- Sermon Notes
Good News of Great Joy
October 25, 2020
ILLUS – Bad News
Proverbs 16:24, Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. (NIV)
- As we begin our study, in a spirit of full disclosure, I offer this word of warning; tonight, I am going to share with you the worst news the world has ever heard.
- But, in a spirit of love, I am also going to share with you the best news the world has ever heard.
- In fact, the news I am going to share with you is such good news that it has the potential of filling your heart with great joy.
- This evening, we will examine the angelic message spoken to shepherds the night our Savior, Jesus Christ, was born.
- From their heavenly message, we will discover why the birth of Jesus Christ is the good news our world needs to hear and how only Jesus can fill our hearts with great joy.
- Last week, we studied the first seven verses of Luke 2, the beloved story of Jesus’ birth.
- We noted that Caesar Augustus issued a decree which required all people in the Roman Empire to return to the home of their family’s origin.
- News of the decree eventually reached a godly Jewish carpenter in the town of Nazareth named Joseph.
- His family tree traced back to King David, who was from a place located seven miles southeast of Jerusalem, a little town called Bethlehem.
- In compliance with the decree, Joseph set out on the 90-mile trek to Bethlehem, a journey that would normally take a traveler three or four days.
- But Joseph’s journey would take longer because he was not traveling alone.
- He was betrothed to godly virgin, also from the family of King David, named Mary.
- She was with Child, but not his child, for the Child in her womb was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, thus rightly called the Son of God.
- The road was long, and the way was difficult, but this humble couple was right in the middle of God’s will.
- The day came when they finally arrived in Bethlehem, but it quickly became clear it was time for another arrival, the birth of God’s Son.
- Joseph searched for a suitable place for Mary to give birth, which did not take long because Bethlehem was so small.
- With other travelers there to register for the census, every available room was already taken, “there was no room for them in the inn”.
- The only somewhat private place for her to deliver God’s Son was probably a cave or a stall of some sort used for farm animals.
- And there, under the cover of night, Light shattered 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)
- Mary 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 the 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 this 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, hard-working shepherds were stunned and terrified by the presence of the angelic messenger for the Bible tells us that the shepherds were “terribly frightened.” (9)
ILLUS – When I read the Bible, sometimes I like to imagine how I would have responded if I had been there for those great events in Israel’s history.
- 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
- This was especially true at the time of Jesus’ birth.
- 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.
- The Roman army occupied Israel which continually put the Jews at risk of abuse and harassment.
- Darkness and oppression sat like a heavy, ominous cloud over Israel.
- The promises of God seemed far away, but, in reality, God was not far away. God was on the move.
APPL – In our day, are there reasons to fear?
APPL – The devil loves to play on those fears.
ILLUS – The devil goes to church
APPL – What is the root of fear?
- 1 John 4:18 tells us the root of fear is a fear of being punished.
1 John 4:18, . . . fear has to do with punishment. (NIV)
- Many people are afraid because they have a dreadful feeling that judgment is hanging over their heads.
B. Jesus is the answer to all our fears
- 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)
- This is an important 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, one for each day of the year.
b. 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 God, His love overcomes our fears.
- Good News is the answer to our fear; it is a more excellent word, a word that brings comfort and hope.
- 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 – God’s love is pure and perfect. God’s love answers our fears and gives us a confidence that all is well and will be well.
II. A Savior Has Been Born for You (11)
A. Jesus came to save His people
- In Christian circles, sometimes, you may hear a person ask, “Are you saved?”
a. What does that question mean?
b. Saved from ‘what’?
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.
- Jesus came to save “people from their sins.”
APPL – Here comes the bad news I warned you about at the beginning of my message.
- God created everything and everyone.
- Because God is the Creator of everything and everyone, every person is accountable to God.
- God is holy.
- God set a holy standard for people to live by.
- God expects every person to obey His holy standard.
- But the bad news is every person has sinned.
Romans 3:23, . . .for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
- The bad news gets worse.
- Our sin has earned a penalty, or as the Apostle Paul calls it a wage.
Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death. . .
- That is the bad news, the worst news; all have sinned by breaking God’s commands and stand condemned.
- And breaking one command is enough to make you guilty.
James 2:10, For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.
- Lie once, guilty. Steal once, guilty. Lust once, guilty. Guilty, guilty, guilty.
- No do-overs. No second chances. Guilty.
- That is some very bad news.
- People may like reading the bad news that happens to other people, but they do not like this bad news because it is too personal.
- But the good news, the best news the world has ever heard is that God loves us.
- Because God loves us, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to save us from our sins.
Romans 5:8, God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
- The truth is, without Jesus we will be condemned for our sins.
- But through Jesus Christ, we can be freed from condemnation. How?
Romans 8:1, Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
B. Jesus is God’s only answer
- There is no other answer.
Acts 4:12, And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.
a. There is no better news than what Jesus offers to us.
b. There is no better answer for our sin.
2. Jesus is not only God’s Word to man; He is God’s complete and final Word to man.
3. Jesus is not only the Christ; He is the 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 understood because 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 – The angels rejoiced. The shepherds rejoiced because there is now a reason to rejoice.
- Good news of great joy.
- Jesus Christ is the very place where our fears come face to face with hope and where bad news is answered by the best news of all.
- Has this good news become your joy?
- May I invite you to receive Jesus as He was given, as Savior and Lord.
John 3:16, For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock at night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood near them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 And so 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 [a]Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a [b]manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly [c]army of angels praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among people [d]with whom He is pleased.”
15 When the angels had departed from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem, then, and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the [e]manger. 17 When they had seen Him, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. 18 And all who heard it were amazed about the things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.