Pastor Sherry’s Message for Christmas Eve
Scriptures: Isa 9:2-7; Luke 2:1-20
I ask you to think tonight about birth announcements.
Remember when we used to get a small card in an envelope, telling us of a birth? It would have a cute motif (bunnies, chicks, teddys, pink for a girl, blue for a boy); the baby’s name; his/her birthdate, length, birth-weight; and the tired but proud parents’ names. Nowadays, the news appears in a more dramatic style: Typically there is a picture of the newborn, or perhaps one of the baby and mom, or of the parents with the newborn. My personal favorite was of a mom tenderly holding the baby’s tiny hand in her own.
Again, we are given all of the pertinent info, and we celebrate with the family who has brought a new little one into the world.
Now, contrast this with Jesus’ day, when they lacked cell phones that could take pictures, Shutterfly to reproduce them as cards, or even other kinds of cameras with which to capture a birth. Scripture has only words with which to mark for us the sacred and phenomenally important event of Jesus’ birth—and yet, we get the point and are moved, aren’t we?
All of our Scripture passages tonight either foretell or describe Jesus’ Coming/Advent; but I am going to focus on two: Isaiah 9:2-7 and Luke 2:1-20.
Isa 9:2-7 was written between 700-750 years before Jesus’ actual birth. In it, the prophet predicts who Jesus will be/what He will accomplish. Notice, he doesn’t mention anything about his weight or length. Our Luke passage tells us His earthly parents are young, poor, and homeless. Since Joseph was taking them to his place of birth, Bethlehem, we might assume he had some kinfolk there. But apparently he did not (Perhaps they had died or moved away). Not one family member was present to provide shelter for them in a guest room. They had to make do in a shed/stable.
Isaiah focuses instead on the fact that Jesus (later known as the “Light of the World”) will bring light to a spiritually dark region, Galilee of the Gentiles. The area around Nazareth was known for belief in a large variety of pagan gods. As J. Vernon McGee (my favorite Bible commentator) says, “They had a lot of religion, but they never had Christ” (Luke, p.94).
Then Isaiah jumps ahead to Christ’s Second Coming, telling us the characteristics and the roles Jesus will demonstrate when He comes again as King of Kings and Lord of Lords:
(Verse 6), and the government will be on His shoulders. This tells us that Jesus will be strong. He will have the strength, intelligence, and leadership ability to rule/govern the whole earth. Wow!
He will be called Wonderful…. We will call Him Wonderful because, like His heavenly Father, He performs wonders. He healed the sick and the broken-hearted. He paid the penalty for our sins. He restored (reconciled) us to a good and an intimate relationship with His Father. These are all significant because we could not have accomplished these things on our own.
(He will be called) Counselor…. He never said to His guys, “Fellows, what do you think I should do now?” He did not need the counsel of another, because He was/is exceedingly wise.
(He will be called) Mighty God…. Like the Father, He is known as El Gibbor. This means He is omnipotent, all powerful.
(He will be called) Everlasting Father…. He did not give birth to children from His own flesh. But, again, like the Father, He is known as Avi adàthe Father of Eternity. He is the creator of all things, even time, and events far off. The Apostle John tells us in John 1:3, Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. AndPaul adds in Colossians 1:16, For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities. All things were created by Him and for Him. Like a Father, He loves, provides, protects, and disciplines us.
(He will be called) Prince of Peace….In the Hebrew, He is called Sar-Shalohim. He will initiate peace and He will sustain peace. Truly, there can be no peace, no lasting peace, until Jesus rules the earth. When Jesus comes again, He will accomplish extraordinary things!
Luke’s passage (2:1-20) then records the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth event. While we celebrate Jesus’ birth in toasty, comfortable homes, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph huddled in humble, uninsulated animalhousing. While the future King of Kings and Lord of Lords should havehad the comforts of an opulent and warm palace, his quiet, humble arrival was nevertheless celebrated in a most spectacular way! First one angel appeared to provide a spectacular birth announcement! Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. Next, the angel invited the shepherds to come and see the One who would become Our Great Shepherd. Then suddenly, loads more angels show up! They form a heavenly chorus and proceed to praise God and sing…Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men [and women] on who His favor rests.
What a birthday celebration! The shepherds do trek off to see the newborn Christ. They are delighted with His birth! After worshipping Him, they go tell everyone they know (quicker than a mailed announcement)–spreading the word that Messiah had come.
Tonight (Christmas Eve) and tomorrow (Christmas Day), let’s be aware of what we are celebrating–the birth of Jesus, our Messiah. Over and over, God had his prophets foretell His coming. Then, finally, (drum roll, please!) He arrives in the wee dark hours of Christmas morning. Christ is the reason for the season. Come, let us adore Him!
©Rev. Dr. Sherry Adams 2020