This morning, as we conclude our series “The Messiah” we’re now just days away from Christmas, and over the past three weeks we’ve been leaning into the coming of the Messiah; because Advent isn’t just an extension of Christmas, it’s a timeless sharing of that ancient longing for his coming, it’s a celebration of hope fulfilled, and it’s an eager anticipation of his coming again. And so, today, as we’ve been preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ, the Messiah, my hope is that you’ve been able to understand in a deeper way the meaning of Christmas, coming to know the One who is Immanuel, God with us, and you’ve been able to experience the comfort of Christ’s peace deep within your soul like never before.
We’ve looked at ancient prophecies over the past few weeks which foretold details of the birth of the Messiah. Last week, we looked at John the Baptist of whom Jesus said,
“Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater…” (Matthew 11:11).
And yet, what’s interesting is that among those born of women, that John the Baptist was born of a miracle, he was a miracle baby. In fact, six months before Mary was told about her pregnancy, the angel Gabriel came to a childless couple named Zechariah and Elizabeth and told them that in spite of their old age that they were going to have a son. Unfortunately, in stark contrast to young bride-to-be named Mary’s belief in what the angel said, Zechariah doubted and replied, but I’m an old man and my wife is well along in years. The angel said,
“I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words” (Luke 1:18-20).
Now, certainly he remembered that Sarah gave birth to Isaac in her 90s. He was a priest and so he was familiar with the Scriptures; he knew that Jacob’s wife Rachel had been barren, but God opened her womb and she gave birth to Joseph. Not to mention others like Manoah’s wife who brought about Samson, or Hannah who gave birth to Samuel, and even the Shunammite woman who was blessed with a son.
But today as we look at the Christmas story, we discover that God was preparing the way for a greater miracle, because five months after the elderly Elizabeth became pregnant with John the Baptist, the world was forever changed by the greatest miracle of conception in history. The angel Gabriel came to visit Mary with some shocking and yet wonderful news. Luke chapter one records these words,
“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end” (Luke 1:28-33).
Perplexed, Mary asks the angel,
"How will this be since I am a virgin?" The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So, the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:34-35).
In that moment, Mary discovered that the greatest miracles in our lives are often the ones that go far beyond what we might even ask or imagine; and yet with great courage she graciously accepted the difficult path God placed before her. Together along with her husband Joseph, they held onto their faith, believing what the angel had told them, and they obediently did what God asked them to do in spite of the doubt, ridicule, and comments of friends and neighbors.
Nine months later, as we flip ahead to chapter 2, Luke records,
“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register” (Luke 2:1-3).
“So, Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born” (Luke 2:4-6).
This passage of Scripture is almost like Jesus’ birth certificate, because it’s full of facts, history and stuff that can be checked and agreed upon by those who were there. And so, we can rely upon this testimony because this was all very factual, giving us an accurate account of the exact time of the coming of the Messiah.
In verse eight, Luke continues telling us about another announcement regarding the arrival of the Messiah. He said,
“There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 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” (Luke 2:8-11).
In these verses, we find that from his birth it’s been established that Jesus is the Son of God, he is the Savior, because he is Christ the Lord. And so, what I’d like for us to consider is what that means for us today?
1. He is Lord
You know, number one, if Jesus is Lord, what does that mean now 2000 years later as we’re finishing our finals? What does that mean as we’re shopping, traveling to grandma’s house, and becoming involved in relationships with the opposite sex? What does “he is Lord” mean in our everyday lives?
This is super important, we touched on this a little bit last week, but I wanted to drill it home again this week, because every area of our lives is his. The Bible tells us that all things were created by him and for him and…
“He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy” (Colossians 1:18).
This verse ties in very closely to the Greek word that is translated Lord, because it’s a word that basically means boss, it’s one possessing authority, power, and control. And so, in literature both inside and outside of the Bible we find it translated sir, master, owner, and even husband, but on a large number of occasions within the Holy Scriptures it’s used as the Greek equivalent to the Hebrew word Yahweh or Jehovah which is the name for God. That’s the meaning behind the angel’s words, “He is Christ the Lord.” In other words, Jesus is God, he is master, head of the church, ruler over all creation, the Lord of lords and King of kings, and so, the realm of Christ’s rule covers everything that happens in heaven and on earth.
Now, for some of you, to think of Jesus as the master or controller of all things is a bit of a challenge, because if you’re anything like me you want to be in control. You know, I can’t even sit in the passenger seat of a car without subconsciously braking; not to mention sitting on the couch at home without having the remote control within reach. Even on my desk in my office, there is always this list, here’s what I’ve got to do and it’s prioritized, and maybe some of you are list makers. I don’t know what it might be for you, but chances are that a lot of you want to be in control too. The problem is that that position has already been taken and that’s why the Bible tells us,
“Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:13-14).
You see, Christ is Lord, he’s supreme in authority, and no one, not even those who deny his existence are free of his rule or outside of his sphere of authority. Now, I know that Satan tries to convince us that freedom is found in doing whatever we want, but the reality is that true freedom is only found through submission to Christ’s loving leadership. And so, we don’t technically make him Lord of our lives, because God the Father made him Lord long ago, but what we do is we surrender to who he already is, acknowledging who he is, and surrendering our lives to his Lordship. And so, we surrender to the one who is supreme in authority, the only one who is really in control, because he is Lord, and number two because he’s with us.
2. He’s with Us
This is important and it’s actually the best news ever, because when you understand that the all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present God of the universe is with you, it changes everything. It changes your perspective, it changes your priorities, it changes your purpose for living, and so, when Matthew confirms the fulfillment of the words of the prophet Isaiah saying,
"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"—which means, "God with us." (Matthew 1:23).
It was this very fact that made the shepherds go back to their flocks rejoicing. It was this fact that caused the wisemen to bow down in worship. It’s the fact that God is with us, that the creator of the universe stripped himself of glory and became like one of us in the form of this little baby that is such good news.
This is exactly what the Bible tells us in John’s gospel, this is the good news,
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us…” (John 1:1, 14).
And so, what that means for us today, is that when you’re lost and confused, when you don’t know where to go, Jesus is with you as your guide. When you’re hurting and feel all alone, he’s with you as your friend. When you’re in a difficult time he’s with you as your comforter. If you’re sick, he’s with you as your healer. When you’re weak he’s with you as your strength. And any time you stumble and fall in sin, he’s with you as your Savior, because the Bible tells us, he is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, having been tempted in every way just as we are, yet he was without sin. And so, today, because he’s with us, we’re able to approach the throne of grace with confidence… (Hebrews 4:15-16).
This was the kind of confidence that Mary had, because she knew that God was with her no matter what she was going through. She knew that God would be with her when she told Joseph she was pregnant. She knew that God would be with her as she convinced him that this child was conceived by the Holy Spirit. She knew that God would be with her as she traveled to Bethlehem. She knew that even though there was no place to stay at the inn that God would be with her as she gave birth in the stable.
You see, it was this fact that God was with her that became even more practical when she fled to Egypt to save the life of her Son. Or when he was lost in Jerusalem at the age of 12. But the truth that God was with her became even more powerful as many years later she watched her Son being falsely accused, brutally abused, and suffering on a cross for the very sinners for whom he would die. You see, Mary knew, she had confidence that God was with her on that first night as she waited and wondered, and again on the second night, and again on the third day when the stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty. She knew that God was with her, that he had risen, because he is Immanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23). And so, there is no doubt, he is Lord, he’s with us, and really practically, number three, he helps us.
3. He Helps Us
This is such great news, especially during the Christmas season, because it’s often during this time of year that we find ourselves feeling drained, defeated, and depressed. Maybe it’s because of the dreary cold of winter or maybe it’s the busyness, the finances, and all the gifts that need to be bought, but whatever it is, it’s good to know that we have a Savior from whom the Bible tells us,
“We may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
And so, as we fix our eyes on Jesus, as we draw near to him, he’s helping us, and this is so important because the holidays can be very difficult. You know, you want to be joyful, but you don’t often feel very joyful, and a few of you are experiencing this right now.
Some of you need some help this Christmas and so we must daily remind ourselves that he is Lord, he’s with us, and he helps us. That’s what the Bible tells us in Hebrews chapter 13,
“God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So, we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper” (Hebrews 13:5-6).
And when you hear those words, you begin to feel it, because they’re doing something deep inside of you. They’re building faith that Jesus is helping you and his Word gets inside of you increasing your joy because the Bible says,
“The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down” (Psalms 146:8).
And so, he helps us to persevere when we’re experiencing depression, fear, or anxiety and he replaces it with his joy. It’s not something that we can produce on our own, it’s not just having the right attitude, but it’s something that he gives us. You see, the joy he gives is a fruit of his Spirit, it comes from spending time with him, and so our joy is not dependent upon our circumstances, our joy is dependent upon our time in the presence of Jesus. Our joy is placed in us by the Holy Spirit and its the overflow of our relationship with Jesus because as the psalmist said,
“My help comes from the Lord…” (Psalm 121:2).
This is good news and this is what we see in the Christmas story. The Messiah has been born, he is Christ the Lord, he’s with us, and he helps us. He’s the King of Kings and Lord of lords, the Alpha and the Omega, the author and perfecter of our faith, the beginning and the end. Therefore, we rejoice knowing his name is Immanuel, he is “God with us”. And so, as we close, in the lonely darkness of that night so long ago, the angel announced to the shepherds,
“I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10).
This is the good news of great joy; that Christ has come into the world to help us, to rescue us, to seek and to save those who are lost. The Messiah came to save us from our sins and save us from eternal separation from him. This is what makes Christmas so wonderful, that he’s not a God who’s far off, but he’s a relational God who came to be with us. He’s our Savior, he’s the bread of life, and the hope of the nations. He came to reveal himself to you just as the angel said,
“A Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).
He’s been born to you, he’s with you, and he helps you. Jesus said, I have good news, the kingdom of heaven has come near, so repent and believe in the gospel. You see, he came to forgive you of your sin so that you could experience the reality of his presence; knowing him, loving him, serving him, and spending eternity with him. Let’s pray together as we close.
Graphics, notes, and commentary from LifeChurch, Ministry Pass, PC Study Bible, Preaching Library, and Sermon Central. Scripture from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.