Christmas is for Spreading Joy (Luke 2:1-20)

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So far in our Christmas messages we have looked at what Christmas is for…

–        Magnifying God (Luke 1:46-55)

–        Keeping Promises (Matthew 1:18-25)

–        Transforming Family (Galatians 4:4-7)

–        Spreading Joy (Luke 2:1-20)Christmas Messages 2017 - 1

 

Our world is searching for joy and we believe Christianity is the best and only source for joy.

–        Jesus

o   Birth:

  • “good news of great joy that will be for all the people [plural]” Luke 2:10
  • Why we say, “Merry Christmas” and not Scary Christmas

o   Life:

  • “I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
  • “These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:10

o   Death & Resurrection

  • “you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice, but your sorrow will turn into joy.” John 16:20

o   Heaven with God’s presence

  • “in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11

 

–        Songs: Christianity sings to God more than other religions, reflecting joy we have.

o   Adam with God’s creation of woman (Gen 2:22)

o   Israelites after Exodus (Ex 15)

o   OT & Psalms

o   NT Early church

o   Romans 14:17 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

o   Revelation around God’s throne

o   – – – Dan Smith telling me about a growing up in Baltimore and a man who went to his church playing trombone on the street corner every Christmas Eve.

o   Us humming Christmas music or hearing it play in all the stores…

 

So,

–        Joy comes from knowing and loving Jesus.

–        But many people today – even Christians – aren’t joyful. The reason is because they have confused happiness and joy. They think God exists to make them happy more than holy and when their life circumstances become uncomfortable or challenged by God. And then, they lose their joy.

o   Happiness is from external happenings, which are temporary.

o   Joy is a decision from internal character, which is longer term.

o   Joy is the confident choice to be content with God’s care and control of my circumstances.

 

EXAMINE           Ways to experience and spread Christmas Joy (Luke 2:1-20)

Luke 2:1-20 (ESV) 1  In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2  This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3  And all went to be registered, each to his own town.

4  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5  to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6  And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.

7  And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

8  And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9  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.

10  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.

11  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

12  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

13  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

15  When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16  And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17  And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18  And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.

19  But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

 

Joy is spread from reviewing history (Luke 2:1-3)

–        In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus… when Quirinius was governor of Syria

–        in the city of David, Bethlehem

Luke is writing to confirm the historical accuracy of Jesus’s birth and life (cf. Luke 1:1-3). He shares the setting during the time of Caesar Augustus (Octavian). “Caesar” was the Roman title or office for emperor, and “Augustus” means “holy or revered,” and was usually reserved for the gods; and Caesars were even worshipped as “Savior” and believed that Roman gods don’t die.[1] So, Luke is not just communicating the historical accuracy of Jesus’s birth event, but is also making a theological point that there is only one true Savior and Resurrected King.

 

è There is joy knowing that Jesus’s birth was true, a day in history and not some mythological or imaginary story – unlike Narnia, Middle Earth, or a galaxy far far away.

o   2Peter 1:16 “For we did not follow cleverly contrived myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; instead, we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”

o   1John 1:1-2 “what we have heard… seen with our eyes, what we have observed and have touched with our hands… we testify and declare to you”

o   1Corinthians 15:3 “For I passed on to you as most important what I also received…”

 

è Seeing the fulfillment of God’s prophecies and work throughout history inspires us to awe God that much more. It’s like being able to step back or from an elevated perspective over a scenic view to appreciate the fullness of all that exists.[2]

 

Joy is spreading from reflecting on the small (Luke 2:4-6)

–        Joseph… from the town of Nazareth… to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child

Joseph was a “builder” (Mat 13:55). He was likely a young, working man <25 years of age, and probably had calloused hands and dirty fingernails as a working man. He was from the family line of David (Lk 2:4). Mary was a young virgin; likely 12-18 years old (Lk 1:27). Again, she was likely a quiet girl who only wanted to be faithful in her service to God and her husband (Luke 1:34, 2:19). God chose a couple teenagers to identify with the ordinary.

Nazareth was a little, rural town. It is never even mentioned in the OT nor was it known for anything good (John 1:46). Yet, these ordinary individuals, Joseph & Mary were from Nazareth. They had to travel to Bethlehem because of a census order from Caesar Augustus. God was sovereignly working out this plan to bring the Messiah into the world, as it was prophesied in Micah 5:2, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephratha, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”

è Joseph and Mary, and Nazareth were insignificant in the worlds eyes, but God does His most cherished work in the common and ordinary of life. We can be thankful for big miracles but the biggest miracles are those that too often we take for granted: breathing, walking, health, friendships, touch, love.

o   à Christmas reminds us to have eyes of appreciation for the everyday commonplace blessings of life.

Jesus_9

Joy is spread from reflecting in the mess (Luke 2:7-20).

As Joseph and Mary traveled approximately ninety miles to Bethlehem they were left without a place to stay. Their stay at an inn was not as a modern day hotel but likely a public or private place for the traveling poor. The fact that Mary had to wrap the baby herself, after giving birth, and then to place the child in a feeding trough is indication of poverty.

The Son of God was born not in the presence of celebrity but the setting of a scarcity. The nativity scene is anything but sanitary, stately or saintly. A bare room or barn isn’t noble; the animals are not aristocratic; the hay isn’t holy; nor is the trough a triumphant birth place for a king.

è God chose poverty that we can identify with Christ finding riches not in stuff but in the salvation He offers.

è In the mess of the nativity we see the meaning for why Jesus came. He entered our messy and broken world to cleanse and heal us.

o   “good news of great joy that will be for ALL the people. For unto YOU [plural] is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11)

è If Jesus came to cleanse, heal, and give peace, why is there still so much chaos and heartache? The answer is God isn’t pushy but patient, offering salvation to those who will receive. Yet, there’s a second coming of Jesus that will expire His patience and bring judgment for all who have not chosen Christ as Savior and Lord.

è God chose the shepherds with angelic announcements because of their modesty. If the birth narrative of Jesus were a myth then there would be more embellishments to brag. Yet, God wants our boast to be in Christ alone not in celebrity spectators of a child’s birth.

o   The response of the shepherds is to be replicated:

  • “Let us go see… and they went with haste…”
  • “the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for they had heard and seen” 
  • à Joy is a byproduct of obedience.

 

APPLY/THINK

After several months of failed attempts it finally happened on December 17, 1903 (108 years ago yesterday!). Orville & Wilbur Wright made four successful flights and became the first to make power controlled, manned flight. Their last flight went 852’ in 59 seconds. Wilbur rushed to the telegraph office in Kitty Hawk, NC and sent his message home: “Successful four flights Thursday morning # All against twenty one mile wind started from level with engine power alone # Average speed through air thirty one miles. Longest flight fifty-nine seconds. Inform press # Home Christmas.” Upon receiving the telegram, their sister Katherine, went the newspaper office and told the editor of her brothers flying miracle. On December 19, the local paper gave a headline “Wright Brothers, Local Bicycle Merchants Home For Holidays”. The editor had missed the point entirely.

 

Are you missing the point of Christmas?

Christ came for your joy

–        Joy in faith

–        Joy in the routine

–        Joy in our mess

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Raymond E. Brown as quoted in Preaching The Word, Kent Hughes, Luke 2:1.

[2] Thought inspired from David Jeremiah, Why The Nativity, pp.1-5.

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