- Sermon Notes
Unto Us a Son is Given
December 25, 2022
This is the scripture we most associate with the celebration of Christmas. We love this story in Luke 2 because it tells us was happening in the world when Jesus was born. It speaks to the need for a Savior. This chapter puts it all in context and helps us understand the greatness of God in meeting our greatest need.
A decree went out from Caesar Augustus. Who was Caesar Augustus? Many consider him the greatest of all the Caesars. He was chosen by Julius Caesar to succeed him when he adopted him in his will. He was born by the name Octavian which simply means, “Eighth,” but because he had been adopted by Julius Caesar in his will, he was then given the name Gaius Julius Caesar Octavian.
That was his name, but he needed a title. The title “Emperor” wasn’t great enough, so the Senate sought a more regal title. “King” was not sufficient, so the title Augustus was chosen for him, which means, “Majestic Grandeur.” The Roman senate voted that he was a god. They even named a month on the calendar after him – August.
Among Roman rulers, only Julius and Augustus permanently had months named after them—though it wasn’t for lack of trying on the part of other emperors. For a time, May was changed to Claudius and the infamous Nero tried to insert Neronius for April. But Neronius sounded too much like nefarious and it never stuck. Only Julius and Augustus for July and August have had two-millenia-worth of staying power.
To God Almighty, however, the great Caesar Augustus would have been just “Little Caesar.” God used him for His purposes; to move Mary in her third trimester from Nazareth to Bethlehem so the prophesies of Christ’s birth would be fulfilled. Jesus, seemingly born in obscurity would be the Savior of the world, but what was to become of Little Caesar?
Isaiah 40:17, 23-24, All the nations are as nothing before Him, they are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless… It is He who reduces rulers to nothing, who makes the judges of the earth meaningless. Scarcely have they been planted, scarcely have they been sown, scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth, and He merely blows on them, and they wither, and the storm carries them away like stubble.
When you see God moving through declarations of an Emperor causing a terrible inconvenience to a very pregnant young woman not wanting to travel but needing to travel in order to fulfill the prophecies and purposes of God, it helps us to understand that God works supernaturally through natural means.
Psalm 37:23-24, The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.
These verses in Luke chapter 2 are a reminder again of how God is answering man’s greatest need in sending His Son to a lost, lonely, and broken world.
I. He was Born Unto Us
- Vs 11 – “Unto you is born a savior.”
Isaiah 9:2-7, “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.… You shall break the yoke of their burden, the staff on their shoulders, and the rod of their oppressor… For a child will be born unto us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on his shoulders; and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace; there will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace… The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.”
- We were born into a world of darkness and hopelessness and God sent Him to you, personally, to break through that darkness. “God loves the world so much He gave His only begotten Son…”
A. Therefore, do not be afraid
- Fear is the opposite of faith…
- There were many reasons to be afraid in that day:
- Herod the Great, a cruel man, sat on the throne over Israel.
- The Roman army occupied their land.
- Darkness and oppression sat like a heavy dark cloud over the nation.
Illus – When I visited Russia the first time, oppression felt like a heavy cloud.
- The promises of God seemed far away from them, (they hadn’t heard from God for 400 years). Many had given up. It seemed that all hope was lost.
- There are reasons to be afraid in our day as well; —-with news so readily available, we get much more of the news that’s happening around the world—
- There is a great spiritual darkness arising in the world.
- The war in Ukraine seems to have no end.
- Tensions with China are increasing.
- There are wars and rumors of wars.
- Economic troubles are increasing.
Illus – It looks like everything is falling apart. You might be saying, “Man, this is encouraging, pastor, I’m glad I brought friends.”
- Jesus is the answer to fear, tribulation, hopelessness and darkness.
1 John 5:4-5, This is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
- Faith comes from that declaration of Jesus, “Do not be afraid, I have overcome the world.”
- Many people are well acquainted with fear. It’s a common condition.
- Take hold of the words Jesus has spoken.
- Then take courage; this world is filled with the evil, but he has overcome the world.
B. God with us changes everything
- As a response to the fears of the shepherds, the angel responded, “Do not be afraid, I bring you good news…a Savior is born unto you who is Christ the Lord.”
- Lord means power and authority—
- And that Lord is born unto you as, “Immanuel, God with us.”
The answer to fear is the presence of the Lord who is with you in all power and authority!
Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
- What if worse comes to worst?
- It’s still true; He will still be with you.
Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
- Do you believe that? Do you believe that God is for you and that He is with you wherever you go?
- If you do, you’ll walk in confidence and strength.
Illus – We used to sing a praise song and a verse of it was very powerful…
“I have redeemed you I have called you by name,
child you are mine.
When you walk through the waters, I will be there,
and through the flames; you’ll not – no way – be drowned, you’ll not – no way – be burned for I am with you.”
Fear not, for I am with you, fear not.”
Illus – The angel said, “Do not be afraid for behold, I bring you good news.” That’s the answer to fear – a more excellent word.
C. This is good news of great joy
- The angel was not just bringing good news, but good news of great joy.
- When fear no longer takes hold and life comes into your heart, the result is great joy.
Illus – When fear has been relieved, when troubles have been answered, joy is the right response. Their great fear changed to abounding joy.
- Some people have lost their perspective on life and need to know again that good news of great joy has come to our dark world!
Illus – It was having the right perspective that caused Mary to say, “The Lord has done great things for me… and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
- There’s always something to complain about, but the joy of the Lord is our strength.
- Joy should be the nature of our relationship to God.
Illus – Many have lost the concept of joy. Perhaps it’s been replaced by the pursuit of happiness.
There is a difference between happiness and godly joy. One dictionary defined happiness, “a mental state of well-being characterized by positive emotions.”
Godly joy is the spiritual state of having hope in God and trusting in His promises. (That brings a deep-seated joy.)
Illus – Godly joy happens when hope is born out of faith. You could lose a loved one, but when you know he or she is in the presence of the Lord, hope is born.
- In the last several years, we’ve been through the most difficult days of our lives. I’ve carried deeper grief than at any time in my life, I think about our daughter all the time…
- But there is a deep-seated joy, a peace that passes understanding. “I know in whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have entrusted to Him until that day.”.
- Spiritual joy is deeper than happiness.
II. Unto Us was Born a Savior
- The angel didn’t say, “I bring you good news of great joy, a politician is born unto you, or a computer scientist, or an economist is born unto you who actually knows how to bring down inflation.”
- Our greatest need was for a Savior, and He gave the greatest gift because it met our greatest need.
Illus – Have you ever received a gift that you really, really needed, but couldn’t afford? That’s what God did for us. He gave us a gift we couldn’t afford.
Illus – we live in blessed times, and many give and receive things we don’t actually need… Many years ago, people would give something a person really needed, like socks or t-shirts, or something. Now we give things like mango papaya bath gel.
When I was growing up; when I was growing up, we got one gift.
Illus – This reminds me of one of my favorite Christian comedians, Michael Jr. he tells the story of growing up ‘po.’ They were so poor, he said, they couldn’t afford the other letters. One year, he says, his father gave him an empty box… A superhero action figure, the invisible man.
Illus – When I was a child, someone from church brought a case of oranges for our family. I still love the oranges at Christmas (especially dipped in chocolate). Well, I used to, now I’m on a strict diet.
- When you receive a gift out of your poverty, a gift you really need. It’s a picture of what God gave when He sent His Son.
A. He will save from sin
- “Are you saved?” (This is a Christian expression.) Saved from what is the real question.
- This was the word given to Joseph in a dream.
- He will save them from their sins. That is our greatest need; to be saved from our sins.
Illus – God must save us from our sins because without Christ, we will drown in them.
Illus – Look to Him and no other. Remember the old story about the guy in the flood who refused help from rescuers because God would save him; but then he dies in the flood, goes to heaven, and complains, “God, why didn’t you save me?”
- God would say, “I sent you my Son, what more did you want? He died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sin; what more could you possibly want?”
- Jesus is the answer to fear, tribulation, hopelessness and darkness.
Acts 13:38-39, “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.”
Illus – On Christmas morning when you give a gift, it’s personal. You write, “To… From…”
B. He must be born in each person’s heart
- He is given to the whole world, but He must be received one heart at a time.
How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given! So God imparts to human hearts, the blessing of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin, where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.
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.”
Illus – Have you ever opened a gift and there’s more and then more and still more? You can imagine God saying, “Open this gift! You’re going to love it. It’s the most amazing gift, do you know what’s in this gift?
- Forgiveness of sin…
- A certificate of adoption.
- There’s more, look deeper, the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus…
- There’s more, look deeper…
- He’s excited for you to open his gift; He wants you to have it!!
Illus – When the angels declared to the shepherds, “I bring you good news of great joy,” it was good news and great joy to the world, but it also brought great joy in the heart of God…
Hebrews 12:2, “… Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Luke 15:10, “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
C. He is God’s only answer
- There is no other. Why would anyone want another? (But what an amazing answer; the gift is amazing.)
- There can be no better news than what He brought to man.
- There can be no better provision for our sin; taking our sin upon Himself; giving us His righteousness.
Acts 4:12, 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.
- Jesus is not only God’s Word to man, but He is also God’s complete and final Word to man.
- And He is Lord. He’s God’s only answer, and He is Lord.
“Meek souls will receive him still; the dear Christ enters in.”
Open the gift, you won’t believe what’s inside. God would say, “I want you to open this gift, I love you so much.”
Would you open your heart? Would you say, “I want the deeper things that God has for me I want every part of the gift that he is given.”
May this year before us be a year of revival. May we experience the depths of spiritual increase in our hearts!
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,
14 “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.