Sunday, December 25, 2022

“Today!” [Matt's Messages]

December 25, 2022 :: Luke 2:11

This is my 25th Christmas as the pastor of Lanse Free Church. It’s really neat that Christmas falls on a Sunday this year so that we worship together on Christmas morning itself.

But I confess that I struggled greatly with knowing what to say this year. I feel like it’s all been said by so many so many times. And even by myself so many times. 25 Christmases. Same story.

The story doesn’t get old. The story is not stale or boring. But preachers can get stale and boring. It’s sometimes hard to get out of the way and help others to hear it with fresh ears.

So, today, I thought we would just go back and read over it one more time, just trying to see some of what’s there and marvel at it one more time.

And I wanted to focus our attention this year on one particular word in chapter 2, verse 11. It’s a word that we use all of the time, so it can be missed in all the glory of the other words. It’s the word, “Today.” In the Greek it’s “saymeron.” Luke loves this word. I counted 20 times, at least, that Luke uses this particular word in his two books.

And we all love this word, too, don’t we?


Kids, what is today? It’s Christmas! We’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. 365 days since the last Christmas. A lot of waiting.

How many are waiting until after church to open presents? I was guessing not very many. Church wasn’t until 10. Kids wake their parents up one day a year.


There was a lot of waiting for this day.

The phrase that we’ve been hearing again and again the last month and last night from the Prophet Jeremiah is, “The days are coming...” Right? 600 years before Jesus was born. Jeremiah was saying.

“The days are coming...”

The days of hope are coming.
The days of peace are coming.
The days of wisdom are coming.
The days of righteousness are coming.

The days of the Messiah are coming.

Guess what? TODAY! Today’s the day!

We sang about it last night in “It Came Upon The Midnight Clear.”

“For lo! the days are hastening on,
by prophet seen of old [Like Jeremiah!],
when with the ever-circling years
shall come the time foretold
when peace shall over all the earth
its ancient splendors fling,
and the whole world send back the song
which now the angels sing.”
Edmund H. Sears

The days are coming...

Finally the day had come!


Let’s see what happened on that day. Luke chapter 2, verse 1. Which begins with another reference to time:

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.”

One of things I love about those two verses is that it places this story in human history.

This is not a myth. This is not just a nice little fable that we tell our kids.

This is history. Caesar Augustus. His given name was Octavian. Look him up in the history books. This other guy, Quirinius, look him up in the history books. He was a real guy and really the governor of Syria.

And “in those days,” they said everybody had to get counted so that they assess the correct taxes. Every government loves its taxes, and Augustus was no different. And that meant that this man Joseph and his betrothed Mary (legally they were just as good as married but not yet fully married in every since including intimacy, Mary who was pledged to be his wife) had to travel from their home in the North, in Nazareth to his ancestral city, the city of David, the Bethlehem (not too far from Jeremiah’s hometown of Anathoth.) Look at verse 4.

“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. [That’s important, isn’t it? Even though he was a common man. Just a working man, he belonged to the lineage of David. He was in line for the throne if the throne would be restored. And his son, including an adopted one, would be in line for the crown. V.5]  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child...” (vv.4-5).

Shocker! She was a virgin. But she was pregnant! What a scandal. And that means that Mary had been waiting too. Ladies what are those 9 months like? Lots of waiting right? And how would you like to travel on foot 90 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem while being 9 months pregnant?

And all of the pictures we see show a donkey, and maybe there was one, but you won’t find a donkey listed in Luke 2 or Matthew 1! She probably walked on foot.

She was ready for TODAY! V.6 

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born [the time came! There’s another time marker. I’ll bet she was past ready!], and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (vv.6-8).

They were poor. There was no guest room where they were staying. Perhaps Bethlehem was overcrowded because of the census. We don’t know. We just know that they were stuck out with the animals. Maybe in a stable. Maybe in a cave used to shelter the animals from the elements.

Jesus was placed in the feeding trough, not to be all cute. But because they were at the very bottom of human society.

But! The time had come. The Apostle Paul said, “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons” (Gal. 4:4-5 NIVO). The fullness of time.


Look what happened this day. Verse 8. Talk about humble circumstances! These hardy hardscrabble men are sleeping out in the open with the sheep. V.8

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. [And we would be too!! And frightful angel out of nowhere!] But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today[!] in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”
Today. No more waiting.  No more waiting for Mary. She has delivered Him. No more waiting for humanity.  Jesus Christ is born!

The angel said it was good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

What is that great news?

Three things:


And that’s good news because that’s exactly what we needed! 

We didn’t just need a good teacher (though of course we sure needed that).
We didn’t just need a good leader (though of course we sure needed that).
We didn’t just need a good example (though of course we sure needed that, too).

But we really needed rescuing from our own sin.

And the angel said that TODAY we got one!

I love how the angel says that the Savior has been born “TO YOU.”

Not just a generic savior, but a Savior who has been born to save a people for Himself.

If you have never done it before, put your name in verse 11 where it says, “you.”

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to _________.”

Because He didn’t just come to show us the way. He can be the way.

I invite you to put your faith and trust in Jesus as your Savior.


That’s what the word “Christ” means in verse 11. “Christos” is the Greek word for “Messiah.”

The angel is saying that all of those promises that Jeremiah and the other prophets have been talking about nonstop for thousands of years are finally coming true TODAY!

Today! The Christ is born.

Everything that God has promised is bound up in that little baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. The waiting is over. Everything we’ve been learning about in Jeremiah.

The days of hope are here.
The days of peace are here.
The days of wisdom are here.
The days of righteousness are here.


Today the Messiah has come. Isn’t that wonderful?!

Every promise that God has ever made is being kept by that little baby born TODAY.

One more.


Listen to verse 11 once again. 

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

He’s the King of Kings.

He is what all of those thumbs-down kings in the Old Testament were supposed to point to. When they were at their best, they pointed to Him. When they were at their worst they showed us why we needed Him the most.

He is Christ THE LORD.
He is the LORD of LORDS.
He is not just any LORD.

He is God come to us. Look at verse 12.

The angel said, “This will be a sign to you [shepherds]: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’” (vv.12-14).

We can’t begin to imagine what that was like. An army of angels lighting up the sky. No CGI. This is the real thing. And singing together, “Glory to God in the highest!”

 “Glory to God in the highest!”
 “Glory to God in the highest!”
 “Glory to God in the highest!”

Because the Lord of Glory has arrived. 


And that means for you and me, “Peace to [men and women and boys and girls] on whom his favor [His grace] rests.”


He gets the glory, and we get the peace!

What wonderful deal that is!

“Glory to God in the highest!”

Because the Lord of Glory has arrived.

And just as quickly as they appeared, they were gone. And the shepherds were left looking at one another and saying, “What just happened? What is today?

Let’s go see if it’s all true.” Verse 15.

“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told” (vv.15-20).


I love the different responses to all of these things, don’t you?

The shepherds run out and tell everybody. And we should do that, too.

And shepherds worship and praise God, and we should do that, too.

And the people are amazed and marvel at the story. And we should do that, too.

And Mary treasured up all of these things and pondered them in heart. And we should do that, as well.

Turning these things over and over again in our hearts.

As we wait once again.

Because that first Advent was only a foretaste of the kingdom to come.

There is another day we are waiting for once again.

A Savior has been born, yes. And all who put their faith in Him are saved and are being saved. But one day will be saved to the uttermost! We are still waiting for that day.

The Messiah has come, yes. And all that God has promised has been kept in Him and is being kept in Him. But one day all of those promises will come in full. We are still waiting for that day.

Because except for a few brief moments like this one Luke chapter 2, that glory was shielded from us. Jesus continued to live a fairly obscure life. Certainly a humble one. And then after He died and came back to life, He ascended to heaven where He sits the right hand of God the Father.

And one day, the Lord of Glory will arrive a second time.

Not, this time, to bear our sins but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him (Hebrews 9:27).

The days are still coming.
The days are still coming.
The days are still coming.

And one day, we don’t know when, the Father will say once agan, “TODAY!”

And the whole world will rejoice.

Heaven and nature will sing.

Merry Christmas!