Christmas Eve 2023 | Luke 2:10 - 11


John ElmoreDec 24, 2023Luke 2:10-11

In This Series (4)
Christmas Eve 2023 | Luke 2:10 - 11
John ElmoreDec 24, 2023
Born to Destroy the Works of the Devil | 1 John 2:28-3:10
Timothy "TA" AteekDec 17, 2023
Born to Preach the Good News | Luke 4:42-44
John ElmoreDec 10, 2023
Born to Seek and Save the Lost | Luke 19:1-10
Timothy "TA" AteekDec 3, 2023

From the prophet Isaiah, 700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ: "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone." The lights are going to remain down in this service for a reason. They'll remain dark because at the first Christmas when Christ was born into this world to rescue us from sin and Satan, from death, he came into darkness.

It says the glory of the Lord shone around the shepherds at the announcement brought by God's messenger angel. When the angel came and spoke to those shepherds as Christ was born, light came. Light broke through. And not just physical light but spiritual light, as the light of the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, was breaking into this present darkness, that all who would receive him… As John 1 says, "In him was life, and the life was the light of men." So, light into darkness at the first Christmas and still now as we receive Jesus.

I want you to think about this too. As the angel came, it wasn't the angel's message, though the angel was the messenger. One of the roles God has given to angels is to be a messenger, one of his who does his bidding, who takes his message. We see this throughout the Scriptures. On this particular night, God gave a message. It was not the angel's message. He was simply the carrier, but God gave a message on that first Christmas that we are going to look at tonight.

When God chose to break into human history, to break the 400 years of silence, to break the ache and longing of every human soul, he gave this message, the Christmas message, and now it broke into quiet pastures in Bethlehem and to our ears as we read from Luke 2:10-11. Read it with me. "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. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.'"

So, the words of the Lord as shared by the angel said Christmas is three things: it is good news of great joy, and it's for all the people. What is being proclaimed throughout the entire world today and tomorrow on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day is this message of good news that brings great joy and that it is for all people, young and old alike. There are many kids in the room in this Christmas Eve service. You can hear them and see them, and that brings such joy to know that this message is for all people.

  1. Jesus is the good news. Not the angel's good news…God's good news through the birth of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the good news. The angel said, "Behold, I bring you good news." The shepherds, having lived in Israel, might have thought, "All right. How will this announcement come? As God breaks into human history, will there be another parting of the Red Sea, a drying up of the Jordan, raining down of manna, chariots of fire? How will he bring the very annunciation of his Son to die for the sins of the world and rise again? This is going to be huge."

The angel would go on to say, "And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby…" Perhaps they would have known from the Isaiah prophecies… "Yeah, 'Unto you a child is born.' We knew this would be God in flesh, a deliverer, a messiah, the Christ." "Unto you a child is born. You'll find him wrapped in swaddling cloths…" That makes sense. We swaddle babies. Then the angel says, "…lying in a manger."

A manger is a food trough. We think with our nativity scenes that a manger is kind of this barnlike structure. That's not the case. A manger would have been a stone food trough. At that, I think the shepherds would have thought, "This does not sound like good news. What derelict parent would have a child, wrap them in swaddling cloths, and put them in the presence of animals in a food trough?" I don't think it would have sounded like good news.

Who would do such a thing? Why wouldn't they be inside in the cold of the night? Because there was no room at the inn. That doesn't sound like good news. And born of a virgin, facing public disgrace? That doesn't sound like good news either. But the good news was not in a set of circumstances; the good news was the embodiment of God in flesh, born as a child.

Eternally begotten Son took on flesh, laid in a food trough, the very Bread of Life. Born in Bethlehem, which means house of bread, that whoever would partake of him would be delivered from their sins, soul saved, born again, new life. So, this good news is Jesus. Jesus is the good news of Christmas.

C.S. Lewis said, "The Son of God became man to enable men [and women and children] to become sons [and daughters] of God." The Son of God became man that mankind might become sons and daughters of God. And it had to be. There was no other way. Jesus, the eternally begotten Son, had to be born, taking on flesh to take the place of those of us in our sin, like for like, the perfect exchange.

But he had to be fully God as well. Otherwise, there would be no way he could ever live a sinless life and satisfy the perfect holiness, righteousness, justice, and wrath of God. So, fully man, fully God, born as our Savior to take our place. Christmas is that Jesus was born for sin that you might be born again. His birth was for your rebirth that you would be born again.

It says in Hebrews 2:17, speaking about Jesus being fully man and fully God, "Therefore he [Jesus] had to be made like his brothers [and sisters] in every respect…" It's not that Jesus didn't exist before he was born. He did. He left heaven and took on flesh. "…so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people." That is, to satisfy the justice and wrath of God…his life for ours, his death instead of ours, raised again that we might be also.

I think back to when I was just one year in the faith, one year having trusted in Christ, and how immature I was in my faith. Like, barely sober, still repenting and struggling, yet there was another believer who was one year in their faith named Charles. Just one year having trusted in Christ as an adult, one year in his faith, and while walking to church on Christmas Day, just walking, this poem came to him. He penned it 300 years ago. The words will be familiar to you. This is Charles Wesley.

"Hark!" Meaning, "Listen." "The herald angels sing." The messenger angels. They're singing. "Glory to the newborn King." Why? Because he has brought "Peace on earth and mercy mild." Mercy coming as a life exchanged for ours. "God and sinners reconciled." He came that God and sinners would be reconciled. He goes on to say, "Veiled in flesh…" You think about Christ being born that Christmas evening. "Veiled in flesh the Godhead see." Behold him, God in flesh.

"Hail…" He's worthy of worship. "…the incarnate deity! Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel." Hebrew for God with us. "Mild he lays his glory by." Still fully man and fully God, yet laying the glory of God aside. "Born that man no more may die." Having trusted in Jesus, receive the gift of eternal life, the good news of Christmas. "Born to raise the sons of earth; born to give them second birth." Jesus is the good news of Christmas, but it doesn't stop there. From this good news of Christmas comes great joy.

  1. Jesus brings great joy. The angel said this. He said, "I bring you good news of great joy." This good news, when received personally and individually for you and your life, will well up and bring great joy in your life. This good news has a result. There is a personal impact, a personal difference. Having heard and received the good news, you get great joy.

There are many kids in the room. Raise your hand if you're here as a kid. I want to see where you are. Merry Christmas, kids. I see an adult raising their hand. I love that. "Unless you come to me like a child, I tell you, you will not inherit the kingdom." That's awesome. May we all still be children.

I remember at 5 years old, we had just left our Christmas Eve service, and I was pondering this hymn we had just sung. I didn't even have words for it, but I'm looking out through our car window at the roof, hoping that maybe I might catch a glimpse of Santa, looking up at the stars. I didn't tell anybody, but I was thinking, "We just sang the name of Satan at Christmas."

There's a Christmas carol that has the name of Satan in it. As a kid, I was like, "That's so strange. We should be singing about Jesus." Instead, in that song was the word Satan. It's from "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." It says:

To save us all from Satan's power

When we were gone astray;

Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.

This good news brings great joy. The song begins… That's why we had sung, in part, the name Satan, because he was like, "Jesus is delivering you from the one who has oppressed you, the one who has led you into sin." He's our deliverer, the ransom, the rescuer, who has come into Christmas, and that brings great joy to every soul, every child young and old.

When it says, "God rest ye merry gentlemen," it doesn't mean we should rest. God is not saying, "Rest." Rather, it is being placed in that state. He's saying, "God is giving you rest and merriment." It's God-rest because of the birth of Jesus. "God rest you." May God rest you today. "Let nothing you dismay." He's like, "Don't let anything take your joy." Don't let your circumstances rob you of joy. Instead of fixing your eyes on your circumstances, fix them on Jesus because this news brings great joy. "Let nothing you dismay." Well, how can that be?

Remember Christ our Savior

Was born on Christmas Day

To save us all from Satan's power

When we were gone astray.

And the result of this good news… "Oh, tidings of comfort and joy." Very soon… Most of us on December 26 (maybe a little later, depending on your level of procrastination)… You're going to take down the Christmas tree. You're going to take down the stockings, pack them up, and put them in the attic. The leftovers aren't going to be so good anymore, and then this feeling of depression that sometimes can come with the holidays may creep in.

The gifts you thought would give you some semblance of satisfaction, or maybe you're with loved ones, or maybe the ache that you're not, that there is this separation and hard reminder of "Things are not as they should be…" Holidays can be hard. There have been many times at Christmas that I've wrestled with feeling depressed, because we weren't meant for those things. We look back, wishing and longing that that feeling of nostalgia might come back and carry us into the new year.

Here the angel is saying, "I'm bringing you good news, and this good news will bring you great joy." It's not going to be found in a tree or in a gift. Those are all just little reflections of the giver of life, Jesus, that we'd look upon him because he is the one… Jesus brings great joy. It's so appropriate. Later in Jesus' ministry in John 15:11, Jesus says, "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full."

Those words matter so much. We can find fleeting joy in travel and things and all of the different delights God has given to us, but they're temporary, momentary, fleeting, passing vapors. Jesus says differently. He says, "I'm giving you my joy." It's not yours, and it's not going to be found in anything else. It's his. He says, "I'm giving you my joy." That's an incredible promise.

We're receiving not a joy of this world, not a joy we can muster up by our circumstances or a holiday. He's like, "I'm going to give you my joy, and in you may it be full." When you trust in the good news of Jesus Christ, that he came, died for our sins, and was raised again for the forgiveness of our sins… When we trust in that good news of Jesus, we well up with great joy. Jesus is the good news. Jesus brings great joy.

  1. Jesus is for all people. All people in this room. Kids, listen. This Christmas, Jesus is for you. Old, guests, visitors, atheists, agnostics… Jesus is for all people no matter where you are in your journey. So, listen to the Scripture again and what the angel said. Again, this is God's message, not the message of the angel. He just brought it. Rather, God's message was, "…I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people." Well, how can that be? "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."

This is really interesting. As the shepherds are listening, they're hearing, "Good news of great joy for all the people," and then it's as if the angel might have looked down individually at the shepherd and said, "Unto you." "All the people. Unto you." From transcendent to immanent. From sovereign to personally providential. "Unto you." So personal. "Unto you is born this day…"

The reason it's important is because everyone has sin. All people young and old have sin, but not everyone has a Savior. So, unto you this Savior has been born, born for all, that whoever would call upon the name of the Lord Jesus will be saved, will not perish but have eternal life. Soon we're going to sing these lyrics. I want to put them before you, because there's the foe of familiarity where we can just sing because we know the lyrics of the hymn. Consider in a new way these Christmas lyrics that Jesus is for all people.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining…

The entire world, apart from Jesus, is in sin and error, rebellion against God, broken fellowship and relationship. It says "Pining," this longing and looking and searching, an emptiness within. It says, "Until he [Jesus] came and the soul felt its worth." Augustine said we are restless until we find our rest in him. In Acts 17 it says, "In him we live and move and have our being…" That aching and longing of soul that can't be filled by anything else…

We were created in the image of God. We were created for God, to be indwelt by God, having been rescued by God through the Son of God. This is the Christmas message for all people. Today you can receive him, have a new life. Not a better life, a new life. This is the gift of Christmas: born through Jesus Christ, your Savior.

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

A new beginning, a new life. So, those shepherds, having heard, "Unto you is born this day in the city of David…" They were out watching their flocks in the fields by night, and they left. They left what they were doing to find who they had been made for. They left because they heard the words "Unto you." "For all people but unto you." And unto you, magi. Living in pagan lands of Babylon, they saw the star rise and a couple of years later would travel all that way, fall down, and worship him because they received him. Unto you, magi.

And unto you, Nicodemus, who was a religious man wrestling with the possibilities of "We're supposed to uphold the law," and, "How can someone be born again?" He went to Jesus by night and received eternal life, having placed his faith in Jesus. Unto you, religious Nicodemus. And unto you, Mary Magdalene, in whom seven demons dwelt. She trusted in Jesus. She was full of darkness and the light of Christ broke through as she received. Unto you, Mary.

Unto you, thief upon the cross, who had done such wickedness in his life. Thief does not sum up the totality of sin so awful there was nothing left but to put him to death. No opportunity to do any good works but simply turn to Jesus and say, "Remember me when you come into your kingdom." Jesus, from that… No good works, simply faith in the one. The Son of God born to die and rise again said, "Today you'll be with me in paradise."

Unto you, doubting Thomas, who wrestled and wrestled with… He had seen the miracles. He had heard the teachings, yet still doubted. Unto you, Thomas. He trusted in the resurrected Christ. Unto you, Paul the persecutor, who thought he could manage his own way to God by living righteously. Unto you. And unto you, me, when I was three days sober in 2005. It's "Unto you" for anyone who would receive him.

Listen to me. This is the gift of Christmas. This is the good news that brings great joy, and it is for all people, but specifically, as I hear these words tonight, I want you to hear them and feel them. It's unto you, whether you've never trusted in Jesus or whether you have, and now to worship him anew and turn from whatever sin may have crept in. This Christmas, receive the joy, the salvation of your soul, because he has been born unto you.

That's the question. It says in Scripture that there was no room in the inn. Will you today make room within for Jesus? For as the old Christmas hymn says, "Let every heart prepare him room." Even as we hear that baby crying in the back, the crying of the Christ child breaking the silence. He has come for you. Unto you. Jesus is the good news of Christmas. Jesus brings great joy this Christmas. Jesus is for all the people. Unto you.

I want to lead us in a time of prayer. Christmas can be so busy with the parties and the events and the shopping and the wrapping. There's little time for stillness. So, for the next five minutes, I'm going to lead us in a time of reflection and prayer to worship Jesus, the one who came to save us. Kids listen in particular, because this first part (maybe adults alike)… If you've never trusted in Jesus to forgive you of your sins, this Christmas can be that time for you. Unto you.

So, if you would, everyone bow your heads. If you desire to be forgiven of your sins, you can pray this prayer after me. "God, I am a sinner in need of a Savior. I, today, trust in Jesus, the one who was born to take away my sins. I believe he is Lord, and I believe you raised him from the dead. Save me. Send the Holy Spirit to live within me. You gave your life for me. I give you mine. Be my Savior and Lord. Amen."

If you would, continue with your heads bowed. I just want to lead you in a few more prayers. If there's an area of life where you've drifted, where sin has crept in, just take it to him. Be free of it. It says he wasn't born to condemn the world but to save us, to rescue us. So just take your troubles, your trials, the depression, the angst, the sin… Take it to him. He already knows. Just take it to him.

Because he is our Savior, our intercessor, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, just thank him. Thank him. Worship him in prayer. Thank him for all he has done. Thank him for all of who he is. Just thank Jesus this Christmas. He's the good news.

Lastly, God's message through the angel was that he was bringing good news of great joy. Jesus said, "I'm giving you my joy that it may be full." So ask him this Christmas. "Would you give me your joy?" It's a fruit of the Spirit. Say, "Jesus, would you give me your joy? Joy from my Savior, not my circumstances."

God our Father, thank you that you sent the angel into the quiet fields of Bethlehem that night with the angel who said, "Good news of great joy for all people." That has been passed along through 2,000 years to our hearing this evening, and we respond, Lord. We respond. We thank you and praise you for Jesus Christ our Savior, born of a virgin, Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world. We love you. In Jesus' name, amen.

About 'Born'

Jesus was born to die so that we might live. Each week during Advent, we will look at what Scripture says about the significance of Jesus' birth and the purpose of his life, death, and resurrection.