Tidings of Comfort and Joy: The Angel’s Announcement
Why did Jesus come to earth? He came for you. Christmas is such a personal thing. What does it say in John 3:16–For God so loved the world…that He did what? He gave His only Son. He gave His Son for you-so that you would do what? That whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. That you would be included in the whoever-that you are one of those who does believe in Him. As the video said-Your Savior determined that your soul was worth dying for! Again Christmas is such a personal thing-because it communicates the glorious truth that Jesus has come for you. Yes God so loved the world-but that includes you. Christmas isn’t just casually remembering that Jesus was born. Oh yeah-baby in the manger-that’s such a sweet story. Love that part about Christmas. That is Christmas-that baby in the manger is there for you to believe in and trust in. He came to be the sacrifice so that you could have eternal life. And that’s what we’re going to talk about this morning. How Jesus is our perfect Savior.
Because here we are-the day after Christmas-Dec 26th-who had a perfect Christmas? Who says-It was so good. Everything worked out perfectly-couldn’t asked for better! And in a lot of ways that’s what we’ve all been hoping for and chasing after. But what defines a perfect Christmas? You got all the gifts you wanted? All the food at Christmas dinner was delicious? Everyone showed up on time, the house was perfectly decorated? No one argued on Christmas Day? For some families that might be a perfect Christmas! But let’s be honest, how many perfect Christmases have you actually had? Probably very few. Maybe you remember the Christmas of 2015 as incredible or a couple years ago was really great and you’re wondering why this year couldn’t have been more like that. It’s easy to end up disappointed that Christmas wasn’t perfect. The person returned the gift you thought they’d love, the kids were crabby, you got exhausted, and the food was overcooked. There’s so many things that can go wrong-so this morning instead of evaluating how perfect your Christmas was-I want us to remember how perfect our Savior is! I want us to rethink the angel’s announcement-from over 2,000 years ago-Luke 2:10-11. Is that still true for us today? Is that the tidings of comfort and joy we’re longing for? Is that what brings us joy? Have we set our hearts on Him-or have we set our hearts on attaining the perfect celebration? What were you after this year-a perfect Christmas or a perfect Savior?
And to answer that question I want you to open your Bibles to Hebrews 10. Now I’m sure Hebrews isn’t the first place you’d go to when thinking about Christmas. There’s no wise men or shepherds talked about there. But it has a whole lot to say about why He’s come to be our Savior. Heb 10:5. Now Baby Jesus didn’t sit up in the manger and actually say this to Mary and Joseph-Wow-he speaks! This is figurative and refers to what is said through OT prophecy as this is a quotation from Psalm 40 which Jesus fulfills. Listen to how it continues-Heb 10:6-7. So what is the purpose for Christ’s arrival at Christmas? It’s to take on a body, to put on human flesh and be born into this world-which is exactly what happened that night in Bethlehem. In the stable, surrounded by the animals, along with Mary and Joseph and some shepherds, Jesus arrived in a body and was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. And what was this baby to do? Back to Heb 10:7. So jump ahead 33 years when as a man, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed-Not my will, but yours be done, Father. And He went and accomplished the Father’s will by sacrificing His life on the Cross-of which a human body was necessary.
But I want you to notice the balance in this passage-this quote from Psalm 40-because there’s two contrasting ideas, two courses of action being compared. And the first is about sacrifices and offerings which is Pt1:World’s Perspective: Desperately trying to save ourselves by all the sacrifices we make. And that’s true today just as it was in the OT. Back then in the books of Leviticus, the Law prescribed all sorts of detailed sacrifices the people were required to do by going to the temple and giving up animals from their livestock to be offered on the altar. And that was significant because back then it was an agrarian society, everybody farmed, there were no grocery stores. If you’re offering up one of your bulls or goats or sheep that was a major source of food and income for your family that you’re sacrificing. Now obviously we don’t do that today-no one brought a goat to church-but that kind of thinking hasn’t changed. Because we still try to make lots of sacrifices and efforts to please God. Maybe you’ve sacrificed some of your money to charity or the church or sacrificed your time to volunteer or you look at your church attendance record or how long you’ve sacrificially served on certain committee or how often you do your devotions-and think-Well, I’m definitely sacrificing a lot more than most people I know so obviously God has to be happy with me.
We want to show God how religious and dedicated we are (even though deep down we know we really aren’t and hope God just sees our outer performance and doesn’t look any deeper). But those things don’t work, our efforts don’t cut it. The sacrifices we make will never save us and Hebrews makes that really clear-Heb 10:1. In trying to draw near to God the sacrifices we make in our lives-or the annual ones they used to make in the OT-will never save us or perfect us before God. The reason is because those sacrifices can’t take away our sins. The record of what we’ve done is still there, the stain can’t be removed-Heb 10:3-4. And that means nothing you do-just like nothing they did with the sacrifices in the OT was ever enough. No man-made efforts, no matter how big; no sacrifices you make however great will ever take away your sins and save you. We’ve all thought about the question-Have I done enough and sacrificed enough Lord to please you and get into heaven when I die? And we wonder-hopefully so-remember that time I…! But this is saying the answer is always no. That there isn’t a man-made way to save ourselves, nothing you do or sacrifice will be enough-no one will enter heaven because of their own efforts.
Instead we turn to the incredible truth of the angel’s announcement-Matt 1:20-21. That little word he changes everything. Being saved has nothing to do with you and me-but everything to do with Him. Our sacrifices will always be incomplete-His is sacrifice is complete-because He Himself is our perfect sacrifice. And that’s precisely the point in-Heb 10:5-7. That will was the cross-and listen to what it accomplished-Heb 10:10. That’s the purpose of Christmas and the Incarnation. That is why Jesus came to earth-to give up His body for us. Notice again the contrast in ideas-Heb 10:11-14. Your repeated efforts to do enough good deeds or make enough sacrifices will never accomplish removing your sins-instead Jesus has taken on human flesh like you and me, and He has made the offering, He has made the sacrifice, the one and only sacrifice, that will remove your sins and save you once and for all. There’s nothing more you have to do. So that’s Pt2:Gospel’s Perspective: Fully trusting in the sacrifice Jesus already made to save us. He was born in Bethlehem as a baby so that He could one day offer up that body as a man to be the atoning sacrifice for your sins. So it’s not something of yourself. It’s not about trying harder to be more religious; instead it’s Someone you’re trusting in. And that’s a huge difference. You can’t be the sacrifice-only He can-and He’s come to be your sacrifice. Again that means Christmas is very personal! You’re not celebrating the baby who’s come in a general way to earth, looking at if from afar-like the way people observe nativity sets. It’s not just seeing or being a spectator as if it’s some old, quaint fairy tale of Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus and some shepherds. You’re entering in because your heart is trusting in that baby who’s your perfect sacrifice.
Because I want us to notice something very important in this passage-v. 10–through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all; v. 12–But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins; v. 14–For by a single offering… Three times Hebrews mentions that the sacrifice of Christ is a one-time, single , specific event. And of course we know it is-that’s the Cross-but how often do we live by that truth? How often do we think there’s still something beyond that single sacrifice we have to do? How often do we think-Well, Jesus did His part by dying on the Cross, but I’ve still got to do my part by being spiritual-after all it’s the good people that go to heaven. No it’s not-as we frequently say-good people don’t go to heaven, forgiven people go to heaven. And you’re forgiven not because of how good you are-but because of Jesus’ single sacrifice on your behalf. What did Jesus say at the cross right before dying-It is finished. He didn’t say-nearly there, it’s almost done. He said-It is finished. Your salvation is complete the moment you trust in Him-there’s nothing else you need to do to earn your way in.
But think about the times we mess up, make a mistake, sin, and then try to make it up to God by being extra good, or praying extra harder, or having a longer devotion so God will see how dedicated we are and forget about our sin? Have you been in that rut before? Ahh, I blew it, God-I really messed up this time-but you’ll see how good I’m going to be now; I’m going to really be serious and dedicated to you. And there’s nothing wrong with being really serious and dedicated to God. It’s how we’re called to live-but it isn’t how we earn our way back into God’s good graces. When we mess up and sin-it’s about going back to the Cross and realizing how all our sins were paid-even that one-by Jesus’ single sacrifice.
So there’s two follow-up applications that come out of these verses: App1:Jesus perfectly and completely pays for all your sins (past, present, future). It was all forgiven at the cross-nothing was left out. No mistakes not paid for and forgiven when you trust in in Him. Isn’t that a such a freeing and glorious thought? Jesus’ sacrifice covers every single one of your mistakes-from the worst blunder you’ve made to the smallest ways in which you’ve sinned and maybe not told anybody. But your entire record of mistakes is not held over your head as something condemning, instead it’s something completely wiped clean and forgiven. No outstanding sins to still pay for when you’ve trusted in Jesus who already has paid for them. And that’s the App2:You don’t need to sacrifice more for Him, you need to more fully trust in Him. To be someone who consistently looks back to the sacrifice of the Cross, remembering that it was there where all your sins were paid for. To not be tempted into thinking you have to do more-but to be someone who believes this incredible, freeing, amazing truth that it says in-Heb 10:14. Do you believe that? That He has secured your eternal salvation-that your perfect Savior has perfected you-so that as He’s in the process of sanctifying you now in life-one day you’ll stand in His presence fully perfected in a perfect world with all of God’s perfected people? It’s an amazing destiny-and it’s all because of that single sacrifice of Jesus. The one who took on human flesh in order to offer up that flesh to save us. This is what the angels rejoiced in-Lk 2:10-11. That One lying in the manger is our perfect sacrifice. David Jeremiah, Why the Nativity, 75.
So this Christmas, will you worship your perfect Savior-the One who was fully God and fully man-or will you keep chasing the joy of trying to have a perfect Christmas? Will your heart be bummed out because everything didn’t go right-you didn’t have the perfect decorations, or the perfect presents, or the perfect food, or the perfect ambiance. Or will you remember the gospel which says that Jesus was born to be your perfect sacrifice? Don’t demand that your Christmases be perfect-they never will-but rejoice that your Savior is perfect-He always has been-and He’s the one perfecting you!