“Born for You a Savior” (Luke 2:1-20)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Eve
Thursday, December 24, 2015

“Born for You a Savior” (Luke 2:1-20)

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” So the angel brought the good news of great joy to the shepherds. And so the good news comes to us tonight: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Let’s consider now, and let us rejoice in, this glorious announcement, under the theme, “Born for You a Savior.”

In particular, I want us to zero in on three terms the angel uses in making this announcement, and they are “Savior,” “Christ,” and “Lord.” These three terms tell us so much about the child who has been born for us, so let’s unpack each one of them now.

First, “Savior.” “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior.” What does it mean that he is a “Savior,” this little child born in Bethlehem? Well, a savior is one who obviously does some saving. He saves or rescues people from some danger or oppression.

Now the Jews back then would have been glad to welcome a Savior who would save them from the oppression of the Roman Empire. Their country had been conquered and taken over by the Romans, who restricted their freedom and laid heavy taxes on them. It was not easy being a defeated, occupied nation. So if we can get someone to save us from the Romans–hear, hear, yeah, bring him on!

But was that the kind of Savior this child was born to be? No. In fact, later on, as an adult, he himself would be sentenced to death by a Roman governor. So that’s not the kind of Savior this is, a military-political-economic savior.

So what does the angel mean when he tells the shepherds a Savior has been born? The answer to that question is connected to the child’s name. Nine months earlier, the angel Gabriel had told Mary that she was to name the child Jesus. Likewise, an angel told Joseph in a dream to name him Jesus. Why? “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Notice, he will save people from their sins, not from an occupying army.

But what does that have to do with his name? Well, you see, the name Jesus means “Savior.” “The Lord saves”: That’s literally the meaning of the name Jesus. So the child’s name, right from the outset, indicates what he was born to do, namely, to save us from our sins.

You and I, we need that kind of saving, we need that kind of Savior. For our sins pose us the greatest danger. Our sins would consign us to the grave and to eternal damnation. Our rebellion against God, our disobedience against his commandments–the guilt weighs heavy upon us. And there’s nothing we can do to save ourselves or work our way out. We need a Savior who is capable of rescuing us from this deepest distress.

That’s why the child Jesus is born–precisely to do that saving job we could not do. And to do so, he needed to be born in the flesh, as our brother. For he will be our substitute, taking the punishment our sins deserve–yours and mine–by dying on the cross in our place. So when the angel says, “For unto you is born a Savior,” he’s saying that this child Jesus will live up to his name and be the Savior we need.

One other thing about this name, Jesus, “Savior,” “The Lord saves”: It was not an unusual name among Jewish boys at that time. For there had been a preceding hero from Israel’s past who had that name. And that was the famous Joshua, the successor to Moses. Joshua, the man who led the Israelites into the Promised Land. But you say, “Joshua? That’s not the same name as Jesus!” Oh, but it is! They’re just two forms of the same name. In Hebrew, Joshua is “Yehoshua,” or “Yeshua” for short, and that’s the same name as Jesus. Now the thing is, this Yeshua, this Jesus, does a far greater saving job than did the Joshua of old. That Old Testament Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land, conquered their enemies, and they took possession of the land. Our Joshua, Jesus–he is even more of a Savior. He has conquered our worst enemies for us–sin, Satan, death, and hell–and he gives us rest from our foes. And he, Jesus, will lead us safely into the Promised Land of heaven.

“Born for you a Savior,”
Jesus is His name;
Name the angel gave Him,
Name we now proclaim.
Joshua gave to Israel
Land that they possessed;
Jesus gives to sinners
Peace and promised rest.

Now part two, “Christ.” The angel told the shepherds: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ.” Jesus is his name; Christ is his title. “Christ,” in Greek, is the equivalent of the Hebrew “Messiah.” Both terms mean “the Anointed One.” Just as David of old had been anointed to be the king of Israel, so a future Son of David would be anointed as the greatest king of all, reigning over an everlasting kingdom of infinite blessing. The Lord had made that promise to King David, that one of his descendants would be the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One. And now when the angel tells the shepherds that the Christ has been born, the message is clear: promise fulfilled.

The Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One, the great king descended from David. That’s why the angel says that the child has been born “in the city of David,” when he could have just said “in Bethlehem.” But by calling Bethlehem “the city of David”–which it was, since David had been born there–by saying “city of David,” the angel is calling attention to the promise made to David of the Christ to come. In other words, finally, after all these centuries, the Messiah, the Christ, is here!

“Born for you a Savior,”
Christ the coming King;
God sends His Messiah,
Hear the angels sing.
David’s Son, anointed,
Promised from of old;
Brings in heaven’s kingdom,
Blessings to behold.

And now part three, “the Lord”: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” And this may be the most shocking aspect of the angel’s announcement. He is saying that this Savior, this Christ, is the Lord himself. The baby born that night, lying in a manger, is none other than God himself. The eternal Son of God, come in the flesh. What could be more amazing than that?

This baby born in such humble circumstances is the divine Savior, the divine Christ, he is the Lord of heaven come to earth. And he comes to make peace between heaven and earth. Only God could do that. Man had broken the relationship we had with our Creator. So God himself steps in to bridge the gap, to heal the breach.

Mystery of mysteries! “A baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger,” and he is Christ the Lord, the everlasting Son of God! Not what you would expect. But guess what? We get better than we expect or deserve! God’s ways are not our ways, and thank God for that! Only God could solve our problem, and only God in the flesh, as a man, could bear our sin and be our Savior.

And as true God, death could not hold him. And so this Jesus, after dying for us on the cross, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. And he will bestow his resurrection victory on all of us who are trusting in him, when he returns in glory.

“Born for you a Savior,”
Lord of lords is He;
Son of God incarnate,
Come to set us free.
Clothed in humble vesture,
Manger, cross, and tomb;
Coming soon in glory,
Rescues us from doom.

Three terms the angel uses to tell us about the child born this night: Savior, Christ, and Lord. Dear ones, tonight I bring you good news of great joy, the same good news the angel brought the shepherds: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

And now, to tie all of this together, let us sing together the hymn printed in your bulletin, “Born for You a Savior”:

“Born for you a Savior,”
Jesus is His name;
Name the angel gave Him,
Name we now proclaim.
Joshua gave to Israel
Land that they possessed;
Jesus gives to sinners
Peace and promised rest.

“Born for you a Savior,”
Christ the coming King;
God sends His Messiah,
Hear the angels sing.
David’s Son, anointed,
Promised from of old;
Brings in heaven’s kingdom,
Blessings to behold.

“Born for you a Savior,”
Lord of lords is He;
Son of God incarnate,
Come to set us free.
Clothed in humble vesture,
Manger, cross, and tomb;
Coming soon in glory,
Rescues us from doom.

Text: Charles Henrickson © 2015
Tune: Ralph Vaughn Williams, 1872-1958

KING’S WESTON 65 65 D (LSB 509, 512)
Tune: King’s Weston

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Published in: on December 24, 2015 at 8:54 am  Leave a Comment  
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