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Luke 2:1-20

What Child is This?

  • Matthew Dodd
  • Sunday Night Messages
  • December 22, 2019

What Child is This?

The title of the carol poses an interesting question.

Thankfully, when it comes to Jesus, the Bible does not leave us in the dark for it clearly promised and defined who the “babe, the Son of Mary is”.

In Luke 2:1-20, we will discover who He is and be forever blessed by the answer.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

What Child is This?

Luke 2:1-20                                            


ILLUS What Child is This?

  1. The title of the carol poses an interesting question.
  2. Thankfully, when it comes to Jesus, the Bible does not leave us in the dark for it clearly promised and defined who the “babe, the Son of Mary is”.
  3. During the remainder of our time together this evening, we will discover who He is and be forever blessed by the answer.

Luke 2:1-20


  1. The first seven verses of Luke 2 tell the beloved story of Jesus’ birth.
  2. The Roman Senate required that a census be taken every 14 years in order to update their tax lists.
  3. So, Caesar Augustus issued a decree which required all people in the Roman Empire to return to the home of their family’s origin.
  4. News of the decree eventually reached a godly Jewish carpenter in the town of Nazareth named Joseph.
  5. His family tree traced back to King David, who was from a place located seven miles southeast of Jerusalem, a little town called Bethlehem.
  6. In compliance with the decree, Joseph set out on the 90-mile trip to Bethlehem, a journey that would normally take a traveler three or four days.
  7. But Joseph knew it would likely take longer because he wasn’t traveling alone.
  8. He was betrothed to godly virgin, also from the family of King David, her name was Mary.
  9. She was with Child, but not his child, for the Child in her womb was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in fulfillment of the words of the angel Gabriel.


Luke 1:35, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.

  1. With Mary due to give birth, there was no way that Joseph would leave her alone to deliver her firstborn Son, so he brought Mary with him and tenderly cared for her along the way.
  2. The road was long, and the way was difficult, but this humble, godly couple was right in the middle of God’s will.
  3. You see the trip to Bethlehem was divinely ordained for God had chosen Bethlehem, which means “the house of bread”, to be the birthplace of His Son, who is also called “the bread of life” (John 6:35).
  4. Over 700 years earlier the prophet Micah declared…

Micah 5:2, But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago,
from the days of eternity.

  1. The day came when the couple finally arrived in Bethlehem, but it soon became clear that it was time for another arrival, the arrival of God’s Son.
  2. Joseph searched for a suitable place for Mary to give birth, which did not take long because Bethlehem was so small.
  3. With other travelers there to register for the census, every available room was already taken, “there was no room for them in the inn”.
  4. The only somewhat private place to deliver her first child, God’s Son, was probably a cave or a stall of some sort used for domesticated farm animals.
  5. And there, under the cover of night, Light broke into the darkness for the glory of God had come to earth in a way that would change history forever; as Isaiah prophesied, a Child was born, a Son was given (Isaiah 9:6). (7)
  6. Mary was fine and so was her newborn. She marveled as she carefully wrapped Him in linen strips and placed Him a manger, a feeding trough for farm animals.

Transition – What was the meaning of all of this? Verses 8-20 give us wonderful insight into God’s heart and plan for sending of His Son as revealed by the words of the angel.

I.  Do Not Be Afraid (10)

  • The shepherds probably thought it was going to be a typical night tending their flocks. They would sleep for a few hours until it was their turn to be on watch, looking out for predators to ensure the safety of their sheep.
  • But that night was far from “typical”. It was supernatural!
  • Suddenly, “the glory of the Lord” filled the darkness as an angel of the Lord, perhaps Gabriel, broke the silence of night to announce the birth of the Savior of the world (9).
  • These hardened and hard-working shepherds were stunned and terrified by the presence of this angelic messenger for the Bible tells us that the shepherds were “terribly frightened”! (9)

ILLUS – My kids’ fascination with scaring me

  • But God’s messenger spoke words of comfort to the shepherds for he meant them no harm.
  • His first four words are words we can all find comfort in, “Do not be afraid

A.   There are many reasons to be afraid

  1. This was especially true at the time of Jesus’ birth.

     a)  A cruel king named Herod the Great was on the throne. He was a paranoid, ruthless ruler who killed members of his own family and would one day kill boys under the age of two to protect his crown.

     b)  The Roman army occupied Israel which continually put the Jews at risk of abuse and harassment.

     c)  Darkness and oppression sat like a heavy, ominous cloud over the nation of Israel.

     d)  The promises of God seemed far away from them, but in reality, their hearts were far from God.

     2.  In our day, there are reasons to fear.

     a)  The volatility of our economy.

     b)  The 2020 elections.

     c)  There are wars and rumors of war.

APPL – Satan loves to play on those fears…

ILLUS – The Devil visits a small, country church

APPL – What is the root of fear?

  • 1 John 4:18 tells us that the root of fear is a fear of “punishment”.

1 John 4:18, … because fear has to do with punishment. (NIV)

  • Many people are afraid because they have a feeling of dread, that judgment is hanging over their heads.

B.  Jesus is the answer to all of our fears

  1. In response to the shepherds’ fear, the angel declared, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people” (10)
  2. This is the theme of Luke’s Gospel and it is a theme found throughout the rest of the Bible.

     a) It’s been said that the Bible contains 365 references to “fear not” or variations of that phrase.

     b) Why? Because the Lord’s presence is the answer to our fear.

Isaiah 41:10, Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

APPL – In that place of relationship with the Lord, His love overcomes our fears!

  • Good News is the answer to our fear; it’s a more excellent word, a word of true comfort.
  • The Apostle John confirmed that the presence of God’s love is the remedy for our fears, the very reason why the angel declared, “Do not be afraid.”

1 John 4:18, There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (NIV)

APPL – When love has replaced fear, there is an assurance of God’s presence in our lives, a confidence that all is well and will be well

II.  A Savior has been Born for You (11)

A.  Jesus will save His people

  1. In Christian circles we use the phrase, “Are you saved?”

     a) Saved from “what”?

     b) That is the real question.

    2.  The answer is found in the angel’s words to Joseph when he was told to take Mary as his wife.

Matthew 1:20-21, Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.

  1. Jesus will save “people from their sins”.

APPL – Have you ever realized that is what we truly need, to be saved from our sins?

  • God must save us from our sins because without Jesus we will die in our sins.
  • Jesus has saved us from the penalty of sin.
  • Jesus is saving us from the power of sin.
  • Jesus will save us from the presence of sin.

Romans 8:1, Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

APPL – Jesus must be born in each person’s heart.

  • What do I mean by that?
  • Jesus was given as a gift from God to the whole world, but He must be received one person at a time.

John 1:12-13, But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

B.  Jesus is God’s only answer

  1. There is no other.
  2. Why would anyone want another?

     a) There can be no better news than what He brought to man.

     b) There can be no better provision for our sin; taking our sin upon Himself; giving us His righteousness.

2 Corinthians 5:21, He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

  1. Jesus is not only God’s Word to man; He is God’s complete and final Word to man.
  2. He is Lord.

        a)The word “lord” is used many times in the Bible to indicate a person of authority.

         b)A worker would use the word to refer to his supervisor.

         c)But when it is used of Jesus, it must be clearly understood for the angel said that He is both Savior and Lord.

APPL – And speaking of the angels, imagine what they thought when they witnessed the Creator, God the Son, becoming man, conceived in the womb of a virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit, born in a cave and placed in a feeding trough!

  • What went through their minds? 

1 Peter 1:12, —things into which angels long to look.

  • Their response was fitting…

Luke 2:14, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.


APPL – Jesus is the very place where our fears come face to face with hope.

  • But we must receive Him as He was given; Savior and Lord!
  • The closing words of the first verse from “What Child Is This?” are a fitting response for us all….

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing,
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary!


Luke 2:1-20     NASB

1 Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all [a]the inhabited earth. 2 [b]This was the first census taken while [c]Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, 5 in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. 6 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a [d]manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is [e]Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a [f]manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men [g]with whom He is pleased.”
15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the [h]manger. 17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

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