn’t overlooked you. He’s come to initiate a relationship with you, so you can be known and loved by Him. That’s the gift of Jesus. Rather than try to satisfy your longings for love with earthly gifts, He gives you His presence. That’s the good news of great joy: Jesus was born to you so you could know Him who’s always loved you. And that’s simply amazing grace. Because Jesus was born to you, God is no longer some abstract force, or some distant figure… but a servant who loves lowly shepherds, and wants to love you. He was born to you…
He was born to be Your Savior Jesus was born as one of us so that one day he could die for us. Listen to how the writer of Hebrews explains this: For this reason He had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people. Hebrews 2:17-18
Jesus was born like us and experienced life like us so that He could go to the cross as a PERFECT sacrifice for us. But what made Him a perfect sacrifice was that He was born as the perfect Lamb of God. That’s what prompted the angel to say: This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
Have you ever wondered about the significance of this sign? This sign of the swaddling cloths? Well the shepherds didn’t wonder. They knew exactly what it meant to find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes. For these were Levitical shepherds who watched over the sheep that would provide lambs for temple sacrifices. Listen to this description of their duties during lambing season: Bethlehem lambs born for slaughter were special lambs. To prevent harm and self-injury from thrashing about after birth on their spindly legs, new-born lambs were wrapped in swaddling cloths. Then they were placed in a manger where they could calm down out of harm’s way. After careful inspection by the shepherd, any spot or “blemish,” no matter how slight, meant instant rejection. Therefore, when the shepherds came to stable where the Lamb of God was born, they were not witnessing anything new, EXCEPT FOR WHO IT WAS in that manger: the most important sacrificial lamb who’d ever been born, the perfect lamb of God.
I’ll bet it’s safe to say that most of you have a manger scene set up somewhere in your home. And in the midst of that scene is this innocent, helpless baby boy, lying in a manger. And when you first look upon him, the significance of his birth doesn’t really hit you. That is until you realize the significance of the swaddling cloths. It’s these swaddling cloths that tell us the good news of great joy for all people. And that good news is this: The helpless babe lying in the manger was born to die for you.
This helpless baby, Jesus, came to take your place on the cross and take upon Himself the sin of the world. He took your sin, my sin, your children’s sin, your neighbor’s sin, the whole world’s sin… As the Bible says, God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21
The good news is that Jesus was born to do for you what you cannot do for yourself. You and I have no ability to save ourselves. You and I have no ability to earn salvation. We have a sin problem. And no matter how hard you try to be good or do good deeds – no amount of good deeds can remove the guilt and shame of your sin. No amount of sincere effort can take away your sin. But the good news is this:
Jesus came to take away your sin. Jesus was born to become your sacrificial lamb. Jesus was born to become your substitute. Jesus was born so He could take upon himself the punishment you and I deserve. That’s what those swaddling cloths represent. They show us that God loved us so much that He was willing to give to us His One and Only Son, so that now, when you believe in Him, you will no longer be condemned, but forgiven and given the gift of eternal life.
That’s the good news wrapped up the manger: the hope of salvation wrapped in swaddling cloths. That’s the gift of Jesus. He was born to be your Savior. And he can save you tonight if you’re ready to receive the gift of Jesus. That’s the second reason why Jesus’ birth is such good news, now the third:
He was born to be Your King For today in the city of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ, the Lord. When Jesus was born, He was born as the long-awaited Messiah. He was born as King. In other words, on the day Jesus was born, God’s Kingdom invaded the realm of man. Up until that time, position and power ruled the day; like it tries to rule in our day. But with the arrival of Jesus a new day had dawned.
For with the coming of Jesus came the arrival of God’s kingdom: God’s invisible realm of peace, where His people no longer pursue power, but hunger and thirst after righteousness. God’s invisible realm of light where His people are no longer salves to the darkness but are set free to live as God’s beloved children. God’s invisible realm of joy, where His people get to walk in fellowship with their good and gracious King.
So why is this such good news? Simple. Now that Jesus was born to be your King and His kingdom has invaded our world, there is hope for our world. Hatred doesn’t always have to win. Injustice doesn’t always have to have its way. And power doesn’t have to prosper. For with Jesus as King, relationships can be restored, compassion can make things right and love can overcome all.
So, fear not. With Jesus as your king, you no longer have to bow to the ways of this world. For with Jesus comes a power that is greater than any force in the world – that power is love. Here’s the good news about Jesus being born to you as King: Love was born at Christmas. And love conquers all. That’s the king who was born to you. He was born to serve you, to seek what’s best for you – and to show you a new way to live.
And that’s why we also see in the Angel’s announcement of good news, one more joyful aspect to this good news. And that is this: He was born to be Your Lord. And yet you may be ask: Why is this such good news? Why is having Jesus born to me as Lord something that should produce joy in me?
His coming as Lord signals that He is for you. There’s nothing in this world that can separate you from His love. There is NO POWER in this world greater than Him. Jesus has come to protect you, provide for you, and be with you no matter what the world throws at you. And now because He lived, died, and rose from the grave that means He can BE THERE FOR YOU to know His love and guide you in every area of your life.
Now, for most of us, knowing God’s love for us is great. And knowing that God is always for you is pretty amazing. But hearing that Jesus was born to essentially call the shots in your life, guide your life – well, that doesn’t always sit well with us. After all, we like the idea of being our own lords. Our own masters. We like control. So we don’t necessarily like someone else showing us how to live. But the truth is that it’s human nature for us to be influenced as much as we influence or be lead as much as we lead. And the truth is that one of us are infinitely wise, so we need the input of parents, teachers, leaders, or friends. That’s how we’ve made it this far. As we’ve gone through life we’ve attached ourselves to people we trust so we might learn from them how to live and… sometimes how not to live. But then when people fail us, lead us astray or hurt us, we detach ourselves from them – and go it alone. But you weren’t created to go it alone!
This is why Jesus was born as Lord to you. For this helpless little baby born in a manger is the Lord God Almighty, who came not just to die for you, but to show you a whole new way to live as your loving Lord: To help you walk in way of truth, in the way of peace, in the way of righteousness and in the way love. Jesus was born to you to show you an alternative way of living, to help you escape the dog-eat-dog way of existence where everyone looks out for themselves. Jesus was born to you to help you navigate this life with grace and truth and love. And that’s good news.
This then, is why the birth of Jesus is such good news of great joy for all people.
He is for you.
He will never give up on you.
He will always love you.
He will lead you in a new way, a better way.
And that’s the good news of God’s grace to you in the gift of Jesus.
So tonight, may you take a moment and ponder this miracle of Christ’s birth for you. For God has not left us to ourselves. No,
Jesus has come to make God known to us.
Jesus has come to save us.
Jesus has come to love us!
And Jesus has come to lead us.
That’s the gift of Jesus we celebrate tonight. And if that gives you great joy, then let Him know it. Give Jesus your Praise, not simply with your voices, but with all that is within you. For on this day is born to you a Savior, who is Christ, the Lord.