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Christmas Joy

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Introduction

What brings you joy at this time of year? What brings a smile to your face at Christmas?
<pause>
Is it that first taste of Christmas cake? or Cherries?
Is it when the relatives all roll in from out of town?
Is it that anticipation of what gifts you will receive tomorrow?
I for one love feeling after lunch when you roll your belly that grew to shirt sizes at lunch into the lounge and just relax in the company of friends or family. I love that after lunch bliss.
The unfortunate part of this is that it’s all short lived. My joyful post lunch bliss soon gives way to the dread of washing up.
The joyful anticipation of Christmas gifts gives way to the disappointment of a well-meaning but underwhelming present.
The joyful reception of the rellies gives way to bickering and backhanded comments about so-and-so’s bad choices.
The joyful first taste of Christmas cake gives way to a second, and a third and a fourth and a fifth then growing sick of the taste and wishing you’d never see another slice again! (well not for twelve moths anyway!).
The thing is that all the joys of this life are quite fleeting. They come with great anticipation, they are enjoyed and then they fade with surprising quickness. They are like flowers which after heaps of waiting, they bloom in brilliant colouring, and then fade into a wilting death.
Our fading joy and happiness is a feature of this human life, and will probably be part of your Christmas even today or tomorrow.
But,
I want to tell you this morning about a Christmas Joy that transcends these fading and fleeting joys.
A Christmas Joy that transcends history.
A Christmas Joy that both transcends our lives, and can change our lives forever!
I’m going have a quick chat about that portion of the Christmas story we read from the Biography of Jesus written by Luke. We’re going to fly through and have look at fours aspect of Christmas Joy.
a. Christmas Joy is Good News for All

Christmas Joy is Good News for All

The story starts with some fellas out in the paddocks watching sheep 2000 years ago in Palestine. These guys are not well respected in society. They looked after the sheep to protect from thieves and wild animals. But you know, they don’t need much training or skill for this work. These shepherds were lower class folk. There just minding their own business on the night shift.
Then an angel appeared!
Angels are God’s messengers. They are not cute or cuddly. They are terrifying!! They are overwhelming!!
That is why the shepherds lose it. They are scared and afraid. It’s not uncommon for folks in the Bible to just fall down in shock when they come face to face with an angel.
Despite this instant fear, the angel says:
Luke 2:10 ESV
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.
The angel comes with a message, from God to people. A divine message from the heavens!
This message is Good News for All. Good news of Great Joy.
Not "some” joy...
Not “a decent amount of” Joy...
Set the scene - guarding the sheep from wild animals and thieves. Low class people. Low skill job.
Not “mediocre” joy...
GREAT JOY!!
The angel brings good news of Great Joy for all the people. That news was not only for the shepherds, but for all. For the low class, for the well off, the sick, the healed.
This news was for their kids, and their kids, and the kids, kids kids. This Good News is for us even today. This Good News of Great Joy is even for us today.
This Good News means Christmas Joy for us.
This news of the angel, this message he brought can bring Joy to all. It brings Joy to the World.
This news isn’t restricted by social class or employment.
This good news has throughout history been
Angels not small and cute, but terrifying and overwhelming
Anyone can receive this good news. Anyone may hear it - Race, gender, class, age, sexuality, past failure, doesn’t restrict you from this good news.
Angel = Messenger
What’s the message?
Whoever you are, whatever you have done, you can have everlasting Joy by receiving this good news.
Good news for all - anyone may come - Race, gender, class, age, sexuality, past failure, doesn’t restrict you from the good news.
But what is the content of this message? What is the Good News?
b. Christmas Joy is a Saviour Born

Christmas Joy is a Saviour Born

Well, the angel announces the birth of a Saviour. One who saves. This is a baby who from birth is expected to rescue people.
Well, the angel announces the birth of a Saviour. One who saves. This is a baby who from birth is expected to rescue people.
Luke 2:11 ESV
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Why is this good news? Why is it so significant?
When a future doctor is born, angels don’t turn up in the maternity ward and say “some day this baby will save lives”. So what is special about this Christmas baby? Why do angels turn up to announce it?
He is called Christ the Lord. That’s what sets him apart.
He is the Christ, the Messiah.
He is the long awaited rescuer. He is the baby that was prophesied centuries before he ever turned up. He is a baby that will bring Rescue. He will bring Salvation to mankind. People have been hanging out for his arrival since the dawn of time.
His Rescue will transcend fading and fleeting political empires.
A Rescue that transcends history.
A Rescue that both transcends our lives, and a Rescue that can change our lives forever!
If you read on in the story, you soon find our that this baby, Jesus Christ, was born to rescue mankind from death and sin. Jesus saves from death and sin.
Jesus saves from Death, not from growing old and dropping off your perch. But Jesus saves from everlasting death. He saves from Hell. He saves from eternal damnation to eternal life!
But Jesus also saves from Sin.
Sin is a religious word for “failure”. Sin is failure to live rightly. Sin is failure to live ethically, not by our ethics, but by God’s ethics. Sin is failure to live in a morally good way.
But wait, sin is not just passive (like “oops I did it again”) like its always an accident. Sin is active rebellion from God. Sin is to say I like to live my life my way instead of God’s way. It means saying “God be blowed, I’ll do what I want.”
Not just passive (“oops I did it again”)
Sin is serious. Sin is what leads to death in the first place. If you never sinned you’d never die. The wages of Sin is death.
The thing is, we’re all stuck in a predicament: All of us have sinned. All of us are going to die.
All of us here are in this situation - Christians and non-Christians. Old and young. Weak and strong.
Even if someone looks like they live the perfect moral life and do more good than bad, give to charity, be nice to folks. Doesn’t matter. They have sinned, and they’re headed to the grave.
This is why we have a lasting Christmas Joy, because we have a Great Rescuer
What is a saviour? Christ?
So with this in mind, I’d really love it if there were someone who could Rescue me from this predicament.
What is the Christ?
What is the significance of this baby?
King of Earth born into a feed trough
This is why Jesus the Rescuer, the Saviour Born, is our Christmas Joy!
He rescues us from Sin and Death. He saves people from their transgressions, their stuff ups, their failure. He is an eternal saviour, he saves people into eternal life, joy, peace and happiness.

Christmas Joy is Peace from God

c. Christmas Joy is Peace from God
Which brings me to the next point; Christmas Joy is Peace from God. The angels in the story we read mention this peace. Peace from God.
After the freaked out shepherds herd the message from the first Angel, a vast multitude of his mates turn up to praise and worship God; they burst forth with praise:
Luke 2:14 ESV
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Luke 2:
The arrival of this baby, Jesus Christ the Lord, brings forth the hosts of heaven into rapturous praise an honor. They hope and pray for peace, but strangely it is not peace for all.
This hope for peace is for those with whom God is pleased. Those in whom God finds pleasure.
You see the arrival of the Baby who is the Rescuer is not peace for all. It is Good News for all that all who come to him for rescue will find that Salvation. But for those who do not receive this Good News, or outright reject it, Jesus will deal with them appropriately.
You see the baby Jesus born in Bethlehem was not only a Rescuer, he is God himself - jammed into a human body. This Christmas baby, Jesus, was God and man. Human and divine. He is the creator and ruler of the universe. To reject him is to reject all that is good and lovely, beautiful and holy. To reject him is to devalue you own life!
An while it’s beautiful to think of a cute baby in a feed trough in a shed, that baby would grow up to say;
Matthew 10:34 ESV
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
Jesus is inherently divisive. He forces you to make a choice:
Do you want sin and death or do you want life and light?
Are you going to serve yourself or serve God?
Do you want only the momentary joys of this life, or do you want everlasting Joy?
The arrival of Jesus into that manger many years ago brings peace, but only for those who are on God’s side. Only for those with whom he is pleased.
How do you get the pleasure of God? How can God be pleased with me?
Angels Worship God
He’s not pleased with you by default, in fact by default you are God’s enemy. Every time you disobey him, you set yourself up in rebellion against him. This is what evil is - opposition to God. Evil is wickedness, darkness, sin. Like the evil that was ISIS, God will wipe all that is evil from the face of the map, driving it back and decimating it’s force.
This baby means Peace for God’s people
So if by default you’re opposed to God, how can you gain his pleasure?
How can God be pleased with me?
Well you could try living better, trying harder, doing more. You can stop watching those filthy TV shows. You can stop sleeping with someone you’re not married to. You can stop gossiping about your friends. You could stop hating and being angry at people. You could start showing kindness and mercy to those around you, you can start being generous to your friends and family. You could be self controlled in your habits.
Will all this please God? Well yes, kinda. All of these are things that God commands and expects of you, but it’s not enough. It won’t win God’s affection for you.
God’s pleasure does not come from living a good enough life, you would never be able to do enough.
Sin is sin. And being a little less sinful doesn’t stop you being a sinner.
God is perfect, and he expects perfection. You and I are not perfect.
We need something that translates the difference between God and us.
Enter Jesus.
Jesus is both God and Man. He is perfect. He lived the perfectly ethical, moral and holy life. He is what we should be like.
He is righteous, and he is willing to give you His righteousness. He is willing to give you his holiness, his goodness. He is willing to give you his own divine Spirit. All you must do is submit to Him.
You need a perfect life, the life of Jesus Christ. He will give it to you if you would yield to his rulership as King of the Cosmos. To receive God’s pleasure, you must abandon your rebellion, and join him in his mission to wipe out sin and death.
Receive Jesus, and receive God’s peace. Receive God’s Peace as proclaimed by the angels. This peace through Jesus is our Christmas Joy.
d. Christmas Joy is Historical Fact

Christmas Joy is Historical Fact

Lastly, I wanted to touch on the much contested area of historical reliability.
Many folks are content to sit back and say “well, the Birth of Jesus has some nice stories and good principles to live by, but its been mythologized. It’s not historical truth, just a good reminder for how to live a good life”
Well, that is a waste of time.
If the story is not true and authentic record then it is not worth my time and effort. If Jesus was not born to Rescue men, then either I’m still lost in need of a saviour, or there is no need for me to live a good life to begin with.
The thing is, the Bible time and again shows itself to be an accurate and reliable book. It’s ancient literature for sure, so it has some quirks that don’t fit our neat westernized forensic outlook on life, but it is certainly historical and reliable, an I will show you right here in this passage an example of that.
The thing is, the Bible time and again shows itself to be an accurate and reliable book. It’s ancient literature for sure, so it has some quirks that don’t fit our neat westernised forensic outlook on life, but it is certainly historical and reliable, an I will show you right here in this passage an example of that.
Here after the angel delivers the message the shepherds decide to see if it is true;
Luke 2:15 ESV
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:
SO, the shepherds test the authenticity of the message, to see if this was the real deal, and low and behold;
Luke 2:16 ESV
And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.
Luke
The message of the angel was verified by the investigation of the shepherds. These shepherds then act as eyewitnesses who spread the
Independent sources
Records
Historical positioning - during the reign of Herod
Records

Bringing it all together

Christmas Joy is
Good News for All
A Saviour Born
Peace from God
Historical Fact
I’m telling you this morning about a Christmas Joy that transcends the fading and fleeting joys of this life.
A Christmas Joy that transcends history.
A Christmas Joy that both transcends our existance, and can change our lives forever!
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