God With Us, the Advent of Jesus Christ

Luke 2:1-38

Luke the doctor (Col. 4:14) is also Luke the historian (1:1)

  • Eyewitnesses
  • Ministers of the word—some apostles who were both eyewitnesses and ministers, and some who would have been the earliest ministers, like Clement Php. 4:3 (wrote one of the earliest Christian books outside of the Bible)
  • “to write an orderly account…concerning the things you have been taught”
    • He’s been taught about salvation now Luke wants him to know the story of Jesus’ life
    • A 1st century church history course

The personalness of Luke’s gospel indicates that Mary is one of the eyewitnesses

  • Details about Zechariah’s angelic visitation
  • The visit in Judea with Elizabeth
  • Her own chit chat with Gabriel
  • The prayers
  • The night in the stable underneath the inn
  • Just put yourself in Luke’s place—talking to Jesus’ mother about her pregnancy and giving birth to the Son of God—or as Gabriel said it, “the Son of the Most High”.

Luke wanted to place everything he wrote about squarely in real time history

  • Days of Herod, king of Judea (1:5)
  • The  first decree to register the world
    • There were following decrees
    • The world—the Roman Empire basically encompassed the whole world known to Israel at that time
  • When Quirinius was governor of Syria
  • He wants us to have confidence in God’s work in history for the redemption of his people
    • As Zechariah prayed in 1:77-78 “salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God.”

Why is it so important that God works in history if the end goal is eternity?  Or to phrase it another way, if all of faith is about getting to heaven, what does it matter if God became man, lived, died, and was raised from the dead for his people? 

  • The answer is simple—eternity doesn’t exclude our lives, eternity is now and forever
  • Jesus’ incarnation proves that our lives are important
  • By God living among us, as one of us, we are shown that this life is consequential to God’s eternal plan, which begins with his people’s forgiveness, continues as He improves on them in this life, increases when they die and God rmoves every sin and sinful thought from their hearts, and is finished when Jesus returns and they are made whole again.  Body and soul reunited to glorify God perfectly, sinlessly, gloriously forever.

Luke shows us this in Jesus’ birth.  Three points:  1. Irony;  2.  Faith;  3.  Growth

  1. Irony—several terms and instances
    1. Caesar Augustus—majestic or venerable, it’s a title Octavian gave to himself as a sign of his importance (self-importance?) and is related to the rise of emperor worship in Rome
      1. He’s augustus while the King of Kings is being born…
    1. “Thou who wast rich beyond all splendor” born to the poorest of the poor
      1. Swaddling cloths—not even real baby clothes (don’t mention death clothes yet)
      1. Two birds at his circumcision—sacrificial system was on a sliding scale…
    1. Shepherds were the first to come to his baby shower
  2. Faith
    1. The shepherds were given a sign—“you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths lying in a manger”
      1. We kind of skim these words
      1. First they heard some pretty amazing things:
        1. Savior—linked with City of David they were probably thinking son of David type of savior, a king
        1. Christ—Messiah and everything that meant, definitely thinking King at this point! 
        1. The Lord—probably not thinking “the Lord” like OT Yahweh at this point, but as shepherds working at night they definitely understood what a boss was, and with all the king and Messiah stuff this LORD was likely along the lines of Psalm 110  “Yahweh said to my Lord sit at my righthand until I make your enemies your footstool”.  Not just a boss or a dignitary—this Lord is way beyond us.
      1. But the sign they’re given doesn’t match that description at all.
        1. Just think about it:  if Herod and Mrs. Herod show up that innkeeper is finding a room…
        1. They’re supposed to look in a barn for the baby king of all creation
        1. Sure they’re angels and there’s a heavenly host of them—bible talk for a lot, but still finding the inn, looking in the stable, and worshiping next to a manger is an act of faith.
    1. Mary laid up all these things in her heart—she’s been doing that for nine months, no reason to stop now
      1. After Simeon blessed God in 29-32 Mary and Joseph marveled at what he had said about their baby
      1. Not to mention chapter 1:  Zechariah doubted but Mary believed—faith is necessary
        1. Those who truly seek will find their savior
        1. Seeking usually begins with sensing your need—with understanding you have fallen short of God; you are a sinner
        1. Sometimes it starts with seeing the humble beauty of God taking on flesh like this, but at some point you have to accept the truth of your sin, repent of it, and cling to Christ as the savior from it
  3. Growth
    1. He was laid in swaddling cloths in a manger
      1. Swaddling cloths—more like burial preparation than baby clothes
      1. A manger of wood in a the most humiliating of conditions for a baby who would one day die on a cross of wood even more humiliated than here on this night.
    1. But before he gets there, this baby has to live for 33 years
      1. 40 “And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.”
      1. It wasn’t God’s purpose to save us in spite of our lives—Jesus’ life proves that.  His life was necessary for our lives.
        1. Active obedience—fulfilling the law for us
      1. His birth is a type of our own spiritual birth
        1. Mary overshadowed by the Holy Spirit
        1. The Holy Spirit raised him from death after crucifixion
        1. Jesus’ people are born in the same way, by the same Spirit
      1. His life was a type of our spiritual life
        1. That which is not assumed is not redeemed—Gregory of Nazianzus
        1. He obeyed, he believed, he worked miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit—the same Spirit believers are given.
        1. Romans 8:16-17 we are co-heirs with Christ, and that began at conversion.  We have inherited the same Spirit that equipped Jesus to be the Son of God we needed him to be.
    1. This gives us hope in our lives that can feel less than hopeful, because they matter to God.
      1. Jesus life was as necessary as his death.
      1. Jesus’ life was one marked by difficulty and sorrow, like ours.  But there was also warmth, love, and friendship—the Lazarus family, the disciples, Peter’s mother-in-law, the woman who followed them
      1. We have been given good and bad things like Jesus, and we’ve been given the Same Spirit too—Hebrews 5:8  “although Christ was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered”.
        1. The difference is Jesus never failed to believe or obey. 
        1. But the difference for us is, we have Jesus as our savior—not to let us off the hook, but to secure our place in God’s grace for this life as we live lives of incarnate grace for our Father in heaven through Jesus who was born to Mary in Bethlehem and laid in a manger.