Jesus is the Perfect Gift; The Good News Everyone Needs Luke 2:8-13
UNCOMMONESS OF BIOGRAPHIES I learned something new this week that makes me appreciate the story of Jesus and makes the Christmas story for me more special. I learned from a resource that in the days of Jesus it was very expensive to write a history of your life. Illiteracy was high, so very few people could write or write well extensively. Plus, it was expensive for the resources required to write your story or pay a scribe or someone to write about you. The bottom line is if you wanted to produce a biography of your life it would be costly. But most folks of the first century were poor so few could afford to have a story about their life written.
Think how different that is from today where publishing your own book and your own story of your life is very inexpensive; but not in the days of Jesus.
“MANY” Here is why this point matters. Listen to these opening words from the book of Luke which is one of the two gospels that tell us about the birth of Jesus.
“Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed onto us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you…” Luke 1:1-3
The key word to notice in that passage is the word “many.” Luke said many had undertaken to write about the life of Jesus. What makes
this more important is that if you did have a story of your life written you were probably wealthy and a somebody, someone with notoriety or prominence.
JESUS DOESN’T FIT
But notice what Luke is saying, many people took the time, trouble and money to write about Jesus. • Jesus born to a peasant family. • Born in a small town. • Convicted as a criminal and nailed to a cross. • He had twelve disciples and they all abandoned him at the most crucial time of his life.
Yet many wrote a story about the life of Jesus, even years after he was gone.
Why would many write about Jesus, spend their time and money if his story was not true?
GOOD NEWS STORY Luke writes that after Jesus was born angels made an announcement to shepherds in the fields and said, “Do not be afraid, for see I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you has been born in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” 2:10-11
IS THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS NEEDED? The angels said they brought good news because a Savior had been born. The word savior means one who rescues. The good news is there is a way to be rescued or saved; but question that many would ask, saved from what?
Many would say, “They don’t need rescued.” They would say, they don’t buy the guilt trip about sin and being guilty before God. They would say, “Each person can chose to live how they want and what they want to believe.”
Wouldn’t you agree that is the typical thinking of our culture? The days of the church being the moral and spiritual authority for the culture has been over with for years. The days of simply saying “because the Bible says so” doesn’t carry the authority and influence it should to carry.
REALITY OF SIN But the biblical truth is we need rescued from ourselves. A key, prevalent meaning of the word sin in the Bible means to miss the mark.
But isn’t the reality of sin self-evident?
We do know this much, don’t we see that we all fall short of standards of some type, some mark of what is right and what is wrong?
Even when we set our own standards and expectations; we fall short, we miss the mark even when we have set the expectations.
Haven’t there been times when we have disappointed ourselves because of how we acted, our thinking, motivations, and the words we have spoken?
Even if we never admitted to others; we have said to ourselves, I cannot believe I thought that way, said that or did that.
We certainly fall short of the expectations of others.
If we believe in God, certainly we know we aren’t always in step with God’s will are we?
WHY IT’S GOOD NEWS What makes the good news, really great news and brings joy is Jesus came to personify the love of God who is constantly calling out to his creation to come back to him even though we fall short. For centuries God did this through leaders like Moses, kings like David, prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Hosea.
Jesus came to call out to us so that we could follow him and as Jesus promised, “have life and have it more abundantly.”
The story of Jesus is good news because when the world rejected the love of God, by killing Jesus; God raised him from the dead.
The good news is that evil and death cannot stop God’s good news of love and grace for us.
Many experienced the reality of Jesus risen from the dead. The stories of experiencing a resurrected Jesus only survived the 1st century and lived on because first-hand witnesses of a resurrected Jesus and of people who experienced a resurrected Jesus were around to pass on their story of good news, he lives!
GOOD NEW FOR EVERYONE – JOY TO THE WORLD What makes Christmas good news is Luke says, angels sent from God, announced to shepherds this is “for all people.” No one is left out.
We understand this best when we remember how Jesus lived and loved during his earthly ministry. Remember who Jesus called and invited to be his first followers. I mean when I think of the men who surrounded Jesus, it’s been said, Jesus had friends in low places. • We have been mentioning, Matthew the tax collector. Unpopular. • Simon the Zealot who was a member of a military group that wanted to overthrow Rome by force, radical and dangerous. He was a disciple and friend of Jesus. • We know of the people Jesus would touch and talk with who had diseases like Leprosy. • He befriended people who were outcast like women who were prostitutes.
None of these people were the pillars of their communities, involved in their local PTA or Rotary clubs; but Jesus invited them to follow him because his good news was for all people.
Like we talked about a couple weeks ago, Jesus full of grace invited anyone to follow him. Jesus was also full of truth and would lead them out of sin and into a transformed life that looked like him.
Jesus was a living paradox in that he was a friend to the wrong type of people in order to get the mission of God right.
Good news of great joy was no matter what your story might be; God has a better story about what you mean to Him and what your life can be come in Him. Jesus had an attitude toward all people like the old song by Journey – he stands before us with open arms.
Think for moment how he taught his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount to imitate him.
How he would teach that if you only do what is good to those who have done good to you – even the heathen does that. Translation – if you only do good to those who do good you, that is not following the ways of Jesus, but if you do good to those who oppose you, who talk falsely about you, then you will be known as the children of light, children of God.
This was good news because Jesus was born for God’s love to be shared with all people.
Just remember, Luke’s story of Jesus came some time after Jesus had been crucified. Luke’s story was written and shared with people who wanted to believe in good news; but they were not naive to believe anything.
People of that day were like you and me, they had a tough life at times and they knew wishful thinking didn’t make life better.
They believed in good news about Jesus, they followed him and some even to the point of losing their lives because the good news was true.