Christmas 2003 Sermon:   “The Angelic Announcement:  Luke 1:5-20, 26-38; 2:1-20

By

Jim Bomkamp

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1.     INTRO:

 

1.1.                     Today, being the Sunday before Christmas, 2003, I am going to share with you a Christmas topical message.  The message has to do with the Angelic Announcement in the gospel of Luke that was made of Christ being born in Bethlehem. 

 

1.2.                     This announcement consisted of three parts, that given to : Zacharias, Mary, and the shepherds.

 

1.3.                     Though the scriptures do not command us to observe Christmas and the birth of Jesus each year (this came about by the Roman church), never the less as we read the gospel accounts of Jesus we see what a great sense of awe and worship Jesus’ birth generated, both to angels as well as to men.  To imagine that God was being made incarnate and entering human history is an incredible and wonderful fact that is stunning to our understanding.

 

1.4.                     What we specifically want to concentrate upon in each of these announcements is what the angels proclaimed about this One who was to be born.

 

2.     Announcement made to Zacharias:

 

Luke 1:5-20  - 5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years. 8 Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, 9 according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering. 11 And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. 12 Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. 14 “You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb. 16 “And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. 17 “It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” 18 Zacharias said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 The angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 “And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.” 

 

2.1.                     The historical time frame of our story is given:  ‘In the days of Herod king of Judea.’

 

2.1.1.  This was a difficult and humiliating time in Israel.  There had been much tumult in the Jewish nation due to rebellions that had occurred against Roman rule.  The nation of Israel, you see, was under the control of Rome, and it was not a Jewish king who ruled over them but rather a Roman.  Herod was king over Judea:

 

2.1.1.1.      This Herod was “Herod the Great.”  John MacAuthor writes the following about this Herod, “Julius Caesar had appointed his father, Antipater, to be procurator, or governor, of Judea under the Roman occupation.  Antipater then managed to have his son Herod appointed prefect of Galilee.  In that office Herod was successful in quelling the Jewish guerilla bands who continued to fight against their foreign rulers.  After fleeing to Egypt when the Parthians invaded Palestine, Herod then went to Rome and in 40 B.C. was declared by Octavian and Antony (with the concurrence of the Roman senate) to be the king of the Jews.  He invaded Palestine the next year and, after several years of fighting, drove out the Parthians and established his kingdom.

 

2.1.1.2.      This Herod was an Idumean (Edomite), and being a clever politician he had tried doing many things in order to win the allegiance of the Jews, including marrying a Jewish woman of a prominent Jewish family, and building many incredible civic buildings, and even doing many things that could be considered humanitarian for the people.  However, Herod never really held the Jew’s allegiance or respect, and he knew it, and he resented this greatly.

 

2.1.1.3.      Herod was also incredibly treacherous, jealous of his power, suspicious of others who might take his power, and merciless.  Fearing a threat to his throne, he had the high priest Aristobulus, who was his wife Marianne’s brother, drowned, he then had Marianne herself killed, and then her mother, and then two of his own sons.  Five days before he died (perhaps about a year or two after Jesus was born), he had a third son executed. 

 

2.1.1.4.      In fact, knowing of his own impending death, and outraged because he knew that no one in Jerusalem would mourn his death, a few days before his death he had many of the prominent Jewish citizens arrested and imprisoned, with orders that on notice of his death they would be executed.  If Jerusalem would not mourn for him at least he made sure that they would mourn.

 

2.1.1.5.      Even though Herod was above 70 years old, in failing health, and surely not long for this world, he still felt his power base threatened by the reported news of the birth of this baby who was born to be the King of the Jews, and he wanted immediately to kill him.  Thus, we read in Matthew that he had all of the male babies 2 years and younger killed in the environs around Bethlehem.  However, the Lord saw that baby Jesus was protected from this massacre.

 

2.1.1.6.      To make things even more difficult for the Jews at this time was the fact that the Lord had sent no prophet to them since Malachi, and thus they had not had a word from the Lord for about 400 years.  As a result the nation had slid further and further away from the Lord and walking in obedience to Him.

 

2.1.1.7.      About 250BC the religious parties of the Pharisees and Sadducees had formed. 

 

2.1.1.7.1.           The Pharisees were the fundamental religious zealots however they had just enslaved the Jews by adding law to law.  The Law of Moses already contained 613 laws, but to these they had added several hundred of their own, making life unbearable for the Jew.

 

2.1.1.7.2.           The Sadducees were the affluent ruling party and not at all fundamental in their beliefs, and they were secular in their orientation.  They didn’t believe in the afterlife or have a hope after this life.

 

2.1.1.8.      There were three intolerable things going on at the hands of the Romans:

 

2.1.1.8.1.           The oppressive Romans were funding their own luxury and their oppressive government by taxing the Jews.

 

2.1.1.8.2.           When Joseph and Mary have to go to Bethlehem (where baby Jesus is born) to pay tax to Rome, the Jews saw that this tax represented symbolically that the Covenant God of Israel had not yet restored relationship to the people and thus brought them out of spiritual exile.

 

2.1.1.8.3.           The Roman presence was an affront to the Jews regarding their sovereignty, and though in all practical terms they hadn’t had any sovereignty since 63 BC, to them every reminder of Rome was a cause for rebellion.

 

2.1.1.9.      There were at least 2 false messiahs around at this time and about 3 wars had been associated with the turmoil of that day.

 

2.2.                      John the Baptist's parents were literal descendants of Aaron, and Zacharias was a Levitical priest.  The priests were divided into 24 groups so that each group served in the temple for 2 weeks of the year, this was instituted by David in 1 Chron. 24, and Zacharias belonged to "Abijah" which was the eighth group of 24.

 

2.3.                      The parents of John the Baptist were people whose walk matched their talk, they loved the Lord and sought to please the Lord in every command and requirement He desired.

 

2.3.1.  True righteousness does not consist in picking and choosing which of God's commands we are to obey, and which we shall not obey, rather the one who is righteous trembles at every word of God (Ezra 9:4) and always asks God to search him and know his every way and see if there be any hurtful way in him (PS. 139: 23-24).

 

2.4.                     The first words out of the angel's mouth to Zacharias was that his petition had been heard, the petition that had begun being prayed at least 70+ years ago and had long been forgotten.  The prayer had been answered 70+ years before this moment, but only now would Zacharias receive the answer.

 

2.4.1.  God does not forget our prayers prayed in faith, even though we sometimes may forget them.  We should never give up on God when we pray and an answer doesn't come any time soon. 

 

2.5.                     As was Sarah's conception beyond her proper child bearing age, Zacharias is told that Elizabeth in her old age will give birth to John through the will of God and as the result of their years of persistent prayer for a child .

 

2.5.1.  The Lord has a perfect plan for our lives that far exceeds what our minds presently can even conceive (Eph. 3:20).  Zacharias and Elizabeth, you see, were just praying to have a son however the Lord sent them a son who would be of such importance on earth and in eternity that Jesus said of him that of those born of a woman (in the Old Testament covenant) that there were none greater than John the Baptist.

 

2.6.                     The personage of this appearance to Zacharias was an angel of the Lord. The angel identifies himself in verse 19 as being Gabriel. 

 

2.7.                     As was mentioned God had for all purposes been silent to the Israelite people for 400 years, and because of this great period of silence and the prevalent belief that if one were to see the Lord or a messenger from Him that he would die, it is not hard to understand why Zacharias, after seeing this angel, was very afraid here in this story.

 

2.8.                     This prophecy about the son (John) to be born reveals the character and work of John the Baptist.

 

2.9.                     This is a prophetic word from Gabriel to these parents that their son would be a Nazarite and be dedicated in a special way to the Lord all of his life.

 

2.9.1.  John's ministry would be to preach repentance to Jewish brethren - which we know he fulfilled.  John the Baptist was the one prophesied in Isaiah 40 and Malachi  3-4 who would come before the Lord himself (Mal. 3), which is a clear declaration of the deity of Jesus for he declared and prepared the way of Jesus.  And, he was to come before the great and dreadful day of the Lord (Mal. 4:5).  That day is still future, but Jesus has come as was promised and now we are in that period of the church age before his 2nd coming to reign as King over Israel.

 

2.10.                John was not a reincarnation of that greatest of prophets Elijah, rather he had the spirit and power of Elijah.

 

2.11.                In turning people to God, fathers to their children, and children to their fathers (the restoration that righteous living brings to families), John was performing that role which God had foreordained and prophesied concerning him- the messenger who would clear the way for the Messiah (Mal. 3:1ff).

 

3.     Announcement made to Mary:

 

Luke 1:26-38  -  26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31 “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. 36 “And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 “For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.”

 

3.1.                     The angelic messenger in this case is again the angel Gabriel. 

 

3.2.                     Jesus was not only to condescend to becoming a man, He was to be born in poverty in a small and insignificant town, Bethlehem.

 

3.3.                     In the wisdom of God, the Holy Spirit was to come to a woman of God's choice who was engaged but not yet married, a virgin.  This was the most discreet and wise of circumstances for Jesus to be born under. 

 

3.4.                     It is significant that Matthew in his gospel wrote that Joseph was a descendant of David, and Luke mentions here that Joseph was a descendant of David, for the Old Testament contains the prophecies of the Davidic covenant from which the Messiah was to come and sit upon the throne of David for eternity.  However, the actual descent from David came through Mary for Joseph was not Jesus' father.  The Jews however traced their genealogies through the men therefore Joseph’s parentage is mentioned by Matthew and Luke, but not because Joseph was Jesus’ father for he was not.

 

3.5.                     Because Jesus came about by immaculate conception through the being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, He is foretold to be the ‘Son of God.’  What this is saying is that He is the Son of God because God will be His father, not Joseph.

 

3.6.                     The Roman Catholics have gone beyond what the scripture says and have said that Mary was immaculately conceived, and they have elevated her to a position equal to Jesus (to whom prayer can be offered with an assumed authority equal to Jesus).  Jesus didn’t think of His mother this way for He Himself said of His mother when one mentioned that the womb that bore Him was blessed, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it,” Luke 11:27. 

 

3.7.                     In spite of the errors by some in elevating Mary to a level superior to human, this greeting to Mary was very incredible, for the angel called her 'favored one.'  Truly, this woman was special in God's sight, as there was to be only one woman who would bear God's only begotten Son.

 

3.8.                     The Greek language here brings out emphatically how this greeting of the angel troubled Mary as she considered it.  Mary was often pondering the things of God (as one who was very sensitive to God's working in her life).

 

3.9.                     As all others who were fearful upon being visited by God or His angels, Mary must have feared she would die, for she knew that to see the Lord would mean death.  She also was surely aware of her unworthiness for the Lord to visit her, and her consciousness of her sin must have contributed to her fearfulness.

 

3.10.                The angel begins to unfold the immaculate conception to Mary, and reveals the name God's Son is to have:  ‘Jesus.’  This name is the same as the Jewish name “Joshua,” and it means “Jehovah Savior.”

 

3.11.                Jesus is prophesied by the angel to become great and to be 'called the Son of the Most High.' 

 

3.12.                Jesus’ proper title is 'The Son,' for so He was for all eternity the third person of the Trinity, very God of very God.

 

3.13.                Jesus is the physical seed of David who was to come and reign eternally upon the throne over Israel.  Being a literal descendant of David through Mary, Jesus’ father was David, and the Davidic covenant is to be eternally fulfilled in Jesus, this One of whom the prophets wrote in 2 Sam. 7:12-13, “12 “When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 “He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

 

4.     Announcement made to the shepherds:

 

Luke 2:1-20, “1 Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. 2 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, 5 in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. 6 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” 15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. 17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.”

 

 

4.1.                     The timing of Jesus birth was in the hand of God: 

 

4.1.1.  The Jews had now lost their autonomy and rule and were under Rome's power, and hence this first of the censuses was being enforced so that the people would be taxed now by Rome. 

 

4.1.2.  This is the perfect timing for God's Messiah to be born into the world, the One who would conquer all of Israel's enemies and rule over all of the earth.  But, also in Micah 5:2 it had been prophesied of the Messiah that he would be born in Bethlehem, yet Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth.  We don't know if Joseph and Mary knew about Micah’s prediction, but God used this census taking to bring Jesus to be born in the city of Bethlehem, fulfilling what was foretold some 400-600 years earlier. 

 

4.1.2.1.      All scripture must and will be fulfilled for God is faithful. 

 

4.1.3.  Most believe this period of Jesus birth to actually have occurred in autumn of 2 BC or 3 BC.

 

4.2.                     To register for the census, Joseph went to the city that was designated for the tribe of Judah, since he was a descendant of David.  He would also probably pay his taxes at this time.

 

4.3.                     In the early chapters of Matthew, it is recorded that Joseph married Mary around this time, however that their marriage had not yet been consummated.  Here, Luke records Mary and Joseph as being engaged.  So, what the exact status of Mary and Joseph during this time were we know only for sure that they had not had sex with each other and did not have sex until after the birth of Jesus.

 

4.4.                     Though the Lord could have provided the most glorious of royal palaces for the birth of His only begotten Son, instead Jesus was born in a manger (horse’s stall).  God chose that He would identify Himself not only with man by becoming a man, but with the lowest element in society, the poor.  He saw through His eyes of love and grace that poverty would be the life that His only unique Son should live and have His livelihood.  God knew from all eternity that this inn in Bethlehem would be crowded and there would be no room and that His Son would be born the lowest of births, in a horses stall.  Besides, a crowded inn would also afford many spectators to this marvelous and unusual birth, proclaimed by angels and visited by shepherds and even wise men.

 

4.5.                     The shepherds are found guarding their flocks in the night, and suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared, who may be Gabriel, since he has already appeared in this story in announcing Christ's birth.  Like Zacharias and Mary these shepherds were terrified and possibly thought they were going to die.  Then, the angel tells them the "good news" or gospel of Jesus birth. 

 

4.6.                     The angels are seen here heralding the salvation which God is bringing to mankind.  For them, it is a beautiful and wondrous thing which God is doing for men, a thing which leads them to worship and adorn the creator. 

 

4.7.                     The angel intimates the inclusion of the Gentiles in this salvation which God is now bringing, for this good news and great joy shall be for ³"all the people."

 

4.8.                     The city of David is Bethlehem. 

 

4.9.                     Next, the angel declares the purpose for Christ's coming, it is, "for you a Savior."  Jesus would later say that for this purpose He came, "to seek and save the lost," Matt. 18:11.

 

4.9.1.  Jesus came to save all of mankind from the debt of sin which they owed and could never pay, for “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23),” by dying upon Calvary’s cross as the Lamb that is without spot or blemish (He never sinned), a sin sacrifice.

 

4.9.1.1.      Colossians 2:13-14, “13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

 

4.9.2.  This time of year many people pay homage to this baby that was born, however the baby grew up, and many do not apprehend Jesus as a man and the mission and purpose for which He was sent to mankind to be the Savior of men.

 

4.10.                Next, notice the title that is given to this child, "Christ the Lord,” is a clear indication that Jesus is the prophesied Old Testament “Messiah,” for that is what "Christ" means.  Also, the title to be given Him is that of “Lord,” for He is the “Lord of lords” and “King of kings,” the “Eternal Father.” 

 

4.10.1.                     Isaiah 9:6-7 is clearly seen as being fulfilled in the birth of this child who is to go on forever on the throne of David and over His kingdom, “6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. 7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.

 

4.11.                In Isaiah 7:14 God had given the prophecy that a sign concerning the Messiah would be given to Israel, "Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel."  Immanuel” means "God with us," and we know that the angel already named the child "Jesus" which means "Jehovah Savior" indicating His divinity. 

 

4.11.1.                     Indeed, all of the names of Jesus in the Bible point to His divinity.  Oh, if Israel would only read the scriptures and see this sign which God Himself has given to them, and repent and turn to the Messiah sent for them.

 

4.12.                As I mentioned earlier there are here on this night a host of angels praising God and giving Him glory for the salvation which He is bringing to mankind.  Jesus is proclaimed as the one brings peace with God and therefore peace among men of peace. 

 

4.12.1.                     Peace” is the fruit of salvation, He has broken down every wall, He is our peace and no barrier divides brothers and sisters in Christ.  We are one in Him!

 

4.12.2.                     Remember, Isaiah 9:6 prophesied that the Messiah would also be the “Prince of Peace.”

 

4.13.                The shepherds were obedient to the summons from the angels to come and see the child who was born, this sign that this child would be the Messiah, the Savior.  They left their sheep immediately and went to seek out this child.

 

4.14.                All who heard the events of the birth of this child were amazed at what had happened.  Rumors must have circled about everywhere after the events of the birth of Jesus. 

 

4.15.                We see Mary in these events involving the birth and the early life of Jesus as treasuring these things in her heart and pondering them.  It was not until He would rise from the dead that many of these things suddenly began to make sense, and she would get a glimpse of God's plan for her Son.

 


 

5.     CONCLUSIONS:

 

5.1.                     This holiday, I want to ask you if you have a personal relationship with this One that we worship as being born on Christmas day?  Have you received Him into your heart as your personal Lord and Savior? 

 

5.1.1.  If you have not yet received Jesus in this way I invite you to turn the control of your life completely over to Jesus.  By faith trust in His death upon the cross as the full payment for your sins.  Ask Him to come into your heart and live right within you.  If you will do this, you will have eternal life and when Jesus returns He will return for you to take you to be with Him for eternity.

 

5.1.2.  Click here to learn more about how you can come to know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior:  http://www.calvarychapel.com/greenbay/tract.htm.

 

5.2.                     For all of us, lets make Jesus the center of our holiday this year.  Let’s proclaim to our family and friends all of the great things that Jesus has done in our lives.  This year, let’s tell them afresh the story of our having come to personal faith in Christ for salvation.

 

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