Christmas 2009: Lessons from the Angelic Annunciation to the Shepherds.

Introduction

A few days ago, I came across a very interesting article. The article was titled ‘11 Iconic Newspaper Front Pages from world-famous Events.’ (This sermon was updated on 20th November 2019) The article features 11 events that made the most iconic newspaper covers. The first five of these events are as follows.

I. When the Chicago Tribune incorrectly report that Thomas E. Dewey defeated Harry S. Truman.

II. When Barack Obama was elected as the 44th President of the United States of America.

III. The Death of Nelson Mandela anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader, philanthropist and the Former President of South Africa.

IV. The Death of Diana Princess of Wales died in a car crash in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris.

V. The First Moon Landing by the US Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin.

Tonight it is not exaggerating to say that we live in the age of information. Information Technology has evolved so much we can stay up to date with the latest happenings around the globe with the tap of a finger. It’s a blessing but also a curse sometimes because not all news is good news all the time. It doesn’t matter how advanced the technology is it cannot bring only the good news.

Did you know however the best news in the history of mankind broke out at an era, technology wasn’t even dreamed of? It was delivered by an Angelic Company to a group of Shepherds over 2,000 years ago. Tonight as we celebrate Christmas once again I want to share with you three lessons I learned from that glorious event. Please turn with me to Luke chapter 2. Let us see.

1. Christmas is a Message of Reassurance

In Luke 2:8-10 we read there were Shepherds out in the field the night Jesus was born. There appeared to them an Angel of the Lord and the glory of the Lord shone upon them. They were terrified, (overwhelmed with an extreme sense of fear.) They were witnessing the most glorious occasion in the history of mankind. Why were they terrified then?

The Shepherds were seeing God’s glory for the first time ever. They had never known it before. They expected certain death because they were faced with the unknown. But the Angel reassured them with these words: ‘Do not be afraid’. These comforting words, however, would have been silly counsel had the Angel not told them why there was no cause for fear: “There is born to you this day a Savior who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11-12) It is this Savior who will take their fears away.

Illustration:

Merle Haggard once sang ‘If we make it through December, everything is gonna be alright I know’. The song is about an unemployed father wondering how he can make Christmas special for his little daughter.

 Implications:

Christmas can be a season of fear for some of us because the New Year that comes right after Christmas can be filled with uncertainties. Some of us may feel utterly discouraged and despaired in fear because of the challenges and shortages we face. We are unable to identify with the celebratory Christmas spirit around us that somehow seems to have eluded them.

If you are feeling nervous today due to circumstances in your life at present, be encouraged to know that as the Angel did the Shepherds Jesus is telling you not to be afraid because He is always with you, (Matthew 1:23; Matthew 28:20). 

2. Christmas demands a  valid Response

In Luke 2:15-16 the Shepherds pay a visit to the newborn Christ. Remember, the Shepherds were not the only party that was aware of the glorious occasion although the Angels appeared only to them. Apart from the Maggi who visited the newborn savior, there were two other parties that did not bother. The Scribes who detected savior’s birth through the interpretation of scripture did not visit although Bethlehem was six miles away from Herod’s residence and Herod himself who believed the child is a threat. (Read that sermon here).

Illustration:

A family celebrated Christmas each year by singing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus, baking a cake for Him, and setting an extra chair at the table to remind them of His presence. As Christmas Day was winding down, a friend asked the five-year-old daughter if she had gotten everything she wanted for Christmas. She paused a moment and responded, “No, but it wasn’t my birthday.”

Implications:

For most people in the world, today Christmas is about themselves. Not about the son of God who was born through a virgin and died on the cross more than two thousand years ago. They often respond to the most glorious event in the history of mankind by eating and drinking. It’s not wrong to enjoy (the Shepherds certainly sang and danced after hearing the news) but it’s not the most appropriate response either. While enjoying the season we must remember that Jesus is the reason.

What does an appropriate response to Christmas look like? Of course, one can get involved in charitable activities. It’s good but Christmas demands a more personal response. Let’s see how Christmas got its name. The name is the combination of Christ + Mass meaning the mass of Christ. In other words that Christ died for masses, (John 3:16).

Then there’s no better response than repenting and yielding one’s life to Christ. Today some of us may have already yielded our lifestyle to the authority of Christ. Still, we can take this opportunity to renew our commitment. If you still haven’t decided whether or not to surrender yourself to Jesus today is the day, now is the time.

3. Christmas compels us to Proclaim

Last but not least these Shepherds were the first evangelists ever for Luke 2:17-18 says they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed. They couldn’t but tell because it was a glorious experience. They couldn’t contain the excitement. How can they not tell? After all, God had decided the Messiah’s birth will be officially announced only to them. Their lives were transformed forever. Everyone that heard the Shepherds was amazed by their story. Even if they didn’t really understand it, they realized that something important had happened.

Illustration:

Four years after Titanic sunk man by the name of Aguilla Webb gave the following testimony:

I am a survivor of the Titanic. That awful night I met Mr. John Harper while drifting alone on a spar. ‘Man,’ he said, ‘Are you saved?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I am not.’ He replied, ‘Do believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.’ The waves bore him away; but, strange to say brought him back a little later, and he said, ‘Are you saved now?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I cannot honestly say that I am.’ He said again, ‘Do believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,’ and shortly after he went down; and there, alone in the night, and with two miles of water under me, I believed. I am John Harper’s last convert.

Christian, A. (2019). The Last Convert of Jesus Christ. [online] Bibleseo.com. Available at: http://bibleseo.com/christian-life/the-last-convert-of-jesus-christ/ [Accessed 20 Nov. 2019].

Implications:

In the Hollywood movie of the Titanic, nothing was said about John Harper, but he was truly one of the great heroes of the Titanic.  In the face of death and drowning, he was concerned about the souls of men.

Some of us seldom witness to others about Christ because we are no longer in awe of the Christmas Miracle. We have either become complacent or preoccupied with our own challenges. The Angel told the Shepherd, ‘I bring you glad tidings of great joy, which shall be to all the people.’ (Luke 2:10 – Darby Bible Translation)

Today God has entrusted us with glad tidings of great joy. We cannot keep quiet because it’s meant for all the people. Today even as we celebrate another Christmas I want to encourage you to share your faith with someone you know.

Invitation

Tonight as I bring this message to closing I would like to extend you an opportunity to invite Jesus Christ into your heart. At the beginning of my message, I explained that we don’t need to be afraid of the future because God is with us. However, you cannot claim that assurance unless you accept Christ as the Lord and Savior of your life. There are three things you need to do before you can invite Him into your heart.

  1. Admit you are a sinner and ask God for forgiveness, (Romans 5:8; 6:23; 10:13)
  2. Believe in the name of Jesus as your only hope of salvation, (John 3:16; 14:16)
  3. Become a child of God by confessing that Jesus is your Lord, (Romans 10:9; 10)

Finally, repeat this prayer after me.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank you for dying on the cross for my sin. Please forgive me. Come into my life. I receive you as my Lord and Savior. Now, help me to live for you the rest of this life. In the name of Jesus, I pray.

Amen.

(If this sermon was helpful to you please consider leaving your feedback in the comments section at the bottom. It would be a great encouragement to me personally.)

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