You Will Find a Baby
“You Will Find a Baby,” 12.20.20
Well, dear church family, this has been a difficult week in the life of our church. As many of you already know, beloved pastor Harvey died on Thursday of this week. If you are a visitor this morning, prior to my tenure here, Pastor Harvey was the pastor of Community Bible Church. He was the pastor here for almost 32 years. Wow! Dear friends, that is an amazing accomplishment. Amazing. It is amazing to do any one thing for a consistent 32 years. That’s hard in and of itself. Consistency and faithfulness in any task for 32 years is amazing, especially when you consider the task of pastoring. A truly great feat. Pastor Harvey was a great man. I’ve been told that the day of his passing, Thursday, that morning he led a Bible study for a group of men at his church from the book of Hebrews. I had one brother comment to me that Pastor Harvey was doing the Lord’s work to the very end. Praise the Lord. Dear friend, what are you doing for God? Are you living for Christ like pastor Harvey did? Wow. We give God praise and thanks for Pastor Harvey.
If you are visitor or are new to our church, I extend a warm welcome to you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our mission here at CBC is to know Christ and to make him known. Our greatest hope is that you would find our church to be a place where you grow in your love for the Lord Jesus Christ and as a result of that deeper love for Jesus Christ, you in turn share that love that Jesus has for you with those around you—those in this church, in your family, in your workplace, in this community, and all around the word. We want you to love Christ more and show Christ’s love to others more. I will be up here at the front when the service is over, and I would love to have the opportunity to meet you. Also, Pastor Jesse, another one of our pastors, he also would like to meet you. And, members of CBC, if you see a new face here this morning, let me encourage you to go out of your way to introduce yourself. We want CBC to be a place that is warm and welcoming.
This morning we conclude our Sunday morning Advent series. There is one more sermon to go in this series but that last sermon I will give during the Christmas eve service. That sermon will be on what the multitude of angels say in Luke 2:12. Let’s go ahead and open our Bibles. I’d like to show you where in Luke this is. So this morning we are covering Luke 2:10–12, and then for the Christmas eve service we will cover v. 14, where the angels say,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!
So that’s our plan for this morning and the Christmas eve service. The Christmas eve message will be largely evangelistic, so bring everyone you know. We want the whole world to heard of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
To review for the last time how I have been tackling these passages. Each passage I have been seeking to understand in light of what the gospel is. I have defined the gospel in this way.
The gospel is the story of the person and work of Christ in his first and second coming.
What we’ve been doing and what we will do this morning is that we will look at our passage this morning and asking this question: “What does this passage teach us about who Christ is—his person—and what Christ has done—his work.” The gospel is built on those two aspects of Jesus Christ.
Three points for you this morning. I had a brother come and tell me after first service that he felt he got robbed last week because he didn’t get a third point. Maybe so but at least he was listening, amen? Three points. This is going to be the flow of the points. First point is going to be about Jesus’ person, second point about his work, and third point is going to be application. So we will save all our application for the end.
Let’s go ahead and read this passage together. Luke 2:10–12.
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. For unto you is born this day in the city of David ca Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
Jesus is Savior of the World
For the first point write this. Write, “Jesus is Savior of the World.” I get this point from vv. 10–11. I get the “Savior” part from v. 11 and the “of the world” part from v. 10. We’ll start in v. 11 with the Savior part and the go back to v. 10 for the “of the world part.”
Look at v. 11 with me.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Here we have the angel giving the title “Savior” to our Lord Jesus Christ. What is interesting about this passage is that “Savior” is one title among two others. The other two are “Christ” and “Lord.” Jesus is his name. “Savior,” “Christ,” and “Lord” are his titles. What we see with Jesus is what we see with all of us. We all have names. My name is Chance. And we all have titles. My titles are Christian, husband, father, son, friend, pastor. You, too, have titles. Same with Jesus.
The title “Christ” communicates that Jesus is the long-promised Messiah of the OT. This title of “Christ” is best understood in relationship to the OT. We explored Jesus as the fulfillment of what the OT teaches in last’s weeks sermon. “Christ” or Χριστός means Messiah. This title of Christ communicates the truthfulness of Jesus. He is the fulfilment of Scripture. He is what Scripture points towards. He fulfills the prophecies that the OT predicted.
With the other title, “Lord,” we see Jesus “flex his muscle” if you will. Jesus as Lord is best understood considering the conflict and war that Jesus engages in. A “Lord” is in charge, a ruler, master, king, sovereign. A Lord is in charge above other people or forces. With this title, Jesus flexes his might, his righteousness, he authority, his strength, and his strength. Jesus is not weak, dear brothers and sisters. He is strong. He is a ruler. We disobey him to our own demise. He will one day come again to judge the living and the dead. He is Lord.
With the title of “Savior” Jesus’ love, compassion, and empathy are brought out. With “Savior” we see Jesus’ heart. We see his love. With Savior, we see Jesus step down from the glories of heaven into our context of sin, suffering, and death, and he scoops us up from our demise and rescues us. A Savior is a rescuer. Someone who rescues someone else from some plight. And that’s what Jesus does. The title of Savior is a tender, merciful, gracious, and empathetic title give to our Lord. We might understand this in distinction from Lord. Jesus as Lord is ruler and king. Jesus as Savior is companion and friend. Wow.
Saved from What?
With the title of Savior, there is a follow up question that must be answered. Jesus is our Savior, yes. But what does Jesus save us from? What exactly is it that Jesus saves us from? Dear friends, this is a complex yet rich theological question. I won’t spend too much time on it but I would like to answer it briefly.
To put it simply, Jesus us saves us from our sins. That is how we can put the matter most plainly. Jesus saves us from our sins. Listen to this passage. It comes from Matt 1:21. We covered this passage two weeks ago. This is what the angel said to Joseph regarding what he is to name Mary’s child.
She [Mary, the mother of our Lord] will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins
If you were to ask me for one verse where this idea is taught I would point you to you to this verse. Jesus is Savior. What is it he saves his people from? Their sins.
More can and should be said, though. While it is true, totally true, that Jesus saves his people from their sins, we can go deeper with that statement. I’m going to take this statement—Jesus saves his people from their sins—and I want to break it down. This is how I want to break it down. Jesus saves his people from their sins—from both the consequences of sin and the bondage of sin. Jesus saves us from our sins, yes, but to be more specific, Jesus saves us from the consequences and the bondage of sin.
Saved from God
Sin has tremendous consequences. The primary consequence of sin is God’s anger. Because God is righteous, sin angers him. He is a righteous judge. God is holy. Infinitely pure and untainted with sin. We, though, are not pure and righteous and good. We are sinful. What Jesus does is he removes from us God’s anger. When Jesus died on the cross, he suffered the consequence of our sins—namely, he bore the punishment from God that we deserve because of our sins. Listen to this passage. It is Rom 5:9.
Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
What this verse teaches is that Jesus’ death for us saves us “from the wrath of God.” It says that right there. “Much more shall we be saved by him” what are we saved from by Jesus? “From the wrath of God.” God’s anger. His displeasure. Jesus saves us from that.
Saved from the Devil
Another verse. This comes from the Gospels. This is Matt 8:28–32.
And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters.
Just as Jesus did for these two men, so also does he do for the believer. There are demons that live and seek to devour people’s lives, to ruin them. And they do. Demons and the devil are active and alive in this world. Jesus saves us from their power over our lives. As alluded to here, Jesus saves people from the power of the demonic forces.
Saved from Ourselves
Last entity that Jesus saves us, rescues us from. He rescues us from the power of sin. This is what Paul says in Rom 6:17–18.
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
Notice how sin is spoken of as a power, so much so that outside of Jesus Christ Paul’s states that we are “slaves of sin.” Wow. But with the power of God revealed through Jesus Christ we are freed from this slavery that we have to sin and are instead made slaves to righteousness, as the rest of Romans 6 teaches. Jesus rescues us from the power and bondage of sin in our lives. We are now free to honor God and to not obey sin.
For All People
Now I want you to notice what v. 10 says. The angel states,
Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
So last week we explored that Jesus is the Davidic King. He is the long-promised King of Israel. And now here we see that, while that remains true (also notice what the angels say in v. 11 about Jesus being born in the City of David—that’s a reference to Jesus as the Davidic King), Jesus relevance is not just for Israel. Jesus is the Jewish Savior but not just the Jesus Savior. He is the Savior of “all people.” What does this mean?
Well this does not mean that everyone will be saved. Some people unfortunately believe that everyone will be saved, that Jesus will save everyone. That’s is not true. When this passage says that the birth of Jesus is “good news of great joy that will be for all people,” the angel is not saying that all people will accept and believe that. I can show you that from this text. Look down at v. 14. This will be our passage for the Christmas eve service. The angels say,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!
Notice that God’s promise of people is only declared by the angels to be upon those, “with whom he is pleased.” If you’re reading a KJV, you’ll realize the ESV says something different. I think the ESV is right here. God’s peace is upon a set group of people, those whom God is pleased with.
The same is true of Jesus. When the angel says that the good news of Jesus birth will be for all people, the angel is saying that the good news with be for all types of people—Jew and Gentile. This gospel message is not just for the Jews. While Jesus is the Savior of the Jewish people, his salvation extends to all people—Gentiles included, me and you, and all other types of Gentiles. That’s what this means. Jesus is Savior of the whole world. This does not mean that everyone will be saved. What it does mean is that Jesus’ salvation is for Jew and Gentile. For the whole Jewish and Gentile world.
Let’s bring this point to a close. The angel says that Jesus is a Savior. Jesus is warm, approachable, gentle, kind, sympathetic, and aware of our need. He loves us. Jesus loves us. Jesus saves us from God’s anger, the power of sin, and the power of demonic forces. He is the Savior of all the world, not in the sense that everyone will be saved, but in the sense that his salvation is for both Jew and Gentile.
What a Savior we have. So that’s who he is. That is a description of his person. The gospel is the story of the person and work of Christ. We just investigated what this passage says regarding his person. Now let’s see what this passage says about his work, what it is that he does. Write this. “Jesus suffers.” “Jesus suffers.”
Looking at the text with me. We always want to look at the text. The authority of the sermons comes from the Word of God, not from the preacher. This is what the text says in v. 12.
And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.
The angel is telling the shepherds to go and look for this promised Savior of Jew and Gentile. The angel specifies what exactly the shepherds should be looking for. They should look for a baby boy, wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. So they look for a baby boy, but not just any baby boy, the boy has to be wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.
A Baby Boy
Here we run into one of the great mysteries of the biblical faith. There is King who will save the whole world, the angels say, and yet this Savior comes to as in this passage as a baby. The word here for “baby” communicates the idea of a very young baby, an infant.
One of my great joys in life is that I have the privilege of being a father. I love being a father. My children are one of the greatest blessings I have in this life. I remember when each one of them was born. I remember holding each of them for the first time in Dallas. What joy those moments were. What tremendous joy.
I also remember being fearful that I would drop them. Dads, you know what I mean? I remember having hesitation about picking them up because I did not want to drop my kids. How terrible would that be.
Infants are so helpless, so weak, so vulnerable. They constantly rely on the help of others to survive. That’s why mothers are so great. They have everything little infants need. Infants are lost without their mothers. Babies are so helpless.
Dear friends, that’s how Jesus was. Moms and dads, remember when you held you babies for the first time? Jesus was exactly like that—helpless, vulnerable, and in constant need of care and love. I try to point this out every Christmas. You know the song, “Away in a Manger?” Well there’s a line in it that goes,
The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes, But little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.
That can’t be true. Jesus was a baby in every since of the idea, yet without sin. Jesus cried. He was a baby. All babies cry. He was helpless, vulnerable, weak.
The Lord Jesus was clothed with “swaddling clothes.” These were very normal baby clothes in the 1st century. When are children were born, we would swaddle them, to make them feel secure like the were in their mother’s room. That’s the idea here. These clothes are particularly special, but they simply emphasize the point that Jesus was truly human.
Jesus was laid in a “manger.” This manger was a feeding trough for animals. Jesus was laid into something that animals eat out of. Now why was Jesus laid in a feeding trough for animals? This type of resting place for the Lord Jesus is explained in Luke 2:7. Read that with me.
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
The story goes, as we previewed during the Scripture reading time, that Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem from their town of Nazareth. They had to travel here because the Roman ruler Cesar Augustus required a census of the Jewish people. Joseph had to return to his hometown for the census, which was Bethlehem. While they travelled, Mary gave birth to her son. They tried to stay in an “inn,” Luke 2:7 specifies, but there was no room. So where did they stay? They stayed in some type of place where animals were housed or someplace close to where animals were housed. This could have been in something like a barn or a cave or something else close to livestock and animals. We really don’t know. What we do know is that King of the Universe, God incarnate, had his first resting place in a feeding trough for animals.
Now, dear friends, one of my skills that I’ve acquired while in seminary was the skill of finding and working odd jobs. I had some very odd jobs while in seminary. The oddest job I had, the one that tops them all was when I slept at a dog kennel overnight. Yes, I slept at a dog kennel overnight. Yes, I was in the doghouse a lot when I was in seminary. I worked two to three nights a week. I got paid about $90 a night. Responsibilities we minimal. I could sleep while I was there. It was OK. I made it work. I worked the job for about a year. As you can imagine, because it was a dog kennel, it was dirty there. Dog hair everywhere. I tried to get Kathryn to stay with me there one night. She never did. It was dirty. Where animals stay, it’s dirty. This was true for me, and this was true for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ beginnings were difficult. Very hard. Imagine the stress on his parents, having to leave their home and give birth to a son in a place where animals live. Far away from home. Living either with, among, or close to animals. The Lord Jesus, the King of Kings, he is not received as royalty, but is laid in a place where animals eat. The marked the first point of Jesus earthly ministry, and it was a point of suffering and difficulty. It was a point of humiliation. This was not the reception that you would expect the King of kings to receive. Nevertheless, it was his beginning. Jesus first throne was a manger.
The Power of God in Human Weakness
I’d like to draw out a theological point from this observation—Jesus, the King of the universe, the Son of God, and the King of David, suffering and humbling himself for the sake of mankind—and apply it. The theological observation is this: God’s power shows itself in human weakness. God’s power shows itself in human weakness. And here we have arrived at our third point. The third point is similar to this theological observation but phrased a bit differently. The third point is this: “The power of God in human weakness.”
This moment captured here in this passage we’re studying is the first step in a long journey in Jesus’ suffering and humiliation. Jesus’ whole life was one of suffering and humiliation, hardship and difficulty. Isa 53:3 says,
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief
That was our Lord’s life. From beginning to end. He humbled himself, dear friends, and was born in world of death and disease, out of his love for you, and entered into humanity and was received by his mother and father, among animals, and was laid in a manger. And yet, what you had in this manger, was the fullest, clearest, most glorious expression of God’s power, grace, mercy, and truth. This is the Son of God himself. The promised one.
What we see here, taking place right here in Jesus is a pattern with how God works in the world. In Jesus weakness, Jesus who is both God and man, in Jesus weakness we see the power of God manifested. Jesus whole life is one of weakness and defeat, climaxing in his death. The climax of Jesus death is one of ultimate humiliation and suffering and weakness. His whole life was like this. But we also see Jesus being the clearest expression of the power of God. No man lived as Jesus lived. He was a man of sorrows, yes, but his life has changed all of ours. God the Father raised him from the dead. Now Jesus is the object of all of our faith. The God-man, beginning with his birth, suffered in his life. That suffering climaxed in his death. And yet God the Father raised him from the dead and made him the Lord of the cosmos. In Jesus what we see is that God’s power shines in and through human weakness.
This pattern exposes a lie that we often believe. We often believe that in our weakness, in our suffering, in our difficulty, God is not with us. This is the lie of the prosperity gospel. God is only with you when you’re strong, healthy, and beautiful. God is not with you if you are vulnerable, weak, and needy. That’s utter garbage, dear friend. Don’t ever believe that. Don’t believe that. That is a lie from hell.
The Christian life is one of the cross, dear friend. The way of discipleship is the way of weakness. The pilgrim’s path is one of trial, difficulty, and suffering. Dear friends, this is not our home. We’re longing, we’re waiting, we’re yearning for a better home. While we are here, the path is difficult, just as it was for Jesus. The disciple is not greater than his master. If you are following Jesus, then your life should look like him.
We struggle and fall in many ways, dear friend. Whether it’s our health, our finances, our emotions, our relationships. Whether it cancer, criticism, or Covid, we all struggle. We all fall. We all need help. What God is telling us through this passage, through the Lord Jesus Christ, is this is exactly where God reveals his power to you. It is in your weakness, when you realize that you are not sufficient for the task, that the power of God is manifest.
When you are weak, when you struggle, when you’re out of gas and ready to give up, Jesus comes to you and he says,
I know your struggle. I know it. I, too, struggled and suffered. From the very first point in my life, I suffered. And I did this for you. I gave my life for you. I’ve died for your sins. Because of my love for you, I will fill you with my strength. You give me your weakness, I will give you my strength. And now I will manifest my power in you and through you. You will be my vessel in this world. Trust in me always. I am all that you need. Come to me, and I will give you rest.
Don’t run from the difficulty. Stop pretending it’s not there. Stop believing that difficulty is a sign of God’s displeasure. It is through human weakness where God manifests his power most. God has tremendous lessons to teach you. In the difficulty ask God, “What are you trying to teach me, God? What do you want from me? What do you want to show me? Where do you want to lead me? What do you want me to do? Show me your power. Show the world your power. Use my difficult, my humiliation, my suffering as a tool for you to use. I submit my will to yours. Show the world how great you are through my weakness.” What you lack, God supplies, dear friend.