Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 14 Logos since 31 July 2017 . The best news ever - certainly not fake

. The best news ever - certainly not fake

THE BEST NEWS EVER - CERTAINLY NOT FAKE

TOO GOOD TO BE FALSE

 

Luke 2:10-11 (ESV) 10 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. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.”

 

One of the biggest problems in our world today is Fake News. Fake News is as old as the encounter between Satan and Eve. Fake news is successful because people fail to see the lack of good and responsible journalism. It was the renowned author Rudyard Kipling who once said, “These days, I never leave home without my six ‘editorial friends.’” The “six editorial friends” he identified were “What, Where, When, Who, How, and Why.”  A writer who ignores these six questions cannot possible give an adequate account of any story he is trying to tell.

 

And nowadays, a reader who ignores these six questions cannot possibly believe a story unless these questions can be answered responsibly. If you can answer and research the ‘when’ did something take place, you will also notice that fake news comes around time and again and gets re-distributed on social networks as if it just had taken place.

 

Almost all of these “editorial questions” are vividly answered in Luke’s dramatic telling of the Christmas story.  We will re-examine the story as told in Luke 2 by seeking to answer these questions.

 

Point 1. WHERE This Took Place

 

First, the account tells us WHERE the first Christmas story took place.  “In the city of David,” the angel announced (vs. 11).  Verse four says that Mary and Joseph “went up from Galileee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem.”  The term, “the city of David,” denotes royalty and suggests that the baby born there that night would be a king.

 

It was certainly no accident that the birth of Jesus occurred at Bethlehem.  God even governed the mind and action of a Roman Caesar to arrange for Mary to be in Bethlehem at the time of the baby’s birth!  And God had governed previous history for many centuries to place just the right ingredients in the atmosphere of Bethlehem.

 

  • It was at Bethlehem that Jacob’s wife, Rachel, had died while giving birth to one of Jacob’s sons, Benjamin.  So, death and birth were already associated together centuries before Jesus was born at Bethlehem.  Indeed, it was birth that came out of death!

 

  • It was at Bethlehem that Boaz, the “kinsman-redeemer,” had purchased the lovely Ruth and lavished his love upon her.  So, redemption and love were already associated together at Bethlehem centuries before Jesus was born.

 

  • It was at Bethlehem that David had stood with his army and looked out across the battle lines of the barbarian Philistines and had nostalgically rehearsed his boyhood days.  Suddenly he said, “Oh, for a drink of water again from the well of Bethlehem, as I had so often in my boyhood days.”  Three of David’s “mighty men” heard his plaintive sigh and, without consulting their king, they surprised the Philistines in a lightning raid and brought back to David a container of water from the well of Bethlehem.  David was so overwhelmed with surprise, pleasure and gratitude over their deed of devotion that, in honour of them and their act, he refused to drink the water but solemnly poured it out on the ground as a libation offering.  So, sacrifice that produced satisfaction had already been witnessed at Bethlehem long before Jesus was born there.

 

Life out of death!

Love out of redemption!

Satisfaction out of sacrifice!

Can anyone fail to see the preparation of history which God had made at Bethlehem to further explain the meaning of the birth of Jesus?

 

Furthermore, the name Bethlehem means “House of Bread.”  It was in the house of bread that the Bread of Life was born.

 

Note carefully where it took place and give careful attention to what occurred there.

 

Point 2. WHEN This Took Place, and to WHOM

 

First, Luke tells us WHEN the story took place.  The angel said “this day” in verse 11.  Verse 1 tells us that “this day” was during the reign of Augustus as emperor of Rome, and verse 2 tells us that it was during the tenure of Cyrenius as governor of Syria.  So, “this day” was about 2,000 years ago.  How exciting the announcement of “this day” should have been to the shepherds, but the fact that it was 2,000 years ago should be very embarrassing to us.  Though the Good News announced by the angel was to be relayed to “all people,” 2,000 years later we are forced to sadly admit that over two billion people remain unevangelized with the Gospel story, and many more of those who have heard His Name still have never had a satisfactory witness about Him.

 

Queen Victoria once asked an English military leader, “If I were to announce something that should be universally known throughout the world, how long do you estimate it would take us to get the message to every nation and reasonably to every person on earth?”  After a time of careful thought, the man replied, “Your Majesty, I think we could accomplish the task in eighteen months.”  Then what shall we say about ourselves, about the church, about the world-wide Christian community when we continue to engage in extremely self-centred, self-indulgent consumer Christianity and consumer Christmas, instead of turning all of our resources outward to total world impact? As I mentioned from the pulpit before, Princess Diana’s death was made known in three days, the Bombing of the World Trade Centre the same, but many still don’t know that Jesus can be their Lord, which is better than the people’s princess.

 

Second, the story announces TO WHOM the Good News was directed.  In verse 10, the angel said, “which shall be to all people.” And verse 11 concentrates the universal address of verse 10 by saying, “unto you.”  The message was directed “to all people,” generally and universally.  But, “all” includes each, so it is particularly directed to you—and you—and you—and you.  It is to be repeated “to all people” until each “you” has been informed.  And when it comes to you, it is God’s plan that it be repeated through you on its way “to all people.”  When God becomes real in your life, it is His intent to come through you on His way to “all people.”

 

Point 3. WHO Came.  “Christ, Lord.”

 

The message of the angel also tells us WHO came on the first Christmas.  “Who is Christ the Lord,” he announced.  What an ecstatic and electrifying announcement it was!

 

Firstly He is identified as Christ - The word “Christ” is the Greek word for the “Messiah.” What a peculiarity!  An angel of Heaven broke through the veil and announced that the baby laid in straw in a cowshed in Bethlehem was none other than the long-promised, long-prophesied, long-predicted, long-expected, long-awaited Messiah of Israel.  He was the One appointed and anointed in Heaven, and anticipated and announced on earth.  Micah 5:2 had foretold that He would be born in Bethlehem, Isaiah 7:14 that He would be born of a virgin, Isaiah 53 that He would die a violent death for sinners (the description of the Cross is so vivid that the writer might have been writing while looking at it, though the account was written over 700 years before Jesus was born), and Isaiah 9:6 tells us that His Name would be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace; and that in time the government of the world would be upon His shoulders.  All this was packed into the frame of a tiny baby in Bethlehem!

 

Secondly He is identified as “Lord.” This is the New Testament equivalent of the Old Testament word “Jehovah,” which means that the tiny baby is God.  THAT TINY BABY WAS GOD!  And He is Lord—Lord of everything and everybody!  With regard to human beings, this means that every man and woman who has ever drawn a breath will be appraised, evaluated, measured and judged solely in terms of his or her personal relationship with a Carpenter from Nazareth Who was born as a Baby in Bethlehem!  You see, Jesus is as much Lord of a non-Christian as He is of a Christian!  Your agreement or disagreement with it does not change the Fact of His Lordship; it only determines whether you have joy or judgment, pardon or perdition, Heaven or Hell.

 

a) The question is not, Will you acknowledge Him as Lord?” but, When will you acknowledge Him as Lord,” for one day, as surely as God lives, “every knee will bow before Jesus, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10-11).  Whether the knee and the tongue belong to a rebel, a cynic, a sceptic, an agnostic, an atheist, or an infidel, every knee will be bent in acknowledgment of Jesus, as Lord and every tongue will acknowledge His Lordship. We don’t make him Lord. He is Lord.

 

b) What does this Lordship mean practically in the life of a person who gladly accepts it?  It means that Jesus has the right to control you; He has the responsibility to correct you; and He has the resources to compensate you. But even these words are relatively cold in attempting to tell of the romance that is established when Jesus Christ is compassionate Lord of your life.  The relationship is indescribably alive with possibilities of success and failure, with the adventure of walking with a loving but infinite Person.

 

c) Have you gladly accepted “Christ the Lord?”  Oh, He is Lord in His own right; but have you “crowned Him Lord of all” in your life?

 

Point 4: HOW He Came

 

Then, the angel’s announcement tells us HOW He came.  He was “born,” the angel said.  “Born!”

 

Some interesting facts of this birth.

 

a) Put the word “God” and the word “born” together and see what a mystery, what a marvel that is.  I Timothy 3:16 says, “Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh.”  This is, without question, the greatest of all miracles.  The greatest miracle is the Person of the Incarnate Christ.  That the nature of God and the nature of man were united without fusion or confusion, that Jesus was both God and man in one Person without any loss on the part of either nature, that He was fully (100%) God and fully (100%) man (and still only 100%, not 200%; one Person, not two)—this is the greatest miracle of all.  So, the supreme and superlative and supernal miracle is the moral, personal miracle of the Personhood of Jesus the God-man.

 

b) Think of it again!  The Son of God leaves the bosom of His Heavenly Father and nurses on the breast of an earthly mother.  The Son of God becomes (also) the son of Mary.  Thus, the Most High God becomes the most nigh God.  The Infinite becomes an infant! The Infinite becomes intimate—with us!  The Infinite becomes definite—in a baby!  The God who had always been only pure spirit now adds visible and tangible substance—the substance of actual human flesh—to His Nature!

 

c) Jesus was the Heavenly Child of an earthly mother, and the earthly child of a Heavenly FatherIn eternity, He had a Father, but no mother; in time, He had a mother, but no FatherHe made His own mother!  He was older than His own mother, and exactly as old as His Father. To our minds, the words “age” and “old” suggest beginning, deterioration, and change.  No, Father and Son were eternal!  He was co-eternal, co-essential, co-existent and co-equal with His Father—but now He is also human!  No wonder the “herald angels” sang!

 

d) What is the meaning that we can detect in this mystery?  It means that God Himself has become human for our sakes.  Human!  As truly human as He is eternally Divine.  Very God of very God, but also man.  So, Jesus is the perfect revelations of what God is like, and the perfect revelation of what man should be like.  He is the perfect manifestation of both God and man, and the model and measure of every man.  John Phillips wrote, “The great mystery of the manger is that God should be able to translate Deity into humanity without either discarding the Deity or distorting the humanity.”

 

e) Again, what does this practically mean for us?  It means that Jesus is fully identified with each human being.  It means that Jesus, being both God and man, is the only qualified Mediator, or Middle-Man, between God and man.  It means that from His conception and birth as a human being, for the very first time in all of God’s Eternal History, He now has a mortal nature, a nature capable of dying.  The universe is the stage, Jesus is the Script; our redemption is the plot, and with His Birth, the stage is SET!

 

All other babies were born to live, but Jesus was born to die. How did He come?  He was “born”!

 

Point 5: WHY He Came

 

Finally, the angel’s announcement happily tells us WHY He came.  Let the spotlight of Heaven fall on the word, “Saviour.”  “Unto you is born this day a Saviour.”  Man’s Great Problem and God’s Great Provision meet in the word “Saviour.”

 

The word “Saviour” indicates a problem.  Because man is in sin, he is “out of sync” with God.  There is a popular Christmas quote that is appearing more and more in Christmas messages and on Christmas cards.  It is a marvellous statement, but it has one grave problem about it.  Here is the quote:

 

  • If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator.
  • If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist.
  • If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist.
  • If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer.
  • But our greatest need was forgiveness, So God sent us a Saviour.”

A great quote—until the punch line.  Who could depreciate the greatness of man’s need for forgiveness, or the greatness of the reality of forgiveness when one receives it, but the truth is that man’s greatest need is not the need for forgiveness.  Man’s need for forgiveness is massive and monumental, but forgiveness is merely preparatory for meeting man’s greatest need.  You see, forgiveness is a neutral concept.  Forgiveness only “clears the decks” for the real action.  Forgiveness creates a blank, but God’s is positive blessing to be extended to us and through us, and the blessing package is far, far bigger than mere forgiveness.  Jesus did not say, “This if life eternal, that men may be forgiven.”  No!  As strategic and crucial as forgiveness is, it is not our greatest need.  It is our first need, and it is fundamental, but once it has occurred, we get into the real treasure of Heaven’s Best Blessings.  “This is life eternal, that men may know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” The word “know” is a present tense continuous verb, “go on knowing,” and we may find a clue in the fact that, in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the verb, “know,” is used for the deepest intimacy between husband and wife.  “Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived, and brought forth a son.”  Could we then deduce that eternal life is ongoing intimate interaction between a human being and God, a Romance in the fullest and truest sense of the word!

 

Man’s greatest need is a full, free, warm, wonderful relationship with God. A relationship that is defined as union (and communion) between God and man.  A relationship in which the character of God so infects the redeemed nature of man that redeemed man thinks like Jesus, talks like Jesus, loves like Jesus, rejoices like Jesus, and willingly dies like Jesus—all in behalf of other lost human beings!  This relationship is not possible without forgiveness that removes the impediment to the relationship, but forgiveness stops far short in defining man’s greatest need.  As a “Saviour,” Jesus doesn’t merely offer us a clean slate (a blank), but a script for the most dynamic adventure ever know among men. Suppose that a king makes a decree of a full pardon to all prostitutes.  This is good news. But it guarantees no change of lifestyle.  But suppose the same king then asks one of the prostitutes to become his bride (see Romans 7:4).  The lifestyle of a queen is far superior to that of a prostitute (even a reformed one)!

 

Jesus was a teacher, but He was far, far more than that.  Jesus was a physician, but He was far, far more than that.  Jesus was a prophet, but He was far, far more than that.  Jesus was a priest and a king, but He was far, far more than that.

 

Dear friend, Jesus Christ is less than nothing to you if He is not first of all your Saviour.  And He is not your Saviour is if He is not more than all to you.  The word “Saviour” has both negative and positive sides to its meaning.  Negatively, it means that Jesus can take out of your human heart everything that sin has put into it (and finally will do so for every redeemed saint); and positively, it means that Jesus can put back into the human heart everything that sin has taken out of it—and MUCH, MUCH, MUCH MORE!  So, the word “Saviour” is a word identifying God’s Full Provision for man’s foul problem.  It includes Salvation from sin, and salvation to sainthood, service, and similarity to Jesus.

 

Good news!  Every saved person, every born-again believer, every redeemed sinner has such the privilege of knowing Him! The initiative was drawn up and signed in Heaven, sealed on earth by the blood of Christ, and miraculously applied to the need of the broken-hearted sinner by the Holy Spirit.  Its record is in the Bible, and its reality is experienced in the New Birth.  To some, it is incredible, too good to be true.  But believe it or not, no matter what happens, any place or any time, I am absolved fully, finally, freely and forever from all guilt and blame.  “Gone, gone, gone, gone; yes, my sins are gone!”

 

But there is an even more glorious positive side in the salvation Jesus provides.  I not only receive a pardon that negates my sin (and neutralizes my life), I receive the offer of incredible purpose, peace, and power as well!  The purpose is to be like Him in character and conduct (to impact the whole wide world by the teaching and training of others, as He did); the peace is both vertical and horizontal; and the power is His enablement for the fulfilment of all of His purposes.

 

No wonder the angel called it “good news!”  It is good because it came out of the nature of God, and it is news because it actually happened.  No human being could invent this story because it is far beyond our highest creative powers.  And nobody would believe it unless it was true.  This is simply too good to be false! This is news that remains news—and it is always only good news!

 

 

“Holy Child of Bethlehem, Descend on us, we pray,

Cast out our sin and enter in, Be born in us today.”

 

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church - 23 December 2018