Sermon title:

Christmas in Scripture & Song

Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, December 20, 2020

 

 

 

 

On this last Sunday before Christmas

what better time to reflect

on what the world’s most popular holiday

actually means!

 

And what better way to do that

than through the words of Scripture

and the lyrics of songs

that have re-told the story

down through the centuries!

We begin centuries before Christ was born,

by remembering the prophecies of Isaiah

around the year 700 B.C.

 

Isaiah 7:14

14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah 9:6-7

6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

 

The lyrics of

“Once in Royal David’s City”

will appear on screen.

 

Join in singing, if you wish,

or just sit back and enjoy

the powerful message.

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John the Baptist was chosen before birth

to be the one to introduce Jesus to the Jewish people.

 

And John’s coming birth was announced

by the angel Gabriel to the elderly priest Zachariah,

who would miraculously father him

in his old age.

 

But Gabriel had an even grander

announcement to make six months later.

 

Luke 1:26 tells us,

26 Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man whose name was Joseph, of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 Having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, you highly favored one! The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women!”

29 But when she saw him, she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered what kind of salutation this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Behold, you will conceive in your womb, and give birth to a son, and will call his name ‘Jesus.’ 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father, David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever. There will be no end to his Kingdom.”

34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, seeing I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore also the holy one who is born from you will be called the Son of God.”

 

Such a wonderful message

from the mouth of the angel Gabriel

calls to mind our next

beautiful Christmas carol,

“Angels from the Realms of Glory”

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Luke Chapter 2 continues,

1 Now in those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. 2 This was the first enrollment made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to enroll themselves, everyone to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to David’s city, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David; 5 to enroll himself with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him as wife, being pregnant.

6 While they were there, the day had come for her to give birth. 7 She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a feeding trough, because there was no room for them in the inn.

 

The scene Luke presents is described musically in

“Away in a Manger”

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That same night,

while the baby Jesus was still lying in the manger,

there was another miraculous visitation by angels—

this time to shepherds in the field.

 

Luke 2:8 says,

8 There were shepherds in the same country staying in the field, and keeping watch by night over their flock. 9 Behold, an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 The angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be to all the people. 11 For there is born to you today, in David’s city, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 This is the sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth, lying in a feeding trough.” 13 Suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army praising God, and saying,14 “Glory to God in the highest,on earth peace, good will toward men.”

 

Can you imagine that the eternal Son of God,

would be found in a stable next to an inn,

lying in an animal’s feeding trough?

 

When they ran to Bethlehem

and found the Christ child in the manger,

the amazing scene the shepherds saw

is described in this next Christmas carol:

“What Child Is This?”

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Christ’s birth in Bethlehem fulfilled prophecy—

prophecy that was known and familiar

to the Jews of that time.

 

But pagan Gentiles were also notified

of this world-changing event.

 

Matthew Chapter 2 tells us,

1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, 2 “Where is he who is born King of the Jews? For we saw his star in the east, and have come to worship him.” 3 When King Herod heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he asked them where the Christ would be born. 5 They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is written through the prophet,

6 ‘You Bethlehem, land of Judah,are in no way least among the princes of Judah: for out of you shall come a governor, who shall shepherd my people, Israel.’” [Micah 5:2]

 

The visit of the Wise Men

comes to life before our eyes

in the familiar carol,

“We Three Kings”

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The baby Jesus was laid in a manger

because there was no room in the inn

when Joseph & Mary arrived in Bethlehem.

 

That fact is widely known

to both Christians and non-believers, alike.

 

But the most important message of Christmas—

the essential “take-away” of the holy nativity—

is that we can experience a new birth ourselves

and receive Jesus into our hearts.

Have you done that?

 

Have you repented of your sins,

and invited Jesus into your heart?

 

It’s one thing to know that Jesus

was born in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago,

but it’s another thing for YOU to be born again.

 

At John 3:3, Jesus said,

"I tell you the truth, no-one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. ... You should not be surprised at my saying, `You must be born again.'"

 

You are born again when you

turn away from the sinful ways of this world

and turn to Jesus as your Savior and Lord.

 

Then God gives you a miraculous new birth

as a newborn child of God.

 

Galatians 4:6 reminds believers,

"To prove that you are sons, God has sent into our hearts the Spirit of his Son, crying 'Abba! Father!'"

 

It’s beyond human understanding, but Christ will

actually come to live in your heart by his Spirit.

 

Colossians 1:27 calls it,

"this mystery, which is Christ in you.”

 

Ephesians 3:17 says,

"that Christ may actually live in your hearts"

 

You may have been the worst of sinners,

but Jesus won’t turn you away.

 

At Matthew 11:28 he invites you,

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

 

And he promises to accept you.

 

At John 6:37 he says,

"All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away."

 

You may have been celebrating Christmas

all your life,

but have you invited Jesus into your heart?

 

Invite him now, as we sing,

“Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne”

and make the lyrics your own true prayer.

 

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The most wonderful thing about the Christmas story

is that it’s a true story—

a true story with a happy ending.

 

It has a happy ending for the baby in the manger

who is now the Almighty King in Heaven.

 

And the Christmas story has a happy ending

for each of us

as we make room for him in our hearts

as our Lord and Savior.

 

He blesses us now with his miraculous peace and love,

and he will bless us forever

with heavenly joy.

 

And this week we have the great joy

of, once more, celebrating his holy birth.