December 24, 2009: Christmas Eve

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM THE BLESSED BABE OF BETHLEHEM

TEXT: Luke 2: 10-14: “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’”

Fellow Redeemed In The Christ Child:

Well, here we are approximately 2013 years after the birth of Christ. And although we don’t have angels appearing in the heavens praising God tonight, we do have millions of people around the globe celebrating His birthday. One of the chief reasons for this is the paradoxical nature of the event. Remember that word: paradox? It means something contrary to expectation, or something that runs counter to common sense. The paradoxical nature of Jesus’ birth continues to stir hearts and more importantly to inflame hearts just like yours, tonight.

I don’t know of anyone, outside a couple of members, who has ever seen an angel directly, or heard an angel’s voice. And yet, these shepherds did. Their response was just about what you’d expect from being confronted by the glowing presence of a heavenly messenger, too. “They were terrified.” All mortals naturally are terrified of angels whom appear in Godly majesty. That’s because the chasm of perfection between them and us is just that—a chasm. Mortals naturally expect angels to tell them of death and judgment. We expect them to tell of fearful events that await us. Yet, the first paradox in this lesson is that this angel does none of that. The very first words from his mouth are: “Do not be afraid.” And since his voice is really God’s voice, for he is God’s mouthpiece, those words banish all fear from the shepherds’ hearts.

His next words are also contrary to expectations. “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” This angel might have appeared to just those few shepherds, but his message, really God’s message was universal. It was for everyone. And it was one of unfathomable joy! And here it is: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

The long-promised, long sought-for Savior of the world, God’s Son in human flesh, was born that very night in Bethlehem. That night God took on our flesh and blood. That night God became a human being, too. That night those shepherds and all of us got a brand new brother, a perfect twin brother. That night all our fears, all our inner anguish over our mortality, all our imperfections and sins were assumed to the Christ Child. That night the weight of the world was taken off our shoulders and transferred to His little shoulders. That night God was born to save all mankind. God did something totally outside of all human thinking—He was born to buy back our souls from sin and death. He was born to set us eternally free from all fear. And He did this out of pure love for lost sinners. Ah, a paradox indeed!

You’d expect that if God’s Son was to be born into this world, it would occur in a palace, or at least a warm house. You’d expect Him to be surrounded by important people. But, no. The angel outlines another paradox: “This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

No silk blanket, no warm goose down comforter, no gorgeous bed fit for a mansion held this Child. No, His birth was marked by tremendous humbleness. A manger, a stable, straw, animals, and two amazed and adoring parents enveloped His entrance into this world. Truly upon hearing all this, those shepherds must have shook their heads in total amazement!

But right at that moment, another amazing event occurred which floored them all the more. “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’”

It is natural to expect angels to praise their Creator. That’s the chief reason God created them. It is natural to expect those angels to announce God’s power and majesty. But what isn’t expected is them saying: “on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Why should God Almighty bring peace, really make peace, with evil, rebellious human beings? Why should God Almighty rest His favor, His grace, or undeserved love upon any mortal? We did nothing to earn it. We did nothing to deserve it. The shepherds didn’t ask for it that night sitting around the campfire. And yet, God gives it to them and to us in the Christ Child. And with it comes peace of soul and peace of conscience. Yes, this announcement of grace is a total paradox. And yet it is all true! And that is why the Christmas story is so very glorious! That’s why its joy is boundless!

Christmas really is a paradox. The entire life of Christ is a paradox. Everything about Him is contrary to common expectations of earthbound sinful humans. And yet, all the paradoxes that surround Him fill us with hope, joy, faith and trust. They all speak of the bigness of God’s heart and the hugeness of His love. Yes, they all work together to banish fear from our lives. So, tonight, listen as the angel says to you: “Don’t be afraid.” And then look into the manger and in that small face with shining eyes you’ll discover that you have nothing to fear. For God coming to us as a Baby is His way of showing pure love to each of you. Amen