A Reason to Rejoice | Luke 2:8-20

A Reason to Rejoice | Luke 2:8-20

A Reason to Rejoice – Luke 2:8-20

Luke 2:8-20 ESV  And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  (9)  And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.  (10)  And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  (11)  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  (12)  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”  (13)  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,  (14)  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”  (15)  When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”  (16)  And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.  (17)  And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.  (18)  And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.  (19)  But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.  (20)  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

  • We have been trucking through the book of Luke and are nearly at it’s conclusion.
    • In fact, the past two sermons from Luke have talked about the end of the world as we know it…
    • And the next sermon is going to be talking about the betrayal of Jesus…
      • But seeing on how it is Christmas Sunday I thought we would flip back to the beginning of the story and just take this time this Sunday morning to talk about all the reasons we have to rejoice in the gift of Jesus Christ.
        • To talk about the joy that is accepting Christ as savor.
        • The joy that was brought to the world when Jesus was born, and the Joy that is available to all when we say yes to Jesus and no to the world.
        • The joy that only comes through Jesus Christ… and oh what a joy it is!
  • Today, as we go into Christmas week, let us remember that we have reason to rejoice!
  • *Show Title Slide*

PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY

Point One – Christ is a reason for ALL people to Rejoice

  • This morning I want to start by pointing out an important truth, that sometimes we miss if we focus to much on God’s justice… Christ is a reason for ALL people to rejoice! Everybody in the world from the holiest of saints to the worst of sinners has reason to rejoice at the birth of Christ:

Luke 2:10-11 ESV  And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  (11)  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

  • You see that, the angle said “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people!
    • The word here for “bring you news of great joy” is the Greek word from which we get the word “Evangelize”.
    • To evangelize is to bring good news! So the angle here says “I evangelize to you great joy for all people!”
    • Y’all to evangelize is to spread the joy of Christ, amen?
    • Now take a moment to see, at this point in history that we are at, the handful of people this great joyful news has been shared to.
    • Because it is only a select few people at this point who know that the Messiah has come… God selectively choose whom to reveal this news to.
      • First, of course, it was revealed to Mary, a poor Jewish girl of royal lineage.
      • Then to her relatives Elizabeth and Zechariah, Levites with a high position in the temple and serving God.
        • And not just them, but it seems apparent that John the Baptist knew too, and he was still in the womb!
      • We know of course, not from this Gospel, but from the gospel of Matthew, that this joyous news was revealed to some wise men from the east… most likely not Jewish, but gentile men who came and brought Gifts for the newborn King.
      • And now it is being revealed to lowly shepherds.
        • The reason why we call them lowly shepherds is because shepherds were about as low of a class you could have, only one step above servant or slave.
        • Nobody really liked them, they were dirty, they were poor, and they often spent more time with their sheep than other people making them very socially awkward.
        • Yet it was the shepherds who heard the good news right after Christ was born from heavenly messengers.
          • And this should not be hugely shocking to us because God seems to use shepherds a lot.
          • Abraham was a shepherd when he was called by God.
          • So was David.
          • Jesus would be called the Good Shepherd.
          • And he would call some men throughout history to be Pastors… which is simply the Greek word for shepherd.
        • So God using shepherds is par for the course… but I want you to look at the diversity of people who God revealed Christ’s birth to:
        • He revealed it to a poor Jewish family, then to a baby in the womb and a priestly and important Jewish family, then to wealthy gentile wise men, and now finely to lowly shepherds.
        • What this tells me is that this good news, that Christ is born, it is not just meant for the rich, nor is it just meant for the poor. It is not just meant for the men, nor is it just meant for the women, and it is not just meant for the Jews, nor is it meant only for the gentiles…
        • No, it is good news for all people, all classes, all ages, both genders, regardless of birth, or language, or nationality, or even religious backgrounds… this is good news worthy of rejoicing for ALL People!
  • So back to our scripture here, the Angle has come and told the shepherds in the field that the Savior has been born, now clearly not even is this a reason for just the shepherds to rejoice… but all of heaven.
    • Because this thing then happens that we don’t see happening again until the book of revelation…
    • As if the angles in heaven can’t take it anymore… they are so overwhelmed with joy… they are overflowing with ecstasy, and no longer can they hold their excitement in… out of nowhere a large group of angles burst forth into song rejoicing in the glory of God!

Luke 2:13-14 ESV  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,  (14)  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

  • Ya’ll, just think about this for a moment… the Angles are bursting forth in glorious song about the Savior… yet they receive no benefit from his birth.
    • Salvation is not offered to angles… did y’all know that? Those who sinned and rebelled against God alongside lucifer will perish for eternity in the lake of fire… and those who did not sin have no need for a savior for they are already in the favor of God living with Him in heaven and doing His will.
    • Yet still they rejoice!
    • How much more ought we, the recipients of God’s grace and salvation rejoice? How much more should we be crying out as if we can’t hold it in anymore “Gloria in excelsis Deo!”
  • And it is the whole world who this joy is for…. Look at verse 14 again, and I want to show you something that God revealed to me as I was preparing this message…

Luke 2:14 ESV  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

  • Now I don’t know if you know this about me… but I have a LOT of pet peeves… and one of those is when Christmas decorations say “Peace on earth and good will to men” because it leaves out the second part of this verse “On whom he is pleased”… I really like the way the NIV puts it:

Luke 2:14 NIV “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

  • I like that “on whom his favor rests”… you see, Christ came to bring peace for those whom His favor rests.
    • I mean last week I read this verse about Jesus… remember this thing that Jesus said?:

Matthew 10:34 ESV  “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

  • So I get all fired up when people leave out the part about “on whom His favor rests” because really there is no peace outside of God’s favor, amen?
  • Yet as I was preparing for this sermon I was forced to rethink my pet peeve just a little… I was forced to reconcile verse 14 with verse 10… remember verse 10 says this:

Luke 2:10 ESV  And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

  • So verse 10 says “Good news of great joy that will be for ALL the people” but then verse 14 says “Peace on those whom God’s favor rests”? How do you reconcile these two things… well actually it is not that hard.
  • You see there are two kinds of people… those in God’s favor and those outside of God’s favor.
    • The birth of Christ is a reason for rejoicing for those inside of God’s favor because He brings us peace, and good will, and power, and might, and comfort, and love, and grace, and constant forgiveness, and companionship, and protection… and EVERY GOOD AND PERFECT GIFT!”
      • Dude those are some reasons to rejoice, amen‽
    • But then there are those outside of God’s favor, Christ birth is a reason for rejoicing for them to? Why? Because through Christ God’s favor is freely offered to them.
    • Christ being born does not make things worth for sinners… no, they were condemned already… But what Christ does do for those outside of God’s favor is  say
      • “Here, through my son’s birth, life, death, and resurrection I freely offer you my grace, I freely offer you my favor if you would just accept it.
    • You see the magi’s, the wise men, they were not in God’s favor… they were not Jewish. Before Christ they would have to convert to Judaism and have a priest transfer their sins onto a sacrificial animal and then that animal would have to be slain for them.
    • But not any more… the wise men, even being outside of God’s favor, knew Christ was a reason for rejoicing because through Him they would find salvation, through Him they would enter into God’s favor.

John 3:17-18 ESV  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (18)  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

  • Do you guy’s understand… the good news is not that good people get to go to heaven… or that religious people get to go to heaven… or that God’s chosen people, the Jews, get to go to heaven… no the good news is that EVERYONE get’s to go to heaven if they would simply accept God’s free gift of salvation, a gift that has entered into the world through a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths laying in hay in a manger.
    • To those whom God’s favor rest: peace and good will; To everyone else: God offers you His favor freely, you simply need accept it! Both are reasons for rejoicing, both come from Christ.

Point Two – Such Joy Demands a Response

  • Now that brings me to point two… I only have two points this morning so stick with me… point two is that Such Joy Demands a Response.
    • Such Joy Demands A Response! If you are not responding to this joy then there is something wrong!
    • And guys we see in this passage of scripture two ways in which is appropriate and natural to respond to this joy. Some will respond in one way, others will respond in the other… others yet will respond in both ways… but such joy demands a response.
  • The First Response to This Joy is Uncontrollable Excitement…
    • This is the “Go tell it on a mountain” response…
    • This is the response that the angles had when they burst out into song singing “Gloria in excelsis Deo”!
    • And it’s the response that the Shepherds had too:

Luke 2:15-17 ESV  When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”  (16)  And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.  (17)  And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.

  • When the Angles left, right away the shepherds ran to find Jesus! Of course they did, they must have been so excited… their joy, like the angles, must have been overflowing! It must have demanded a response.
    • Do you remember what it was like to be a kid on Christmas eve?
    • My family always opened presents on Christmas morning. That meant that Christmas eve was a night full of excitement, and anticipation… and it was generally sleepless.
      • I would want Christmas to get here so badly that I couldn’t even sleep, that’s how excited I would be, I couldn’t control it, my excitement, my joy for the coming gifts… I couldn’t help myself…
      • I was like those Shepherds… I just want to be there, I just want to get there, lets go right now! Let’s see the gift that has been given to us.
    • Now-a-days I am less excited about Christmas but I still get excited about things…
      • Y’all ever order something online that you REALLY want?
      • Sometimes I do, and I get that notification from Amazon that my package is out for delivery… it drives me crazy with excitement… sometimes I will even go outside to see if the UPS truck is coming down the road.
    • Maybe it is different for you.
      • Maybe hunting brings you so much joy that you show pictures to all your friends and family of the deer that you shoot.
      • Maybe, you like bible journaling like Amanda. Amanda just won an online sweepstakes for a few hundred bucks worth of Bible Journaling stuff… YALL SHE WAS SO EXCITED! She showed me, she called her family and showed them, she waited everyday for the box with the prizes to show up, she instagramed the stuff when it got there!
    • All of us have things that bring us joy, and sometimes that joy is uncontrollable…
    • Should not the birth of Christ bring us that much joy, that much excitement?
    • Should not the fact that Christ lives in side of us bring us that much excitement?
    • The Shepherds went and told people! “You won’t believe what we saw! You won’t believe who was just born, you have to come and see the newborn king!”
    • Guy’s I am telling you, share your faith with people! Not out of obligation, that’s not this message, do it because you are so excited… because your joy is bursting forth!
      • The world will tell you “don’t talk about religion or politics”… what nonsense, your religion, that Christ came, died, rose again and now lives inside of you… that should be your source of overwhelming joy!
      • So go tell it on a mountain! Over the hills and everywhere! JESUS CHRIST IS BORN!
      • Guy’s I am telling you this because you will find so much joy in the simple act of responding to what God has done, in sharing it… it’s joy like you have never known. It will change your life.
        • I remember the first time Pam ever did street evangelism.
          • We were walking down the streets of San Francisco sharing Jesus with people, and I encouraged Pam to come with me to share.
          • This guy I shared with I gave up on after a few sentences and resistance… but Pam lit up! She followed him and shared and prayed and shared some more…
          • Now she can’t get enough of it!
      • All I am asking guy’s, if you have never done it… just for once take down the walls and let the joy overflow. And what you will find is that doing so will bring even more joy to your lives.
  • Now there is another way that you can respond to such overwhelming joy, it is the way that Mary responded:

Luke 2:19 ESV  But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.

  • You see there is a stark contrast between Mary’s response and the shepherds response… punctuated by that word “but”…
    • “BUT Mary treated up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”
    • Sometimes, church, at the revelation of such joy, of something so awesome, literally aw inspiring… sometimes you just have to take moment…
      • “huh… how is it that this amazing thing is happening to me… could it really be happening… this joy, it’s for me, really? Wow… God is good.”
    • If God has given you a treasure, is not that treasure worth keeping?
    • I tell you church, sometimes the best way to keep treasure in your heart is to ponder it often, to meditate on it often.
      • Let your mind think about all that God has done for you, go there in your mind often… remind yourself of His goodness… ponder it, meditate on it.

Philippians 4:8 ESV  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Psalms 103:2 ESV  Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,

  • The devil can’t get you down, he can’t steal your treasures of joy and peace, if you are CONSTANTLY pondering on them, constantly meditating on it.
    • When was the last time you thought about the day you were saved… the joy you felt…
    • Ponder that, remember that, meditate on that.
    • Or the day of your baptism… or the day Christ protected you, or healed you, or delivered you or your friends or your family.
    • Ponder such things, be awestruck with joy.
  • So I think there are two biblical responses to such joyous news, the first the go tell it on a mountain response, the second is the ponder it up in your heart response. Both are correct, maybe you prefer the first, maybe the second… maybe you are like me and do both.
    • Whatever it is, make sure that you are responding to the joy inside you, least it fade away and die.
  • There is an old song that used to be really popular that describes these two reactions to joy really well, it’s called “I can only imagine” you guy’s remember that song?
    • When in heaven, how will I respond… the chorus says this:

Surrounded by You glory
What will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus
Or in awe of You be still
Will I stand in your presence
Or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah
Will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine
I can only imagine

Conclusion

  • This morning, let’s respond to this joy a little bit!
  • I am going to invite the worship team up to lead us one last time today, let your spirit overflow with joy!
    • Don’t worry what other people think! Unto us a savior is born! Let us rejoice!
    • If that makes you want to jump up and down and shout for joy then go ahead and jump up and down, dance around, rejoice!
    • If that truth strikes you as so awesome you just need to sit an ponder it and soak in the joy, than please, take this time to do so!
    • But whatever it is, make sure you are responding to the joy of Christ Jesus!

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