Christmas Morning: Luke 2
Last night we looked at four themes from Luke 1:1-4. I would like to highlight these four themes as we consider the birth of Christ from our text in Luke 2:1-38.
First, Luke said in verse one, ‘ Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us…’.
Secondly, Luke said in verse two that there were many eyewitnesses and ministers who faithfully passed on accurate accounts of the word to others. He said, ‘...just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to them’.
Third, Luke said in verse three that he wanted to write this Gospel. We read, ‘... having followed all things closely for some time past, (it seemed good to me)to write an orderly account for you…’.
Fourth, Luke’s admitted in verse four that his intent in writing this gospel was to promote certainty in the message that was being taught. Luke writes, ‘...to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.’
If we narrowed these four themes down to just a few words we might say...
Luke will speak of the Things Accomplished
Luke will give Reliable Eyewitness Testimony
Luke will give Careful Attention To The Testimony
By doing these things others will have Certainty of the Revelation Taught
This morning we will read the Christmas story recorded in Luke 2 and point out these themes in this text. These four themes permeate this text and can be seen as you look at every section, in every individual and in every circumstance that is described.
I hope that you will come to see that if we will apply these things into our life we will…
live in the reality of the things that God has accomplished.
attune our ears and hearts to reliable testimony.
we will give careful attention to the gospel and the words of Scripture.
we will experience confidence in what we have been taught.
The Things That God Has Accomplished
Luke 2:1-7 says, “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”
In verses we see the first theme: the LORD is accomplishing His will in every circumstance. (1:1).
At first glance, it appears that these circumstances are happening randomly and by chance. It appears that political leaders and their decrees have the final word. However, God is in control. God uses all these means and secondary causes to fulfill His Word and to keep His promises.
It was not Joseph’s idea to go to Bethlehem to fulfill scripture. The angel of the LORD had not told Joseph to take his wife to Bethlehem in a dream. Instead, God works out His will and accomplishes all things for His glory by using the decrees of the secular leaders and the census that they require (13-14).
We see the sovereignty of God clearly at work as we read in Luke 2: 6-7. It says, “And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” Mary was a virgin who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. Nothing is impossible for the LORD to do and here it is the sovereign power of God that brings about the birth of this child.
The Shepherds Are Given Reliable Eyewitness Testimony From The Angel Of The LORD
Luke 2:8-14 says, “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. 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. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’”
The main theme in this section is that God gives reliable testimony through the Angels to the shepherds. We are told that the angel of the Lord comes to them shepherds and the glory of the Lord shines all around them and the angel says, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (10) In Luke 2:14 a heavenly host of angels is heard praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased.”
In verse 9 the angel of the LORD appears with the glory of God shining all around. The shepherds experience great fear when these things happen. But the angel tells them to fear not because he comes with Good News! The angel tells them that a child that was born that day in the city of David a Savior, was Christ the Lord. Then we are told that a multitude of heavenly hosts began to praise the Almighty God saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’.
There is only One who is worthy of our praise and worship and that is the Sovereign God who is enthroned in the Highest heavens. The LORD sent the angel of the Lord and this large host of angels to tell us of the Good News that has now come.
There Are Many Who Give Careful Attention To The Testimony That The Angels Gave
We see this in Luke 2:15-24, “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.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.” And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”
The main theme of this section is that there are many individuals in this text who give careful attention to the testimony that has been given. For example, we see this initially in the shepherds. The shepherds have heard the testimony of the angels and they want to go and investigate these things more closely. Therefore they say, “Let us go over to Bethlehem to see this thing that has happened. Which the Lord has made known to us.”
They knew that these angels had been sent by God and they had faith that what the angels had said was true. They said, “Let us go over to Bethlehem to see this thing that has happened. Which the Lord has made known to us.” Because of their faith they went with haste (16) and saw (17) that everything was just as they had been told (20).
Having been told about all that God had done by the angel of the Lord these men paid careful attention to the testimony and then they began to witness to others concerning these things (Luke 1:3). We see in Luke 2:17 that the shepherds ‘made known the saying that had been told them concerning the child’. Their hearts were moved to worship, glorify, praise and exalt God for all that they had seen and heard.
We see in Luke 2:15-24 that there are two different responses to the shepherds testimony. We read in Luke 2:17-18, “And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.” There are many who hear the Gospel and are moved to wonder about what they have heard. Perhaps this is a lasting wonder or maybe it is simply a temporary wonder that is contrasted to Mary who treasured these things in her heart.
We see that Mary seems to respond in a more meaningful way. She listened to the shepherds and ‘treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart’ (19). In other words, it seems as though Mary heard the eyewitnesses and carefully considered these things in her heart so that their testimony could strengthen her confidence in what God was doing (Luke 1:4).
Not only did Joseph and Mary listen to the testimony of the shepherds but we see in Luke 2:21-24 that they continued to recall the trustworthy testimony of two others. First, they remembered what the angel of the Lord had said before Mary had conceived. Secondly, they remembered the testimony of God through Moses. We see both of these things in verse 21, “And a the end of eight days, when He was circumcised, He was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.”
In verses 22-24 we see that Joseph and Mary continue to obey the Scriptures in everything that they are doing with this child. At the time of purification they brought the child before the Lord (22). They dedicated this child to the Lord because of what is recorded in scripture (23). And when they did this they offered the appropriate sacrifices under the Old Covenant that were to be given (24).
Obedience In These Things Will Build Our Confidence in the Certainty of the Revelation Taught
We read in Luke 2:25-38, “Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
29 ‘Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.’
And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.”
In these verses we can see that as Joseph and Mary engaged in these themes their confidence in God grew and they could see more clearly what He is doing.
When Joseph and Mary come to the Temple with the baby Jesus they are greeted by two God-fearing people. First, they meet a man named Simeon. He is described as a righteous and devout man. We are also told that he was waiting for the consolation of Israel and that they Holy Spirit was upon him.
Then secondly they meet a woman named Anna. She is described as a prophetess from the tribe of Asher. She was married for seven years and after her husbands death she remained in the Temple and never departed. While she was there she worshiped with fasting and prayer night and day.
God would use these two saints to encourage Joseph and Mary and everyone else who was there at the Temple. Simeon and Anna also reflect all four of the themes that we see in Luke 1:1-4.
God will use them to speak of what the Lord was accomplishing in this child.
When Simeon sees the child he is moved by the Spirit and speaks of the salvation that this child will bring to all people: Jew and Gentile (29-32).
When Anna sees the child she praises the Lord and told the people that this is the child who would redeem His people (38).
They were reliable eye-witnesses.
They were god-fearing, righteous and godly, filled with the Spirit, prayerful, worshipful, disciplined and devout (25-26, 36-38)
They were attentive to what God had said and paid close attention to what was spoken.
Simeon waited for the consolation of Israel (25-26).
Anna did not depart from the Temple and she waited for the redemption of Israel (37-38).
Their testimony was of the Holy Spirit and was to be received.
Joseph and Mary marveled at what Simeon had said and he prophesied directly to Mary (33-34).
Anna spoke to all who were waiting for the redemption of Israel (38).
If received their testimony would strengthen people’s faith and the message would become more certain (34-35, 38).
My encouragement for us from the two texts that we have considered over the last two days is that we would reflect these four themes in our lives. That as we implement these things so that our hearts will be encouraged, our faith strengthened and our minds will be at peace as we consider the sovereignty of God and all that He has done. As we consider the eyewitness testimony concerning the Good News of Jesus Christ. As we carefully pay attention to the things in Scripture concerning Christ and begin to share it with others. And that we will grow in confidence and edify others around us as we share these Scriptural truths with them.