The New Life Mission

Sermons

Subject 22 : The Gospel According to LUKE

[Chapter 2-4] (Luke 2:1-20) Jesus in a Manger

(Luke 2:1-20)
“And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
‘Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’
So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.”
 
 
For Whom Did Jesus Come?
 
We just read Luke chapter 2 as our main Scripture passage for today.
Verse 11 said here, “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” This means that the King of kings had come to this earth to save us from all our sins and iniquities. This very day, when the King of kings who made the universe came to this earth, is none other than Christmas Day. Take a look at the stars in the sky. Just how many stars are there? Christmas is the day when God Himself, the Creator who made all such hosts of the heavens and the earth, and who is the King of kings, personally came to this earth incarnated in the flesh of man in order to save us sinners from all sins. I thank the King of kings for coming to this earth. Words cannot express how overwhelming it is that the King of kings personally came to this earth for the lowly human race, for you and me.
To the lowly people living on this earth, a precious visitor came looking for them. When I think about it, I can’t give enough thanks for this wonderful blessing. My fellow believers, although we were born on this earth with the God-given life, and God is sovereign in every aspect of our lives including our birth and death, we are exceedingly lowly beings. All of us are like dayflies, little more than insignificant specks in the universe and all its hosts. However, God still came to this earth looking for us for one reason alone; because we were made in the likeness of His image, because He had planned our salvation even before the foundation of the world in His great plan of salvation. I cannot thank God enough for coming to this earth.
Let’s say for a moment that you were visited by someone so noble and exalted, someone whom you never imaged would ever visit your shabby home. What a grateful honor would this be? Yet the most exalted of all, the Son of God, came looking for us to make us exceedingly blessed and prosperous, and He met us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. So how could we not be thankful then? What a wonderful blessing it is that Jesus Christ came into your heart, and that because of this, your meaningless life has now been completely changed.
It is impossible for us to fully appreciate in our lives what a great blessing it is that Lord Himself came to this earth to save us from the sins of the world. In other words, we can’t comprehend the full extent of this infinite grace of God. You and I can’t quite grasp that the King of kings came to save us from sin and condemnation.
What is saddening, however, is the fact that even Christians do not realize the exact meaning of Christmas. Although Christians are singing, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come,” they don’t realize fully that Jesus took all their sins upon Himself through the baptism He received from John the Baptist at the age of 30, that He died on the Cross, that He rose from the dead, that He has thereby saved them, and that He is therefore their Savior. Put differently, they can’t fathom the depth of just how great Jesus Christ is. They only appreciate that Jesus Christ came to this earth.
But it is the majestic Son of God who came to this earth. It’s not someone evil who came with an evil intention, but the Son of God, the King of kings, and God Himself who created the universe and all its hosts who came to this earth in order to save us. The name “Christ” in Jesus Christ means the King of kings. It also denotes the anointed One. The Lord is the King of the Kingdom of Heaven, the King of kings, the Priest of Heaven, and the omniscient Prophet. It’s this Lord who came to this earth. What a wonderful blessing it is then. As Christmas is upon us, we give thanks to the God of salvation. We thank Him for the fact that the King of kings came to this earth to save His people from the sins of the world.
 
 
Jesus Christ Is the Master of Human History
 
Our Lord, who is the King of kings, is the Master of the human race. The beginning and the end of this entire universe belongs to the Lord, just as the beginning and the end of all things belong to Him as well. In other words, the Lord is the Master of all the dominion of His creation. Born in Bethlehem, our Lord changed the course of the history of man when He came to this earth. At that time, God had steered the history of Israel to be ruled by the Roman Empire. However, the Roman emperor, seeking to demonstrate his power, had ordered all his subjects living under the rule of the Roman Empire to submit to a census. He forced the census on them to find out how many people were subject to his rule.
As I said, our Lord is the King of kings, and the Christ who made the universe and all its hosts and moves the history of the world and the history of man. He had made the Roman emperor do such things at that time so that He would be born in a little town called Bethlehem. This was God moving history, so that He would fulfill what He had said in Micah in the Old Testament, the Word that He had promised through the prophets.
At any rate, Mary and Joseph were also forced to go to Bethlehem, their legal domicile, to register in the census. While they were there for the census, the Baby Jesus Christ was born through the body of the Virgin Mary. Referring to the birth of Jesus, the Bible says that Mary gave birth to her “firstborn Son.” Why does the Bible say this? It says that the Virgin Mary gave birth to the firstborn Son lest the people in the following generations might think that she was God’s wife. Since Jesus was the firstborn Son, Mary must have given birth to more children.
In fact, Mary did give birth to many more children apart from Jesus Christ. Mary was no more than a maidservant of the Lord who fulfilled her given role. After giving birth to Jesus, she bore more children with Joseph. In obedience to the Word of God, the Virgin Mary had especially given birth to Baby Jesus Christ, and the Bible describes this as giving birth to her firstborn Son, lest the people in the following generation might have misconceptions about Mary and call her “the Queen of Heaven.” If this Mary had given birth only to Baby Jesus and bore no more children, then everyone in the following generations would have venerated her even more than Jesus Christ. The whole world would have served a woman, who was never God’s wife, as a goddess. It was to prevent this that God had made Mary give birth to more children with her husband Joseph. So in the Bible, there is an account of Jesus’ mother and brothers visiting Him, where Jesus said to the messenger from them, “‘Who is My mother and who are My brothers?’ And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother’” (Matthew 12:48-50).
My fellow believers, God already knew what the ignorant people would do. We should be thankful for the fact the King of kings came to this earth, and we must have the faith to believe this King of kings is the Savior who came to save us from sin through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. In this world there are all kinds of religions. There are as many insignificant things as there is dust in this world, and many times the Devil blows untenable things to our minds and brings countless worries to us. However, for those of us who believe in Jesus Christ, the King of kings came and made it possible to overcome all these challenges by our faith, believing that He has saved us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. There are many evil challenges that torment us, make us fall into the weakness of the flesh, and threaten us. We must defeat them all by placing our faith in the righteousness of God and His love.
Satan continues to work in our dreams and in our human minds that have no faith in the Truth. The Devil works in mankind like a roaring lion. In times like this, we must defeat Satan by our faith in the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit. What kind of people are you and I? We are the ones who have received the remission of sins, who have been completely washed from our sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We are the ones who have become God’s sons and daughters. As the King of kings came to this earth and saved us from the sins of the world, we have become God’s children by faith. As such, we must defeat the work of Satan in the name of Jesus Christ, and by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the Word of God. We must thus live a spiritual life of faith and win our fight. As you and I carry on with our lives in this world, there are times when Satan tries to work in our carnal thoughts. Sometimes he also comes in our dreams and brings us worries and anxieties. Sometimes he persecutes us and stands against us through those controlled by evil spirits, and sometimes he brings us worries through various circumstances. In such times, we must overcome the Devil by placing our faith in the Word of Truth.
 
 
Mary Was an Instrument of Jesus That Was Used to Fulfill His Will
 
My fellow believers, you must never venerate the Virgin Mary or exalt her like God just because she gave birth to the Baby Jesus. The Catholic Church calls Mary the Queen of Heaven. This means that Mary is being exalted as though she were the wife of God the Father. Catholics insist that Mary is God’s wife, and that Jesus came through this wife of God. So because they think like this, they misled others by saying, “Through whom should you pray for God to answer your prayers? Would God answer you better if you prayed through His Son, or through His wife Mary?” Catholics pray with such simplistic and fleshly thoughts, and this is how they are misleading their lives of faith. However, all Four Gospels record that the Virgin Mary gave birth to many more children with Joseph after bearing Jesus.
Mary’s only role was giving birth to Jesus Christ, as God had simply borrowed her body for a short while to bring the Lord out into this world. All that she did was lend her body for ten months and nurture the Baby Jesus until He grew up. In other words, God had simply used her as His instrument for a short while in order to save mankind from the sins of the world.
My fellow believers, just as we have found the grace of God by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, Mary had also found the grace of God by believing in His Word. This means that she believed in what God said to her through his angel exactly as He said. As a result, she came to realize that Jesus, who was to be born through her, was her Savior, and she was saved from sin by believing in this Jesus Christ. Through all the things that Jesus did on this earth, through the baptism He received at the age of 30 and the death He suffered on the Cross in our place despite having committed no sin, Mary realized and believed that although Jesus was her Son, He was the Messiah who had come to save the entire human race from the sins of the world. It is because of this faith that Mary was also saved from her sins.
My fellow believers, Mary, Elizabeth, Zacharias, and all the prophets of the Old Testament as well found the grace of salvation and became God’s people for one reason alone—they all believed in the Word of God. God used them as His instruments because they believed that the Word of the Old Testament would be fulfilled for sure. In other words, Mary became a blessed woman to obtain salvation from God in the same way as we have.
Born on this earth, our Lord was laid in a manger. He had come for lowly beings like us. Our Lord also became the bread of life for us. Whoever believes in the righteousness of our Lord can now obtain everlasting life. That the Lord was laid in a manger here, where animals were fed, implies that He has become the bread of salvation for us. It means that He has become our eternal Savior. Man had no Truth of salvation. In other words, there had been nothing worthy of believing that could enable the entire human race to be washed from its sins. Only when the Truth is there can anyone be saved by believing in this Truth; but there was no spiritual bread that anyone could eat to live forever.
However, as Jesus Christ came to the human race, the bread of life came into existence. That is why Jesus was laid on a manger as soon as He was born on this earth. As He was born on this earth, the Lord became our true bread of everlasting life, and He showed us the real Truth of salvation. He became our Savior worthy to receive our faith. That’s why it was in a manger that our Lord was laid wrapped in swaddling clothes when He was born on this earth.
The manger here is a trough used to feed livestock. My fellow believers, this implies that the King of kings came to this earth and gave up His body to us to be our bread of life. So, as He was baptized by John the Baptist and crucified, He became the Savior who brought everlasting salvation to us, and we have obtained this salvation by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. As Jesus Christ was born in this way, took upon the sins of mankind once and for all by being baptized by John, carried these sins of the world to the Cross to be crucified to death, and rose from the dead again, He made it possible for us to be saved by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit with our hearts.
The Lord has become the true bread of life for us. That’s why the Lord said, “I am the bread of life, and whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood will receive everlasting life.” Jesus, this bread of life, said that anyone who eats His flesh and drinks His blood by faith would never thirst again forever. He said that He would become our living water. Jesus Christ had come to this earth to become the bread of salvation for you and me. That is how you and I can be saved from all sins by believing in Jesus as our Savior who came by the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Like this, the Lord came to this earth as the King of kings.
However, there was no place in the people’s hearts to accept Him. Even though Jesus Christ is always here together with the true gospel, in the hearts of people, there is no room to hold Him by faith, who came by the gospel of the water and the Spirit. This is because they already have another Jesus in their hearts different from the Jesus who came by the gospel of the water and the Spirit. When Jesus was born on this earth, there was no room at the inn, so He was born in a shabby place. Now as before, Jesus Christ is still on this earth. However, there is no room for Him in the hearts of people. Because people’s hearts are already filled with other things, there is no room for Jesus to enter and dwell. Today’s Scripture passage says that Jesus was laid in a manger, as there was no room at the inn. Like this, in the hearts of people today, there is no room for Jesus Christ to enter. This is because they believe in Jesus as a religious subject rather than as the true God who came by the gospel of the water and the Spirit. In other words, all too often people are trapped in their fleshly notions, their lust of the eye, science, and their private greed. That is why even though the King of king has come looking for them, they are still standing against the gospel of the water and the Spirit, for they have no room in their hearts to accept the Lord who is their bread of life.
Even now, our Lord wants to go into everyone’s heart and become the bread of life for all. The Lord truthfully wants to become the Master of life for all, and to become their bread of life. Yet despite this, people’s hearts are not ready to accept Jesus. There is no room in their hearts as they are filled with other things. They are full of the things of the world. They are filled with the greed of the world. So there is no room in their hearts for Jesus to dwell. As people have rejected Jesus Christ and drove Him away to stand outside the door, Jesus has no place to go, and so He instead looks for and is born in the hearts of those who, like the lost sheep before God, cannot find any satisfaction in this world and place no value on the things of the world.
In this way, the Lord was born in the hearts of those of us who now believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Our Lord did this because He was pleased with us. Just as our Lord showed keen interest in the shepherds taking care of the flock in the Bible, even now, He is interested in God’s Church, His shepherds, and above all else, His flock. God the Father made the birth of our Lord known through the shepherds. In the surrounding fields near Bethlehem, there were shepherds keeping watch over their flock in the starry night. The heavenly hosts then descended all of a sudden and praised God, singing, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, good will toward men!” The heavenly hosts appeared and praised God like this.
 
 
Our Lord Is Keenly Interested in His Flock and Shepherds
 
The Bible said, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” This is indeed true. It’s a miracle for us that the King of kings came, that the Baby Jesus was born on this earth, and that this Baby Jesus was laid in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes.
A married couple went into a small town called Bethlehem and gave birth to a Baby. But they had no place to lay this Baby Jesus, and so they cleaned out a manger and laid Him there wrapped in white linen. This is a miracle to us and to all mankind. How grateful is it that the King of kings came looking for such lowly people like us? A livestock pen is a dirty and humble place. Who then would have known that this Baby, lying in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes, was the King of kings? Who would have thought that God Almighty had become Man and was lying in a manger born as the Baby Jesus? This was a sign. When the angel appeared before the shepherds, it was this sign that he taught them of the birth of the Savior, saying to them, “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
My fellow believers, isn’t the birth of the Baby Jesus on this earth itself the sign of salvation? Yes, it is! Jesus’ birth is a miracle for you and me alike, and for all the people of this world as well. The very fact that the Baby Jesus came to this earth looking for the hearts of the lowly is the greatest miracle of all miracles. That is why we sing praise, “♬Joy to the world, the Lord is come! ♬Let earth receive her King ; Let every heart prepare Him room.♪” However, my fellow believers, our Lord did not come surrounded in majesty when He was born. He came as a tiny Baby born in the humblest setting of all. How much would this Baby have weighed? That this Baby Jesus was born in this world and laid in a manger is itself a sign of salvation. It implies salvation for mankind. It means that the Almighty God Himself, the King of kings, was born as the Baby Jesus for us lowly human beings. What else can this be but a miracle? It is a truly astounding event. Isn’t it miraculous that God Himself came to this earth incarnated in the flesh of man for you and me? It’s an amazing miracle.
On the night Jesus was born, countless heavenly hosts—that is, angels and heavenly armies—appeared in the sky and sang, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” So just how astounded must the shepherds have been! They were huddled in blankets in the cold of the night, keeping watch over their flock from predators such as wolves. But all of a sudden the heavens lighted up, they saw angels and heavenly hosts, and they heard a beautiful and majestic praise. If it were you and I, we would have passed out in shock. It’s because these shepherds were believers in the Word of God that they were able to witness this mystery. Imagine what would have happened if such a scene had unfolded before those who didn’t believe in God. Shocked by what they saw, they would have died right there from a heart attack.
Having heard the angel’s words, the shepherds went to see the Baby Jesus. They were able to meet Mary, Joseph, and the Baby lying in a manger. Having seen the Baby Jesus, these shepherds then told those around them what the angel and the heavenly host had said to them when they appeared before them. Surely, there must have been several people around the place. Since the Baby was born there, there must have been a number of people to prepare hot water and clean linen, and also to clean up the place and give food to the nursing mother. What the shepherds said when they came, Mary and Joseph kept it in their hearts.
How shocked must Mary have been to hear this? She had also been astounded when an angel appeared before her and told her that she would give birth to a Baby, and when she accepted this Word, she got pregnant and ten months later the Baby was born. These things that happened to Mary must have been astonishing enough already. Yet she now heard from the shepherds that the heavenly hosts had descended and praised the birth of her Child, and she kept the message of angels in her heart.
The Baby Jesus was born on this earth in this way. When this Baby grew up, He took all the sins of mankind by being baptized at the age of 30, and He was crucified to death. He then rose from the dead again, and He is now sitting at the right hand of the throne of God the Father, reigning over the Kingdom of Heaven as the omnipotent King of kings. He has sent the Holy Spirit to all those who believe in Him. He has thereby made the Holy Spirit dwell with you always. This Holy Spirit in your heart is holding you steadfastly, and He renews your strength whenever you feel lonely or are struggling. He has also made it possible for you to have fellowship with God at all times.
My fellow believers, like the shepherds here in today’s Scripture passage, we have also seen and understood what our Lord achieved when He came to this earth. We have also come to believe in it. Just like the shepherds, we also have seen and believed in God’s work. We have thereby received the remission of sins. These are the common bonds that we share with the shepherds here in today’s Scripture passage. In other words, though we are living in the 21st century, we too believe in the Word of God, we bow before God’s amazing and marvelous work of salvation in thanksgiving, and we give all glory and praise to Him.
In this year also, we have spread the gospel of the water and the Spirit far and wide. Though we are living now in the 21st century, we have proclaimed to all the people in this world the purpose for which Jesus came to this earth. We are spreading the gospel of the water and the Spirit, preaching that Jesus has saved us and made us His own people by coming to this earth. My fellow believers, let us all thank God with our faith for protecting us through this whole year, and let us give thanks to our Lord who will continue to protect us in this coming new year, be with us, and work with us.
Although our Lord came as the Baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes when He first came to this earth, our Lord will soon come again for the second time and appear before us. He has promised that He will return to this earth in the same way as He ascended to Heaven, exactly as He was at the age of 33, riding the clouds in majesty with the trumpet sound of the heavenly hosts.
Hoping for this day when our Lord returns again, let us not be shocked to see such things on this day but receive Him in joy. Since this is all written in the Bible, all we have to do is just receive the Lord in faith, neither surprised nor too astounded like these shepherds.
However, until this day comes, we must live today diligently, preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Let us then all lead such a life. Hallelujah! May God bless you all!