TEACHING NOTE: The first letter of each point spells out a word revealed in the closing!
You may wish to bookmark Luke 2 and Mt 2 before we get going because we we will be flipping back and forth between these chapters this morning.
In the months prior to Jesus’ birth, a curiosity was being aroused in Judea and Israel. God was doing wonderful and mighty things, some might even say God was doing impossible things! Four-hundred years of silence was broken when Gabriel delivered God’s messages to Elizabeth, Mary, and Joseph. Two women had miraculously conceived children. The events surrounding John the Baptist’s conception stirred awe and wonder. In Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit told a very old priest that he would not die until he saw the Messiah with his own eyes. Then, a glorious star appeared over Bethlehem. God had been doing wonderful and impossible things!
We are celebrating Jesus’ birth this morning and I want us all to know that supernatural things take place all around us today in wonderful and spectacular ways because God first loved us.
Think about that time in your life when you first experienced a curiosity for spiritual things. Think about what caused that desire in you to check out God’s wonders for yourself. Maybe that curiosity was sparked by...
...loving words from a Christian when you knew you least deserved those loving words.
...a gift or encouragement from an Christian when you were at a very low point in your life.
...a longing in the deepest parts of your being, so you opened the Bible for yourself, or tuned in to Christian radio, or came to church with a friend.
God displays His supernatural power through the church body to radiate curiosity to our world. His supernatural power should cause people to “come, see what God has done!” It is impossible that...
“God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
God’s love, demonstrated to us through Jesus birth, demands five responses from us: I wish to show you these five responses in the next twenty minutes from Mt 2 and Luke 2. The first response to God’s impossible love is....
(AUTO) Fulfill your curiosity!
(AUTO) Fulfill your curiosity!
“Coming” is foundational for worship.
If we have an interest in a sporting event, we get as close to that event as possible by either attending in person or watching or listening to that event in the background of wherever we are at. If we have a special friendship with someone, we get as close to that person as possible through lunch breaks, coffee get-togethers, or working on a project together.
If you have an interest in hunting, you might spend all year tuning your gear, scouting the woods, buying the next piece of gear, and dreaming of that next opening day. Whatever your hobby or other interests, you don’t enjoy those interests from afar.
“Coming” is foundational for worship. We cannot worship when we are far away!
Ephesians 2:13 (ESV) 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Worship is close and personal. Perhaps a great example of this is found in Daniel 3...
1 King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its breadth six cubits. He set it up on the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. 3 Then the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. And they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
In the same way, coming near to Christ is the first step in responding to Jesus’ love. Worship is a personal, close, and all-encompassing experience. We must come to the feet of Christ. In lk 2:8, the...
Angels came. (Lk 2:8-14)
Luke 2:8–18 (ESV) 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!”
This example is a bit different from the others that I am going to use… the angels didn’t come to Christ’s feet when they appeared to shepherds in that field. Remember they lived in God’s presence. They stopped worshipping at God’s feet for a few minutes to arouse the shepherds curiosity. They came closer to Jesus, but their coming was to to inspire others to worship. Angels direct people to move close to God in response to Jesus’ love.
In lk 2:15, the...
Shepherds came. (Lk 2:15-16)
out of response to the angels’ message...
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.
The shepherds believed Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, the Son of David, the Savior of the world. News that good could not be recieved with a “ho-hum” attitude! How did they respond? They excitedly left the fields came to Jesus “with haste.”
And finally, the...
Wise men came. (Mt 2:1-9)
Matthew 2:1–9 (ESV) 1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
Why did the wise men embark on a long journey? Because “coming” to Jesus was the only way acknowledge him, it was the only way they could engage in whole-hearted, all-encompassing, passionate worship.
3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: 6 “ ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’ ” 7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was.
Herod stated his desire was also to “come and worship Jesus” but we know this was a lie. Worship cannot take place from a distance and murder cannot take place from a distance. In order to try to kill Jesus, Herod had to send people to get close to Jesus.
You came to church this morning to draw close to God for one reason or another. Maybe you came to satisfy a curiosity, maybe you came to worship, maybe you came to find a reason to kill Jesus. You and God know your motive, but coming is only the first step.
“Coming” is of no value unless you are inspired to Adore Jesus, the second step!
(AUTO) Treasure/Store up in my heart!
(AUTO) Treasure/Store up in my heart!
Others cannot worship for us. They cannot act as a proxy and worship on our behalf. As Acts 16 states, we must believe in our own hearts and confess with our own mouths that Jesus is Lord. This means adoring Jesus first happens in the privacy of our own hearts. Consider these examples...
The angels adored Jesus. (Lk 2:8-14)
Luke 2:13–14 (ESV) 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!”
Words of worship poured out of their lips in a glorious and awe-inspiring fashion!
The shepherds adored Jesus. (Lk 2:15-18)
If you look at Lk 2:15-18, you will discover the shepherd’s excitement to see come and adore Jesus for themselves. The shepherds had to worship the newly born Christ with their own lips.
In verses 15-18, we don’t really learn much about their interaction with Jesus, but we do know they worshipped at Jesus feet. It would not surprise me at all if the shepherds had repeated the angels’ praises to God. Coming causes adoration/worship.
Consider the next example....
The wise men adored Jesus. (Mt 2:10-12)
We find this In Mt 2:10-11. Glance at the passage and note several ways they worshipped:
First, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy!
Second, they fell down on the ground. They positioned their bodies as low as they could go. Inwardly, they humbly responded to Jesus which caused their physical humble response, falling prostrate on the ground at his feet. Note they didn’t fall down when they were far off. They fell down when they were close to Jesus.
Third, they adored Jesus by giving Him treasures including gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Finally, they adored by obeying the angels in verse 12. God’s authority superceeded Herod’s authority. They obeyed God, sparing Jesus’ life.
We learn from all these examples that adoring Jesus is a life-changing and all-encompassing experience. We adore from close up, and adore with all that we have.
PAUSE, Mary also....
Mary adored Jesus. (Lk 2:19)
Mary had been probably been passionately worshipping God since Gabriel’s visit, but all these things caused to to continue worshipping Him, not only when the shepherds and wise men visited, but, from what we can tell, for the rest of her life.
The angels inspired the shepherds to adore. The shepherds and wise men inspired Mary to adore, worship, and ponder. We read this in Luke 2:19...
“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”
Come, adore the Christ! The next natural response to Jesus’ impossible love is that we should always...
(AUTO) Let praise explode!
(AUTO) Let praise explode!
I have spoken about rejoicing these past couple of weeks, so I am not going to build the case for this except to make two clarifying points here:
Adoring and rejoicing might seem like two identical responses, but they are two different things.
Adoring Jesus is an attitude which happens in the privacy of our own hearts, but in a split second, all that pent up worship explodes like a confetti cannon all over everyone present! Adoring is internal, but rejoicing is public. Mary, the wise men, shepherds, and the angels came to Jesus, had an adoring attitude, then voiced their thoughts...
14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Worship is contagious! This is one reason God commands Christians to meet together as often as possible. When we are at spiritual highs, others are at their lows. When we are at our spiritual lows, others are at their highs.
Public adoration is contagious.
Our fourth response to Jesus’ impossible love is to repeat His message...
(AUTO) Go Tell It!
(AUTO) Go Tell It!
The shepherds repeated the news about Christ! (Lk 2:17-18)
17 And when they saw it, they made known (or repeated) the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.
Here is a fun fact: while I was typing that very line, “Go Tell It on the Mountain” started playing in my earbud. I was only about 4 songs into my randomized queue of 184 songs. Coincidence? I think not!
Before the wise men even saw Christ they approached Herod and asked “Where is He who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
They “SAW” they experienced something too wonderful to keep to themselves and repeated their personal encounter with that impossible situation.
Jesus command us to repeat all that we have learned about him in...
Acts 1:8 (ESV) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Jesus’ impossible love is too important to keep to ourselves! This brings us to our final response. We are to yearn for Jesus.
(AUTO) Look forward to/ long for!
(AUTO) Look forward to/ long for!
Mary proclaimed her longing for Jesus in her magnificat in Lk 1:46-55, and she also verbalized Israel’s longing as a nation for Jesus. God had been silent for so long, that many in Israel thought God had forgotten about them, about His promises. Israel yearned for Jesus.
Let’s consider two other people who yearned to see Jesus. We find this example in Lk 2:25-38...
Luke 2:25–38 (ESV)
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
36 And there was a prophetess, Anna.... (VERSE 37) and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
Simeon yearned to see and hold the Christ-child. Anna longed to be with God, so she was in the temple worshipping and fasting night and day. She also yearned for the redemption of Jerusalem.. that Jesus would save his people from their sins. They knew Jesus’ love would do impossible things for His people!
Do we really have a yearning to experience everything came to do? This means we must deny our sins and we must take up our crosses daily and follow Christ. We must state as the Psalmist did...
25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. (Psalm 73:25)
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:2)
1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1)
Yearning for Jesus’ redemption begins this cycle all over again. Yearning causes us to “Come!”
(C - Come, A - Adore, R - Rejoice, R - Repeat, Y - Yearn)
It was Lk 2:28 that really draws everything together this morning.
(Simeon) took (Jesus) up in his arms and blessed God
What does a person do with a newborn baby? We carry him!
We must carry Jesus with us everywhere we go. We need to hold this message of His birth just as tenderly, just as near to our hearts as Mary would have done in that stable so long ago.
The message of Jesus’ birth is the most important message we can ever deliver. It is a message that our friends and neighbors need to hear, and that message is this:
God loves people who are otherwise impossible to love!
In our very worst condition God, “in His Great love He loved us!” We are nothing special, but Jesus is the definition of “special.”
PICTURE: Newborn being held (other pictures will auto advance: stroller, car seat, shopping cart)
Please humor me for a moment and imagine holding a newborn baby in your arms. That newborn is entirely dependent on you.
Back then in Bethlehem, strollers didn’t exist. Car carriers didn’t exist. Those fun looking, kid friendly shopping carts didn’t exist, so everywhere Mary went, Jesus was right there in her arms almost all the time!
Everything we do this week should be done while carrying Jesus with us all the time, it is in our best interest. Don’t cuddle with Jesus only once each day when you pray and read Scripture. Newborns need constant nurturing.
When we carry a newborn, where do we carry him or her? In front of us!!! Sometimes up here, sometimes down here, but that baby is always in front of us always in view and always effecting the decisions and choices we make because that newborn is (Gesture) right here!
Carry Jesus close to you in your Christmas celebrations this week. Don’t set him down in the manger and leave him there for a few hours while you wrap presents or decorate the tree or bake cookies. Hold Him in your arms while you do those things.
Remember: you are carrying the precious Gospel at all times. Don’t set Him down to yell and scream at your kids… he is in your arms.
Don’t leave him at home by himself when you go shopping. When you reach across the counter to pay for something, remember, Jesus is your arms. Don’t drop him on the floor or set him in the cart.... share His love.
Don’t set Jesus on the conveyor belt at work when you turn to have a conversation with a coworker, or in your office chair when you go that important meeting.
Jesus, that Gospel message, belongs in our arms spreading joy, hope, and love in every single interaction. We must carry the message of Jesus’ impossible love in our arms everywhere we go.
TRANSITION INTO SONG ------>>>
The past few weeks, we have been reminded just how much we need Jesus. We are not always faithful. We are often weak and unstable. We are often weary. We often struggle with bitterness, brokenness, fear, guilt, and doubt. We desperately need Jesus.
I hope this next song will be an encouragement this morning. The tune is catchy and easy to learn, feel free to sing along as the Spirit moves.
“O Come, All You Unfaithful”....
“O Come, All You Unfaithful”....