Christmas 2005 “This Story Is To Be One Of Great Joy For All Men



Jim Bomkamp

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1.     INTRO:


1.1.                      The scriptures reveal to us the fact that the Lord’s revelation of Himself to mankind occurred over time and did not happen all at once.  God intended to reveal Himself fully through His Son Jesus Christ, however there first had to be a foundation laid in understanding various aspects of the character of God.  Before Moses, the Lord revealed Himself to people on an individual basis.  However, when Moses was called by God and given the Law, the Lord began to reveal Himself as being totally holy and just and One whom it would be wise to fear.  The Law brought about condemnation because people could not keep the Lord.  The result of this revelation of God was the belief that if anyone saw God that the person would die.  In fact, the design of the tabernacle and temple revealed to men that you could not come to know God because the veil in the temple to the Holy of Holies was there primarily to separate God from men.  Only the high priest could enter there before the Lord and then he could only come in once a year on the Day of Atonement and this day was very somber for he was there to make a blood offering for the sins of the nation.  The primary apprehension of God was that of fear in the Old Testament times.


1.2.                     The Christmas story unleashes an entire new design however concerning God and the relationship that He planned from all eternity to have with mankind.  The foundation of understanding of God’s character being totally holy and just had been laid in the Old Testament and so now in the New Testament era with the advent of the Christmas Story which involved God coming to live among mankind, the primary apprehension of God was to be great joy and blessing.  There could now be joy and blessing because men and women could come to have their sins washed away and be justified before God though the death that Jesus would die upon Calvary’s cross in paying the debt of sin which all men owed to God.  When Jesus came men were drawn to Him and God sought out men and women individually to bring them to relationship with Himself.


1.3.                     Today, as we come before the Lord on this Christmas Eve, I want for us to apprehend the great joy and blessing that those present on that first Christmas experienced when the Lord came to dwell among men.  The incarnation of Jesus Christ, God coming to live among men, was the inauguration of the joy and blessing of the Savior’s coming and His kingdom which is going to last for eternity.


1.4.                     God has designed to bring great joy to the hearts of His people through the salvation that He has provided for us in His Son.  We Christians should take full advantage of the joy God has provided for us.  Warren Wiersbe has written, “Evangelist Billy Sunday said, “If you have no joy in your religion, there’s a leak in your Christianity somewhere.” If Christian believers today manifested more of the joy of the Lord, perhaps those outside the faith would be attracted to the church and be willing to consider the message of the Gospel.  It’s worth trying.”


1.5.                     As we read and study God’s word, we come to know His power and might, His infinite knowledge, His love for us, the beauty of His character, and of course the wonder of the salvation that He procured for us by sending His only begotten Son to die on Calvary’s cross for us.  All of this causes us to know and experience great joy in the Lord.


1.6.                     As we have been studying the book of Romans and seeing how that through having Jesus Christ as our Lord and our Savior we can be justified before God (made just as if we had never sinned), have peace with God (the enmity caused because of our sins is removed), and access to God guaranteed to us (we can always come boldly before the throne of grace knowing that we will not be denied the grace and mercy we need), we must remember that it was that first Christmas in which the Savior came in order to draw all men to Himself.  Remember, concerning His death and resurrection Jesus once told His disciples, “And if I be lifted up from the earth I will draw all men unto myself,” John 12:32.


1.7.                     With each character that I will introduce who participated in this first Christmas, we will see how not only did they have joy and blessing because God was coming to dwell among men, but their joy was a very personal experience for them.  They were joyful and blessed because they themselves had had such a personal and moving experience with the baby who would be Messiah and Savior of the world.  They had joy because of their personal experience of being called to salvation through Jesus Christ.  This was their experience and it was their Christmas.


1.8.                     I would have you to also consider the fact as we look at this story that this day today is also your Christmas.  What shall be your experience this Christmas?  Will you experience the joy that these people experienced on this first Christmas day?  How will you worship the Savior?


2.     With the sole exception of king Herod who did not want any other king to exist, notice the expressions of joy from all who participated in that first Christmas:


2.1.                     There was promised great joy to Zacharias and Elizabeth at the birth of their son who would be the forerunner of the Messiah:


2.1.1.  Zecharias and Elizabeth had prayed for so many years for the Lord to bless them with a child, and now because of God’s plans in revealing Himself to mankind as the Savior and Redeemer they were first miraculously given conception of a son.  But their son was no ordinary son, this was John the Baptist, the one who alone was called to be the forerunner of the Messiah.  The is the one about whom Jesus would later state that there had never been any one born prior who was greater than John the Baptist.


2.1.2.  Luke 1:11-16, “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.””


2.2.                     The Lord brought great blessing to Mary through baby Jesus who was conceived within her:


2.2.1.  Mary was just a young teenage girl, yet she had a very deep and sincere relationship to God.  Born of lower class parents she thought she would be destined to live a very ordinary and uneventful life.  However, the Lord chose her amongst all women on the earth to be the faithful woman who would bear and raise up His Son from all eternity.  She must have been such a godly woman for her to be chosen to raise up God’s only begotten Son.  This young woman was greatly blessed that the Lord would show such great favor upon her.


2.2.2.  Luke 1:26-45, “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. 39 Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 “And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? 44 “For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. 45 “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.””


2.3.                     Mary’s song of praise:


2.3.1.  After talking with the angel Gabriel who told her that she would become pregnant with a son and then going to speak with her relative Elizabeth who was now pregnant with John the Baptist, Mary sings a song of praise to the Lord because she knows how important her role will be in bringing up baby Jesus in a God fearing and serving home.  Plus, she knows that all people will know of her special calling and role and for that she is struck with awe and praise to God.


2.3.2.  Luke 1:46-55, “46 And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord, 47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. 48 “For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. 49 “For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name. 50 And His mercy is upon generation after generation Toward those who fear Him. 51 “He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. 52 “He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things; And sent away the rich empty-handed. 54 “He has given help to Israel His servant, In remembrance of His mercy, 55 As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his descendants forever.””


2.4.                     Zacharias when he pronounces that the name of the baby shall be Jesus:


2.4.1.  Zacharias had originally doubted the Lord when he had been told that his prayers had finally been answered and his wife Elizabeth would give birth to a son.  Because of his doubting the Lord had caused Zacharias to be mute all during Elizabeth’s pregnancy.  However, after his son is born we see that Zacharias is filled with joy and praise to the Lord as he speaks out prophetically about his son’s role in God’s plan of bringing a Savior to mankind.


2.4.2.  Luke 1:66-79, “66 All who heard them kept them in mind, saying, “What then will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was certainly with him. 67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: 68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, 69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of David His servant70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old— 71 Salvation from our enemies, And from the hand of all who hate us; 72 To show mercy toward our fathers, And to remember His holy covenant, 73 The oath which He swore to Abraham our father, 74 To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days. 76 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways; 77 To give to His people the knowledge of salvation By the forgiveness of their sins, 78 Because of the tender mercy of our God, With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, 79 To shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace.””


2.5.                     The birth of Jesus and the announcement to the shepherds:


2.5.1.  Angels cannot contain their praise to God when they announce to some lowly shepherds in Bethlehem (where Joseph and Mary had traveled due to having to register for a census) who were out tending sheep in the field that this baby has been born so that He might bring great joy to all people.


2.5.2.  Luke 2:1-12, “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.””


2.6.                     With the Maji who came and brought baby Jesus gifts:


2.6.1.  These men were astrologers most likely from the land of Babylon.  The prophet Daniel had been taken captive to Babylon, yet God’s hand had been upon him giving him favor with the kings of the land.  Because of his faith in God and influence upon the people of Babylon and then Persia the people knew that God was going to be sending a Messiah to be born in Israel in these latter days.  Therefore, when the time seemed to be right these Maji go out searching for the Christ child.  When they find him they are filled with great joy.


2.6.2.  Matthew 2:1-11, “1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 2 “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: 6 And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; For out of you shall come forth a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ” 7 Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” 9 After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.


2.7.                     With Simeon and Anna when baby Jesus was brought into the temple for purification:


2.7.1.  It had been revealed to a man and a woman who constantly served in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem that the Messiah was soon to be born and thus they were both looking for this boy when he should come to the temple for the purification rites of circumcision. They are filled with great joy when baby Jesus is brought to them for his purification rite of circumcision on the eighth day after he was born.


2.7.2.  Luke 2:22-39, “22 And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” 25 And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, 28 then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word; 30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation, 31 Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 A Light of revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.33 And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— 35 and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” 36 And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. 38 At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. 39 When they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth.


3.     On this day, I submit to you that we Christians have a great need to embrace the joy of the Lord, for it is to be our strength. 


3.1.                     Jesus often referred to the fact that He and His teaching would bring joy to His followers:


3.1.1.  John 15:11, “11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” 


3.1.2.  John 16:24, “24 Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.”


3.1.3.  Referring to His coming separation from His disciples after being crucified and then being raised from the dead:  John 16:22, “22 Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.” 


3.2.                     In Hebrews 12:1-3 we are told that it was for the joy set before Him (our joy being His joy) that Jesus was willing to endure the cross, “1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”


3.3.                     Concerning the joy of the Lord being our strength, someone has said, “The power is obvious. Have you ever felt the drain of a negative pessimistic attitude on your energies? You don't feel like doing anything. When you are excited and happy about doing what needs to be done you are exhausted before you realize you are tired. It is the joy that makes the difference. There is a great strength in joy . . . especially God's joy.”


4.     The books of Nehemiah and Ezra detail for us how it came about that the Lord brought home His people after their 70 years of captivity in Babylon and helped them to build the wall and the city of Jerusalem which had been destroyed.  There was also a great awakening and revival that occurred with the returned captives after the Law of Moses had been found on the temple sight and then read in its entirety to all of the people assembled.  The people were broken and in tears because of having the Law reveal to them their sin as they heard it read to them.  However, we read that the people were told by Ezra and Nehemiah that now that their hearts had been broken and they had become repentant that in order to continue faithful in God’s work and struggle that the joy of the Lord would be their strength and that this joy would help them to continue to walk in obedience and uprightness before the Lord.  It says in Nehemiah 8:10, “10 Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.””  We see the joy of the Lord being experienced by the people Nehemiah 12:42-43, “42 and Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malchijah, Elam and Ezer. And the singers sang, with Jezrahiah their leader, 43 and on that day they offered great sacrifices and rejoiced because God had given them great joy, even the women and children rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard from afar.”


5.     The scriptures teach us that mankind is a sinful and fallen race, as we have seen from our study in the book of Romans.  Like the children of Israel who returned from captivity in Babylon to Jerusalem, each of us have broken God’s Laws too many times to count.  Paul wrote about our race in Rom. 3:23 when he said, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  We are sinful people and therefore incapable of being consider righteous or acceptable before God based upon our own works.  It is only through Jesus Christ and His righteousness imputed to us through our accepting His sacrifice for us that we can come into relationship with the Lord.  We cannot save ourselves.


6.     The great English preacher Spurgeon once preached the following which speaks of the fact that it is as we have our hearts broken and brought to repentance that we come to have the joy of the Lord in our life, “As certain fabrics need to be damped before they will take the glowing colors with which they are to be adorned, so our spirits need the bedecking of repentance before they can receive the radiant colouring of delight. The glad news of the gospel can only be printed on wet paper. Have you ever seen clearer shining than that which follows a shower? Then the sun transforms the rain-drops into gems, the flowers look up with fresher smiles and faces glittering from their refreshing bath, and the birds from among the dripping branches sing with notes more rapturous, because they have paused awhile. So, when the soul has been saturated with the rain of penitence, the clear shining of forgiving love makes the flowers of gladness blossom all around. The steps by which we ascend to the palace of delight are usually moist with tears. Grief for sin is the porch of the House Beautiful, where the guests are full of “The joy of the Lord.” I hope, then, that the mourners, to whom this discourse shall come, will discover and enjoy the meaning of that divine benediction in the sermon on the mount, “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.””


7.     Let us also never forget that when we as God’s people enter into eternity with the Lord that this will be a time of great joy.  I once had a dream of heaven and in my dream what I remember was really only one thing, everything that I did brought me joy.  Jesus said that what would be said to the good and faithful servant on the day of judgment is going to be, “Enter into my joy,” Matt. 25:21.


8.     Would you like to know the joy of Christmas?  Do you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and your Savior?  Have you realized that you cannot save yourself and you will never be acceptable before God based upon your own righteousness?  Have you repented of all of your sins and allowed Jesus to come and to sit upon the throne of your life as your Lord?  Have you trusted completely in Him and His work upon the cross to save you and give you eternal life?  If you will do these things you can receive the gift of eternal life today and then you can come to know the joy of Christmas personally in your life, for this joy is the result of coming to know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.


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