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Christmas Eve

Luke 2:1–20

James T. Batchelor

Christmas Eve
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church  
Hoopeston, IL

view DOC file

Thu, Dec 24, 2015 

Every so often, I daydream about how I would make a movie of a part of the Bible.  One of my daydreams involves Luke the Evangelist.

Luke wrote both his Gospel account and the account of the early church for a mysterious reader named Theophilus.  Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:14, ESV) So, I imagine that Theophilus is some sort of wealthy aristocrat a ruler with ready cash at his disposal.  Theophilus would provide Luke with the resources he needed for a long trip and then send him on his way with instructions to get the facts about Jesus and the early church.

I imagine Luke searching for people who knew Jesus disciples family and so forth.  Eventually Luke would learn Jesus mother Mary was still alive that John the Son of Zebedee had been caring for her ever since the crucifixion.  I imagine Luke visiting with John and asking if Mary would talk to him about what it was like to be the Mother of God.  In my minds eye, I see Luke, Mary, John, and a few other friends having a conversation about Jesus childhood.

I can just imagine Mary telling Luke, Here I was, minding my own business, doing a few chores around the house, when suddenly there is this man.  Except hes not a man.  And he said, Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you! (Luke 1:28, ESV) I think he could sense that I was about to pass out from fear because then he said, Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. (Luke 1:30, ESV) Then he said, And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. (Luke 1:3133, ESV)

Then I can imagine Mary saying something like, Now, its not every day that an angel pops into your life and informs you that you are about to become pregnant.  I wanted more information.  So I asked, How will this be, since I am a virgin? (Luke 1:34, ESV) Keep in mind that I was very young and it hadnt been that long since my mother told me how babies happened.

It was then that the angel told me about the miraculous way in which I was to become a mother.  He answered, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holythe Son of God. (Luke 1:35, ESV) I was very happy that God was doing this through a miracle of the Holy Spirit.  Even so, it was very hard.  Most people do not believe you when you tell them you are pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Im just glad that an angel also visited Joseph so that he, at least, believed me.  A lot of the questioning stopped when Joseph took me in to his home.  They probably believed that he was the father.

Then there was the hassle of the Roman government ordering another tax census.  That is the reason Jesus was born in Bethlehem instead of Nazareth.  You see, when the Jews have a census, they return to the land of their ancestors in order to fill out the records.  Joseph was a descendant of King David.  King Davids homeland is in Bethlehem.  So off we went.

We got to Bethlehem in good shape and we were thinking we could back to Nazareth before the baby was born.  But then we saw all the people and you know how it is with a government bureaucracy.  Everything takes longer than you expect.  So, we waited and Jesus was born in Bethlehem instead of Nazareth.

Josephs relatives in Bethlehem were so gracious.  They had a guest room, but it was already full of other families.  So they went outside and slept under the stars so that Joseph and I could have the main room in the house.  Like most houses in Bethlehem, the main room had a raised platform where the family slept and a lower area for the familys animals.  Once the baby came, I just wrapped him up and laid him in the manger.

In my daydream, I can easily imagine Mary telling Luke about the shepherds.  She might say something like, I remember we had some really interesting visitors toward dawn.  A bunch of shepherds were caring for their flocks in the nearby countryside when an angel showed up and scared them out of their minds.  I knew exactly what they meant.  Anyway, 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 cloths and lying in a manger. (Luke 2:1012, ESV) Then the shepherd told me that the sky filled up with angels who praised God and said, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased! (Luke 2:14, ESV)

After the shepherds recovered from the angels visit they 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. (Luke 2:15, ESV) Josephs family checked with us and then let them in.  They came in through the animal entrance on the lower level and walked over the manger and looked in.  Everything was exactly the way the angel had described it.

In my daydream, I can see Luke madly scribbling away on a piece of parchment in order to make sure that he got the story from the woman who pondered all these things in her heart.  Luke got the eyewitness account straight from the woman who lived it.  In my daydream, I just imagine live action flashbacks as Mary narrates the story to Luke.

This story almost has a fairy tale quality to it.  That is why Luke is so careful to give the historical background with names like Caesar Augustus and Quirinius the governor of Syria.  He is careful to give us place names like Galilee, Nazareth, Judea, and Bethlehem.  He informs us of the tax census.  Taxes make things real in every age.  Luke gives all these details so that we know this is not a fairy tale, but a real historical event.

Luke wants us to understand the journey of the Son of God.  The Son of God has taken on human flesh in order to take our place under the law.  He is experiencing everything that it means to be a sinful human being even though He is without sin.

He began His humanity where all humanity begins as a single cell in a mothers womb.  Now, after nine months, He is ready for the next human event birth.  This evening, we celebrate that birth.  That birth brings Him one step closer to the ultimate expression of both His humanity and His divinity.

The angels who appeared to the shepherds expressed that ultimate expression of His nature.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11, ESV) The title Christ indicates that the one who is born is the anointed one the one who is anointed to be the sacrifice who takes away the sins of the world.  Even in the announcement of His birth, the angel already points into the future to the cross that waits for this child.  His suffering and death are the things that make him the Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  The Holy Spirit inspired Luke to be careful to record the words of the angels, so that, even as he told the story of Jesus birth, he was already pointing forward to Jesus on the cross.

The Son of God is human.  He has endured the nine months of pregnancy and now, this night, we celebrate His birth.  This baby really is God in human flesh.  This baby is the Christ Who will suffer, die, and rise from the dead on the third day.  This child is God come into the flesh to do the gritty, bloody, sacrificial work that we cannot do the work of taking away our sin.

Lukes inspired account of the history of Jesus birth is there to remind us that at a real time, in a real Bethlehem, there was a real birth of a real human being, and that human being is your real savior Who rescued you from sin, death, and the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy precious blood and His innocent suffering and death.  This is the real savior whose birth we celebrate tonight.  Amen

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