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The Divine Birth Announcement

July 16, 2017 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series: Luke

Topic: Incarnation Verse: Luke 2:1–2:8

“THE DIVINE BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT”

Luke 2:8-14

Theme: The response by all who understand the significance of Jesus’ birth is to give glory to God for His salvation.

I.       The Gospel Interrupts “Life as Usual” (The Intrusion by the Messenger)2:8-9

A.           The Dispirited Religious Practices – v. 8

1.        Again, we observe that when one of the greatest events in the history of the world occurs, it was without immediate impact – the world continued unaware and seemingly unaffected.

2.        We are told “In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keep watch over their flock by night.”

3.        Rabbinic writings speak of sheep being pastured between Jerusalem and Bethlehem in February.[11]

4.        The spiritual lethargy, formalism, and heartlessness that prevailed throughout Israel was entrenched even as God’s provision for salvation lay quietly in a manger in Bethlehem.

5.        The outward sign of one’s faith that had been required by God from the first day that sin entered the world – the sacrifice of a substitute lamb – continued as the major religious “ritual” in the culture of Israel.

6.        Literally there were hundreds of thousands of sheep offered in sacrifices annually – thus in this “region” a huge number of sheep were required to sustain the sacrificial system.

7.        Because of the proximity of Bethlehem to Jerusalem and the rabbinic description of sheep destined for sacrifice being tended in this region at certain times of the year, it is possible that these sheep were used in the sacrificial system.

8.        However, it had become a religious obligation without life-changing impact as the temple had become a place of legalism, spiritual deadness, and profiteering.

9.        Everything continued as dispirited and formal, lifeless and legalistic.

B.           The Disruption of Religious Pessimism – v. 9

1.        However, as life-as-usual rolled along in lifelessness and obligation, pessimism and hopelessness prevailed throughout Israel.

2.        It had been a very long time since God had manifested His glory in Israel.

3.        Because of Israel’s repeated idolatrous rebellion against God, God had judged Israel by ceremoniously and definitively removing His glory from Israel:

a.       The glory of the Lord ascended from the cherub in the temple to the threshold of the temple – Ezekiel 10:4

b.       It then departed the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim and stood over the east gate of Jerusalem – Ezekiel 10:18-19

c.        It then went from the gate of the city to the mountain on the east side of the City – Ezekiel 11:23.

4.        But without warning, God disrupted the air and magnified Himself in unprecedented manifestation of His glory – “And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.”

5.        All of a sudden, God’s silence broke and the “glory of the Lord” was again seen in Israel – signifying that God’s presence once again had entered the world through the birth of Jesus Christ.

6.        They typical reaction to the encounter of the glory of God is an overwhelming sense of unworthiness and doom – even as demonstrated by the shepherds who “were terribly frightened.”

7.        However, the occasion for this appearance was not one of judgment but of “gospel” (good news).

Application:

  1. We must avoid living lives that neglect the reality of what God has done in providing salvation for us. Routine can be what neutralizes the vitality of our lives.
  2. We must consider how our fear of standing before God has affected our lives. With the knowledge of sin comes the reaction of fear before the reconciliation by faith and the impulse to worship after we are saved.

 

II.      The Gospel Informs Sinners of Hope (The Implication of the Message)2:10-12

A.           The Description of the Message – v. 10

1.        Thus “the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people.’”

2.        The “good news” [εὐαγγελίζω] – literally means “good message” – coming from the same root as the word “angel” – messenger.

3.        Instead of being cursed because of sin in the presence of God and His glory, these shepherds were being informed that they were the recipients of “good news!”

4.        It has been asked: “Why did God choose these men for such an occasion?”

a.       Shepherds were considered outcasts from Jewish religious virtue – they were “unsavory,” and dishonest – so much so that their testimony wasn’t even permitted in Jewish courts.

b.       They were perpetually ceremonially unclean and barred from temple participation.

5.        However, these particular shepherds may have been tending the sheep destined for sa;crifice – and as such, they were perfect recipients of the news that the One who was the “Lamb of God” had been born – cp. John 1:29

6.        The emphasis on the fact that the Gospel was “for all the people” was also emphasized by the delivery of the news to those who were outcasts from the legalistic system of the Jews – there is no one outside of the scope of the Gospel.

B.           The Details of the Message – vv. 11-12

1.        The angel declared: “… for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

2.        When: “today” [σήμερον] – the fullness of time had come when God determined that the Savior should come – cp. Galatians 4:4; Hebrews 3:12-13

3.        Where: “… in the city of David” – a corroborative proof that the promises of God stand sure and that this child was indeed the Messiah promised beforehand – cp. Micah 5:2

4.        What: “… born for you” – a statement that indicates that the child that has been would engage in a role that takes the place of fallen men – a vicarious suffering is implied here as He came to take our place under the wrath of God – cp. Hebrews 2:17; Ephesians 5:2;  Titus 2:14

5.        Who: “… a Savior” – the Deliverer who would fulfill the promise of God anticipated from the day that sin entered the world – cp. Genesis 3:15; Luke 19:10

6.        Why: “… who is Christ” – a reference to the fact that this child was the “Messiah” who would not merely save His people from their sins, but would rule the Kingdom of God as well.

7.        “… the Lord” [κύριος] – a reference to the absolute authority that this child possesses – a term used of Yahweh – that all powerful, self-existent One.

8.        The angel directs them by giving them a sign as to how to identify that child – “This will be a sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” – without note by anyone to whom He is not revealed.

Application:

  1. The Gospel is not for the virtuous and moral person – but for the depraved and sinful – no sinner is outside of the power of the Gospel.
  2. It is offered to all men everywhere and all are called to trust on Christ who was given “for you” – to pay the price of our sins

 

III.   The Gospel Inspires the Glorifying of God (The Invocation by the Multitude)2:13-14

A.        The Anticipation of Peace – v. 13

1.        It is as if heaven couldn’t hold it any longer – the excitement of those who were oriented to what God was doing was revealed.

2.        “And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying …”

3.        The appearance of so many angels at once is unprecedented in Scripture.

4.        They were “praising God” – knowing that the Christ-child was God Himself become flesh for the purpose of saving men.

5.        This is what causes a similar joy in heaven when a sinner repents – Luke 15:10.

6.        This work of redemption is something that angels do not have the privilege of experiencing personally – cp. Hebrews 2:16 and therefore are careful students of redemption because of the glory of God manifested thereby – cp. Ephesians 3:10; 1 Peter 1:12

7.        They knew what this birth was to mean and they anticipated the work of redemption consummated by His sacrifice for the sins of men.

B.        The Accomplishment of Peace – v. 14

1.        They declared: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

2.        The only appropriate response by those in heaven is to worship God “in the highest.”

3.        The reason is because of the “peace” that the child would bring between God and men through salvation – cp. Romans 5:1

4.        The idea of “among men with whom He is pleased” does not refer to men through their own efforts have pleased God, but rather that God gives this peace to whomever He pleases.

5.        “Salvation peace belongs to those to whom God is pleased to give it; it is not a reward for those who have good will, but a gracious gift to those who are the objects of God’s good will.”[12]

Application:

  1. It is the provision of salvation through Jesus Christ that causes people to have the greatest zeal in worshipping Christ Jesus – is your worship driven by the awareness of what Christ has done for you?
  2. Do you have peace with God? If you do, it is because God is pleased to grant it to you – how does this affect your worship?

 

 

[11] MacArthur, Luke 1-5, p. 156.

[12] MacArthur, p. 161.

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