"The First Noel"
As many reflect upon the birth of Jesus, we will look at the announcement made by an angel to a group of shepherds out in a field. What does that message mean to us 2,000 years later?
The First Noel
A. Because of the census Joseph was obligated to go to his family home, Bethlehem. While Joseph had taken Mary as his wife, Luke calls her “pledged” because they had not consummated their wedding and she would still be a virgin. By this time, Mary was at the end of her pregnancy and I am sure traveling was not fun or easy.
B. But what I find interesting is the statement that Luke tells us as to circumstances of the birth of Jesus. READ Luke 2:6-7, because “there was no room for them in the inn.”
C. Having traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem and about to deliver a baby the last place I would guess they desired for this birth to take place was among the stabled animals. Why would God send Jesus into the world to be born of lowly means?
D. If that man only knew that his little inn would place such a big part in the story of the Messiah, do you think he would have found some room for them in the inn?
E. I can see it happening, due to the census, this little town had no accommodations available for the many travelers. I choose to believe this innkeeper did the best he could and had pity on the man and the pregnant woman.
I. A Message to the Messy
A. Luke continues the story with the reading we just had. The birth of Jesus was told, not to kings and nobles, but to shepherds. I want to start by reminding you, that this is not just an announcement, we are given the Word of Life.
B. An angel of the Lord appeared to them. What we see is that this announcement was of such a great significance that God may have appeared also. The wording in our Bible is that the “glory of the Lord shone around them.” This word for glory has several levels of meaning. But the phrase “the glory of the Lord” is special to the Hebrew. It was the glory of the Lord that appeared as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night during the years in the wilderness. It was the glory of the Lord that filled the temple of Solomon. They understood this phrase to mean the presence and essence of God among men. How did these shepherds feel as both God’s glory and angel came before them? Terrified.
C. The angel speaks to them and tells them what I want you to take home with you (verse 10). I love good news. But it seems even this angel can’t contain the greatness of the news. He tells them that this “good news” is going to bring great joy for all the people.
D. So what is this good news that will bring great joy to the people? (Read verse 11-12) In the town of Bethlehem a the Messiah has been born. He is the Christ Lord. The one they have been waiting for. The one they understood to lead them and bring them to greatness.
E. God among men has come but not in a way anyone expected. So why is this great announcement told to shepherds? Because they matter. Because Jesus was not for just the rich, the righteous, the rulers, but because the Savior, Christ the Lord, is for all the people. Because I matter and you matter. That is why God gives this great message to Shepherd the night Jesus was born.
II. Heaven Burst Open
A. But let me tell you just a little more about this story. Luke 2:13-14. A “host” is a military term. The army of God was on a grand parade. Heaven opens up!
B. To think that the birth of Jesus wasn’t that important to the heavenly realm is wrong. Why this military term is used I don’t know, but I find it exciting. All heaven seems to be breaking loose and the only people on earth privileged to witness it, is a group of outcasts.
C. Look at the anthem that this great heavenly host say. “Glory to God in the highest.” One might think that is a bit unusual. Why glorify God instead of the baby Jesus. But lest we forget, Jesus coming was planned from before the creation of the world. The plan of God to redeem man had come into this world and would walk among us for 33 years.
D. The last statement of the angels anthem is, “and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased.” Jesus, of whom the angel would say, is the good news of great joy for all the people. The reason why, is because it is only through him can peace truly come to men.
E. In a day filled with all sorts of emotions for everyone here, let me ask you to let Jesus be the one to fill you with peace. It is not so much “peace on earth, goodwill toward men” as it is, that people who see Jesus for who he is, Christ the Lord, receive from God real peace. The lack of peace with many is a lack of a relationship with God through Jesus. Believe the whole Christmas story, that starts with the babe in the manger and culminates with Christ on a cross and the power of a resurrection that does not fail, then you have a peace that transcends understanding.
A. I want to share the words of a song that was written by Mark Lowery. The song is entitled, “Mary, Did You Know?”
B. Jesus is the Great I AM, may you know the joy of the message that came that night over 2000 years ago and through it find the peace that comes in salvation.