Andrew Fountain - The Christmas Story
Full sermon notes - What happened at Christmas
- What time of year?
- Could actually have been on Dec 25th
- But early church didn’t celebrate Christmas, so no early tradition
- Their main celebration was the resurrection ever first day of the week (Sunday)
- What date?
- We expect it to be 0 A.D. but it was not
- Herod died 4 B.C. and Jesus was probably between 1 and 2 at this time
- So 6 or 5 B.C. most likely
- God promised to Eve that one of her descendents would destroy evil forever
- God promised to Abraham that one of his descendents would cause blessings to come on the whole world
- God promised to Jacob that this mysterious one would come through his son Judah
- God promised to Moses that this coming one would be great prophet like him
- God promised to David that…
- God messiah’d (anointed) David as king
- and promised that there would be a future Messiah/Anointed/Christ coming
- Same word:
- “the Messiah”
- “the Christ”
- “the anointed” (as king)
Luke 1 & 2
Scene One: Zechariah in the temple
- During the reign of Herod king of Judea, there lived a priest named Zechariah who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah, and he had a wife named Elizabeth, who was a descendant of Aaron.
- They were both righteous in the sight of God, following all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly.
- But they did not have a child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both very old.
- Now while Zechariah was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty,
- he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the holy place of the Lord and burn incense.
- Now the whole crowd of people were praying outside at the hour of the incense offering.
- An angel of the Lord, standing on the right side of the altar of incense, appeared to him.
- And Zechariah, visibly shaken when he saw the angel, was seized with fear.
- But the angel said to him,
“Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son; you will name him John.
- Joy and gladness will come to you, and many will rejoice at his birth,
- for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth.
- He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.
- And he will go as forerunner before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared for him.”
- Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure of this? For I am an old man, and my wife is old as well.”
- The angel answered him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.
- And now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will be silent, unable to speak, until the day these things take place.”
- Now the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they began to wonder why he was delayed in the holy place.
- When he came out, he was not able to speak to them. They realized that he had seen a vision in the holy place, because he was making signs to them and remained unable to speak.
- When his time of service was over, he went to his home.
- After some time his wife Elizabeth became pregnant, and for five months she kept herself in seclusion. She said,
- “This is what the Lord has done for me at the time when he has been gracious to me, to take away my disgrace among people.”
Scene Two: Angel appears to Mary
- In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
- to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, a descendant of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.
- The angel came to her and said, “Greetings, favoured one, the Lord is with you!”
- But she was greatly troubled by his words and began to wonder about the meaning of this greeting.
- So the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God!
- Listen: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.
- He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David.
- He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end.”
- Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I have not had sexual relations with a man?”
- The angel replied,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called the Son of God.
- And look, your relative Elizabeth has also become pregnant with a son in her old age — although she was called barren, she is now in her sixth month!
- For nothing will be impossible with God.”
- So Mary said, “Yes, I am a servant of the Lord; let this happen to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Scene Three: Mary goes to live with Elizabeth
- In those days Mary got up and went hurriedly into the hill country, to a town of Judah,
- and entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth.
- When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
- She exclaimed with a loud voice,
“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child in your womb!
- And who am I that the mother of my Lord should come and visit me?
- For the instant the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.
- And blessed is she who believed that what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
- And Mary said,
“My soul exalts the Lord,
- and my spirit has begun to rejoice in God my Saviour,
- because he has looked upon the humble state of his servant.
For from now on all generations will call me blessed,
- because he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name;
- from generation to generation he is merciful to those who fear him.
- He has demonstrated power with his arm; he has scattered those whose pride wells up from the sheer arrogance of their hearts.
- He has brought down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up those of lowly position;
- he has filled the hungry with good things, and has sent the rich away empty.
- He has helped his servant Israel, remembering his mercy,
- as he promised to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
- So Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then returned to her home.
Scene Four: Birth of John the Baptist
- Now the time came for Elizabeth to have her baby, and she gave birth to a son.
- Her neighbours and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.
- On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they wanted to name him Zechariah after his father.
- But his mother replied, “No! He must be named John.”
- They said to her, “But none of your relatives bears this name.”
- So they made signs to the baby’s father, enquiring what he wanted to name his son.
- He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they were all amazed.
- Immediately Zechariah’s mouth was opened and his tongue released, and he spoke, blessing God.
- All their neighbours were filled with fear, and throughout the entire hill country of Judea all these things were talked about.
- All who heard these things kept them in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the Lord’s hand was indeed with him.
- Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied,
- “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
because he has come to help and has redeemed his people.
- For he has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David,
- as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from long ago,
- that we should be saved from our enemies,
and from the hand of all who hate us.
- He has done this to show mercy to our ancestors,
and to remember his holy covenant —
- the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham.
This oath grants
- that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies,
may serve him without fear,
- in holiness and righteousness before him for as long as we live.
- And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High.
For you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
- to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.
- Because of our God’s tender mercy
the dawn will break upon us from on high
- to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
- “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
- And the child kept growing and becoming strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he was revealed to Israel.
Scene Five: Jesus is born
- Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus to register all the empire for taxes.
- This was the first registration, taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
- Everyone went to his own town to be registered.
- So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David.
- He went to be registered with Mary, who was promised in marriage to him, and who was expecting a child.
- While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.
- And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Scene Six: Angels announce birth to Shepherds
- Now there were shepherds nearby living out in the field, keeping guard over their flock at night.
- An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were absolutely terrified.
- But the angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid! Listen carefully, for I proclaim to you good news that brings great joy to all the people:
- Today your Saviour is born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord.
- This will be a sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.”
- Suddenly a vast, heavenly army appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
- “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among people with whom he is pleased!”
- “Glory to God in the highest,
- When the angels left them and went back to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, that the Lord has made known to us.”
- So they hurried off and located Mary and Joseph, and found the baby lying in a manger.
- When they saw him, they related what they had been told about this child,
- and all who heard it were astonished at what the shepherds said.
- But Mary treasured up all these words, pondering in her heart what they might mean.
- So the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; everything was just as they had been told.
Scene Seven: Amazing prophecies over the baby
- At the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
- Now when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, Joseph and Mary brought Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord
- (just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male will be set apart to the Lord”),
- and to offer a sacrifice according to what is specified in the law of the Lord, a pair of doves or two young pigeons.
- Now there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon who was righteous and devout, looking for the restoration of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
- It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
- So Simeon, directed by the Spirit, came into the temple courts, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what was customary according to the law,
- Simeon took him in his arms and blessed God, saying,
- “Now, according to your word, Sovereign Lord, permit your servant to depart in peace.
- For my eyes have seen your salvation
- that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples:
- a light,
for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”
- So the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him.
- Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary,
“Listen carefully: This child is destined to be the cause of the falling and rising of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be rejected.
- Indeed, as a result of him the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed — and a sword will pierce your own soul as well!”
- There was also a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old, having been married to her husband for seven years until his death.
- She had lived as a widow since then for eighty-four years. She never left the temple, worshipping with fasting and prayer night and day.
- At that moment, she came up to them and began to give thanks to God and to speak about the child to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
- So when Joseph and Mary had performed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.
- And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom, and the favour of God was upon him.
Version: NET Bible
- read Scene One: Zechariah in the temple
- This is a new creation
- In the old creation, the Spirit hovered over the face of the lifeless form of the world
- New life was brought forth
- Here the Spirit is beginning to bring life again
- The Priest is very good at the law, but not so good at faith
- This new creation will be brought by faith, not the old external law
- read Scene Two: Angel appears to Mary
- He will be the promissed Messiah
- the anointed King on the throne of David
- God created the New Adam
- Old Adam was dust, and God breathed his breath into him
- made his son, in his image
- Jesus, the New Adam is born of the Spirit
- “he will be called the Son of God”
- and Mary has faith
- The new Adam has to face temptation (ch 4) but he passes
- He will be the promissed Messiah
- read Scene Three: Mary goes to live with Elizabeth
- The main point of this is the prophetic revelation
- “Why me? —I am nothing!”
- v.51-53, the Old Creation was about spectacular galaxies of stars
- The new is shockingly different
Creation declares God’s Glory
- Psalm 19:
“The heavens declare the glory of God,
the sky proclaims his handiwork.”
- But Jesus came to give us a much fuller revelation of God
- So what does Jesus’ coming reveal about God?
- Humility what aspects ??
- to become a helpless baby
- born from a nobody
- Back to Scripture Slide read Scene Four: Birth of John the Baptist
- What is v.63, 64 about? —faith bringing life
- v.68-75 imagery from being saved out of Egypt at the time of the Exodus
- v.78, 79 “the dawn will break upon us from on high, to give light to those who sit in darkness”
- creation imagery
- read Scene Five: Jesus is born
- Jesus is born in the animal’s quarters because the inn is full, and laid in a feeding trough
- What was it like?
- Clue: it was not like this:
- Is the Father like this, or just Jesus?
- He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice,
and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? Mic 6:8
- Jesus said to Philip: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” John 14:9
- read Scene Six: Angels announce birth to Shepherds
- Does anyone know the social class of shepherds?
- dirty, smelly, not trusted!
- I saw a movie about a group of men in Vancouver who make a living collecting empty beer bottles and exchanging them for fresh beer
- It would be like all God’s glory was revealed to them!
- Does anyone know the social class of shepherds?
- What does this tell us about the New Creation?
- A lot of things are reversed from our Old expectations
- Scene Seven (won’t read)
- a light, for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
Matthew 1 & 2
Event One: Mary becomes pregnant and Joseph has a vision
- Now the birth of Jesus Christ happened this way. While his mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.
- Because Joseph, her husband to be, was a righteous man, and because he did not want to disgrace her, he intended to divorce her privately.
- When he had contemplated this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
- She will give birth to a son and you will name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
- This all happened so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet would be fulfilled:
- “Look! The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they will call him Emmanuel,” which means “God with us.”
- When Joseph awoke from sleep he did what the angel of the Lord told him. He took his wife,
- but did not have marital relations with her until she gave birth to a son, whom he named Jesus.
Event Two: (approx 1 year later) The convoy of wise men from the East
- After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, in the time of King Herod, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem
- saying, “Where is the one who is born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
- When King Herod heard this he was alarmed, and all Jerusalem with him.
- After assembling all the chief priests and experts in the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born.
- “In Bethlehem of Judea,” they said, “for it is written this way by the prophet:”
- ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are in no way least among the rulers of Judah,for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’
- ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
- Then Herod privately summoned the wise men and determined from them when the star had appeared.
- He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and look carefully for the child. When you find him, inform me so that I can go and worship him as well.”
- After listening to the king they left, and once again the star they saw when it rose led them until it stopped above the place where the child was.
- When they saw the star they shouted joyfully.
- As they came into the house and saw the child with Mary his mother, they bowed down and worshiped him. They opened their treasure boxes and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
- After being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back by another route to their own country.
Event Three: Supernatural warning and escape from mass murder to Egypt
- After they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to look for the child to kill him.”
- Then he got up, took the child and his mother during the night, and went to Egypt.
- He stayed there until Herod died. In this way what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet was fulfilled: “I called my Son out of Egypt.”
- When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he became enraged. He sent men to kill all the children in Bethlehem and throughout the surrounding region from the age of two and under, according to the time he had learned from the wise men.
- Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:
- “A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud wailing,Rachel weeping for her children,and she did not want to be comforted, because they were gone.”
Event Four: (April, 4 B.C.) Herod dies, the family returns …to Nazareth
- After Herod had died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt
- saying, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.”
- So he got up and took the child and his mother and returned to the land of Israel.
- But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. After being warned in a dream, he went to the regions of Galilee.
- He came to a town called Nazareth and lived there. Then what had been spoken by the prophets was fulfilled, that Jesus would be called a Nazarene.
Version: NET Bible
- Now we will have a quick look at Matthew:
Overview of Matt 1:18-2:23
- Mary becomes pregnant (of the Holy Spirit) and Joseph has a vision
- Jesus born in Bethlehem
- (approx 1 year later) The convoy of wise men from the East
- Found the child in a house with Mary and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh
- Didn’t report back to Herod, —angered him
- Supernatural warning and escape
- Escape to Egypt from murder of all children up to 2yrs
- (April, 4 B.C.) Herod dies, the family returns …to Nazareth
- Supernaturally warned in a dream
- No mention of being born with the animals or of shepherds
- More focus on supernatural care and provision
- The new creation comes under attack, but the power of the Spirit is constantly providing for our needs
- So what is our response?
- Paul applies it in Phil 2
Our response: Philippians 2
- You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had,
- who though he existed in the form of God
did not regard equality with God
as something to be grasped,
- but emptied himself
by taking on the form of a slave,
by looking like other men,
and by sharing in human nature.
- He humbled himself,
by becoming obedient to the point of death
— even death on a cross!
- As a result God exalted him
and gave him the name that is above every name,
- Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort provided by love, any fellowship in the Spirit, any affection or mercy,
- complete my joy and be of the same mind, by having the same love, being united in spirit, and having one purpose.
- Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself.
- Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well.
- This should be our Christmas theme
Updated on 2011-12-23 by Andrew Fountain