Statistics
1486 sermons as of December 10, 2017.
Site Search powered by FreeFind

bottom corner

   
Author:Rev. Mendel Retief
 send email...
 
Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Kelmscott
 Kelmscott, Western Australia
 frckelmscott.org
 
Title:The gospel of Christ's birth
Text:Luke 1:31-35 (View)
Occasion:Christmas Day
Topic:The Incarnation
 
Added:2014-01-05
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

(Old Book of Praise)

Ps. 24: 4, 5

Ps. 132: 6 – 10

Hymn 15: 1, 3, 4

Ps. 110: 1 – 6

Hymn 13: 1, 6

 

Scripture reading:       John 1: 1 – 18; Luke 1: 26 – 56

Text:                          Luke 1: 31 – 35

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mendel Retief, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


The Gospel of Christ’s Birth

Ps. 24: 4, 5

Ps. 132: 6 – 10

Hymn 15: 1, 3, 4 (Old BoP)

Ps. 110: 1 – 6

Hymn 13: 1, 6 (Old BoP)

 

Scripture reading:       John 1: 1 – 18; Luke 1: 26 – 56

Text:                          Luke 1: 31 – 35

 

Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ,

 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:1, 14)

 

God became flesh.

The eternal Son of God became the Son of David!

 

In Christ God has become one with us.   He is God and at the same time one spirit and one flesh with us.   He became man!  

In Christ God and man are united forever!

 

Dear congregation, the wonder of this gospel transcends our mind.  

The fullness of the glory of this gospel has not yet been revealed to us.  

The Bible is a closed canon, and God does not continue to give new revelation today.   And yet there is much new revelation to come – on the day of Christ’s coming.

On that day Christ shall be revealed in the fullness of His glory, and on that day God will also reveal to the full the glory which He has prepared for us (Rom. 8: 18, 19; 1 John 3: 2, 3).  

 

“…Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Cor. 2: 9)

 

We may be very familiar with the gospel of Christ’s birth, but it remains a great mystery, and it holds for us an infinitely great promise which has not yet been revealed to the full.

God in the flesh is a wonder that contains a promise for the future.   Christ’s birth was the beginning of a salvation that will reach its completion on the day of His second coming.

To understand Bethlehem we also need to look beyond Bethlehem.

Christ’s incarnation is in itself a great wonder.   It is a great wonder that a virgin could conceive in her womb the Son of God, and that the Son of God could become a man in her womb, and that in this way God and man could be united in one Person.  

But the greatest wonder is God’s love for us.   He did not give His Son for the angels who have fallen in order to save them, but He gave His Son for us (Hebr. 2: 16).  

And not only has He given us His Son to suffer and to die for us in order to redeem us from sin and death.   In His eternal counsel it pleased God to become one with us in Christ.

Yes, the gospel of Emmanuel – God with us, and God one with us – is much greater than we can yet imagine.

 

All the prophets spoke about Christ’s coming, the promised Seed in whom all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.   Christ’s birth was the start of the fulfilment of all God’s promises.   And we see it here in our text.

The announcement which the angel makes of Christ’s birth is an announcement formulated in the language of the covenant.   This Son of David will bring the covenant to its fulfilment.   You shall call His name Jesus, which means: Jahve, the God of the covenant, is Saviour.  

He will also be the eternal King that has been promised, who will reign on the throne of David forever.   Of His kingdom there will be no end.  

And as the prophets spoke He will be born of a virgin.  

As the prophets spoke He will also be Mighty God.

It is a multitude of prophecies all summarised in one announcement.

It is all the prophecies, and all the promises, in one announcement.

 

And so, this morning, we want to unpack the gospel that is laid up in this announcement of Christ’s birth.

I proclaim God’s Word to you with the theme:

The gospel of Christ’s birth

We will note…

  1. That He is our Saviour
  2. That He is our eternal King
  3. That He is God with us

In the first place we note that…

He is our Saviour

 

God sent His angel Gabriel to announce to Mary that she will conceive and give birth to the promised Messiah.

The angel comes to Mary and speaks to her, saying:

 

“…behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.”

 

This name, Jesus, which means: Saviour, reveals to us the purpose of His coming.   He comes to save His people.    When the angel announced the same message to Joseph, he said:

 

          “…you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” – Mt. 1: 21

 

This Son will be the promised Saviour.  

He came with the purpose to save us from our sins.

Bethlehem leads to Golgotha, and Golgotha leads to Christ’s ascension into heaven, and His ascension leads to His second coming in glory as our eternal King.

Christ’s birth was the start of the chain of events by which God saves us.   And thus the birth of Christ must never be separated from the rest of the gospel.   It may never become a romantic, silent holy night without the shadow of the cross.   The birth of Christ has to be understood in the context of God’s salvation; in the context of sin and redemption from sin.

 

It was our sin that made it necessary for the Son of God to be born in Bethlehem.   He became man and was born with the very purpose to take our curse upon Himself.   He bore our curse from Bethlehem to the cross.

 

You shall call His name: Jesus.

 

We said that this name, Jesus, means Saviour.  

To be more precise: His name means Jahve is Saviour.

When other people received this name, Jesus, their name simply meant that Jahve is Saviour, but when this name was given to the Christ, it was different.

This name was given to Him by divine revelation and instruction: you shall call His name Jesus for it is He who shall save His people from their sins.   

He is Jahve who saves.

He will save His people from their sins.

This Son is Jahve who saves.

 

When we understand this it immediately becomes clear that the name Jesus also confirms Christ’s divinity.    For the prophets made clear that there is only one God, and that He, Jahve, alone is able to save.   He is God, and besides Him there is no Saviour.

This Name, above all other names, identifies the Christ: He is Jahve who came to save His people from their sins.    He is Jahve, the only One who is able to save.  

When we search the Scriptures carefully we discover that this Name, Jesus, does not suddenly appear in the New Testament as a total surprise.   It is not as if He received certain names in the Old Testament, and a total different name in the New Testament.   Instead, the wonder of this Name, Jesus, can only be fully appreciated when we discover its roots in die Old Testament.

 

The LORD spoke through the prophet Isaiah, and said:

 

            “I, I am the LORD, and besides Me there is no saviour” – Isaiah 43: 11.

 

There is no Saviour besides Jahve.  

There is no Jesus except Jahve!  

Yes, Jesus Himself is the LORD, Jahve, who saves; and besides Him, Jahve, there is no saviour.

 

This statement – that the LORD, Jahve, is the only one able to save – is a theme that runs throughout the book of Isaiah.   There is no Saviour besides Jahve.   He is God and He alone is able to save.  

 

After stating that He is the LORD and that there is no Saviour besides Him, He concludes:

 

            “‘…therefore you are My witnesses’, says the LORD, ‘that I am God’” – Isaiah 43: 12

 

He says that He is God, and that He has proven Himself to be God, because there was no other god that could declare their salvation and save them.   

 

And again we read:

 

“…there is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Saviour; there is none besides Me” – Isaiah 45: 21

 

Or when we turn to the prophecy of Hosea we read:

 

            “…you shall know no God but Me; for there is no saviour besides Me” – Hos. 13: 4

 

Israel may not look towards other gods to save them; Jahve alone is God and therefore He alone is able to save.   The implication is that it would be idolatry to seek any saviour besides Jahve.  

The first commandment, “You shall have no other gods besides Me”, applies also to our salvation.    We may not look for a multitude of saviours.   We are allowed to seek only one Saviour, for there is only One: Jahve, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

 

And thus, right from the start the LORD, Jahve, revealed Himself as the Saviour of His people.  

 

 

“…our Redeemer from Everlasting is Your name” – Isaiah 63: 16

 

Dear congregation, when we listen carefully to the language of the prophets then we read the angel’s announcement with new understanding.   It is stated even more clearly in Mt. 1:21 where the angel said to Joseph:

 

“…she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He shall save His people from their sins.”

 

There the word “He” is emphasised.   This Child, this Son, He shall save His people.   He is Jahve who came to save His people, therefore you shall call Him Jesus.

The very language of the Prophets is evident when He is called the Saviour of “His people”.   “His people” refers of course to the children of Israel.   He is the Saviour of His covenant people.   The Saviour of Jacob has come.   And therefore it says here in our text that He will forever reign over the house of Jacob.

 

These words are pregnant.  The expectation of the whole Old Testament is contained in this simple but majestic announcement.    It breathes the language of prophecy.   Listen again:

 

“…thus says Jahve, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine…I am Jahve your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour…” – Isaiah 43: 1 – 3. 

 

“…I, Jahve, am your Saviour, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob” – Isaiah 49: 26

 

Over and again the prophets pointed out that the LORD Himself, Jahve, is the mighty Saviour of Jacob, the Redeemer of His people.   

 

And then, finally, the angel came to announce His coming to a humble virgin:

 

“…behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.”

 

The Son that will be born – it is He!   Jahve has come to save His people!   There is no way in which we can understand this announcement apart from the prophecies.  

When we read the Prophets we realise that the name Jesus, “Jahve is Saviour”, speaks of the divine power and might that belongs to God alone.   The name Jesus speaks of the unique power of God unto salvation.  

God saves His people with a mighty arm; He redeems them by the power of His right hand.  

 

            “The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save…” – Zeph. 3: 17.

 

The name Jesus belongs to the LORD our God, the Mighty One, who alone is able to save.

Scripture does not know of many Saviours, nor does it know any weak saviour; it only speaks of one mighty Saviour.   

 

Brothers and sisters, we should not confuse His humble birth and His deep humiliation with weakness, for His very office is one that requires nothing less than the almighty power of God Himself.

How majestic is His Name!   He came to perform a task which God alone was able to perform.   Besides Him there is no Saviour.

 

The humanity of our Saviour Jesus gives us no reason to think less of Him, but rather gives us more reason to marvel.    For He is God in the flesh.

It is not His human nature that causes us to trust in Him and to worship Him, but it gives us great comfort when we know that this mighty Saviour, who is no other than God Himself, has become completely one with us.  

 

Yes, it is only in the context of His divinity that we rightly appreciate His humanity.   And in this context His human nature takes nothing away from His divine glory, but adds to our thanksgiving.     

 

You shall call His name Jesus.

The glory of this Name may seem to be in contrast to the lowly task which He came to perform as the suffering Servant of the Lord – His humble birth, His humiliation throughout His whole life on earth, His suffering, and the cursed death that He died on the cross.   

How does the glory of this King and Saviour match such humiliation?  

 

It is this seeming contradiction that makes the gospel a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks.   However, for all eternity the Name Jesus will be honoured above every other name – not in spite of His humble birth, His humiliation and shame and suffering, but exactly because He has suffered this as our Saviour.

Even the humiliation He suffered adds to the glory of His Name: Jahve, who become one with us in order to take our curse on Him.  

And then His salvation goes also beyond redemption.   His name shall not only be called Jesus because He redeems us from sin and death; He also gives us eternal life.   He restores our relationship with God that we may live in true covenant communion with Him.   

That is the gospel contained in this announcement that His name shall be Jesus.

 

Brothers and sisters, the Jesus of the Scriptures is clothed with all power in heaven and on earth.   He is the Judge of all the earth, who will come to judge the living and the dead.   He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.   This Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last (Rev. 1: 11).   Before this Jesus the angels in heaven fall down in worship (Rev. 5: 13).    We no longer know our Lord Jesus in His state of humiliation.   His state of humiliation and suffering is not continuing.    He is no longer in the manger.   He is no longer sitting on Mary’s lap.   And He is no longer hanging on a cross.  

Don’t seek Him in Bethlehem, and don’t seek Him on a crucifix.   Don’t seek Him in a painting, or on a Christmas card.   Read the Scriptures and see His glory.    Believe in the LORD, Jahve, the Mighty God of Jacob.   He saves, and He alone.

 

Lift up your heart to Him who is in heaven seated at the right hand of God, Jesus our Saviour.   He saves us from all our sins.   He gives us eternal life.   He saves us completely.  

His name is Jesus.

 

But that was not all that the angel had to announce.  

 

“He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.   And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

 

We note this in the second place, that…

He is our eternal King

 

The angel’s words to Mary again echo the promises of old.

The LORD spoke to David through the mouth of the prophet Nathan, saying:

 

“…I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.   He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” – 2 Sam. 7: 12, 13

 

This prophecy had more than one fulfilment.   It was first fulfilled in king Solomon, the son of David, who sat on the throne of David and built a house, a temple, for the Lord.   It was also fulfilled in all the sons of David who sat on the throne of David until the time of the exile.   But its final fulfilment is in Christ.   He is the Son of David who will reign on the throne of David forever, as the angel clearly proclaims here in our text.

 

Since that promise was given to David the expectation started to grow in Israel that there would come an eternal Messiah, an eternal King from the seed of David who would reign forever.   He would not be just another son of David, but the Son of David; not just another anointed, but the Anointed One: the Christ.

The prophecies increased and became all the more clear.

The LORD spoke through the prophet Isaiah, saying:

 

“... unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder.   And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.   Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever...” – Isaiah 9: 6, 7

This Son of David who will reign on the throne of David forever, would be Mighty God!

Son of David, but also Son of God!

The prophet Daniel also spoke of this King and His eternal kingdom, and said:

 

“…the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” – Dan. 2: 44

 

Daniel prophesied about the Son of Man who would be an eternal King, saying:

 

“…to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.   His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.” – Dan. 7: 14

 

And then, finally, the time came.   God send his angel Gabriel to the virgin Mary with this message:  

“...behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call his name JESUS.   He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.   And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1: 31 – 33).  

This is the fulfilment!   Jesus Christ is the Son of David who will sit on the throne of David, reigning forever over the house of Jacob.    

His eternal kingship is gospel to us, because this great and eternal King is one with us – the eternal Son of God who became the Seed of David.

There is a Man seated at God’s right hand.  He sits on the throne of God, and on the throne of David.   In Him the throne of God and the throne of David are united.   Our mighty Saviour is our glorious King, King of Zion, King of His church, reigning and governing all things to our benefit.

 

The angel’s announcement to Mary proceeds even further:

 

“…The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” (verse 35)

 

We note this in the last place, that…

Jesus Christ is God with us

 

It is the fulfilment of the promise which God has spoken through the prophet Isaiah, saying:

 

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” – Isaiah 7: 14

 

Immanuel means: God with us.

And what a wonderful fulfilment of this prophecy!

The virgin did indeed conceive, not through man, but through God.

The Holy Spirit came upon her and the power of the Highest overshadowed her, therefore the One born of her is not generated by man.   He is not another man conceived and born in sin.   He is the Holy One.   The eternal Son of God, by the working of the Holy Spirit, became the Seed of David in the womb of Mary!

 

It transcends our mind: God in the flesh!

It is a most wonderful fulfilment of the covenant promise: I will be your God.

Our covenant God has come close to us; in Christ He has become one with us: Immanuel.

 

Yes, He came to perform a task which only God is able to perform.   He is God, and besides Him there is no Saviour.   He is Jahve among us, saving us.

It is when we see His divinity, it is when we realise that He is indeed the eternal Son of God – true God of true God, one being with the Father – it is then that the wonder of His birth becomes wonderful indeed.    

Jahve, the Almighty God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, became one with us!

 

His birth in Bethlehem gives us no reason to think less of Him, but rather gives us more reason to marvel.   

Yes, it is only in the context of His divinity that we rightly appreciate His humanity.   And in this context His human nature takes nothing away from His glory; it only adds to our thanksgiving.     

 

Dear congregation, we see His glory not by staring at the manger, but by believing this gospel.

We see His glory by faith only.  

By faith we also expect the final and glorious fulfilment of this gospel.

We are no longer in Bethlehem.

Salvation history has moved forward.

After Bethlehem came Gethsemane and Golgotha, and His resurrection, and His ascension into heaven and enthronement at the right hand of God, and Pentecost.

We are living in the last days.   We expect Him soon to return, not in a manger, but in glory; not to suffer and to die for us, but in glory to judge the living and the dead.

 

Don’t seek a baby in the manger.   He is not there.

Don’t seek Him in Bethlehem.

Let us not try to turn the clock back, but rather seek the final and glorious fulfilment of this gospel which will soon be: God with us, where we will behold the fullness of His glory.

 

Let us then lift up our hearts to Him, where He is seated at the right hand of God, the Word incarnate, who will soon tabernacle with us in the Promised Land: God with us; God one with us.

 

Amen.

 

 

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mendel Retief, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Mendel Retief

Please direct any comments to the Webmaster


bottom corner