Luke 2:7- If only God’s creatures could talk! Christmas Day December 25, 2019
Pastor Ken Mellon, Trinity Lutheran Church and School, Pleasant Valley Rd., West Bend, WI
Today we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and God’s grace and peace through Him.
God’s Word of Christ’s birth is written in Luke 2:7
These are God’s Words of His Son. His Word is truth! Amen!
Dear Christian Friends,
After Jesus, God’s Son, was born, He was placed in a manger. The Bible doesn’t tell us whether the manger was located inside a lower section of a home, like our garage, or under a roof over-hang connected to the outside of a house or in a separate stable or, as second century Christians believed – in a nearby grotto or cave. Wherever that manger was located in Bethlehem, it is certainly a humble place for a Savior to be born, a place used by animals. Jesus’ manger could have been used by donkeys, cattle, or sheep. Many nativity scenes including the one outside our church picture animals nearby. If some of these creatures could have talked what lessons would they teach us about Jesus? There didn’t seem to be any other human witnesses besides Mary and Joseph. The Gospel of Luke is so brief regarding the Savior’s birth.
If only God’s creatures could talk!
First, what are those creatures? The devil was one of God’s creatures who wanted to speak on the night of Jesus’ birth to harm Him. You recall that the devil had been created as a good angel, then rebelled against God, and tried to take the people of the world with him into the judgment of hell. He took the form of a snake in the Garden of Eden and was able to speak. But his words were lies to tempt Eve and Adam to disobey God. Since they fell, the whole world has suffered from the effects of sin. We feel its effects when we see sickness or death. We see hatred and injury. That’s one of the reasons God sent His Son, who was able to live without sin and then gave His life to win freedom from the power of sin. The devil must have been furious that Jesus was safely delivered. He is just as furious that we are followers of Jesus and he will do whatever he can to stop us from being with Jesus forever. We see that from happened to Jesus next.
The devil influenced King Herod to try to kill Jesus while he was a small child. Mary and Joseph fled from Bethlehem with Jesus during the night to escape Herod’s soldiers. Once Jesus was grown, the devil continued to attack Him. He tempted Jesus to be selfish for food, to get honor for himself apart from God, and to gain power among people. But Jesus never gave in to his lies, not even while He suffered on the cross. Three days after His death, Jesus came alive and He descended into hell to proclaim His victory over the devil.
Was there also a donkey near the manger? Some people think that Mary, being pregnant, needed to ride a donkey in order the make the 80 mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Do you recall the Old Testament lesson of a false prophet named Balaam? Israel’s enemies asked him to curse God’s people. He was riding on his donkey to go to do just that when an angel of God stood in his way and was ready to kill him. God gave the donkey words to speak to save Balaam’s life. At Jesus’ birth, if there had been a donkey that talked what would he say? He would say Jesus was much greater than Balaam. Although humble, Jesus was God’s Son. Rather than come to bring God’s judgment, which we all deserve, God sent His Son to bring blessings. He sent Him to give His life rather than take lives. Before Jesus died, God had Him ride a donkey into Jerusalem. The people knew the prophecy that the Christ would ride on a donkey just as Jesus was doing. The last king to ride into the city on a donkey had been King Solomon. He came to bring peace. So, as Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem He was welcomed as a king. But, Jesus’ kingdom was much greater than Solomon’s. It had no borders or limitations on what nationality of people could be accepted into the kingdom. Just as Jesus’ birth and being laid in a manger was humble, so His death on a cross was more humiliating. He died as if He was a criminal among criminals. He didn’t even have His own grave. His body was laid in a nearby cave, perhaps a cave like at His birth.
Sheep are also God’s creatures that we often see at a nativity scene. We know that shepherds were not in Bethlehem the night of Jesus’ birth because Luke states that they watching their sheep in nearby fields. How frightened the sheep must have been when the darkness of the night was broken by the bright appearance of an angel in the sky who spoke about the Savior. The Bible reminds us that in some ways people are like sheep who need help. It states, “We all have gone astray like sheep. Each of us has turned to his own way, but the Lord has charged all our guilt to him” (Isaiah 53:6). In another verse Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd who willingly “laid down His life to save the lost sheep” (John 10:11). And finally, Jesus also identified Himself as the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. By the sacrifice of His life, He paid for all our sins. He is the way to eternal life in heaven. His invitation is for all people, including each of us, to turn from our sins and follow Him by faith for life.
As we heard earlier, God’s creatures include angels. I talked about the evil one already, but Luke describes God’s good angels who daily serve the Lord and who kept safe the humble Christ child. They had great words to speak after Jesus was born. An angel appeared to the shepherds in the fields and said to them, “Do not be afraid. For behold, I bring you good news of great joy, which will be for all people: Today in the town of David, a Savior was born for you. He 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. Suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude from the heavenly army, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward mankind” (Luke 2:10-14).
The result of God sending His Son to rescue people is two-fold. All the believers on earth and in heaven and all the good angels will praise the Lord for His great goodness. For it was out of pure love that He sent His Son to win eternal life as a free gift for us when we deserved eternal suffering.
We are the highest order of creation. And we, as God’s people, have the privilege of telling the good news to others just as the shepherds did. Luke wrote, “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told” (Luke 2:20). God was faithful! He kept His promises. Everything was fulfilled just as His Word had said.
Today, there are many voices in the world who call out to us. Who are we listening to? The snake, the devil, still tries to speak into our minds to tempt us to sin or to make all that Christ accomplished seem irrelevant. He wants to distract us from realizing how powerful and favorable is Christ’s coming for us.
But God’s Word holds true! God doesn’t need a donkey or angels to speak. God speaks through His inspired Word, which cannot fail us. From it we know our need for a Savior to become one of us to carry our sins and to pay for them with His death. We need a Savior who humbly went through life just like us so that He can be the best guide for our lives. We need a Savior who will lead us to eternal life with God. The baby born in Bethlehem is that Savior! God’s Word tells us to listen to the voice of Jesus and learn what He has said. Then, we can daily share the best news that people in the world need to know. Christ, our eternal king has won the victory for us. God’s Son has been born as a tiny baby destined to save the people of the world. God help us to believe His humble truths and know that our Savior came to be ours forever! Amen.