The Message of Christmas by Bob Watson (22 December 2005)
The Setting for the Message Luke 2:8-20 “In the same country” where the edict from the throne of Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed was being enacted; another edict from a Higher Throne was also being fulfilled. “But Thou Bethlehem ... out of thee shall He come forth unto me that is to be Ruler in Israel.” Micah 5:2 Down through the preceding ages God had plainly declared through his messengers the Prophets that His own appointed King was coming, One who would deliver mankind from every form of Tyranny, One who would deal with the causes of sorrow, pain and strife, One who would wipe away every tear and bring peace to every troubled heart. This Blessed Hope has sustained & inspired men amidst the ravages, destruction and ruin caused by successive Worldly Empires, Kingdoms and political systems. God had said clearly by Promises & Prophecies in the Old Testament, “The King is Coming.” The fullness of time now had come. The Divine Decree was being fulfilled - Christ was born in Bethlehem. In the world of today great Political and Religious ideologies have arisen whose avowed ain is to sweep across the World and if necessary destroy everything and any thing that stands in their way. They have drawn up their plans and issued their decrees from powerful seats of influence and government. But the message of Christmas, thankfully, reminds us that there is another Throne, another seat of Government with declared aims and decrees which, without any doubt and despite whatever opposition, will be enacted and fulfilled.
The Subjects of the Message “Shepherds” Other classes of people might have seemed more prepared to understand and welcome this great message.
The Pharisees were the religious experts, theologians and great students of the Hebrew Scriptures. They had already drawn up their own picture of what Messiah would be like and agenda of what the Messiah would do for them.
The Sadducees were the rationalists, the intelligentsia, but sceptics who dismissed any notion of the supernatural and miraculous.
The Zealots were the revolutionaries, whose zeal burned hot for their nation and freedom from the Roman yoke, who seemingly would have gladly died for their Messiah King. They did not realise their King would have to die for them!
God passed by them all and revealed this great message to “Certain poor shepherds” Well after all Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and King David had all been shepherds and later Christ would Himself claim that He was the Good Shepherd.
Notice they were “Keeping watch over their flocks” It was in the place of humble duty that this wonderful revelation and message came. Apostles heard the Call of Christ to discipleship and service when pursuing their daily task of fishing or like Matthew at his tax collectors accounting desk! So right where we are God can speak to our hearts and bring us to know His Son as our Saviour.
The Suddenness of the Message “And Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly Host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2: 13,14 “And the Lord whom ye seek shall Suddenly come to His Temple” Malachi 3: 1
Thousands of years had passed since the first prophetic promise (Genesis 3:15) followed by countless more down through the centuries. Many perhaps had become sceptical and dismissive of any possibility that the promised King would ever actually appear. Others not quite prepared to ignore the Scriptures might have suggested that those Scriptures should be understood in some “spiritual” sense and not in their plain literal sense. How wrong they were! Suddenly it all became true and the world would never be the same again.
The same Scriptures teach that the Lord Jesus Christ will Return Again and set up His Kingdom, a Kingdom of Righteousness and Peace. He has promised it, the Apostles confirmed it, and we believe it. Nigh on 2000 years have passed and some again have become sceptical and dismissive of any possibility of His Coming Again or are suggesting that we should understand it all in some spiritual sense. The Scriptures are very plain. The Lord Himself said, “I will come again”. The Angelic messengers in Acts 1 11 declared “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven” And how is this for Suddenness? “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,” 1Cor.15: 52; cf.1Thess 4:16 etc. Are we ready?
The Splendour of the Message Luke 2: 9 A Heavenly Messenger proclaims it “The Angel of the Lord” A Heavenly Glory comes with it. “The Glory of the Lord” Luke 2: 9 Thus Heaven intervenes in the affairs of men to banish the darkness of the night. Religions of all sorts represent Mans efforts to find God but the Glad tidings of the Christmas message is that God has reached, and is reaching, out to us.
The Substance of the Message Luke 2: 10,11 It is a Message that demands Attention. “Behold” It is a Message that dispels Fear. “Fear not” It is a Message that brings great Joy. “Good Tidings” It is a Message that provokes a Song. Ver.13 “Praising God” It is a Message that calls for a Decision. Ver.15 “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see ... ” The Heavenly Messenger told them that the Saviour had been born, told them where He was to be found. They had to make the Decision to go, find and see for themselves. “And they came with haste and found” Ver.16 The Lord Jesus still invites us to come to Him: “Come unto me All ye who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me for I am meek and lowly in heart and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Matt.11:28-30 “Him that comes to me I will in wise cast out” John 6:37 Come whoever you, wherever you are, however you are. But Come to HIM. Born for you. Died for You. Calls for you. Come Now! Come and See!