Good News of Great Joy for All
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
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.
Luke plants these events firmly in history. Caesar Augustus, Quirinius, Nazareth, Bethlehem. In history God has acted and announced His action so that all people might understand what He is doing and embrace the good news and its corresponding joy!
Christmas time is good news. Even for those who do not embrace the reality of the Christmas story, it is still typically a time of joy, or it can be. Family, Presents, Lights, a Tree, A Special Meal, Traveling to be together, etc.
So, what I would like to do in this morning’s message is take the sources of joy in our culture and apply them to the “good news of great joy for all people expressed by the angel here in Luke 2.
For the main headings of our outline I was thinking of the old game show “Match Game”. In that game, they would give you a part of a phrase and you would try and complete it in the same manner as the panel. For this round, I would say: Christmas blank.
God becoming man, a baby born named Jesus, is good news of great joy because of Him being a great
- Christmas Gift
- God takes the initiative to give
A gift from someone you want to love you will be especially precious. A gift indicates love, care, attention to need etc. But, in God’s case, His initiative is proof of some very important things that should make us joyful.
- His continued love in spite of our resistance to His will.
Romans 5: 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, God specifically cursed them. One of those curses was to drive them out of the Garden
24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
We are driven out, but not hated, not forgotten, not forsaken to our sins. God remains gracious and merciful. He loves us! I know this because He takes the initiative to give to us!
- A very great gift
Not every Christmas gift is of the same quality. I got a bicycle one early Christmas. It was not new, it used to belong to my brothers, it was sold to someone else not in my family and then bought back. It did not have any brakes! I loved it!! It was a great gift.
One year I bought my brother a football. I bought it because I wanted to play with it. That was not a great gift.
Jesus is God’s greatest gift to us!
I John 4 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
A great gift is one that suits the need and desire of the one receiving it.
A great gift is one of a kind.
A great gift is one that the receiver could never get on their own.
Jesus is a great gift in all of these ways!
- The giver shares joy in the gift being received
God wants us to love His gift of His Son for us!
Luke 15: 3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”
There have been Christmas mornings at our house with tears because the gifts did not meet the expectations. God is full of joy when people recognize His greatest gift for them! And when they do not see it, He remains patient, until judgement, desiring for them to see it.
This coming of Jesus Christ into the world is the ultimate gift. It is good news of great joy to all people!!
- Christmas Lights
- Lights help us to see
Jesus is the light of the world.
John 8: 12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 12: 35 So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. 37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
The light of life tells us where life comes from. And the most significant thing here is that life does not come from positive circumstances alone. But it comes from God, and His will. God’s will for us is our best life. And that life comes at the cost of bread sometimes. Sometime we give our bread because we know that we do not live by bread alone.
We live first by the Word of God!
God spoke and gave us life.
God speaks and directs our life.
- Lights seek our attention
Magi see a bright star
In our scripture today: 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.
- Lights help us to celebrate
This is the reason we put out lights at our house. They provide light, but they are lights of special color and connection.
Winter is the time of great darkness. But, in the middle of winter, we celebrate God’s light coming as a baby! Christmas lights are lights of celebration. In the time of greatest darkness, light has come! The atmosphere in early December is different because of the light. We put the lights outside as if to make all of creation celebrate the light of the world that has come to men.
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
2 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.
3 And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.
This light of the glory of God that shone upon the Shepherds shines on all who believe in Him! And they are lights of celebration. God has become man, the Word of God has become flesh and dwelt among us. We beheld his glory, He was full of light and life!!
Jesus said He was the light of the world. Jesus says that His followers are the light of the world, a city set on a hill for all to see. Let your light so shine that people might see your good works and give glory to God in heaven!
This is good news of great joy for all people!!
III. Christmas Tree
You could do a very interesting story on trees in the Bible and their metaphorical meaning.
- Trees of blessing in the Garden
Trees are great sources of blessing. They give food without having to do any planting for the year. And there is a great variety. And nut trees allow the food to last a long time! Chestnuts, Walnuts, Almonds, Pecans, Pistachios etc. Olive tree produce oil that represents all kinds of healing, blessing, the Holy Spirit etc.
And then there is the tree of life. It represents God’s greatest blessing for us, life itself. It is what we are removed from because of sin, because there is another kind of tree in the garden, there is…
- A tree that brings a curse
There is a tree that provides for people to attempt to gain life apart from God’s word and will. It is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It is forbidden. It represents all that we like that is not good for us. It represents good things separated from the will and direction of God. Lust for sex, food, drugs, material possessions, attention, acclaim, accomplishment etc. The lust for life in these things spoils the one doing the desiring and prevents life from flourishing.
- On a tree life is restored
Galatians 3: 10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
Hanged: Book of Ester: Hanging was done by impaling folks on some sort of scaffold. Jesus was hung on the cross, not by the neck, but by the hands and feet.
II Cor 5: 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
29 And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers[b] or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.” (This is our following the pattern of Christ and His death and Resurrection)
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
6 And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”
7 “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”