Sermon: “To Us A Child Is Born”
LSB Series B
Christmas Eve; December 24, 2020
Gospel Reading: Luke 2:1-20
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
The prophet Isaiah prophesied: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given” (Isaiah 9:6a).
Tonight we gather to celebrate the fulfillment of this promise. Tonight we rejoice that God keeps His promises. Tonight we look into the manger with shepherds and see that “to us a child is born.”
It all began with a census of the entire Roman world. Joseph, a poor carpenter of Nazareth took his betrothed wife Mary with him to the little town of Bethlehem. Nearing her time of giving birth, the journey must have been very hard: Traveling over rough terrain on foot for some 85-90 miles. Then to make matters worse, they arrived at the land of Joseph’s lineage only to find out they were too late. Too late to get a place to stay. There wasn’t a vacant room to be found. Only a stable.
A stable would be their resting place. A place for animals, not for humans. Yet for the immediate future, this was the place they would call home. No pictures on the wall. No bed to lay their head. And then…the time came.
And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn (Luke 2:6-7).
Luke’s account has a way of putting it so matter of fact, and spares us the details. We know that childbirth is so much more than the baby just being born and placed in a manger. Mary endured great pain, like any other mother does in childbirth. But where women of today have children in the cleanliness of hospitals with medical professionals all around, such was not the case for the mother of the Son of God.
Though we don’t know for sure, we have only to assume that Joseph was not only husband, but quite possibly would have been birth coach, doctor, and nurse all wrapped up in one. Which is why Joseph may overshadow all other earthly fathers when it comes to the role of coaching his bride through childbirth.
The labor pains continued until finally He came. He came and Joseph and Mary must have been frantic trying to figure out where they would place their newborn son. The ground was no place for a newborn, so only a manger would do. Sometimes we make it out to be that the manger was somehow this nice warm bed that had been prepared for Jesus. Could it not be that it was simply the only option that would keep their baby off of the cold, hard ground?
This child that was born was brought into this world in the greatest of poverty. Where normally princes, the future kings of this world, would be placed in beds that were only befitting of royalty, this bed was a feeding trough for animals, a place no child should ever be laid.
(We hear the first verse of “What Child Is This?)
It is hard for us to fathom such a place for us to see our God and King. How could it have ever come to this? Why such extremes? Why did He have to come in this way?
Shepherds in the field must have asked themselves the same questions as they heard from angels who proclaimed the glory of God. Though their eyes were still trying to adjust from the bright lights that had shone from heaven, their minds were no doubt racing as they were trying to process all that they had just heard and seen.
The prophecy of old had been fulfilled. “To us a child is born”. He was now here. The wait was finally over. Four hundred years of prophetic silence, and now angels were proclaiming the good news of great joy for all 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 2:11-12).
How could it be that angels would approach them? They were mere shepherds. Oh sure, they had heard of this promised Messiah being foretold of, but like any other time, as lowly shepherds, they figured they would be the last to know when it actually happened. Now the last would be first, as they were being ushered to the front of the line.
From the halls of heaven, angels of God were proclaiming that they were being given a VIP pass to have front row seats and a backstage pass to the very place where the promised Messiah was to be born. How could this be possible?
As social outcasts, they had to wonder what on earth was going on. They were never in the know. They were never included. There is a reason they were on the outskirts of town. That is where many thought they belonged. But now all of that had changed: The glory of God in the highest had been revealed to them.
In the words of a Lutheran, what did this mean? What kind of child was this?
(We hear the second verse of “What Child Is This?)
They made their way to the stable. Oh, how they must have run as fast as their sandals would take them. Leaving their flocks behind, without a care in the world, they went. There was only one thing on their mind. To see what the angels had told them about.
When they got there…oh, when they got there…there He was. Jesus. The Son of God. This baby, this child, was the Savior of the world. He was their Savior. They had only to bow down and worship Him.
Though they didn’t know it then, the little one they saw in swaddling cloths would one day be stripped of His clothing before His death. And it would only be in death where He would be wrapped again in a linen shroud for burial.
Those tiny little fingers and tiny little toes would soon be pierced by nails, fulfilling the Scriptures “He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace and with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
To see that soft baby skin and it would not be long and a soldier would pierce Him in His side. Blood and water would pour out, and the Son of God would be dead, for that is why He came…to be our King…to be our Savior…to die our death.
(We hear the third verse of “What Child Is This?)
To us a child is born. To you. To me. We come here to worship Him. We come here even lower than those lowly shepherds. We are lowly beggars. We have nothing in our hands that we bring. No gold, frankincense, or myrrh like those magi from the East. We have no gift to offer. Only the filth and stench of our sin. And yet we are welcomed into His presence nonetheless.
We are welcomed to come behold anew that “to us a child is born.” This baby, this child, is the Savior of the world. He is our Savior.
It is safe to say that this past year has been quite a year. But no matter how dark, how much doom, or how much gloom there may be, it doesn’t ever change the fact that this baby placed in a manger came. He came from heaven to earth with one mission in mind…
Ever since the Garden of Eden, our God promised that He would send His Son to save us. It was the same message our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were told. It is the same message that was foretold through the prophets Isaiah and Micah, that we heard from tonight: To us a child is born.
We rejoice here tonight in the joy that Christ is born and God is faithful to His promise. He has sent the babe, the son of Mary. And He has sent Him here…to us…so that through us, we might join with the shepherds and share this good news of great joy that is for all people.
It is like the Apostle John writes: In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1st John 3:9-11).
As you leave here tonight, think to yourselves, who might you share this news that “to us a child is born?” Who do you know, that just like you, is a sinner in need of Savior? Who might there be in your life who would join with you in rejoicing “What Child Is This”?
With that thought in mind, I wish you all a Merry Christmas!
The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.