Sermon Manuscript . . .
A Clear Picture of the Baby
Luke 2 and the early days of Jesus
Look at some of the babies born to FBC this year. Love the FBC babies–building the Kingdom one baby at a time. Today, there’s another baby who is unique among all infants. God was born as a baby. Galatians 4:4, “When the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law.”
Why did God do it? Because every single one of you was in deep trouble. You are a part of a race, the human race, which rebelled against God, went our own way, did our own thing. And as a result, we immediately became corrupt in our very nature, since we sinned against a Holy God. Instead of following His perfect plan, in a perfect place, following a perfect God–we became sinful, vile, defiant. We lie, cheat, lust, hate, gossip, judge, and hurt others. Every one of us battles with selfishness and we are sick with pride.
Take the sinners quiz with me. How many of you have ever lied–even just once? How many of you have taken something that was not yours? How many of you have said something or thought anything that was not appropriate? How many of you have lusted after something or someone? Perverts!
Because God is just, He must judge sin. He hates sin. And therefore, every person born, from Grandma Nice to Hurtful Harry, is headed to Hell. And what is worse, there is nothing you can do to fix the problem. You can’t be religious enough, nice enough, give enough, pray enough, do good enough to earn your way into God’s favor.
So from pure love, God came up with a radical plan–He would fix our problem. He’d solve it by suffering the judgement for sin in our place. He’d be our substitute. “The wages of sin is death”–and so God sent his Son as a baby, living a perfect life, then dying on a cross in our place, bearing all of God’s wrath for the sins of His children upon Himself.
Then, because He was perfect, He rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven–now providing the only way for you to be made right with God. By faith, if you place all your sin upon Christ, He will give you all His righteousness. If you turn from your sin and follow Christ, He will give you forgiveness. If you exchange all that you for all that He is, putting your entire life in His hands, He will save you now and forever.
But Jesus warned us, this was God’s only plan. There is no other way. In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” And the apostle Peter said in Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved”–(not Mohammed, Buddha or Mary).
There is no other religion, no other way, no other work, no other sacrifice which will forgive your sin and make you right with God. When you die, you are going to Hell–Merry Christmas . . . unless you are in Christ. But in order to satisfy God’s perfect character, God Himself had to die our place. But in order to be our substitute, God Himself had to be a man.
And that is why Christmas is so important–Jesus Christ, God, was born a man. Both the Old and New Testaments teach on the birth of Christ, but many of the details of the Christmas event are described in Luke chapter 2. Open your Bibles to LUKE 2 and follow along with the outline provided in the bulletin and our church app.
This morning as Christmas looms, let’s get a clearer picture of the birth of God as a baby. Luke 1 was all about the circumstances leading up to Christ’s birthday. Luke 2 describes the events of the Lord’s birth. This chapter begins with the birth of Christ and ends with His growth. Following that in Luke, you see Christ as a 30-year-old ready to begin His public ministry.
But in this chapter, you will see the depth of God’s love in His pursuit of you. God didn’t have to provide salvation for you and He definitely didn’t have to chase you down to awaken your dead heart in order for you to seek Him for salvation–but He did. How did Christ love you through His birth?
#1 Jesus was born with purposeful DIFFICULTY and commonness Verses 1 to 7
In Luke 1, the angel Gabriel made two great announcements. First to doubting Zacharias, to tell him of the coming birth of his son, John the Baptist, who would show us that Jesus is the promised Old Testament Messiah. And next to trusting Mary, about the coming birth of Jesus–even though she is a virgin, showing that Christ is God come in the flesh.
Mary’s great trust in God was not misplaced, since we know from Matthew 1:19 to 20, that God sent His angel to Joseph too. And righteous Joseph determined to fulfill his marriage contract. But the marriage was not consummated until the birth of Christ, which is now described in verses 1 to 7 of Luke 2.
Read along with me, “Now it came about in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. 2 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all were proceeding to register for the census, everyone to his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, 5 in order to register, along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. 6 And it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. 7 And she 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.”
As the time of Jesus’ birth approached, Octavious, who was called Caesar Augustus, had declared an empire-wide census in order to raise taxes–a true democrat. What’s the difference between a taxidermist and a tax collector? The taxidermist only takes the skin. Little did Caesar know that God designed this very emperor’s decree to accomplish His purpose of having His Son, Jesus, be born in the town prophesied in the Old Testament.
Both Joseph and Mary, were of Davidic lineage, forcing them to go back to Bethlehem, as Micah 5:2 says, “As for you, Bethlehem …From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.” Joseph and Mary, now in the later stages of her pregnancy, traveled about 80 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
Because they were poor, teenage Mary probably walked the entire way, or she might have ridden on a small donkey, which is no luxury ride. Or in a simple two-wheel cart pulled by Joseph. Hallmark says donkey–the Bible is silent. If the journey along dusty paths and uneven stone roads was not difficult enough, when they arrived, Joseph couldn’t find needed accommodations.
It was time for Mary to give birth to her Creator and to her son. There was no room for them at the Bethlehem inn—not because the innkeeper was cruel, it was just overcrowded. The innkeeper gave them what he had, the stables for horses, donkeys, oxen–no little lambs, no cute ducklings, possibly some baby chicks.
So in the plan of God, Joseph and Mary entered a sheltered stable, possibly a cave behind the inn–not a palace. There, in the most common circumstances, with the simple sounds of animals shifting their weight, munching their straw and swishing their tails, Jesus was born. God, Creator, Lord of all, King was born as a man in a stable. Mary clothed Him in swaddling–those are long strips of cloth which she wrapped around him like a mummy. And she laid Him in an animal feeding trough, called a manger.
Were you born in a difficult home? Were you raised with disadvantages? Are you poor? Well so was your Creator and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Luke makes certain you know it is was the Father’s perfect plan–His total control for the Son to be poor and to be obscure. God does not look at your income, your education or your parents–He looks at your heart. You won’t get into Heaven because of any external disadvantage or advantage. No! Only by Christ transforming your heart and making you into a new person can you be forgiven.
Remember, Jesus Christ was born in uncomfortable, unexpected and unfair circumstances. Yet it was God’s perfect plan from ages ago. Every birth of a living child is a miraculous event. Each brings into existence a soul that will never die. But no miracle is greater than this one, since with this birth, God was born as a baby. Not, God is in Jesus. Not, a divine spirit was in Him. But this child was in fact, the Creator of the world, and the only way anyone can ever get right with God.
Just as Isaiah 9:6 affirms, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” Jesus is your God, your Creator, your Judge. Eternal Father means father of eternity–Jesus is the one who oversees eternity. That is why . . .
#2 Jesus’ birth was celebrated by all of HEAVEN and shared with a few Verses 8 to 20
This is a big event in Heaven, and yet only a few people back then and today realized the incredible significance of the birth of this poor child. In verses 8 to 20, the angels sing and shepherds share. Picture yourself as part of this scene. Look over verses 8 to 20 and see how this unfolds.
As a shepherd, you were looked down upon as being the worst element of society–despised and mistrusted. You’re famous for your ability to make off with things that don’t belong to you as you move around from place to place with your sheep. Your reputation is so bad, you’re not even allowed to give testimony in a count of law, because everyone will assume you’re lying.
In most people’s minds, you’re a gypsy, vagrant and con man all rolled into one. You were loved as much as lawyers are today. What’s the difference between God and a lawyer? God does not think He is a lawyer. Shepherds have work, so that was better than being a beggar. But nothing paid less. Even a manual laborer did much better than those who were entrusted with sheep.
Here you are, keeping sheep in the middle of the night–suddenly an angel appears and you’re literally terrified enough to run away. But the angel tells you, “Stop being afraid” and to rejoice with literal hilarity, festivity and laughter, because you’re hearing the Gospel, the good news for humankind. Therefore, be joyful.
He says in verse 11, “to you”–shepherds, not the Pharisees, not the emperor or the High Priest, but to the unlovely, unappreciated shepherds is born a Savior, Christ the Lord. The angel tells them to look for a baby wrapped in clothes, lying in a feeding trough. Then suddenly, Heaven could not contain itself. And there was literally a throng of angels praising God, giving Him glory first–then proclaiming that the conflict between God and man has been solved–real peace achieved.
So the shepherds went into town and found the first family, and they shared what they’d been told about this special child. It is very possible these shepherds were devout men who understood about the need for God to provide a sacrifice for sins. They might have been watching the Temple sheep that were used to give the people of Israel a picture of the need for a sacrifice for their sins.
But even if the shepherds did not fully understand, they ended up doing what Heaven couldn’t resist doing. They ended up doing what Heaven had to do on this night. They shared with others that Jesus is the Savior and the Lord. They didn’t just talk with Mary and Joseph, but verse 18 says they talked to others who were amazed and literally marveled over what they said about Jesus.
When you’re amazed about Christ, that God would be born a man for you, that God Himself loved you enough to save you, you will share. Like the apostles in Acts 4:20, “For we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard.” Why should we want to share? Why should we be as joyful as the angels?
Because friends, with the birth of Christ, the darkness of 4,000 years of sin is over. Satan was defeated at the cross. Peace with God and eternity in Heaven is now possible. Freedom from the penalty, power and one day, the very presence of sin can be found in Christ. Many of you have family and friends who do not know Christ. When you remember who He is, you’ll share the truth of what He has done.
#3 Jesus’ parents were OBEDIENT and Christ was remnant confirmed Verses 21 to 39
When reading Luke 2, you’re struck by the great statements made about Christ by Simeon and Anna in the Temple. But sadly, you can easily miss the incredible obedience of Joseph and Mary to the Word of God. Luke reminds you.
Here is Jesus, the author of the Scripture, the lawgiver Himself, the one whom the law reflects, the one the law seeks to point to–yet, via his earthly parents, Christ is submitting Himself to the law here. His earthly mother and stepfather demonstrate a willing heart of obedience to God’s Word in every detail in verses 21 to 24.
“And when eight days were completed before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. 22 And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every first-born male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord’), 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, ‘A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.’”
These verses remind the reader that there are three ceremonies every true Jewish child had to go through, in order to be obedient to the Law–and Mary and Joseph had Jesus do all three. So what you’re reading is, Mary and Joseph are still in the Bethlehem/Jerusalem area now for forty days. Away from work and home, this poor couple determine no matter what the cost, they’ll obey God with every detail in His Word.
The author, Luke, is showing us–not only is Jesus a true Jew, a Son under the Law of God. But His parents are godly, living out their commitment to God by obeying the Word of God in every way. The phrase, “according to the law,” is repeated three times in these verses. That’s the main duty of godly parenting, to obey the Word of God. To follow the teaching of the Word in every way. To show your children you live under the Bible’s authority and to teach your children to live under its authority.
If you want harmony in your home, then everyone is to be tuned to the same tuning fork, the Bible. Not traditions, not control by fear, not your preferences, not what keeps the kids happy–but a Christian home and good parenting is an entire house following the clear commands of Scripture.
What is so hopeful is, as difficult as it was for Joseph and Mary, God provided some encouragement. The true believing remnant in Israel, those who were waiting for God to deliver His people from their sins, came to this young couple, blessed them, and confirmed to them that this one-month-old baby was, in fact, the Savior of the world and the only way anyone can get right with God.
Verse 27 tells us, just as His earthly parents brought Him into the Temple area, this Godly old man was there to greet them–showing us that even in the darkest times, God will provide encouragement from His remnant. Simeon, filled with the Holy Spirit, was clear on how Jesus would be the dividing line for the entire human race. Now instead of Jews and Gentiles, the entire human race would be made up of only two options–those who submit to Christ and those who spurn Christ.
Next, in verse 36, this special family ran into Anna, who had the gift of prophesy and was probably 104 years old. Anna gave continual thanks to God, grew more hopeful with age, loved God’s people and sought to evangelize as verse 38 says, she “continually spoke of Jesus to all those who were looking for a way to be right with God.
Verse 39 says, when these early ceremonies were over, this special family returned to Nazareth. Probably when Jesus was one or two years old, Matthew tells us, the wise men came to worship Him and Herod tried to kill Him, so they fled to Egypt for a time. But by the time Jesus was twelve, they’re back in Nazareth, faithfully making the 80-mile trek to Jerusalem once a year for the Passover. Yet even then . . .
#4 Jesus’ family didn’t understand His PURPOSE Verses 40 to 52
This is the only true account of Jesus between the ages of two and 29. False, non-biblical writers have created pretend stories about this season in Christ’s life. But Christ didn’t make clay birds and give them life. Jesus didn’t speak the word “candy”–then poof, candy appeared. But verse 40, “And the Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” Jesus grew into a hearty, vigorous little boy who was filled with more and more wisdom every day.
Jesus grew and developed like any normal child. He stuck His thumb in His eye more than once as a baby. He didn’t get his soup spoon into His mouth each time as a toddler. He tripped over His own feet more than once as a teen. Yet in all of this, He never sinned. Hebrews 4:15 says, “We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”
So what happens when Jesus was 12? As faithful, obedient believers, Joseph went to the Temple every year for the Passover, as required by the Law. Mary went by choice, as a godly woman. And now that Jesus is twelve, it’s time for Jesus to go–since in a year, He’ll be considered a Son of the Law, responsible to obey the commandments of God on His own as an adult.
But after this Passover, on the return trip, the women left first since they travel slower, the men left later and joined up after a day’s journey at the evening camp. Since at age twelve, Jesus could have been traveling with Mary–or as almost thirteen, He could have been with Joseph, they both thought Christ was with the other until evening.
Once they discover He’s not with the caravan, they take a day to travel back to Jerusalem, then another day to find Christ–three whole days. How would you feel at this point, parents? Finally in verse 46, they find Him in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers–both listening to them and asking them questions. This seems a bit cruel for Jesus to treat His earthly parents this way–until you ask why He did it?
First Jesus had a great hunger to learn the things of God
Jerusalem has the best teachers–they had the Harvard PhDs, not the junior high teachers of Nazareth Middle School. And Jesus had an opportunity to learn from the best. And verse 47 says the PhDs were amazed at His twelve-year-old answers. And . . .
Second Jesus needed to clarify to his parents
He must submit to His heavenly Father first, before His earthly parents. Notice Mary says in verse 48, “Your father and I have been anxiously looking for you.” But Jesus says in verse 49, “Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” Jesus is affirming who His real Father is.
Every student in this room feels the stress of your parents not understanding you. Here is the pattern when that happens. Verse 50, “And they did not understand the statement which He had made to them.” But look what happens in verse 51, “He went down with them, and came to Nazareth; and He continued in subjection to them.”
Jesus, the teen (actually the twelve-year-old)–He knows the truth, He is right, He is correct, His parents are incorrect–they lack knowledge. Yet the stronger one submits here to the weaker ones. The perfect child submits to the imperfect parents. The perfect boy, who knows more than His parents and the PhDs at Jerusalem Tech, remained in submission to His parents who didn’t understand Him.
For all students, listen–it is not your right to question or argue with your parents. It is your responsibility to be in subjection to them. And with that, verse 52 closes the chapter with an amazing statement. Perfect God in a body, the One who knows all, has all power, is all-wise, and is one with the Father Himself–it is said, “Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”
TAKE THIS HOME
What can all Christians learn from the home of Jesus?
A Jesus’ family never fully EMBRACED Christ until after He rose from the dead
Like every other human, the Lord’s earthly family was dead in their sins. They couldn’t respond in faith until God caused them to be born again. You will not submit to Christ until He causes you to be born again. Your family will not receive Christ until He causes them to be born again.
First Peter 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Pray that God would cause you to be born again–that He would awaken your dead, sin-corrupted heart.
B The Lord’s early difficulties were all God’s perfect PLAN
You’re born in a stable, laid in a feeding trough, wrapped in strips of cloth, parents so poor they couldn’t afford the regular sacrifice, with parents who don’t understand your heart or your purpose? Yet all those trials were all God’s perfect plan. No matter what your background, bad circumstances, difficult family, injustice—all of it was a part of God’s plan to bring you to Himself.
Life may be bad–but let me warn you, your eternal life will be eternal torment unless you turn to Christ. God didn’t have to provide a way for you to turn to Him, but He did. And His suffering far exceeds anything you have ever experienced in your life, now or later. But Christ loves you that much. Surrender to Christ and He will wash your past, empower your today and glorify your future.
C The Lord’s birth proves He is worthy of your WORSHIP
Twice in this chapter, verses 33 and 37, people were amazed at Jesus. Twice in this chapter, verses 19 and 51, the Holy Spirit tells us Mary was treasuring all these things in her heart about Jesus. Once in this chapter, there was awestruck wondering (verse 18), and once in this chapter there was spellbound astonishment, all going on about Jesus (verse 48).
Why should you be amazed? Think about what it means for God to be born as a dependent baby. I wonder, don’t you–at what point in Christ’s life did He come to realize He was God in a body? We know by age twelve He knew, “I had to be in My Father’s house.” But first when–as a baby? Toddler? Young boy? Then ask . . .
How can the all-knowing God grow in wisdom? How can a being who is one with God grow in favor with God? How can the little baby be Master and Creator of all? As the angel said in verse 11, “For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord”–the one ruler of all.
Today, I can only say, as David says in Psalm 139:6, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it.” The only right response for all true believers this morning is to worship in awe, wonder and amazement, as you treasure God who was born as a man for His own–for you. Let’s pray.