Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
December 25, 2016
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 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. 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 Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. 21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
— Luke 2:8-21, ESV
Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, and Sundays are meant to be days of worship and rest. Because of Christmas, we need both. We need to worship Christ, the newborn King. We need to rest, because Christmas makes us do things we do not normally do.
Christmas makes us shop, much more than we normally shop. We will drop billions of dollars into online and regular retail stores this season, making merchants merry. Shopping is one of the things Christmas makes us do.
Christmas makes us eat, often in mass quantities. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Americans will consume seventy-million turkeys. That’s as many turkeys as there are people in Turkey. Eating is one of the things Christmas makes us do.
In addition to the presents and the meals, Christmas makes us watch special programming and sports on television, Christmas makes us go to parties with friends and relatives, Christmas makes us give to the SalvationArmy and other charities, and Christmas leaves us with a lot of bills to pay in the new year.
Christmas makes us do a lot of good things for one another. But Christmas also has a higher ideal, a godward aim, a way of making us do things that are not just good, but great. What are the greatest things that Christmas can make us do?
Christmas makes us seek and find the Lord.
Christmas is not primarily about shopping and giving gifts to one another. Christmas is chiefly about salvation and the gift God has given to those with whom He is well pleased. Christmas is not about finding the best black Friday deal or the biggest discount. Christmas is about finding Christ, and knowing that in Him God has come to earth to bring the greatest gift of all.
The gift of Christmas comes first with a feeling of fear, awe, or reverence in the presence of God. Shepherds were revered in the Old Testament (Abraham, Moses, and David were shepherds) but considered lower to middle class in the New Testament. They serve to strike the chord of everyman in the Christmas story. Every man who finds the Lord must first fear Him, feel conviction of sin and separation from Him, followed by a true desire to seek Him with all of heart, mind, soul, and strength. Upon hearing the good news effectually, nothing could keep these shepherds from finding the Lord, until they kneeled by His side.
This is what Christmas can make us do. It makes us make Christ the top priority of our lives. It makes us rearrange our schedule so that He captivates our attention and occupies first place. When we seek Him and find Him, the next response is to praise Him and worship Him.
Christmas make us praise and worship the Lord.
The angels were already praising and worshiping God before the shepherds chimed in. For two-thousand years now, mortals like you and I have joined the chorus. To know Jesus is to love Him, and we praise those we love and worship the one we love the most.
Life changing experiences change our lives, permanently. The text tells us the shepherds went back to their homes “glorifying and praising God,” and, the language indicates they never stopped. It was not something they would do only at Christmas, nor was it to be just a weekly observance. They praised and they worshiped the Lord every day with their lips and their lives.
That’s what Christmas, a real experience with Christ, makes us do. We count the Lord as our greatest gift. We dedicate our lives to worship Him, publicly and privately, annually and weekly and daily. Such worship cannot be kept to ourselves, either.
Christmas makes us witness to others about the Lord.
There was a good crowd around the manger on that cold night in Bethlehem. God had providently arranged for the birth to be quite public. He expects our faith to be, also.
The shepherds spread far and wide the testimony about Christ. Their faith and their joy could not be contained. God’s messengers and God’s Spirit had led them to Jesus. Now they themselves had become messengers empowered by the Holy Spirit to witness to others the good news about Jesus Christ.
Christmas is a joyful time. For those who know the true meaning of Christmas, the joy should be shared with others, not obnoxiously but sincerely. Perhaps a Christmas list is in order, a list of people whom you can pray for, invite to worship, and share your testimony of how you found the Lord and seek to worship and witness for Him.
Christmas makes us know that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Christmas makes us Christ-centered. Christmas makes us concerned about the souls of others, too. And Christmas has enormous benefits for you, too.
If you are lost, Christmas can make you have faith, faith in the only begotten Son of God, which brings the gift of salvation to your soul. If you are discouraged, Christmas can make you have hope, hope in a God with whom nothing is impossible, who moved heaven and earth to come to you and will do it again. If you are lonely, Christmas can make you have love, the unconditional, undying love of God. If you are experiencing conflict, or worried about world events spinning out of control, Christmas can make you have peace. The angels told the shepherds that Jesus is “Christ the Lord.” Christ means Savior. Lord means King, Sovereign, the One who is in control.
Some say this will be the greatest Christmas ever. I think the first one was. It gave us all we will ever need to make us all God wants us to be.