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Luke 2:1-2:20
Key Verse: 2:11

Merry Christmas! Do you know what the word “Christmas” literally means? It means the Mass (celebration) of Christ. Certainly, the focal point of Christmas is Christ. So without Christ, Christmas is just a holiday. That’s why the season’s greeting has changed to “Happy Holiday!” instead of “Merry Christmas!” Christmas should be about celebrating Christ, particularly his coming into this world. That’s really a merry Christmas. All people want to be merry and happy, do we not? Again I wish you all truly merry Christmas! Then, how is it possible? It depends on knowing who Christ the Lord is. In today’s passage the angel said, “Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Christ the Lord.” This time, let’s think about the meaning of the angel’s Christmas message and learn who the Baby Jesus is.

Look at verse 1. “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.” At that time the world was Roman world. Caesar Augustus was the first Roman emperor and he was ruling the world (27 BC – AD 14). He issued a decree of a census over the entire Roman world. The census decree was for a taxation purpose, not for the protection and welfare of the people. Verse 2 says in parenthesis, “(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)” This supports the historicity of Caesar’s census. Since then, the Roman census was done every 14 years.

The decree was absolute. Everyone had to obey it and go to his own town to register. There was no exception. So Joseph also had to travel with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and expecting a child any moment. Joseph, a descendant of David, went up along with Mary from Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem, the town of David. It was not a trip that took just several hours but several days, approximately three days. But the story was here is not about Joseph’s registration under the absolute decree. It was about what happened while he and Mary were there. Look at verses 6,7. “While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Humanly speaking, a Jewish baby boy was born so pitifully and placed in a manger due to political and social circumstances of the time. He was like an abandoned baby with even no crib to be laid in. No baby in the world would be placed in a manger. What is a manger? It’s an animal’s feeding box. The Baby Jesus was born and laid in a manger. This is a factual description of Jesus’ birth in history. Apparently this event exposes the emperor’s despotic rule and social unrest and injustice. Yet, careful investigation reveals that the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem was the fulfillment of God’s prophecy in Micah 5:2 and was placed in a manger in God’s leading. Then who is this baby born in Bethlehem and laid in a manger?

First, he is a Saviour. Now the scene is changed. Look at verse 8. “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.” The shepherds were poor people doing the minimum wage night shift job. Yet, they were keeping watch over the flocks entrusted to them at night, while all others were sleeping. Then what happened to them? An angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them. The dark night suddenly became bright with the appearance of an angel of the Lord and the shining of the glory of the Lord. At this sight the shepherds were terrified.

Then the angel delivered the heavenly message to them: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” Wow! What can be news of great joy that will be for all the people in this trouble-filled world good? Good news plus great joy plus for all the people. What is that?

Look at verse 11. “Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” The good news of great joy that will be for all the people is the birth of a Saviour. Then why is Savior’s birth such good news? To understand it, we should really know the situation of mankind. When the first man Adam sinned by disobeying God’s holy command, he became a prisoner of sin. Innocent, joyful fellowship with God and with his wife, and the meaning of his existence were gone. Satan’s ruling and death came and the world became the world under a curse. Since then, mankind became totally hopeless under the power of sin and Satan. Sin makes man miserable and fatalistic. Sin is the main cause of the ruin of an individual, a family, any society and the world. Sin is invisible but it’s reality as long as we live. The wages of sin is death. But even death is not the end. After death, there is inevitable judgment and eternal punishment in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. Throughout history people have tried to solve man’s sin problem through various means – doing good acts, being separated from the world and living in remote places as hermits, or traveling a lot, studying and working hard, drinking excessively or taking drugs, through science and technology, etc. Nowadays people try to deny even the existence of sin in an attempt to explain it in the realm of psychology or genes. Yet, sin is real and there is no remedy for sin. Mankind is totally hopeless and helpless with sin problem. All people are in need of a Saviour. There is no exception to this. All men need to be saved from their sins and the consequences of sins. But the angel said to the shepherds: “Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you!” Today a Saviour has been to you, and you and me! This is truly good news of great joy for all the people, is it not? The Baby Jesus was born as the Saviour of the world. To save all fatalistic sinners, he was born and laid in a pitiful manger. This Jesus lived as a man of sorrow and familiar with sufferings of all people throughout his life. Finally, he gave his life on the cross and shed his precious blood to forgive all our sins. And he rose again from the dead, defeating the power of death and Satan to give us a new and victorious life.

There was a young man who grew up in a rich family, well fed and well provided for by his parents. However, contrary to his parent’s expectation he began to enjoy the pleasures of the world. His eyes were opened to see girls. And he became a champion in gambling in his young age. He went far until he could not maintain his grades in high school. He felt disgusted with himself, but could not fix himself. He escaped to Canada with the hope of starting a new life in a university. In God’s providence he met a Christian landlord, and then was led to a Bible study fellowship. Through personal Bible study with his Bible teacher and hearing Sunday messages, he accepted Jesus as his Saviour. Then he could gradually overcome his pleasure-seeking life style and enjoy Bible study, prayer and fellowship with God’s people and inviting his friends to Christ. He also overcame his studies at U of T with faith in the Saviour Jesus. In the past his mind was paralyzed with anxiety whenever he had to take exams. But since he accepted Jesus, Jesus gave him a peaceful mind and confidence during exam times when he depended on Jesus in prayer. He experienced victories in life one after another as he held to God’s promise of Matthew 6:33. Now, he prays for salvation of his parents. And he has a life direction to keep his heart and life pure as a young man and grow to be a Jesus’ disciple and a gospel worker for young people in this generation. Thank and praise God that the Saviour has been born to him!

A young girl grew up in a Christian family. From her childhood, she learned the word of the Bible and simply believed it as the truth of God. She even taught the words she believed to her friends. She was happy and joyful most of the time, and a source of joy to many people around her. But in her high school she was attacked by doubt studying among brilliant but secular peers in the gifted program. She became impaled by Satan’s doubt, and the absolute truths of God she believed became relativistic to her mind. Her whole world built on the truth of the Bible seemed crumbled down until she felt that her mind became blank and even gone crazy. She lost her identity and the meaning of her existence. Her living itself was like hell tormented by Satan’s doubts and she dreaded to wake up each morning. For many months she cried out to God with her supportive family. Then through EBS, she heard the words of Jesus on the cross, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:34) Instead of doubting she decided to believe the words of Jesus on the cross. She repented of her doubt and pride and accepted Jesus as her Saviour. Since then her life has been restored. Now she longs to know Jesus better and serve him wholeheartedly. She is a godly influence among her classmates and friends bringing them one after another to Bible study. And she prays to become a medical missionary by God’s guidance. Praise Jesus who became her Saviour!

“Today in the town of David a Savour has been born to you.” Jesus was born as the Saviour for all kinds of helpless sinners. He can save any kinds of sinners when they come to him with a repentant heart. He can save us from all the fatalistic life situations and all the consequences of sin.

Second, he is Christ the Lord. Look at verse 11 again. “Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” “Christ” is the Greek word for “Messiah” in Hebrew. The meaning of “Messiah” is “God’s Anointed One”. In the Old Testament, priests, prophets and king were anointed. Jesus is God’s anointed One. Here Jesus is especially God’s anointed King in the connection with the Lord. What kind of king is Jesus? In this passage the author makes a sharp contrast between Caesar Augustus on the throne and the baby Jesus in a manger. First of all Jesus is a humble king. He is not Caesar-like king, sitting on the high throne. According to this passage, what is the sign that Jesus is Christ the Lord? Was it the exalted throne? Look at verse 12: “This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” A baby in a manger is the sign that he is Saviour, Christ the Lord. Jesus, though he is the Son of God, emptied himself and came to this world, born in a stable of an animal and laid in a manger. People can hardly approach Caesar on the throne. But anyone, young and old, and men and women, rich and poor, can easily approach Jesus born in such a lowly state as long as they humbly desire to come to him. Jesus is gentle and humble in heart (Mt 11:28). He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart…” (Isa 40:11). Jesus is the Shepherd-like King. In this world people suffer a lot under the rule of unrighteous corrupt kings. But Jesus is the king of righteousness and truth. There is nothing false in him. He speaks the truth and everyone on the side of truth listens to him (Jn 18:37). And he is the king of peace, prince of peace (Isa 9:6). He was peaceful even in the stormy sea. He gives peace to his people, the peace that is not affected by the turbulence of the world. Most importantly he is the king of love. The underlying motive of whatever he does is love. His love is absolutely pure and sacrificial to the point of giving his life for his flock of sheep (Jn 10:11). His humbleness, righteousness, truthfulness, peacefulness and love are all interwoven into his kingship.

Isaiah described what the world is like when this king rules. “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together…The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.” (Isa 11:6-7). Certainly Isaiah was not talking about the peaceful animal kingdom, but true togetherness and harmonious living among human beings under his kingship. He is a Saviour and he saves so that each one who has received his saving grace may come into his kingship. In his perfect kingship he is the eternal king and his kingdom endures forever.

The angel said, “He is Christ the Lord.” He is God’s anointed King and the Lord. Kingship and lordship cannot be separated. They go together. When we read Revelation, on his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS (Rev 19:16). From the whole Scripture viewpoint the Lord is God. At that time Caesar was regarded as the Lord or a god. In fact he was ruling the world with such despotic authority that at his decree everyone had to obey. However, Caesar was only used by God to bring Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem so that Jesus would be born in that place according to God’s prophecy. He was a mere human, who was in power for a while, and then was gone with the wind. There have been many Caesars throughout history, who wanted to rule the world with their political or military power. Temporarily they were regarded as lords and wielded their power and authority. But when the time came, they were gone with no way to return. In our times those who have money power seem to rule the world. With their money power they try to control the world economy, politics, media, even academic world and education system. Yet, we know that they are not the lords. If tonight God takes their lives, they would be no more. They are mere mortal human beings.

Christ the Lord is the Sovereign ruler over human history. The future of the world is in his hand. In our eyes some nations’ power seems to be strong and overpowering. But to the Lord the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales. Before him all the nations are nothing… less than nothing (Isa 40:15,17). No matter how evil the world may look, the Lord will make all things right and bright in his time. He will indeed bring the present world to an end and cause a new world to come according to God’s prophecy. Currently the leaders of the world talk about one world government and new world order. Yet in true sense, it will be possible only through Jesus, Christ the Lord. Christ’s kingdom, Christendom, will be fully established when Jesus comes back.

When one accepts Jesus as his personal Saviour, the person cannot but accept him as his Christ the Lord as well. Yet, there are many Christians who live their lives as their own according to their plan. They want somehow to keep control over their lives. They are the ones who accept Jesus as a Saviour but not as Chist the Lord. They can hardly taste peace and joy of Christ’s kingdom in their hearts. Only when we accept Jesus both as our Saviour and as our Christ and the Lord can we have his reign as well as his salvation in our hearts. With confidence in his perfect kingship and lordship, we can entrust all the matters in our lives to him and gladly serve him. Then, we can taste his kingdom from day to day’s life, because we know he is with us in our e our life-journey and then finally lead us to his eternal kingdom.

There was a young lady. She accepted Jesus as her Saviour. She enjoyed Bible study and struggled to live by the teachings of the Bible. The words of God made her stubborn heart soft. Her complicated philosophical mind became simple and sweet. In the past she thought she had control over her life, including her marriage. Even so, she did not feel truly free and happy. But through the words of God she realized that Jesus is her Christ the Lord, so loving and gentle king and Lord over her life. Then she could entrust all things that she tightly held, including her marriage to Christ the Lord. Through God’s word she could believe that the Lord who saved her and is trustworthy would give her the best in his way. She became free and joyful, striving to obey and serve the Lord now. We need to confess, “He is Christ the Lord.” With this confession of faith, we may live under his perfect kingship and lordship in obedience and with his peace.

Look at verse 13. At the humble yet glorious birth of Jesus there was a heavenly chorus. A great company of the heavenly hosts appeared with the angel praising God saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests!” At the birth of Jesus God was glorified because his redeeming love was revealed and men could have peace with God by the reconciliation between God and men through his Son Jesus Christ. When one accepts Jesus as the Saviour and Christ the Lord, it will be glory to God.

When the angels had gone to heaven, the shepherds went to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning the child they had been told about. They confirmed the baby lying in the manger and spread the angels’ message that it is the birth of a Saviour and he is Christ the Lord. And they returned home, glorifying and praising God.

We thank and praise God for sending his Son Jesus into this world as a baby in a manger. He is our Saviour and Christ the Lord. May we live in this world with him in our hearts and spread the news until he comes back and puts everything under his loving sovereign rule.

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