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Title: God Matters
Text: Luke 2.8-21
Introduction: We’re in the midst of our Sermon Series Christmas Songs. Our previous two songs (Zechariah & Mary) were set in the timeframe of ‘BC’ – that is, “Before Christ.” They took place before Christ was born. 1st, we meet Zechariah when he enters into the Holy Place and sees an Angel named Gabriel. Think about this: at this point in history, God has been silent for some 400 years. The Remnant of Israel came back from Exile and settled, or should I say ‘resettled,’ the land. You might recall that the Old Testament closes out with the promise of one who would come and prepare the way of the Messiah. Amos and other minor prophets foretold of a famine of God’s Word. And so there was silence… for 400 years. Next, we meet Mary. Her story a little different than Zechariah’s story, but, as we shall see, presented in similar fashion.
These two songs appear in Luke 1. In Chapter 2.1-7, we have the story of the birth of Christ. That’s our Christmas story – so we’ll hold off on telling it for another week. Our story this morning takes place at the same time as his birth or thereabouts. It is a ‘meanwhile, back at the ranch’ moment. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, angels are a bringing a birth announcement to the Shepherds.
I love Baby Announcements; show pics
That’s is how our story begins this morning – with an announcement. But it isn’t just a regular announcement. This announcement outdoes all other announcements. Sure, these announcements are cute and clever. But, man, oh, man – this announcement is pretty spectacular!
We pick up our story in Luke 2.8; rd v 8; Luke has created some spectacular scenes spread out across the country: from the Temple in Jerusalem, up North to a town in Galilee, out to some small village in the Judean Hill Country, to the little town of Bethlehem, and now out into the countryside where shepherds are keeping their watch over their flocks by night. Luke makes these stories so easy for us follow. He helps us see how each story follows:
A Similar Pattern (8-12)
exp.: This storyline follows the same pattern as the previous storylines of Zechariah and Mary:
- The Appearance of an Angel (rd v 9a,b)
- Zechariah sees an Angel standing at the Altar of Incense
- Mary sees an Angel come to her
- The Shepherds see an angel who appears to them. They are working in the dark of night and the darkness of night flees as the angel lights up the sky, dispelling the darkness. I think there is something here of the darkness and the light. Imagery, if you will. As with the appearance of an Angel, each of our stories has…
- The Reaction of Fear (rd v 9c)
- Zechariah: fear fell upon him
- Mary was greatly troubled. In our story this morning…
- The Shepherds are filled with great fear, or as the King James says: they were sore afraid!
- The Appeal to Fear Not in v 10
- 13 – Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because God has heard your prayers!
- 30 – Do not be afraid, Mary, because you have found favor with God!
in both of these passages, the literal translation is Fear not, which is what we see in our text this morning, rd v 10;
- Do not be afraid, Shepherds, because I bring you good news of great Joy!
- The Announcement of a Birth: a son
- Zechariah, God has heard your prayers! Elizabeth is going to bear you a son and you shall call his name John.
- Mary, you have found favor with God and you will conceive and bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus.
- Shepherds, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
- The Sign:
- And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place.
- And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.
- And this will be a sign for you: You will find the baby wrapped in swaddling cloths (i.e.: strips of cloth) and lying in a manger. Here is a question: what makes this sign something special and different that it’ll be easy for them to identify?
- There is the time frame, which is limited to ‘this day’.
- There is the location: the city of David, which is identified for us in v 15; rd v 15; – which fits with Micah’s prophecy (Micah 5.2)
These alone will limit their search. It isn’t like Bethlehem is a big city and it isn’t like there were 25 babies born that day. But, here is where it gets good. Wrapped in strips of cloth is unusual. And even more out of the ordinary is a baby sleeping in a feeding trough. And this is what makes it a sign: This description doesn’t match that announcement!
ill.: Ok, here’s the deal. The greatest miracle of all time is happening this morning! God is coming to earth in human form as a baby boy. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the Messiah you’ve been looking for since Genesis 3.15. Oh, and by the way, the way you’ll recognize him is that he’s going look like a pauper!
t.s.: So, first, we see how each story has a similar pattern. And 2ndly, we see how each story has…
A Song of Praise (13-14)
exp.: rd v13-14; I see this as a crescendo of what has been happening through the evening and possibly early morning hours. When you watch this in a play, it usually takes 30 minutes to an hour. I don’t think the actual story lasts nearly as long. I know what you’re thinking: like your sermons! You guys are so funny.
ill.: I need your help with this. I want you to time me. Get your timer ready. Tell me how long this lasts. Go:
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. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
app.: Stop. Less than a minute, right? Well, I’m thinking with full orchestration it lasted a few seconds longer! But you get the point. This announcement is a lot quicker than many probably think!
t.s.: So we see A Similar Pattern and A Song of Praise. Third, our stories then demonstrate
A Searching Out of the Possibilities (15-20)
exp.: Zechariah is stricken with silence – for months and his barren wife becomes pregnant! Mary travels to their house to take all of this in. Check out what our Shepherds do in v 15; 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” Do you see the word translated things in v 15? The Gk word is ῥῆμα; You’ve probably heard that word before. I think ῥῆμα is hard to translate in English because it doesn’t have just one word in English you can use. Luke 1.37: Because not not able with God every word (or thing or matter). The Shepherds said let’s go see this thing… The Angel said in 1.37 No thing is impossible with God. Or, get rid of the double negative and you have: All things are possible with God! This word can also be translated matter. The Shepherds said, let’s go see this matter… or with the Angel to Mary, No matter is impossible with God. If it matters to God, it’s possible!
Now you see how I got the title to my message this morning!
app.: Like Mary, Like the shepherds, this needs to be our reaction to God’s Word – God’s ῥῆμα; An angel of the Lord probably isn’t going to appear at the end of our bed in the night. Right? But he doesn’t have to! We have God’s Word right here! We need to know that every ῥῆμα of God is going to be accomplished. When God declares a ῥῆμα – a word to you through his Holy Word – you should seek these things out. I don’t like the word things, but things here would be equivalent to the word ῥῆμα. You should seek this ῥῆμα out. Seek this matter out. That’s what the shepherds do. They say: Let us go immediately to Bethlehem and behold this matter which has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.
I have a question for you to ponder: Do you ever wonder if you miss out on wonderful matters because you don’t seek out the matters God makes known to you? Or worse: Do you think God makes matters known to you and you just don’t care enough to pursue them?
Imagine with me now: The shepherds are out in their fields, watching over their sheep by night. Lo, and behold, an Angel of the Lord appears to them and gives them God’s ῥῆμα (just as he did Mary). “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. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Picking up now in v 15: When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Wow, that was really cool. Now, where were we? Ahmed, you were saying…?”
I think that’s kind of how we are when reading God’s word – His Holy Word and we don’t pursue it! It is almost like we just want to read God’s Word to find a good devotional thought for the day. But v 15 doesn’t read that way! 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste…
Matters go just as the Lord revealed they would; So they make a plan (15), they go (16a), they find (16b), they declare it (17), the people are amazed (18), and lastly, God is glorified (20);
t.s.: Now, some of you might be saying: Hey, Hang on there! You skipped v. 19. Don’t you just love verse 19? 19 But Mary treasured up all these things (ῥῆμα), pondering them in her heart. Which brings me to the conclusion this morning…
Conclusion: The events of our lives are matters that must be treasured. Ponder that for a moment. God works in so many ways: relationships, events. God is actively working in your life at this moment. He’s working in the mundane. He’s working in the routine. He’s working in the surprises. He’s working in the sickness. He’s working in the pain. He’s working in the promotion. He’s working in the relationships. He’s working in the struggle. He’s working in the storm. Whatever is going on in your life right now – or, whatever isn’t going on right now – God is at work!
app.: and that matter right there should lead us to do what the shepherds did – glorify and praise God.