Christmas 2003 Sermon: “The Angelic Announcement: Luke 1:5-20, 26-38; 2:1-20”
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
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:
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
The historical time frame of our
story is given: ‘In the days of Herod
2.1.1. This was a difficult and humiliating time in
22.214.171.124. 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
126.96.36.199. 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.
188.8.131.52. 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.
184.108.40.206. 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
220.127.116.11. 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
18.104.22.168. 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.
22.214.171.124. About 250BC the religious parties of the Pharisees and Sadducees had formed.
126.96.36.199.1. 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.
188.8.131.52.2. 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.
184.108.40.206. There were three intolerable things going on at the hands of the Romans:
220.127.116.11.1. The oppressive Romans were funding their own luxury and their oppressive government by taxing the Jews.
18.104.22.168.2. 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.
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
22.214.171.124. 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
3.1. The angelic messenger in this case is again the angel Gabriel.
Jesus was not only to condescend to
becoming a man, He was to be born in poverty in a small and insignificant town,
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.
Jesus is the physical seed of David
who was to come and reign eternally upon the throne over
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
4.1. The timing of Jesus birth was in the hand of God:
Jews had now lost their autonomy and rule and were under
is the perfect timing for God's Messiah to be born into the world, the One who
would conquer all of
126.96.36.199. 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.
To register for the census, Joseph
went to the city that was designated for the tribe of
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."
The city of
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.
188.8.131.52. 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.”
In Isaiah 7:14 God had given the
prophecy that a sign concerning the Messiah would be given to
Indeed, all of the names of Jesus
in the Bible point to His divinity. Oh,
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.
5.1. 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.