Mary brought forth her first born son and God stepped into our lives.
The story of 650 choristers – Philadelphia Opera Company, in 2012, a large mall, everyone prepared to sing at noon, Handel’s Messiah. The responses of the focused and determined shoppers, one raised her arms in worship, others wiped tears from their eyes, they seemed astonished at what they heard in this public place. A post from an atheist read, “this got to me, it overwhelmed me, I approve,” from a Hindu, “I agree.”
JOY is found in those who worship him. Three facts in this passage…
Luke 2:7-9 – FOUNDATION
This is about history, so, don’t check out since I said history. We are reminded of the history of this event. Karen Hoyt wrote that our world is drawn to this season, but we have created a Christmas myth that covers the joy of Christmas, the wonder of the incarnation is lost, and we are left with depression, commercialism materialism. We need to return to the foundation of joy in history.
Mary brought forth her firstborn Son: the fullness of time was satisfied as well as all the Old Testament prophecies.
Fullness of TIME – Galatians 4:4 – God’s Son came through Mary, an amazing fact. The marking of time in history, the census was taken. Remember the Roman world. The Pax Romana helped take over the world. A common language helped to spread the message all over the world, Greek. Josephus says the people were waiting for something “next.”
There were 353 Old Testament PROPHECIES that were satisfied – the coming of the Messiah, 2 Corinthians 1:20 – all promises are YES and AMEN in Jesus Christ. YES (done) and AMEN (guaranteed with certainty).
All the fullness of HUMANITY – Isaiah 53:2 – the Suffering Servant came as a tender shoot, out of the dry ground, the lowliness of his arrival. Jesus learned obedience through his suffering, daily surrender to this restrictive earthly life and then there was the cross. He suffered as our example, so the fullness of humanity was satisfied.
Luke 2:10 – REALITY
Good tidings of great joy for all people. The highest of news is “good tidings.” “Tidings” is in the book of Acts 15 times, always referencing to the preaching of the gospel. This is the good news, from the evangelist. “Highest of news for the deepest of man’s experience.”
Joy is not the stronger muscle of the weaker happiness. There is real joy and fake joy.
FAKE joy is the vanity of Ecclesiastes, that which man desires and leaves him empty.
“REAL Joy is 1) the stirring of the soul 2) moved by the Holy Spirit and 3) focused specifically on Jesus Christ.” All this is for the furthest ears, it is for ALL people. All who heard were astonished. Psalm 67:4 – Let the nations be glad. The message is for all ethnos.
Luke 2:11-12 – SOURCE
A SAVIOR has been born, not a political leader. This is not an unusual term (many conquerors referred to themselves as a savior), but the term had not been used in this context. Isaiah 45:15 tells us the reason, for the destruction of sin. Do we lose our desperation for Jesus? Can it be like ignoring a ringing phone.
The CHRIST, the anointed one, it is irrevocable, there is no one with greater power.
The LORD, Exodus 3:14, the living one, the God who is.
The Revelation 19:16 – King of kings and Lord of lords.
Temple University and University of Utah study, that in homes that decorate for Christmas, there is found more joy at Christmas. Jesus is the centerpiece at Christmas. Joy is there even when happiness is fleeting.
Live in Joy, be astonished this Christmas season. Are you confused? Where do you stand with Jesus? Take the first step.
Life Group Questions:
- When does your Christmas tree go up? Who trims it? How?
- What other traditions do you observe for Christmas?
- What did you think about that study connecting Christmas decorations and joy?
- What is the most unique birth announcement you have every received?
- What do you imagine angels look like?
- If you could sleep out under the stars anywhere in the world, were would you lay down your pillow?
- Of all the people in the world the angels could have visited, why these shepherds?
- In what way or when has God spoken to you in ordinary life?
- If you had been with the shepherds on the night Christ was born, what would you have done after the angels left?
- In what ways did the shepherds obey that night?
- What should be our response when we discover God’s will and what he wants to do through us?
- What is the significance of the three titles given to Jesus in Luke 2:11? How about the three roles given to Jesus in the choir presentation (Shepherd, Savior, King)? What title or role of Jesus speaks best to you during this season of your life?
- Ken mentioned the flash mob singing the Hallelujah Chorus in the mall. How does the joy expressed by the atheist and the Hindu relate to how we can or should share Jesus during the Christmas season?
- Ken gave a Karen Hoyt quote, basically that our world is drawn to this season, but we have created a Christmas myth that covers the joy of Christmas, the wonder of the incarnation is lost, and we are left with depression, commercialism materialism.
- Why are people drawn to the ceremony and tradition of Christmas but not the Savior of Christmas?
- How can Christians capitalize on people’s openness to make a connection with non-believers?
- Ken mentioned that the Christmas story satisfies all time, Old Testament prophecies, and humanity, yet we are constantly chasing after things that will never lead to fulfillment or true satisfaction.
- What things in your life have changed your priorities and caused you to truly seek after Jesus?
- What are the effects of materialism in our society?
- Since there is so much depression, anxiety, and drug abuse in America, could there be a connection to the fact that we are an affluent nation?
- Ken spoke of real joy (joy that stirs the soul, through the Holy Spirit, and focuses on Jesus) versus fake joy (mankind’s desires and futile efforts to please others).
- What sort of fake joy have you settled for in your life?
- How would your life have been different had you focused on real joy instead of a counterfeit substitute?
- The phrase “glad tidings” is described as “the highest of news” and is in the book of Acts 15 times, always referencing the preaching of the gospel.
- What can believers do to help unbelievers know this good news and why it is so good?
- What is our responsibility when we discover these glad tidings?
Here is a “Good News Glad Tidings” Exercise:
As we approach Christmas to celebrate the birth of Jesus, we personally have so much for which to rejoice. As we look around this room (and KGBC as a whole), we have also so much to be thankful for in our community of faith at King’s Grant.
I would assume many of us know people who do not know Jesus. Let’s take time to pray for those people. Let’s list some people on our hearts (and on paper) for whom we are praying in terms of salvation and let’s pray together. Let’s take a moment of silence for each of us to prepare, then make a list and pray over that list. If time permits, go around the room and share a name before our closing prayer.
Let’s continue in this Christmas season with a goal to remember and continue to pray for those mentioned tonight and pray that they will receive the greatest gift of all.