“Making Known What the Lord Has Made Known to Us” (Luke 2:15-20)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day
Saturday, December 25, 2021

“Making Known What the Lord Has Made Known to Us” (Luke 2:15-20)

Last night our message had to do with the “Good News of a Great Joy.” The news went out when Christ was born in Bethlehem. An angel appeared to some shepherds out in their field, telling them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” And then a multitude of the heavenly host began praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” So that was the good news of a great joy that came to the shepherds.

But what did those shepherds do in response to getting the good news? That’s what we’ll take up this morning. Our text is from the last portion of Luke’s Christmas account, reading again these verses: “When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.”

Notice, the shepherds first say, “Let’s go see that which the Lord has made known to us.” And after they see it–they see the baby in the manger just as they were told–then what do they do? It says they made known what had been told them concerning this child. And so our theme this morning: “Making Known What the Lord Has Made Known to Us.”

Notice what has to come first: The Lord has to make known to us what he has done. Otherwise, we would out standing in our field–not “outstanding,” but out, standing, out in left field somewhere, completely in the dark. We would not know what God has done–we would not even know God–unless God first acts and makes known what he has done to us. That’s the darkness we would be left in, if God had not acted to save us in the birth of Jesus Christ, and then made it known to us. We were sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death, but then Christ came to bring light and life. This is truly good news of a great joy!

Good news of a great joy, yes, but not only for those shepherds. Remember, the angel had said, “I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.” “For all the people,” not just the shepherds. This good news is meant for all the people of God. Now in this context, when the Bible says “the people,” it’s referring specifically to the people of Israel. They are “the people,” singular, the chosen people of God. And in this sense, Christmas is really a Jewish holiday.

Why? Because the birth of Jesus fulfilled the prophecies made to the Old Testament people of Israel. “Jesus” is his name; “Christ” is his title. The Christ, the Messiah: “Mashiach” is the Hebrew term; “Christos” is the Greek. They both mean the same thing, “the Anointed One,” which was a messianic title. Long ago the prophet Samuel had anointed David, pouring fragrant oil over his head, marking him as God’s choice to be the king of Israel. The anointing bestowed God’s blessing and the Spirit upon him. Some years later, the prophet Nathan came to King David and told him that one of David’s descendants would be the greatest king of all, bringing in an everlasting kingdom of heaven on earth. The term for this promised Son of David was the Messiah, the Christ. He would rule over the house of Jacob, that is, over Israel, forever. So the good news to the shepherds was first of all the fulfillment of the promise of a Messiah for the people of Israel.

The shepherds are told the good news of the birth of the Messiah. But what happens when the angels leave? The shepherds say to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” They want to go and see for themselves. The good news of the birth of the Savior creates a desire and an excitement in them. They want to go and see. That’s what they do: “And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.”

Well, gee, that’s great. I mean, good for those shepherds! They got to go see baby Jesus. I suppose after an hour or so they went home, had Christmas dinner, spent some time with the fam, and that was it. No, that isn’t what happened. Our text tells us: “And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.”

The shepherds make known what the Lord had known to them. The good news of a great joy was so good and so great that it had an effect on them. The shepherds just couldn’t keep it to themselves. They go out and tell others. That’s how it goes with the gospel. The good news is so good and the joy is so great that we want to share it with others.

And notice, the shepherds didn’t need a formal evangelism program to do this. They simply repeated what they had heard and seen. They told others what they knew to be the case about the Christ. That’s all that witnessing really is. Nothing fancy. No secret formula. Just tell others the good news you yourself have heard and received and believe.

Isn’t that how it goes when you get some wonderful news? You just naturally want to share it with others. You don’t need a 13-week program. You don’t need to be pressured or guilted into doing it. You’ve got something good to share, and you share it with others, so they can rejoice as well. You just do it. That’s the way it is with the gospel of Christ.

By the way, there’s nothing wrong with a good personal witnessing program. We’ve got a good one in our synod with the “Every One His Witness” workshop, and I’d like us to run that here in 2022.

See, I don’t need to pressure you or lay a guilt trip on you to get you to share the gospel with others. I just need to give you more Jesus. That’ll get you excited and joyful about what God has done for you in Christ. Think about it. Jesus is the Savior not just for the Jewish people, he’s the Savior of us Gentiles too. Christ is the Savior of the whole world, for every person on the planet. God loves you so much that he sent his one-and-only Son into our world, in our flesh, to redeem us from sin and death. This is the Big Solution to our Big Problem. The birth of Christ is such a monumental event that we even mark our history according to it, before or after his birth. The coming of Christ to redeem humanity, by his life, death, and resurrection–this is what all of history is all about. This is the meaning of it all. This is God’s Plan. Plan A, and there is no Plan B. This is it.

For all people everywhere, for all the people you know, for everyone you meet–the gospel of Christ is the good news of a great joy they need to hear and take hold of. Everyone who qualifies as sinner–and that would be everyone–needs to know Christ Jesus their Savior.

And God has put great joy into the good news in order to make that happen. We Christians, when we hear how wonderful the good news is, we are so relieved and we rejoice to know that God does not hate us but loves us . . . that Christ died for me, to forgive my sins . . . that the Holy Spirit has given me the gift of faith to trust in Christ . . . that God gives me eternal life, as well as the help I need to live as his child from day to day, to bear up under misfortune and adversity with a joy that goes deeper than my circumstances–when I realize and rejoice in all of this, I am glad and ready to bear witness to Christ my Savior. And I know that this is the best good news I can tell anyone else. The gospel of Christ is the one thing that everyone in the world needs, I’m sure of that.

The mouth speaks what the heart is full of. And when your heart is full of the good news of Jesus, guess what your mouth is going to speak? That’s right. We Christians like talking about Jesus. We know that God wants everyone to know their Savior. And when we have the opportunity, God will even use our feeble witness to spread the good news. Perhaps you’ll do that with the members of your family you’ll be spending time with today. Or with your friends or neighbors that you talk with. I’m not saying to browbeat people or pound them over the head with a pamphlet. I’m simply suggesting a natural witness that comes from a living faith, that speaks out of the joy we have and a genuine love for others.

Making known what the Lord has made known to us. We’re like those shepherds. We have heard and we know the good news of a great joy. And this news is too good and our joy is too great to keep it to ourselves.

Published in: on December 24, 2021 at 10:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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