- Sermon Notes
Good News of Great Joy
December 26, 2021
ILLUS – Bad News
Proverbs 16:24, Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. (NIV)
1. As we begin our study, in a spirit of full disclosure, I offer this word of warning; I am going to share with you the worst news the world has ever heard.
2. But, in a spirit of love, I’m also going to share with you the best news the world has ever heard.
3. In fact, the news I’m going to share with you is so good it has the potential of filling your heart with joy.
4. During our study, we will examine the angelic proclamation given to some shepherds right after our Savior, Jesus Christ, was born.
5. 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 Christ can fill our hearts with great joy.
1. Luke, the physician, recounts the beloved story of Jesus’ birth in the first seven verses of the second chapter of his Gospel.
2. Caesar Augustus needed tax money to keep his Roman Empire in the black.
3. To ensure that Augustus got every last denarius, the tax rolls needed to be updated.
4. So, Augustus issued a decree for a census to be taken which required all people in the Roman Empire to return to the home of their family’s origin.
5. News of the emperor’s decree eventually reached a godly Jewish carpenter in the town of Nazareth; his name was Joseph.
6. Joseph’s family tree traced back to King David, who was from a place located seven miles southeast of Jerusalem, a little town called Bethlehem.
7. In compliance with the census decree, Joseph set out on the 90-mile trek to Bethlehem, a journey that would usually take a traveler three or four days.
8. But Joseph’s journey would take longer because he was not traveling alone.
9. He was betrothed to godly virgin, also from the family of King David, her name was Mary.
10. Mary was with Child, but not Joseph’s child, for the Child in her womb was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, thus He is rightly called the Son of God.
11. The journey was long and the way was difficult, but this humble couple was right in the middle of God’s will.
12. The day came when they finally arrived in Bethlehem and it quickly became clear it was time for another arrival, the birth of God’s Son.
13. Joseph searched for a suitable place for Mary to give birth, which didn’t take long because Bethlehem was so small.
14. With other travelers there to register for the census, every available room was taken, “there was no room for them in the inn.”
15. The only semi-private place for Mary to deliver God’s Son was likely a cave or a stall of some sort used for farm animals.
16. 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 human history forever; as Isaiah prophesied. . .
Isaiah 9:6, For a Child will be born to us, a Son will be given to us
17. Mary marveled as she carefully wrapped her infant in linen strips and placed Him a manger, a feeding trough for farm animals.
Transition – What is the meaning of this? Luke 2:8-20 gives us wonderful insight into our heavenly Father’s heart and plan for sending 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 – Experiencing the 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 all of us can 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.
2. A cruel king named Herod the Great was on the throne.
a. He was a paranoid, ruthless ruler who killed members of his own family to protect his throne.
b. One day Herod the Great would kill boys under the age of two to protect his crown from Israel’s rightful King, Jesus Christ. (Matthew 2:16)
3. In addition, the Roman army occupied Israel which continually put the Jews at risk of abuse and harassment.
4. Darkness and oppression sat like a heavy, ominous cloud over Israel.
5. The promises of God seemed far away, but, in reality, God was not far away at all; God was on the move.
APPL – Today, there are many reasons to be afraid.
Transition – Satan loves to play on our 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 the fear of being punished.
1 John 4:18, . . . fear has to do with punishment. (NIV)
• Many people are afraid because they have this dreadful, undeniable feeling that judgment is hanging over their heads.
B. Jesus Christ is the answer to all 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 an important theme in Luke’s Gospel and it is a theme found throughout 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 angel’s words reveal that 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 – God’s presence can help us overcome our fears.
• When God is near, His presence and love calms our fears.
• The Apostle John confirmed that the presence of God’s love drives out our fears, which is 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 will be well.
II. A Savior Has Been Born for You (11)
A. Jesus came to save us
1. 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 told him 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.
3. Jesus came to save “people from their sins” which is fitting because His name means, “the Lord saves.”
APPL – But here comes the bad news I warned you about earlier.
• Genesis 1 tells us that God created everything and everyone.
• Because God is our Creator, every person is accountable to Him.
• The God we are accountable to is holy. (Isaiah 6:3)
• God gave us holy commands to live by called “The Ten Commandments.” (Exodus 20)
• God expects us to perfectly obey His holy commands.
Matthew 5:48, Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
• When we fail to perfectly obey God’s holy commands, the Bible calls our failure “sin.”
• The Greek word for “sin” is an archery term which means “to miss the mark.”
o Now, according to the Bible, when we sin and “miss the mark” it’s not a near miss.
o To “miss the mark,” biblically speaking, means we miss the mark because we’re pointed in the wrong direction and we’re aiming at the wrong target.
• The bad news is none of us have perfectly kept God’s holy commands; all of us have failed or fallen short.
Romans 3:23, . . .for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
ILLUS – To “fall short” would be like me attempting to throw a baseball from Hillsboro to the North Pole.
• But the bad news gets worse; our sin has earned a penalty, or as the Apostle Paul writes, our sin has earned a “wage.”
Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death. . .
• “Death” means our sin has condemned us to eternal separation and punishment, which is the worst news.
• Since all have sinned, all stand condemned.
• Now, for those who think they’ve been “pretty good” most of the time, please remember that breaking one command is enough to condemn us because God requires perfection.
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.
o No do-overs. No mulligans. Guilty.
o This is very bad news.
o If you are not a Christian, this is the fear I was talking about earlier, the fear of being punished for your sins.
• But I have good news, the best news the world has ever heard is, God loves us.
• And 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 word “for” means “substitute” or “in our place.”
• This means Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sin when He died in our place.
• The truth is, without Jesus we will be condemned for our sins.
• But through Jesus Christ, we can be saved from our guilt and condemnation. How?
Romans 10:9, . . . if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved
B. Jesus is Father God’s only answer
1. 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 us.
b. There is no better answer for our sin.
2. Jesus is not only the Father’s answer for our sins, Jesus is the Father’s complete and final answer for all that we need.
Philippians 4:19, And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
3. And Jesus is not only the Christ; Jesus is the Lord.
a. The word “lord” is used many times in the Bible to indicate a person of authority.
b. For example, a worker would call his supervisor, “lord.”
c. But when it is used of Jesus, it must be understood that He is both Savior and Lord, just as the angel said.
APPL – And speaking of the angels, imagine what they thought when they witnessed the Creator, God the Son, becoming man, born in a cave and placed in a feeding trough!
• What were the angels thinking?
1 Peter 1:12, —things into which angels long to look.
• One thing is certain, 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 and the shepherds rejoiced because now there is 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.
• Is this good news your good news?
• If not, I would like to invite you to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior.
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.
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