Luke 2:10-14 (Christmas Eve—7:00 p.m.)
“For All the People”
Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield CT
December 24, 2014
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Our text for Christmas Eve is recorded in Luke 2:
“And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was 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 those with whom he is pleased!”
The people waited. And waited. And waited.
Adam and Eve waited for the promise to come to fruition. Abraham waited for the promise to be fulfilled. The prophets announced and re-announced the promise, and they waited. All the people waited. God had promised a Savior, one who would save the people from their sins. He promised! The Messiah, the Anointed King, would come and rescue all the people. The question was “When? How long do we have to wait?”
Still, the people waited. And waited. And waited.
In a sense, it’s like our children waiting for Christmas. There is excited anticipation for the day to finally arrive. “I can’t wait for Christmas!” the children exclaim. “When will Santa be here? How long do I have to wait before I can open my presents?” Oh the beautiful sight of the joyous hope of children looking forward to Christmas. But they, and us, only have to wait so long. We KNOW when Christmas is—December 25, year after year. No one, however, in the Scriptures knew when God was going to send the Savior! He was going to send the Savior, but when? It wasn’t on the calendar. There was excited anticipation for that day, but it was open ended.
It’s kind of like how you might be feeling right now. We’ve heard the promises from Genesis 3, from the prophets Isaiah and Micah. But we’re waiting. On this Christmas Eve we have yet to hear the Christmas Gospel. We’ve yet to receive into our ears and hearts the Good News of great joy that is for all the people. We so look forward to and anticipate hearing Luke chapter 2 read on Christmas Eve. So we wait. We wait with hopeful expectation to hear again that a Child is born for us who is Christ the Lord. We long to peer again into the manger along with the shepherds and to see this thing that the Lord has made known to us in His holy Word. By faith we want to see in that Word the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. For He is the One who brings glory to God in the highest and peace to God’s people on earth.
Throughout His earthly life, Jesus, the Son of Mary, the Son of God, brought glory to God, His Father and ours. He obeyed His heavenly Father perfectly. He kept every single commandment of the Lord, without fail. That cannot be said of us. On the contrary, we have broken every single commandment of the Lord without fail. Jesus was conceived and born without sin, and so lived a perfect life in word and deed. You and I were conceived and born in sin, and so live a sinful life in what we say and do. And that’s why we needed a perfect Savior. That why our Savior had to be completely true God and completely true Man, so that Jesus, God-made-flesh, could dwell among us and live His life as the substitute for all the people. Jesus’ obedience to God the Father was done for you and me, in our place. Jesus lived for us so that you and I get the credit for what Jesus did. When Jesus kept the Ten Commandments, it is you and I who get the credit for doing the same, even though we don’t. When Jesus loved God the Father with all His heart, soul, mind and strength, and loved His neighbor as Himself, you and I get the credit for having done so, even though we don’t.
Because of Jesus’ gift of His perfect righteousness and obedience give to us, God sees us in Jesus as having kept His commandments. When God our Father looks at us, He sees us through the perfect obedience of His Son which has been credited to our account as if we had perfectly obeyed God’s Word. What an awesome gift Jesus gives to us, glory to God in the highest!
But what about peace? Sin destroyed all the people’s relationship with God. Sin put us all in a state of hatred and warfare against God. There is no peace with God when we sin and fail to keep His Commandments. But Jesus kept the Commandments perfectly for us as our substitute and He has given us the credit for having done so. But there’s more! In giving us His righteousness and perfect obedience, He took away from us our sins, our brokenness, our guilt. It was a great exchange! His perfection for our sins. Of course, this meant that Jesus, as our Substitute, would have to suffer hell and death in order to pay for our sins. Out of love for us, having given us His perfect righteousness, Jesus took our sins upon Himself and suffered hell on the cross for our sins. He died our death so that we might not die eternally. He paid for our sins in full and bestows on us not only His righteousness, but the forgiveness of sins which His blood purchased and won for us!
A great exchange, indeed! Our Lord exchanged places with us. He became a curse so that we might be blessed. He was born under the Law so we might have the full rights of children. He became a slave to sin so we might become free from sin. He died so that we might live. As the redeemed people of God with faith in Jesus Christ, we are able to give glory to God with our lives of faith-in-action because we have received peace with God through our Lord Jesus in the forgiveness of sins.
There is truth in the final lyrics of the Faith Hill song, “A Baby Changes Everything,” when the Baby in question is the God-Man Jesus Christ, “My whole life has turned around / I was lost, but now I’m found / A baby changes everything.” But it is important to remember that the change effected in us took place because the Christ Child grew up and lived a perfect life for us, suffered and died for us on the cross, and rose again for us. Through the gift of saving faith in Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit working through Word and Baptism and Lord’s Supper, we receive forgiveness of sins and a new life—a changed life. We are transformed from darkness to light, from sinner to saint, from living for self to loving one another as God in Christ first loved us. Thus our lives which we live by faith in the Son of God give glory to God in the highest because we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
And there is no greater way to love God than to love “all the people” enough to share the Good News of great joy with them! The Savior, Christ the Lord, is the Savior of all people. If someone is a part of this world, then the gift of Jesus is for them—the forgiveness, the everlasting life, the salvation from death. The Good News of great joy that Jesus is Emmanuel—God-with-us to save—is for all the people: red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. The Good News that Jesus is the promised Messiah-Savior who lived, suffered, died, and rose again is for all people: Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Buddhists, Sikhs, Baha’i, agnostics, and atheists—all the people!
The gift of Jesus Christ is for people no matter their situation or station in life. It is for the homeless and the poor, for those on welfare and those barely getting by. It is for the family where the husband and wife each hold down two jobs just to make ends meet, where the children wear hand-me-downs, and grocery shopping means going to the Food Shelf. The Good News of great joy that Jesus the Savior is born is for all people—for those who are chronically ill, wearied with doctor’s appointments and tests, overwhelmed with questions for which there seem to be no answers; for those who celebrate Christmas with an empty place at the table because a loved one is no longer with them. Jesus’ love, forgiveness, and life is for all the people, even those who already have everything they could desire.
But even as you share the Good News of great joy that is for all the people, don’t ever forget that God’s gift of His one-of-a-kind Son is FOR YOU! Whoever you are, whatever your circumstances in life, this gift of the Savior is for you because you are part of the people for whom Christ was born and for whom Christ has died and is risen again! Jesus is your treasure. He is your true friend and companion. He is your Savior from sin, from death, and from the power of the devil. Jesus is your Lord and King. So let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened. Let us turn to the Good News of great joy and hear God’s Word recorded for us in Luke, chapter 2. The wait is over! Amen.