Christmas Eve| Luke 2:10-12| Pastor James Preus| Trinity Lutheran Church| December 24, 2021
10And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” ~ Luke 2:10-12
Although you might not realize it from reading the first two chapters of Luke’s Gospel, an appearance from one of God’s angels is a once in many generations event. And because this is such a rare occurrence for an angel to appear, you might be surprised by how short and to the point the angel’s message is. He doesn’t preach for very long, but gives a short, two or three sentence homily. Yet, the few words the angel says are worthy of our meditation tonight and our entire lives. The angel announces the birth of Jesus, and gives him three titles: Savior, Christ, and Lord. Each of these titles has immense meaning about our salvation, what it means to be a Christian, and what we are celebrating this Christmas.
Unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior. I think if this angel were to arrive today with this announcement, most people would be disappointed. “What do I need with a Savior? If a being from outside this world is going to light up the sky to give me good news, it should be something more exciting than a Savior.” Truly, this is how people think. When I was a boy, the movie Aladdan came out. Most viewers’ favorite character was Genie, a funny blue creature who lived in a lamp, who had great magical powers. When Aladdin found him, Genie promised him three wishes. That’s what most people wish they could have: A jinni offer them three wishes, not an angel of God who gives them something they didn’t ask for. If I had a jinni, I could ask for whatever I wanted: an endless supply of money, immunity from every disease, super powers, health, comfort, anything I could imagine! Indeed, I think it’s fair to say that most would rather meet a jinni who gives three wishes than an angel declaring good news they didn’t ask for.
But thank God he sent an angel and promised a Savior. Everything money can buy gets ruined. And even if we were given an endless list of wishes, we would sooner ruin our lives than make them better, because of our sinful inclinations. What we really need is a Savior. But what is a Savior?
The angel told Joseph to name the baby Jesus, because he would save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). This is the type of Savior the angel promises: one who saves us from our sin. We are corrupted by sin. This corruption runs so deep, that no one in the history of the world has been able to heal himself from it. Our thoughts are so ruined by sin, that the more power a person has, the more miserable he makes his life. History attests to this. And was anyone here alive when the angel visited the shepherds? Of course not. That was over two thousand years ago. Because of sin, we die. No one here was alive a mere one-hundred years ago. Like the grass of the field, we fade away. Yet, unlike the grass, when we die, we are held accountable to God for our lives. Our deeds are weighed. If we are found lacking, we are damned to hell. Our sin makes us enemies of God. We need a Savior.
And this is what God gives us. That Jesus is our Savior, means that we are saved by grace, according to his mercy. It means that he loves us! “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy…” (Titus 3:4) To us is born a Savior, who rescues us from our sin. He does not do this on account of any work we have done, but only out of his great love and mercy toward us!
And so, this first title given by the angel is a word of great joy. You have a Savior from your sins. He comes to take them away. He comes to rescue you from sin and hell; to take God’s wrath away. See how much God loves you! He’s not like some imaginary jinni, who will satisfy your base desires, but can’t actually help you. Your God knows your greatest need and he provides you with it without you asking.
Unto you is born this day, a Savior, who is Christ. The word Christ means anointed one. Anointed by whom? Anointed by God. This means that this Savior born to us was chosen by God! This is as joyous news as the news that we have a Savior! Because if it were up to us to choose a savior, we’d do a miserable job. In fact, many have clued in that sin is our greatest and most urgent problem and have sought saviors from sin. And all of these saviors discovered by men have been utter failures! This is because all of these false-saviors focus on our own works and abilities. Nearly every religion invented by man has diagnosed sin as a great problem and has promised salvation from sin. Yet, all these religions invented by man make your salvation dependent on your own works. Allah saves the Muslim who is submissive enough. The Mormon god saves the Mormon who is obedient enough. Every sect that has broken away from the Christian Church has made salvation dependent on your own works. These false saviors leave you a more miserable sinner than you were at the beginning, deeper in debt, and more doubtful of your salvation.
But to us is born a Savior, who is Christ. That means he is chosen by God. That means that he cannot fail. He is the Son of David prophesied of old, which is why he is born in the city of David. This means he is truly our brother, born in human flesh. He is born of woman, born under the Law to redeem us who are under the Law. He fulfills God’s Law for us. And he suffers the punishment of our sins in our place. And that he is the Christ means that he is true God, David’s Lord, as David himself confessed (Psalm 110:1). This means that Jesus’ death upon the cross is a sufficient price for all your sins and the sins of the whole world. Only God could have chosen such a Savior for you. Such a mystery would have never entered any of our minds. That our Savior is the Christ, means that he is the true Savior sent by God.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Jesus is your Lord, your Master. People today don’t like the idea of having a Lord and Master. “We don’t have a master! We’re free!” That’s what the Jews told Jesus nearly two thousand years ago (John 8:33). But Jesus says that whoever sins is a slave to sin (John 8:34). This means that before Christ becomes your Lord and Master, your lord and master is sin and the prince of sin, Satan. It is an illusion that you are free when you follow the passions of your own flesh and when Satan can turn you to follow his will like a pilot turning the rudder of a ship. True freedom is having Christ as your Lord and Master.
And Christ Jesus indeed is your Lord. He has purchased you as his own, not with silver or gold, but with his holy precious blood and innocent suffering and death. That little baby in the manger has come for the purpose of winning you for himself. To have faith in Christ Jesus is to acknowledge him as your Lord, who has won you as his very own precious possession.
That Jesus is the Lord means that he is God. He is the Lord, who made himself known to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who appeared to Moses in the burning bush, who rescued Israel from all its enemies. That little baby lying in the manger, is the God who holds all the stars of heaven in his hands. That young man hanging nailed to the cross, is the God who formed you in your mother’s womb. That man risen from the dead and ascended to the right hand of the Father is your Lord, your God and Savior.
So, what does it mean to live with Jesus as your Lord? It means to live free from guilt of sin, to be forgiven. It means to be free to love your neighbor and forgive your enemies. It means that your entire purpose in life is to serve your Lord and Master. The greatest joy a Christian has is to do what pleases his Lord, Jesus Christ.
And Jesus’ burden is not hard for us his servants to bear. His yoke is easy and his burden is light. In Jesus we have forgiveness of all our sins, safety from Satan, and assurance of an eternal inheritance in heaven. Our service to Christ involves listening to his holy Word, praying to him, and praising his name. Our service to Christ involves loving others and forgiving those who harm us, being patient and kind. And when we fail in this service, our Lord graciously welcomes us back. He brings us to repent of our sin, forgives us and restores us to our place. This is why we keep going back to him, to grow in his Word and receive his Medicine. Jesus is our Lord and God. There is no sin too great for him to forgive, no problem too great for him to solve. He is our Good Master, our Dear Lord from Whom we never want to be separated.
Dear friends in Christ, unto us is born a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. He alone saves us from our sins and grants us eternal life as a free gift. He alone was chosen by God to save us. He alone is the Lord. There is no other God than He. And he has purchased us with his own blood to make us his own. This indeed is good news of great joy for all people. May we celebrate this joyous birth tonight and always. Amen.
Let us pray: Oh, the joy beyond expressing When by faith we grasp this blessing, And to You we come confessing That Your love has set us free. Amen.