Luke 2:8-14 The angels announce the birth of our Savior and King
Whenever a child is born, the announcement of that birth is one filled with joy. It is a happy event. But the joy associated with every other birth pales in comparison to Jesus’ birth. As grand an announcement as might be made when a baby is born to a royal family, it is nothing compared to announcement of the birth of Jesus. The angels announce the birth of our Savior and King with an announcement that is in contrast to the circumstances of his birth – and even his life.
Jesus was born in humble surroundings, in an out of the way, insignificant little town, to an unassuming mother. “She gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” The manner of his of his birth was in keeping with his mission. Jesus tells us, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
But although Jesus birth was humble in circumstances, its significance for sinners is life-changing – eternally life changing. Such an event was worthy of a glorious announcement. The announcement of Jesus’ birth was the most glorious announcement in all of history. Next to or together with the angel’s announcement at the empty tomb on Easter – “He is not here; he has risen!” – the angel’s announcement at Christmas is the most important, the most significant announcement ever made. God has fulfilled his promise. The long awaited Savior has come. Forgiveness, peace and life eternal are ours. What a joyous glorious announcement.
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,” the angels sing. God in his glory and power directed all of human history to fulfill his promise just as it was foretold in prophecy. The apostle Paul tells us, “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” Now the time, as God had determined it, and arranged it had come for his Son to enter the world to be our Savior and substitute. God did not send his Son into the world in a careless or a haphazard manner, but he carefully chose the time and guided events to make this time – the right time. With great care and concern, God made certain that it was the right time – because he sent his Son to accomplish a very special and important mission – to rescue a fallen world from sin and death by his perfect life and by his death on the cross. God, in great love for you and me and for our salvation, made certain it was the proper time. When the time had fully come, God fulfilled his promise to send a Savior.
Already in the Garden of Eden, immediately after the fall into sin, God promised to send a Savior to rescue fallen mankind by destroying the devil’s power. God promised – “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” That promise was repeated throughout the Old Testament. God promised to Abraham that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” The Savior would come from Abraham’s line and through that Savior all people are blessed. To King David, God promised, “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.” The Savior, from David’s line, rules forever. Again and again, God repeated his promise to send a Savior. And now with the angel’s announcement, God was fulfilling his promise.
“Glory to God in the highest heaven.” – because the result of God’s faithfulness is that we have peace. At this time of year we hear a lot about peace. But the truth is this world knows very little peace and the peace which this world does have to offer often doesn’t last long. The news is filled with reports of wars and crime and all kinds of disturbing and troubling problems. Our own lives are often filled with problems and sorrows. It is hard to find peace.
But the peace which the angel’s proclaim is not some cease fire between two warring nations, it’s not the end of crime or terror – it’s a much greater peace. Peace between God and sinful humans. It’s the peace which Jesus promises the night before his death. Jesus promises, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” The peace Jesus gives he would secure for us with his death on the cross. That was why Jesus was born. He came to win for us peace by giving his life for ours with his sacrifice on the cross. So we have peace in knowing that our sins are forgiven; peace knowing that heaven is waiting for us, that sure hope of heaven. That knowledge gives us peace amid all of the worries and troubles and concerns of this life. That knowledge gives us peace even as we face death.
That peace has great effect on our lives. It allows us to set aside differences and live in peace with others. It moves us to live and act in love towards others. It allows us to be bold and not afraid to live life as a Christian; bold to lovingly obey all of Jesus teachings and to proclaim his gospel to others. Jesus has given to us a great peace, greater than any peace the world might know. We have no reason to fear – no matter what the circumstances of life. We can confidently confess Jesus as Lord and Savior and trust in him.
Since we are at peace with God, there is no need to fear. Fear is something that we often deal with. There are any number of fears that you might have. A person may fear a loss of health, or fear financial problems, or fear any other troubles that may come. Death can produce fear. The criminal on the cross confessed, “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.” At root of the problem is sin. Sin causes fear. The apostle John writes, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.” And the writer to the Hebrews tells us, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” By nature, we were all God’s enemies. We are sinners – sinful by nature; we do what is wrong; we often fail to do the good things we should; we break God’s law. We deserve God’s anger and punishment. We don’t deserve his love. And so by nature, we live in fear.
Many times the circumstances of this life make the fact clear to us that we are weak, helpless sinners. Many times the problems and troubles we face, especially as we might deal with death, it reminds us that we are sinners who must one day stand before a holy God. So even as Christians, we worry, we fear – because we fail to trust that God will care for us and do what is best. Fear and worry come as we look at to our own abilities rather than looking to the Lord in faith.
But through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord says to us, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” God did love us – with a love that is beyond our full comprehension. In his love, God chose you to be his own. In love, he accomplished your forgiveness and salvation. In love Jesus, God’s own Son, left behind the glories of heaven to come to earth as a true human being. Jesus lived a perfect life under the law as your substitute. He suffered and died the cruel death of crucifixion to pay for your sin so that you might have eternal life in heaven. Not because we earned it or deserved it, not because of anything in us – but entirely because of his great love.
We see clearly see that God loves us and has kept his greatest promise to us and so we can trust him in everything. Trusting in the Lord and in his promises means we aren’t to worry. Do not be afraid. The Lord promises that he will care for us. Jesus tells us, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Jesus promises, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” So the apostle Paul says, “you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” And the writer to the Hebrews tells us, “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
The angel’s first words to the shepherds – “Don’t be afraid.” What a beautiful summary of our joy at Christmas. Without Jesus, we would have nothing but fear. Lost in sin, we were separated from God – his enemies. Death was our curse, and eternal death in hell our future. But good new of great joy – the Savior has come. Jesus would do exactly what was prophesied about him. He would battle for us on the cross. He would triumph over our enemies of sin, death and the devil himself. He would pay for sin. He would conquer hell. He would triumph over the grave. Don’t be afraid. Your Savior, your Substitute has been born. Don’t be afraid – God’s favor now rests on you. With sin removed, covered in Jesus perfect righteousness, God delights in you. He is pleased with you.
There is no reason in us that God should delight in us; no reason in us that God should fulfill such an amazing promise and send his own Son into this world as a helpless baby. We are sinners who have earned God’s punishment. We have broken his commands and have no reason to expect God to keep his gracious promises to us.
So why would God send his own Son in the flesh to our Savior and substitute? Why would Jesus leave behind the glories of heaven to be born in such humility? Why would Jesus set aside his divine power and glory as the Creator God, take on our human flesh and blood, and live in poverty and humility? Why would Jesus go to the cross and suffer the very pains of hell with the sins of the world loaded on himself? The only answer is God’s great love for us. Nothing else but God’s grace and mercy – his undeserved love for us, his great compassion for us, moved him to give such a gift and make such a sacrifice.
When we see God’s love for us displayed in such an incredible way there in the manger in Bethlehem; when we see God’s love for us displayed in such a powerful way there on Calvary’s cross – we know that we can trust in him. We are assured that all the other promises he has made to us in his love – they are all true.
The angels announce God’s faithfulness and love. God gave his own dearly loved Son to be our Savior. God himself took on human flesh and blood to live and to die for us. What an incredible announcement God’s divine messengers had to give to those shepherds near Bethlehem. What good news of great joy for all people! What good news of great joy for us!
We now are privileged to be God’s messengers to make the announcement to others. God no longer chooses to send angels – he sends us. What a good example the shepherds provide us. We’re told – “they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child.” We too will spread the word concerning that child Jesus who is our Savior and the Savior of the world.