Christmas JOY:

"Christmas is about You"

Pastor Don Prewitt

12-18-16

 

 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.

Luke 2:8-17 NIV

 

Do not be afraid.
Before we get started with this beautiful story of Jesus coming to earth lets talk about the audience that first got to hear about Jesus...the shepherds.

-The shepherds were a labeled people.  They were homeless of sorts, transient and living out in the open fields.


-The shepherds profession kept them from observing the ceremonial laws, which meant a lot to the religious Jews of that time.

-They were so simple in their lifestyle that they often got words like “thine” and “mine” messed up.

-They had trouble remembering all the ceremonial hand washing and rituals put on the Jewish people because of the law.

-They were considered unreliable and unable to testify in a court of law

-They may have been devout men but they came from a despised class

Maybe the best way for us to think about how they felt in that moment is to think about the president of the United States stopping his limo in an alley, getting out of the car and coming over to a homeless, broken person.  He looks up and immediately knows the presidents face.  Do you think that this homeless and most likely labeled person would think that the most powerful man in the US, and maybe even in the world would actually be coming to hang out?  The homeless one would probably think he's there to clean up the streets, put him in jail, deliver the streets of his type.  Its not likely that those two would ever have an encounter.


In the time that the Bible was being written The Jewish people would tie a rope on the leg of the priest who got to go into the Holy of Holies (the very brilliance of God) just in case a secret sin in the priest encountered the holy, brilliance of God, resulting in death.  If these people who had the label of “educated, acceptable and clean” would fear the glory of God, you can imagine what these shepherds who were labeled as uneducated, unacceptable and unclean felt when the angel encountered them.
The angel wrapped in the very presence and glory of God spoke the first words recorded...DONT BE AFRAID.

You know what that phrase “Dont be afraid” means in the original text?  It means “DONT BE AFRAID”.  And I believe that it was our first indication that a new thing was coming.  A love and acceptance from God, no matter what our class, the labels that have been given to us, our status, our sin, our abilities.  God was saying to us all...”I am coming so that you no longer have to be afraid, no longer have to live under labels.  I am coming to find YOU”

THERE ARE SOME OF YOU TODAY THAT REALLY NEED TO HEAR WHAT I JUST SAID.  YOU NEED TO KNOW AND REALLY EXPERIENCE THE TRUTH OF GOD COMING AND INVADING THE LABEL YOUVE BEEN GIVEN.  HEAR HIM SAY TODAY:  I CAME FOR YOU.

Do not be afraid
I bring you good news that will cause great joy (tidings of Great Joy)
Good new: gospel
Great Joy:  Calm delight

It could be rephrased like this:  Don’t be afraid anymore because I am bringing you the gospel of calm delight...and His name is Jesus!


Its interesting about the Greek word for Great Joy.  Its taken from the root word for palm tree.  Ive been to Israel and its pretty rocky and hot.  A palm tree would be a welcomed friend to a weary traveler.  I believe that God was proclaiming to his people and us
that this gospel that was coming in the form of a little baby would be for us like a palm tree in the dessert, protecting and shading us from the heat of life on this broken planet we call earth.  

SOME OF YOU ALSO NEED TO EXPERIENCE THIS CALM DELIGHT, THIS PALM TREE IN THE DESSERT AS YOU APPROACH CHRISTMAS.  

Exercise:  Breath in this calm delight, close your eyes, repeat after me:
“Dont be afraid anymore because Im giving to you the gospel of calm delight. Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy, which will be for all the people."

What good news this must have been for the shepherds!  Yes, it is true that He came to redeem the children of Israel first, but He had in the plans all along to redeem all men, all women, all classes, all people.

This is what Paul tells us non-Jewish people:

Ephesians 2:12-13
“Remember that at that time (before Christ came) that you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

Romans 3:23 says:
“For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”  

So every one of us needs a Savior and His name is Jesus!

SOME OF YOU FEEL LIKE FOREIGNERS TODAY.  YOU FEEL AWKWARD IN CERTAIN SETTINGS, DIFFERENT THAN SOME.  NOT REALLY DESIRED TO BE “ON THE TEAM”.  YOUR STORY SEEMS SO FAR FROM THE STORY OF OTHERS.  AND YOU HAVE ASKED YOURSELF, IF OTHERS CANNOT ACCEPT ME OR GIVE ME A PLACE, THEN WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD GOD FIND A PLACE FOR ME.  BUT YOU, MY FRIEND ARE MISTAKEN!  JESUS CAME FOR ALL THE PEOPLE...AND ALL THE PEOPLE INCLUDES YOU.  TAKE THAT IN FOR A MOMENT...THINK ABOUT IT:  THE NIGHT THAT JESUS CAME TO EARTH TO BECOME THE “OTHER” AS PASTOR TIM SAID LAST WEEK, HE CAME WITH YOU IN HIS HEART AND MIND.  THAT HOLY NIGHT WAS ABOUT YOU!  THE STORY OF CHRISTMAS HOLDS A HOLY INVITATION BY GOD HIMSELF, ASKING IF YOU WOULD PLEASE BE ON HIS TEAM!

Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy, which will be for all the people  
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

a SAVIOR is one who saves or delivers a person.  

1 John 4:9-10
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

John 3: 16
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

You may not want to look at the depravity of man, wanting so desperately to believe that people are “Generally good”, but if God sent a Savior it was because we needed a savior.  

Luke 2:9-16
Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy, which will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you; you will find a baby wrapped in clothes 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 heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests!: When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, Lets go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.  So the HURRIED off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.


I am convinced that anything of value will usually cost us something.  The same is true with accepting this free gift of Jesus Christ coming to earth with YOU in mind.  Do you have to work yourself to God and make sure you do enough Good things to be on his team, no?  But just like the shepherds who responded by going and seeing this child, we also have the priviledge of responding to this Savior.  They could have stayed where they were, believing that the Savior had come, but they would have never seen him face to face.  I am asking you today to not just believe, but to come...come and adore this one called savior

this one called friend
this one called Jesus
this one who came for YOU.