Today (Sunday, Dec 23, 2012) I preached on Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth 2:1-20. I just wanted to highlight a couple things that I hadn’t noticed before about this passage.
Jesus is Born 2:7 (cf Matthew 1:25) And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
I was reading through Luke’s account and it struck me that the actual event of Christ’s birth would take up such a short space – less than one verse. The Matthean account is even shorter. Maybe this shouldn’t have struck me as odd, but what I found amazing was that it so perfectly illustrates the manner which God chooses to enter into the world: unremarkably, innocently, and vulnerably.
To accompany the actual birth event of the saviour we might have expected fan fair, trumpets being blown or just a long discourse, but we do not. We don’t really get anything except a passing mention that he is born. In Luke’s account the light show and fanfare are provided earlier by the angels and host of Heaven to the shepherds. But when the actual birth happens – there is nothing. It is as low key as you can get. God enters the world in the most unremarkable and average way possible and draws no attention to himself directly (and no wonder with Herod killing all the firstborn). His birth is directly opposite of the manner in which he will ultimately leave the world through His glorious ascension into heaven. It is in fact, almost a mirror image of the manner in which the announcement is made to the shepherds – the heavens open but instead of an angel or the host of heaven coming down, Jesus goes up – a most remarkable way to depart.
The first announcement of the Gospel 2:10-11 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. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.
The angel who goes unnamed in Luke 2 is the first being to pronounce the Gospel in its most simplest form: “For unto you is born this day . . . a Saviour, who is Christ [Messiah] the Lord”. The early church document known as the Didache records a three word proclamation of the Gospel “Jesus is Lord” and it is this simple message that I see reflected in the angels message to the shepherds. What this means to me is that the gospel was not some man made statement created after Jesus left and His Apostles took over, but rather that this is God speaking through His appointed messenger communicating the gospel message for the first time to humans.
A few more lessons from the angels communication:
- The gospel message is good news (indeed, the very meaning of the word)
- The gospel message should bring us great joy
- The gospel message is for everyone. Not just men or woman or a particular ethnic group, but every single person. The fact that it was given first to the lowest caste of society and not the highest King (who was trying to kill Him anyway) is a stark demonstration that the message is for everyone.
God’s entry into our space and time was a subversive, stealth attack if there ever was one. It was the beginning of a revolution.
Just some thoughts from this morning. May you have a peaceful and blessed Christmas season.