Sermon – Luke 2:1-16 (Christmas Eve – 2018)
O God, as You once caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light, grant, we beseech You, that we who have known the mysteries of that Light here on earth may come to the fullness of Its joys in heaven; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.
Grace to you and peace from God, our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.
6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
11 “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 “And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, 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, goodwill toward men!”
15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”
16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.
Dear fellow redeemed,
We find in a number of Christmas carols in which the author used some artistic license with some of the details about the night of Jesus’ birth. What animals were really there around the holy family? Were the stars shining in the bright sky that night, or was it a cloudy night? Did baby Jesus really not cry? And did Joseph Mohr, who wrote Silent Night 200 years ago, mean to say that radiant beams shone from Jesus’ holy face? Was there a glow?
But, of course, there are a number of details that we do know that Scripture tells us. One thing we know is beautifully said by Mohr in Silent Night, right after he mentions the radiant beams from Christ’s holy face, he says that in that face, is the “dawn of redeeming grace.”
What did the shepherds see when they came to Bethlehem? They saw Joseph and Mary, and the Babe lying in a manger. Whatever kind of night it was, and whatever animals were there around the manger, when the shepherds looked at the face of the child there wrapped in swaddling cloths, they saw the dawn of redeeming grace.
The night has ended, the day has broken the darkness! Surely, God’s promises are as good as done. Every promise God made of the coming Messiah foretold through the prophets were as good as done, for through this promise, the Old Testament believers already had the forgiveness and righteousness that Christ would eventually win. But there becomes a time, when the promise is no longer promise, and it becomes fulfillment.
This night the Christ has arrived! Look at that face, and you see God’s redeeming grace. It is grace, because in Him we see the undeserved love of God. What benefit was there in it for God? What was there that led God to do this, for we are sinners, unworthy of His love or for one act of kindness from Him. But He shows His undeserved love for us in this Child.
And it is a redeeming grace, because this love of God is active, it is self-sacrificing. The shepherds saw in that face of baby Jesus, the one who will live a perfect life and die an innocent death to save us from sin, death, and hell.
And so in faith, behold this wonderful thing that we ponder tonight, that Christ, the Savior is born! God’s promise of redemption is now fulfilled in the Christ who has come for us and our salvation.
Let the dawn of His redeeming grace shine upon you who sorrow over your sins, for it is for sinners that He is born, to be the sacrificial Lamb to free you from the condemnation of all your sins.
Let the dawn of His redeeming grace shine upon you, brokenhearted, for He has come to make all things new! He delivers you from the evil one, from this evil generation, and from the brokenness of this fallen world. And He brings you into the newness of life in His kingdom of light, where we have peace with God!
Let the dawn of His redeeming grace shine upon you, o you who mourn in this the valley of the shadow of death, for His light swallows up the darkness of death. The child born in Bethlehem, has redeemed us from death, and all who die in Him, are delivered from this land of the dying, and are welcomed into heaven, the land of the living!
May the dawn of His redeeming grace bring you all great peace and joy today and always! God has fulfilled His promises. Christ is born for you! Amen.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.