Sermon Notes & References

God’s Promise Arrives

Luke 2:7

December 23, 2018

A. Introducing Luke 2:1-20

    1. This Promise a Person 1

    2. Gospels Are His Story 2

B. Time for Taxes

    1. In the Year of Our Lord

    2. The Empire Bends for This Child’s Birth

C. A Godly Couple

    1. God Intervenes in Lives 3

    2. A Full Inn

D. The Sons Lowly Form

    1. His Humiliation 4

    2. The Obedience of the Son 5

E. Heaven’s Host

    1. The Lord of Hosts

    2. The Angels’ Adoration

F. The Favoured Shepherds

    1. Not a Preferred Occupation

    2. “Come, Let Us See”


1 Luke 2:7                                                        God’s Promise Arrives

 

A. Introducing Luke 2:1-20

    1. This Promise a Person

        a. the word of God is filled with promises

            (A)    promises to individuals, to nations

            (B)    promises to people then living, to their distant descendants

            (C)   promises of blessing, promises of punishment

        b. we like to single out promises and claim them for ourselves

            (A)    usually the attractive ones of blessing; not those of punishment

            (B)    often we ignore the conditions of God’s promises: ‘if you will do this, then I, the Lord, shall prosper you, etc.’

            (C)   yet underlying all these promises, which reveal to us God’s caring for mankind, lies the one given to Eve, that her Seed would bruise Satan on the head (Gen 3:15)

        c. that this promised Person is Jesus Christ the apostle Paul makes clear in writing, ‘For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.’ (2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV) – Amen = so be it, so let it be

 

    2. Gospels Are His Story

        a. Jesus Christ is the unifying Subject of the Scriptures

            (A)     the entire Bible, old and new testaments

            (B)    in the Old, the history of mankind narrows down to one family, that of Abraham and then through him the nation of Israel

            (C)   throughout the OT is the repeated promise of the coming One

            (D)   then, in the NT, he comes, and the focus narrows upon Him, until at the cross, He only is the true Israel

        b. the four Gospels are then the story of Jesus Christ

            (A)    each of them approaches that subject from a differing point of view – the following summary has been given by many

            (B)    Mark portrays him as the Servant

            (C)   John as the eternal Son of God dwelling among men

            (D)   Matthew portrays him as the King establishing His Kingdom

            (E)    Luke as the Son of Man, emphasising His humanity

        c. Paul calls Luke the beloved physician

            (A)    perhaps it is because of this background that Dr. Luke tackles his subject the way he does – going back to Jesus’ birth

            (B)    indeed, not only Jesus’, but also the birth of His forerunner, John

            (C)   the books of Luke & Acts were written for an individual

            (D)   in Luke 1:1-4, Luke hints at his methodology in writing

            (E)    “it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus;” (Luke 1:3)

            (F)    Luke’s sources were eyewitnesses from that beginning (1:2), and while we can only speculate on who they were, it seems very clear that Mary, the mother of Jesus was one of them, on account of the detail in these first two chapters of his gospel

            (G)   it is as if we hear in them Mary speaking to us through Luke’s pen

        d. here we hear how God kept His great promise in Jesus Christ

 

B. Time for Taxes

    1. In the Year of Our Lord

        a. it seems that when Dionysius Exiguus in 525AD established a dating system to replace that based on the Roman tyrant Emperor Diocletian, there was an error of about 5 years – so Jesus’ birth was really 5BC

        b. the earliest secular record of such a census is about 6AD

            (A)    the one mentioned in Luke was a decade earlier

            (B)    it may have been experimental to find if it would work

            (C)   it seems successful, for they came afterward about every 14 years

        c. these censuses were preparatory to levying taxes

            (A)    they found out how many people they had

            (B)    calculated how much from each, then sent out the tax bills

            (C)   the CRA does much the same! so you can blame Ceasar Augustus, perhaps, when the next April 30th rolls around

 

    2. The Empire Bends for This Child’s Birth

        a. the ancient empires didn’t directly tax the people, but rather levied tribute against nations they had conquered – as well as charging duties on goods passing through their ports; all the ways nations do today

        b. every Jewish man 20 years and older paid a ½-shekel to the temple for atonement, but this was not really a poll (or head) tax such as Caesar Augustus made

        c. it seems to have been a new innovation – humanly speaking, Caesar wanted the funds, but in reality God was at work, so that Jesus Christ would be born in Bethlehem as He planned, not in Nazareth

 

    3. God bent the whole Roman empire so He would keep His promise!

 

C. A Godly Couple

    1. God Intervenes in Lives

        a. He was very careful in choosing Mary – a chaste virgin maid – and Joseph – a just and merciful man – as Jesus’ human parents

            (A)    these were to be responsible for his care and upbringing

            (B)    Jesus was to experience the normal joys & sorrows that are part of all our childhood experiences – tested in all points like us

            (C)   Jesus would be a natural descendant of King David through Mary, and a legal descendant through Joseph as shown in his two genealogies found in the NT

        b. so the edict of Caesar August had a direct effect upon their lives

            (A)    it meant that Joseph had to go to Bethlehem for the registration

            (B)    but, according to Matthew 1:24-25, he had married Mary by now, yet keeping her in her virgin state as if still only engaged to her

            (C)   which meant that he could not leave Mary behind in Nazareth

                 (1)    because she was already a ways along in her confinement

                 (2)    also, maybe, to deliver her from the prating tongues there

        c. so off they travelled about 150 km south to Bethlehem – and we have no reason to think that they even had a donkey for Mary to ride

 

    2. A Full Inn

        a. Bethlehem was just a small village – I see that now it boasts having 78 hotels starting at $47 a night – but not when Mary & Joseph went

        b. if you were to go today, you might have a problem finding a room available – but it was even more pressing to this couple – no room!

        c. there were many descendants, not only of David, but of others, whose home town was Bethlehem and they were all summoned to go there

        d. how long they had to stay in Bethlehem for the registraton process is unknown, but we do know that before the Magi (wise men) came they were living in a house or part of one.

        e. nor how long they were there before Jesus was born: but it was spent in a stable – a place where the fodder for animals was stored & used

 

    3. God prepared and brought this couple to the place where He had said His King would be born so that He would keep His promise!

 

D. The Son’s Lowly Form

    1. His Humiliation

        a. this Christmas season we have already mentioned Paul’s record of the kenosis, emptying,of the Son of God, second Person of the Trinity: ‘Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.’ Philippians 2:6-7 NIV

            (A)    now behold it in action

            (B)    from heaven’s glory; from adulation of the angels

            (C)   from eternal splendour to earthly sqalour

        b. so that we come to our text, ‘And she [Mary] gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.’

        c. to be born in the out-building of the inn where pack animals were fed

            (A)    placed in a manger, a feeding-trough – that’s what a crib means

            (B)    not in a receiving blanket but rather wrapped in swaddling cloths

            (C)   the practice was to wrap babies in such a way, yet this was in some way different from the norm, for it would identify this baby

 

    2. The Obedience of the Son

        a. this was the birth of Messiah, the King

            (A)    He is the son of David and he has come to His own home town

            (B)    but willingly He submits to the first step in His humiliation

            (C)   the Son who said in prophecy, ‘Then I said, “Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me; I delight to do Thy will, O my God; Thy Law is within my heart.”’ (Psalms 40:7-8), now does so

 

    3. The Son of God submits Himself to the will of the Father so that God would keep His promise.

 

E. Heaven’s Host

    1. The Lord of Hosts

        a. That is one of the OT names of God – Yahweh Tsebaoth

            (A)    hosts has several implications

                 (1)    that of great numbers – it is used this way of the stars

                 (2)    or having geat power – it is used that way of armies

            (B)    but the common use of this phrase is that of God’s heavenly spirits that serve Him constantly

                 (1)    they are diverse in their form and service

                 (2)    just read the visionary books of the Bible and you will find it so

                 (3)    Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah, Revelation

        b. we speak now of the elect angels, not those who did not keep their first estate, but those who faithfully do God’s will

            (A)    from whom the Son could have summoned 12 legions, if he had so chosen, to deliver Him from the soldiers when he was betrayed

            (B)    of whom, Gabriel for one, had been busy in those days

        c. these are now summoned by God for a special service

 

    2. The Angels’ Adoration

        a. first, by one of them to announce publicly the birth of the Christ-Chld – “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.’

        b. second by a host of them, to give praise for this fact – “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

 

    3. God musters His great heavenly army to ensure that they make known that He has kept His promise

 

F. The Favoured Shepherds

    1. Not a Preferred Occupation

        a. nearly all of us have had, at one time or another, to do a job which is not our favourite – a dirty job, an unpleasant job, a necessary job

            (A)    perhaps that is the case now, just in earning a living

            (B)    well, shepherding sounds like a pleasant occupation – after all did Jacob not willingly serve 20 years to earn his wives and riches?

        b. but it was not thought to be so to the people of Israel

            (A)    David, later to be king, got this dirty job thrust down upon him by his older brothers as they went out to seek glory as soldiers

            (B)    because sheep are disorganized, stupid, troublesome animals

            (C)   and it is a 24-hours a day, 7 days a week occupation

        c. and there they were, out on the hills – at least chilly – keeping sheep

 

    2. “Come Let Us See!”

        a. yet for all that, it was members of this despised occupation who had the privilege of being the first people – other than family – to see Messiah

        b. it was they who assented to the invitation which the Lord made known to them and went to Bethlehem near by to see what had come to pass

        c. it was they who told the wondering parents of the angels

        d. it was they who were the first witnesses to the arrival of God’s Promise – a child in a manger in a rude outbuilding to the town inn

 

    3. God demonstrated His grace in revealing to these lowly shepherds, and through them to the towns-folk that God’s Promise had arrived in the form of a tiny baby who would be Saviour of the faithful and Lord of the world

 

G. Let us, who know His great salvation, join with those shepherds in making Him known.


Footnotes

Endnotes

1

© 2018 by Garth Hutchinson, Faith Fellowship Baptist Church of Aurora (Ontario): may be distributed or quoted freely, only let this be done to the glory “of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Titus ii.13). Except as noted otherwise, quotations are from the New American Standard version, used by permission. Various other English versions of the Holy Bible may be used in this sermon. Explanatory additions to the Bible text are shown in [braces]. Version identifiers are:

 

              AV          Authorized (King James) Version of 1769

              NAS        New American Standard version © 1960, 1995 The Lockman Foundation (usually the 1995 edition)

              NIV         New International Version © 1984 by the International Bible Society

              NKJV              New King James Version © 1979 Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers

       NRSV             New Revised Standard Version © 1989 Division of Christian Education of national Council of Churches of Christ

       JBP         The New Testament in Modern English, J. B. Phillips, Geoffrey Bles Ltd

       UBS        Greek text of the United Bible Societies; particularly that published in 1954 by The British and Foreign Bible Society

       WEY               The New Testament in Modern Speech © 1902, 1912 R. F. Weymouth

 

Some of the commentaries and resources used in the preparation of this message are identified as follow:

 

       Barnes –  Notes on the New Testament by Alfred E. Barnes

       Calvin –   Commentaries on the Bible, by Jean Calvin; translated into English & published in the Online Bible.

       EB   -      The Expositor’s Bible, edited by Sir William Robertson Nicoll, C.H., D.D., LL.D., 1903

       EBC             The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, © 1986 Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 49530, MI:

       EGT             The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Hodder & Stoughton; 1903

       Gill       Exposition of the Old Testament, Exposition of the New Testament, by John Gill, D.D.

       JFB  -      Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Jamieson, Fausset & Brown; S. S. Scranton & Co. 1872

       Kerux –   The sermon & illustration data base compiled by Rev. David Holwick at the web-site, www.holwick.com.

       RWP             Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament, by Dr. A. T. Robertson