Jack Graham - Gloria
Luke chapter 2, beginning at verse 8. The familiar story of Christmas and the song of the angels, "And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, 'Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and 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 among those with whom he is pleased.'"
Now think about these angels who arrived that night outside of Bethlehem. They were created by the hand of God, present at creation when God fashioned the heavens and the earth, when He spoke life into being. But when they saw God, the God that they had worshiped from eternity past, leave His throne in heaven and descend and condescend down to earth, to become an embryo in the womb of a woman, through a birth canal, to be laid in a manger, a cattle stall, a feed trough, when the angels saw that, they must have wondered! But no wonder how they worship the Lord, no wonder they praise God! The infinite who has become an infant. The sovereign God who is wrapped in swaddling clothes. No wonder they lifted their voices in rapturous and rigorous praise to God, shouting, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace and goodwill to men".
When you think about it, the angels had nothing to gain from the birth of God. Nothing! And yet they are excited and they extol the glory and the greatness, and yes, the grace of God! They are amazed by this grace that God would become a Man! They're so excited about this salvation message, so excited that later Jesus would say, "When a lost person comes to faith in Christ and comes home spiritually, when a person is saved, that the angels rejoice in heaven over one person who comes to faith in Christ".
So when the Savior was born, when Jesus came to earth, God sent the angels to tell the world! Interestingly enough the announcement was not made in the courts of Caesar Augustus, the most powerful man on earth. Nor was the announcement of the birth of Jesus made in the courts of the high priest or the religious leaders of that day. Nor was the announcement made to scholars and scribes or the educated elite of that time. Rather God delivered the Child and then delivered the message, you know the story, to lowly shepherds. Shepherds!
Now don't romanticize the shepherds. If you get the role of a shepherd in a Christmas production or play, that's like the lowest role of all, alright! If you're a shepherd. "Oh, I thought I was a big deal because I got to be a shepherd". Not a big deal if you are truly a shepherd, because the shepherds were viewed in that society as the lowest of the low, the last rung on the social ladder! But when Jesus came, the announcement was made to these outcasts. Some would have called them lowlifes. And yet Jesus came and the announcement was made to these. It's a prophecy really of the ministry that Jesus would have. He came for the outcasts and the irreligious and the least and the last and the lost! Why? Because He loved all people!
And you know the outcasts loved Jesus. They loved Him because He came for the hurting, He came for the helpless, He came for the hopeless, the broken and wounded in life and by life. So much so that Jesus came to be known as the Friend of sinners. Aren't you glad that Jesus is the Friend of sinners? These shepherds were chosen by the grace and mercy and favor of God. It is as though God is showing us at the outset this message of grace. That none of us, like shepherds deserve or earn the favor of God. But God chose these men and favored them. He wanted to say to everyone from the very beginning that Jesus is a Savior to anyone and everyone who will believe and trust in Him! That's what Christmas is all about. That is the ministry of angels.
But let's think about this message of angels. The angels assured the shepherds that Jesus would bring them great joy and the world great joy and banish fear. He said, "Fear not for I bring you good news, good tidings of great joy". That's verse 10. So many people live in fear and anxiety and depression. You know fear came into the world because of sin. Sin brought suffering and misery into the world so the message of "fear not, I bring you good tidings, good news of great joy" is a message that he has come to banish fear in our lives and to give us great joy!
Ray Stedman said, "The chief mark of a Christian should be the absence of fear and the presence of joy". That's so good I want to say it again. Ray Stedman said, "The chief mark of a Christian should be the absence of fear and the presence of joy". We can live without fear and with great joy in our lives because we have a Savior and His name is Jesus. The message of these angels is clear. Verse 11: "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord".
Three titles given to Jesus. We already have been told that His name shall be called Jesus. So we have His name, but His titles are Savior, Messiah or Christ, and King or Lord. Jesus came, and here's the message, Jesus came to destroy, to crush the power of sin and hell! Because of His great love, God's love for us there's no greater love than the reconciling, redeeming love of God in Jesus Christ, for God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself! And our Lord came on this mission of mercy. And the good news is that Christ has come to you and me! No wonder there's great joy! We sing and the world sings that knows the Lord because He has come! We ask that question: "What Child is This"? The great carol. "What Child is This"? We don't have to wonder who this is laid in a manger. He is Savior. He has come to save; deliver us, rescue us.
Now I know the word saved, it may seem to some a little archaic. We don't seem to use the word saved as much these days regarding what it means to know Jesus Christ. I've even heard preachers says, "You know, don't tell people they need to be saved. It's antiquated", Really! Well, I'm glad I'm saved because saved is in the Bible! In fact, the very purpose and mission of Jesus, "You shall call His name Jesus for He will save His people from their sins". To be saved is to be rescued; it is to be delivered, particularly in the face of some great crisis, even destruction. If you were drowning and you were crying out for help, and you were going under, what would you want somebody to do? To come out there and do what? Save you! If you were trapped in an automobile in a wreckage and you feel as though you can't breathe, what would want someone to do? Come to your car and get those jaws of life and do what? Save you! If you went to the doctor and the doctor said, "You have this terrible disease and you're probably, you could die from this disease," but the doctor treats you and you get well, what would you say? That doctor saved my life!
So when you consider that you are on a path to destruction, you are in the grip of death, you are facing judgment and hell, that's a crisis! What would you need someone to do for you? Something that you couldn't do for yourself, and that is to save you! And that's why God came! He is Savior! He will deliver you! Are you saved? Because all of us have sinned and that sin brings death and judgment! And we need to be delivered from the power and the grip of sin and that is the message of Christmas. It's not all about the Baby Jesus and dancing around the manger. This Savior came to deliver us from our sins! And not only is He Savior, the angel said He is Christ.
Now some people think Jesus Christ, that that's His last name. That is not His last name. Christ is His title and it means Messiah! It means King. Someone who is the Christ means the Anointed One or the One who is anointed. Primarily this means that Jesus is anointed as King. He is the son of David, the promised Messiah, and the Child who is born has always been King. He was King in the cradle as surely as He was King when crowned in eternity. He is exalted King. That means that God keeps His promises and just as surely as God promised the Messiah would come, the anointed King would arrive, God still keeps His promises to us. And one day Jesus is coming again as King of kings. But He also says, the angel says that Christ is Savior, He is King, Messiah, and that He is Lord. And you'll note in the scriptures that the word Lord typically is capitalized there because this is Yahweh God. This is the name for God; the personal holy name of God. I know we have taken the word Lord and used it in vernacular.
If you watch Downton Abbey you know Lord Grantham, right? And Lord and Lady and so on. But that was common in the vernacular of another time period. But the word Lord here means something beyond leader of the pack or leader of the family. The word Lord means Master; it means sovereign God. God Himself! Now listen up! This is the meaning and the message of Christmas, that Jesus, the Savior-Messiah who is born is God! He is Lord! Lord of life and Lord of death. When you speak of Lord it speaks of sovereignty and authority. So Jesus born that day lives as Lord. The question is is Jesus the Lord of your life? Because you cannot be saved apart from confessing Jesus and following Jesus the Savior as your Lord.
Romans 10:9-10 says, "If we confess with our mouths the Lord Jesus Christ, and believe in our heart that God has raised Him from the dead we will be saved. For with the heart you believe unto righteousness and confession to salvation is made with the mouth, and whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved". This is the great confession of Christmas; it's the great confession of the Christian faith! Jesus Christ is Lord! And when you believe this and confess this, that's what makes you a believer and follower, a Christian. And then to live under the authority and sovereignty of Christ in our lives. Is Jesus the Lord of your life? Is He the Lord of your time? What you do with your time, your schedule... is Jesus Lord of that? Do you pray about what to do with your time? Do you seek His will about what to do with your life? Is He Lord of your time? Is He Lord of your talents?
God has gifted you, He's blessed you with abilities and skills and talents. You're a Christian if you've confessed Him as Lord. Now how are you using these gifts that God has given you to serve Him? To use what God has given you for His glory. Is He the Lord of your talent? Is He the Lord of your treasure, your tithe? Now we're getting down to it, aren't we? You say Jesus is my Lord but you don't trust Him one dime out of a dollar, to tithe your income? You say Jesus is Lord of my life and He's taking me to heaven, but you don't trust Him with your finances, with your money to believe and to give as God has taught us in scriptures? Is Jesus the Lord of your money? Is He the Master of your money? It's an important question to ask and for all of us to answer. Is Jesus the Lord of your thoughts? Is He the Master of your mind?
The way you look at life, the way you think about life, your thought life... is He the Lord of that? How about your temperament? You have no right or reason to be an old grump if you're a Christian. Did you know that Jesus transforms personalities? He wants to take your negativity and your complaints and all that so many people have, so people think that they have the right to complain just because they show up! Is Jesus the Lord of your temperament? When people think of you do they think of the joy of Jesus living in your life? Is Jesus the Lord of your testimony? Are you sharing your faith as He has told us, all Christians are to go as His witnesses.
So ask yourself is Jesus my Lord? Have I confessed Him as my Savior and Lord? And if I have, than is He the Lord of my time; is He the Lord of my talent; is He the Lord of my treasure, my tithe; is He the Lord of my temperament; is He the Lord of my testimony? Is Jesus the Lord of your life? I guarantee you one day "every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God"! That's Philippians chapter 2. The only question is, you're going to bow before King Jesus. The only question is will you bow before Him now in faith and commitment and follow Him in obedience? Or will you bow before Him in judgment because you have walked away without faith in Christ, because you've never confessed Him as your Lord and Savior? Is He your Lord?
What matters is that you confess Him now. The angels sang "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to all men and women of goodwill". You know what that means? You might look at that and say, "hmm, were the angels wrong? What about the peace part"? There's so much war and fear and terror in the world! And we look at our own country. There's so much division and hatred and strife! Lord, were the angels wrong when they promised peace, goodwill to all men? What the angel said that night outside of Bethlehem, what they sang in Gloria to God was peace to all people of goodwill who have received God's grace. This is not teaching that we're saved because we have goodwill in our hearts, but because God has given us His goodwill, and we have received His grace which is God's gift of eternal life.
So this is salvation peace because we have peace with God and we have peace within, because the Savior has come, and we can make peace and be peacemakers in the world because of what Christ has done for us. But one day the Christ who came to that cradle is coming with a crown as King of kings and Lord of lords, and when He does He's bringing with Him His kingdom and there will be ultimate and final peace on earth. Would you bow your heads with me in prayer, every head bowed and every eye closed? Are you saved? Are you sure you're saved? Do you know for certain that if you were to die today that you would go to heaven? Are you forgiven of your sin, is Christ living in your life? That's what it means to be saved, are you saved?
Is Jesus Christ your Lord, have you confessed him and followed him as your Savior, Messiah, Lord? Savior, King and Lord? Is he your King? Is he your Savior? Is he your Lord? If he is then tell the world. Do what these shepherds did, they ran as fast as they could to see the Christ child and when they did they went everywhere telling what they'd seen, what they had heard that Christ was born. If you're saved tell the nations, we get to tell the nations, we get to tell our neighbors of the Savior, King, Lord who has come.
If you've not trusted in Christ and Christ alone as your Savior then pray this simple prayer right now: Lord Jesus, I have sinned and broken your commandments. Thank you for coming to earth to die on the cross for my sins, to rise again, I believe. And right now I invite you to be my Lord, my Savior, my King. I confess you as my Lord, I receive you as my King, I trust you as my Savior. And if you will do that right now, watching online, on television, right here in this room today, if you will receive Christ and confess him I promise you according to the authority of God's word that he will banish fear in your life, that he will give you joy, doesn't mean there won't be problems and difficulties and suffering but even in the midst of adversity, heartache and pain you have a Savior who came and lived and died and rose again so that we have the promise of eternal life.