The Personal Impact of Christ's Birth
July 30, 2017 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series:
Topic: Incarnation Verse: Luke 2:15–2:20
“THE PERSONAL IMPACT OF CHRIST’S BIRTH”
Theme: People who hear the Gospel and are given understanding by the Holy Spirit are changed forever.
I. The Gospel Causes Urgent Response – 2:15-16
A. The Urge to Obey – v. 15
- The shepherds were the recipients of tremendous news – good news – about the provision of a Savior who would bring peace between God and men – cp. v. 14
- The shepherds had been informed that they were to go to Bethlehem and see the child who had been born – and had received information re: how they would recognize Him when they found Him – cp. v. 12
- This demonstrates that the depictions of Jesus with a halo, or surrounded by Mary who had a halo are totally inaccurate.
- There was nothing different about the child – except most mothers did not lay their newborns in mangers!
- When the angels had completed their anthem of praise to the Lord, and the glory of the Lord receded from around them, they were left with bewilderment and choices.
- Interestingly, they were immediately aware of a compelling desire to see the reality of this announcement – “When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, ‘Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’”
- They were aware that the message that they had received was from the Lord and they possessed the faith needed to believe it.
- The “thing” [τὸ ῥῆμα] is rhema – “a spoken word or fact”
- They understood that the information they had received was from God – a spoken truth that they desired to see fulfilled.
- Faith comes exactly this way – through the “word” concerning Christ Jesus – cp. Romans 10:17
- Having received the Word of God, it demanded that they obey and they diligently set out and went “straight to Bethlehem.”
- This models for us exactly how we all ought to respond to the Word of God – in obedience of faith – cp. 1 Thessalonians 2:13.
B. The Urgency in Obedience – v. 16
- When a person becomes convinced that the Gospel is truth, they are drawn powerfully to the person of Christ Jesus.
- We are told that these shepherds “… came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.”
- The emphasis here is that they wasted no time – they put this on the very first order of priority and were “urged on” – it was urgent!
- It was not that is was a simple act – the term “found their way” reveals that it was after much seeking – a discovery resulting from a search.
- They weren’t able to enter Bethlehem and find it evident where this child was – they had to search for Him and finally located Him.
- This represents those who truly come to Christ – they don’t just casually “accept” Him after hearing about Him – they have souls that are stirred and they “find their way” to Him through the guidance of God’s Spirit and the Word – John 6:44-45.
- However, it was something that they weren’t willing to let rest – they had to find Him!
- What role does God’s Word have in the forming & strengthening of your faith?
- Are there responses to God’s message to which you should respond differently?
- What impact does delayed response to God’s Word typically have?
II. The Gospel Causes Desire to Testify – 2:17-18
A. The Enthusiasm of Faith – v. 17
- The shepherds apparently held their tongues concerning what they had heard as they searched for the child.
- However, “when they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.”
- The term “statement” is once again this term rhema – and referred to the announcement from the angels – the “spoken word” establishing again that their faith had come to a new level whereby the Word of God had been heard.
- They would have relayed how God had revealed that this child was the One who had been so-long promised who would bring reconciliation between God and man – cp. v. 14
- This would have included the fact that He was the “Savior who is Christ the Lord” – cp. v. 11
- “Savior” – the One who would deliver men from the sin of the flesh – cp. Genesis 3:15
- “Christ” – (Messiah) the One who would rule over men and bring justice to all.
- “the Lord” – the One who would provide life eternal as the self-existent “I am.”
B. The Effect of Faith – v. 18
- The immediate impact of their testimony was that “all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.”
- “wondered” [θαυμάζω] - It amazed or astonished them – causing them to stop and ponder what the news about this child meant.
- These original evangelists declared the message of truth concerning Christ and it resulted in the people being confronted with life-changing truth.
- As we relate to people who are lost – the confidence of our testimonies and assurance of our faith ought to do the same thing.
- We have something even more powerful and greater than what the shepherds received – we have the whole of Scripture – a “more sure word of prophecy” – cp. 2 Peter 1:19.
- In what ways do you find to “make known” the truth about the Savior?
- How does the example of these shepherds affect you – encouragement, shame, rebuke, affirmation?
- What typically causes a person who knows the Savior to neglect making Him known to others?
III. The Gospel Causes Devoted Worship – 2:19-20
A. The Affirmation Among the Godly – v. 19
- We are told that “Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.”
- Mary had already understood the identity of the Son of God – having already confessed that the child was her Savior even before He was born – cp. Luke 1:46-55
- Thus, as the shepherds related what they had heard, it caused May to “treasure” [συντηρέω] these truths – literally “to keep close, preserve.”
- These “things” once again is the term rhema – facts delivered from God – an evidence that Mary was also having her faith built up by the declaration of truth from the Shepherds.
- Further evidence that her own faith was being established through the message from God through the shepherds is that she is said to have been “pondering them in her heart.”
- “pondering” [συμβάλλω] Literally, this means “throwing back and forth,” having a conversation with herself to drive the truth deeper into her perspectives
- It refers to the fact that she was reflecting on what Gabriel had told her and what was now being shared by the Shepherds to see if they aligned and agreed.
- As she heard the message from God, she understood that God does not contradict Himself and found everything to be consistent.
B. The Adoration by the Godly – v. 20
- As for the shepherds, they had heard and seen enough to be totally convinced – “The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.”
- They were worshipping God for the truth of His Word and the provision of His grace.
- They were “glorifying … God” – a reference to the act of esteeming God as glorious and magnifying that glory directly to God.
- They were also “praising God” – a reference to giving expression to God for His worthiness – to speak of the excellence of a person – cp. v. 14.
- One who is aware of the grace of God given through Christ Jesus cannot help but engage in proclaiming the excellencies of Him who has saved us.
- Worship that truly glorifies God is worship that is a response to all that we know Him to be with all that we are – the deliberate attempt to extol, eulogize, laud, applaud, celebrate, exalt, glorify, magnify, boost, rave over, rejoice, praise, honor, elevate, lift, raise, and proclaim His excellencies to Him and others – cp. Exodus 15:11.
- This is the “boiling over” of a heart that is filled with gladness for what we have come to know is true about God – Psalm 45:1
- Such worship is the direct result of the ministry of the Holy Spirit stirring the heart with a spiritual comprehension of the true identity of Christ Jesus – cp. Luke 24:31-32.
- How does your response to the Gospel demonstrate that you “treasure” the truth?
- Why does worship (glorying & praising God) verify an embrace of the Gospel?
- How can you alter your worship practices to provide greater reality to your faith?
- How personal should worship be? Should you worship at other times than in an assembly?.