Faithlife Sermons

“Let’s see this thing that has Happened”

Christmas Day  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:00:33
0 ratings
Sermon Tone Analysis
View more →
“Let’s see this thing that has Happened”
Luke 2:15–20 (ESV)
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.
What the shepherds heard was not the kind of message that anyone could ignore.
“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’ ” (Luke 2:15).
Soon the angels departed, the glory that lit the countryside faded, the constellations reappeared, and the shepherds were alone.
But they allowed no grass to grow under their feet.
“Hurry up!” they said. “We’ve got to go see this!”
Taking off at a run, they headed for Bethlehem, where they found everything just as the angel had promised: “And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.
The shepherds told everyone about the angels they had heard on high.
And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child” (Luke 2:16–17).
The shepherds heard it,
they believed it,
they investigated it,
and when they were satisfied that it was true,
they shared it and celebrated it—all in a matter of hours.
First the shepherds had to hear the gospel.
If God had not revealed it to them, they never would have believed at all.
Faith comes by hearing the Word.
But once they heard it,
the shepherds still had to respond in faith, which they did without delay.
They left their flocks to go and see Jesus.
The verb used for seeing (aneuriskō; Luke 2:16) means to search with the result of finding.
What a wonderful way to describe what it is like to come to Christ!
People who go looking for him will reach the goal of their quest, because God has promised that those who seek will find.
Anyone who looks for Jesus in faith will find him, as the shepherds did.
When the shepherds saw Jesus lying in the manger, they were certain that everything the angel said was true.
They saw Jesus, and they knew for sure. Immediately they became the first evangelists, sharing the good news with anyone who would listen.
They took the same gospel they had been given by the angel and started giving it to others.
This is how God saves sinners.
As soon as we come to Christ in faith, we start sharing the good news.
By the love shown in our lives and by the words of our witness, we proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, as the shepherds did.
Let’s make 2023 a year of sharing what God us done for us!
And when we do this, other people hear God’s word and get saved by the same good news that saved us.
Salvation comes by hearing and believing the gospel of Jesus Christ, who was born in a manger to become a man, who died on the cross to pay for our sins, and who was raised from the dead to give us eternal life.
What happened next is important because it shows how to respond to the gospel that the shepherds were given.
Different people responded to the good news in different ways. Everyone agreed that it was amazing. Luke tells us,
“And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them” (Luke 2:18).
But this is not to say that everyone believed them.
People were surprised by the shepherds’ story, and they probably talked about it for months afterwards, but this does not mean that they all came to faith in Christ.
People wonder about all kinds of things that they never fully believe.
From the very beginning the life and ministry of Jesus Christ caused people to marvel and be amazed.
Unfortunately, then, as now, much of that amazement produced not commitment,
but merely curiosity. When the shepherds heard the good news of the Savior’s birth, they immediately sought Him out.
But all that is said of those to whom they witnessed is that they wondered.
After their initial amazement wore off, most of them probably just went on with their lives as if nothing had happened.[1]
Many people have the same response today. They think that Christmas makes a great story, but they wonder if it’s all true. They’re just not sure. This baby that was born in Bethlehem—is he really the Savior and the Lord?
Some people wonder, but they cannot keep wondering forever.
It’s easy to hear and not hear all at the same time
Either the good news of great joy is true, in which case we should believe in Jesus Christ, or else the whole thing is a myth, in which case there is no one to save us from our sins.
Mary’s response went deeper.
Luke tells us—probably on the basis of Mary’s own testimony—that she “treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).
The adoration of the shepherds must have been a great encouragement to Mary. What they said about the city of David, and about her child’s identity as Lord and Christ, confirmed the promises that God had made to her some nine months before.
Mary believed the shepherds, but Mary did not fully understand what they were saying.
The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive, 2012–2013 (Responding to Jesus’ Birth)
Notice the shepherds got an angel, but everybody else just got a shepherd.
The shepherds got an angel. The angel shows up and speaks. If any of you have ever seen an angel, remember, it was really not any trouble to pay attention.
When angels appear and you fall to the ground and feel the searing brilliance of their glory, it’s very hard to do anything else but notice you have an angel talking to you.It’s very easy to pay attention to angels, right?
When an angel comes and speaks to you, there’s no problem paying attention. There’s no problem understanding. There’s no problem listening and hearing. But even though the shepherds got an angel, everybody else just gets a shepherd.
Shepherds, as many of you know from coming to Christmas services, were not scholars. They weren’t magistrates. They weren’t even soldiers.
They were just ordinary people. They’re the ones who come and give us the word.
What does this remind me of?
In the Bible, we see the authors of the Bible.
We see Moses, Isaiah, Peter, and Paul. We see the people who wrote the Bible, and these are people who had revelations. Some of them did see angels. They saw visions.
It was very easy for them to pay attention.So they got visions, they got revelations, they got the spectacular, but the rest of us just get a book, which, by the way, is extremely easy to not pay much attention to. It’s hard. It’s difficult.
How many people have said, “January 1, I’m going to start reading through the Bible”? So many of those New Year’s resolutions die a death at Leviticus 3. It’s very hard to pay attention. A lot of it doesn’t make sense. You have to ask questions. You have to pay attention. You have to go back.
Mary didn’t say, “Hey, I don’t have to listen to these shepherds. Shepherds! I had an angel come directly to me.”
No, she not only has listened to the angel, but she listens to the shepherds too. And what does she do?
She ponders and treasures in her heart. The word ponder is more of a cognitive word.
It translates a Greek word that means to put in context, to connect.
It means to say, “How does this fit in with everything else I know? How does this make sense of the rest of my life? How does this connect to how I’m living now?”
You’re connecting. You’re thinking out. You don’t just say, “Oh yeah, I know that.
” You say, “Okay, well, what does that mean? What does it mean to everything else I know?
What does it mean to the way I’m living?” Connecting. She’s pondering, which is a very, very intense mental discipline.
The word treasure has more to do with the emotions, more to do with the heart.
To treasure literally means to keep something alive, like to keep a fire alive by feeding it, or to keep a little kitten alive by nurturing it. It’s a word that actually means to relish, to savor, to keep something alive.
We’re told she doesn’t just ponder the Word of God and the message of God and know it cognitively. She fans the flame in her heart.
She takes it all the way down in until she relishes it, until she experiences it, until it means everything to her, until she senses the reality on her heart.
Keller, T. J. (2013). The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive, 2012-2013. Redeemer Presbyterian Church.
Mary had a faith that was seeking understanding.
The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive, 2012–2013 (Responding to Jesus’ Birth)
A lot of people hear but don’t hear.
Of course, some people just don’t believe it, but a lot of people say, “Oh, I believe it,” yet they don’t treasure it.
They don’t ponder it. It doesn’t come in. It doesn’t change their lives.
Do you want to be like the crowd that just marvels, or do you want to be like Mary?
Or put it another way.
I’m glad you’re here, and you should hear the Word of God preached and taught. It’s the job of those of us who are up here to develop a skill over the years, and that skill is to be interesting.It’s our job to be compelling and interesting and persuasive and to make presentations that hold your attention.
But can you hold your own attention with the Word of God?
Can you interest yourself? Can you sit down and treasure and ponder and bring the truth of the Bible into your heart, screwing it down until it catches fire in your mind, your will, and your emotions?
That’s what Luke is suggesting. That’s what he’s calling you to do. Hear well.
What is the gospel doing in your life?
Are you sharing your faith? Are you spreading the good news about Jesus Christ? Are you praising God, glorifying him for the gift of salvation?
If you have come to Christ, then you must be doing these things, because every Christian does.
But perhaps you are still wondering about Jesus, pondering his gospel in your heart.
If so, then God is calling you to believe the angels and follow the shepherds to Jesus; he will be born in your heart by faith.
It is not enough to hear about Jesus.
It is not enough to peek in the manger and say, “Oh, how nice. What a lovely scene. It gives me such good feelings.”
The truth is, even if Christ were born in Bethlehem a thousand times but not within you, you would be eternally lost. The Christ who was born into the world must be born in your heart.
The Savior of the world is Jesus, the Son of God who came to earth veiled in Mary’s flesh, was born in human flesh, lived in the flesh, died in the flesh, was resurrected in that flesh, and now lives in the same glorified flesh at the right hand of the Father.
The Incarnation was real.
Christ’s identification was complete.
His understanding and sympathy are real because he had the same type of physical body we have, and still does.
His complete identification means he can save you, whatever your situation.
That baby, God’s Son, demands our complete allegiance.
He really did come into the world, and because of this, he really can come into your heart.
Let us lay our lives before him because:
In this world of sin,
Where meek souls will
Receive him still
The dear Christ enters in.
—Phillips Brooks[2]
[1]MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2009). Luke 1–5 (p. 163). Moody Publishers. 11 Stein, Luke, 110. 12 Keith F. Nickle, Preaching the Gospel of Luke: Proclaiming God’s Royal Rule (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2000), 26. [2]Hughes, R. K. (1998). Luke: that you may know the truth (pp. 89–90). Crossway Books. [3]Ryken, P. G. (2009). Luke (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.; Vol. 1, pp. 84–88). P&R Publishing.
Related Media
Related Sermons