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“We Confess the Birth of our Lord,” John 1:1-18

 

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

      9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

      14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

15(John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. (ESV)

 

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

There is reason this day to ‘Come All Ye Faithful’.  There is reason this day to come and ‘Let Us Adore Him’.  We proclaim God’s salvation today and day after day because to us, salvation has come, to us salvation is given.

In that lowly manger of time ago lay a child.

Not just any child.

There in that manger lay He of whom the angels sing, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14), ‘Glory to the Newborn King’.

The child born of Mary in that ‘Little Town of Bethlehem’, though infant lowly, is God, God in the flesh.

Let not the consideration of appearances fool you.

As with all of God’s works, go not by sight, but according to the Word.

If all you see in Jesus is a child, a baby boy and nothing more, you remain lost and condemned before God, as sinners apart from Christ are.

A mere child or baby saves no one.

Flesh and blood alone cannot make full payment for your sin.

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh” (John 3:6) (says the Lord).

Jesus, that child born to that virgin Mary, was not merely flesh and blood.  He is also God, God incarnate, God in the flesh, born for you and for me, born to deliver you from sin and death by Himself being nailed to a tree, first having lain in a manger.

This is an article of faith, an article of faith given by God through His Holy Word.

If it looks like a baby, is born as a baby, cries like a baby, good chances are, it’s a baby.

So did Jesus look like a baby, having been born through His mother’s womb, and having cried like a baby.

Jesus was, in fact, a baby.

Yet this baby, God reveals, is the Savior come into the world.

The shepherds watching their flocks by night would not have thought anything of it concerning the baby Jesus, unless the angel had announced to them the Good News, “Fear not; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).

They would have not known where to find Him, unless the angel had also told them, “This shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger (Luke 2:12).

The magi, or wise men, from the east would also not have known the child’s whereabouts, but for the star by which God directed them to the place where Jesus lay.

Mary would not have conceived in her womb, for she was truly a virgin and had not been with a man, but to her the angel Gabriel had announced, “You will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His Name Jesus” (Luke 1:31).

To this announcement, Mary responded with a “How can this be?” (Luke 1:34).

By the natural order of things, virgins, of course, do not become pregnant.  But to her the Angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).

At that Word, Mary conceived in her womb, becoming pregnant.

Joseph, engaged to this woman Mary, after finding out that she was pregnant, “was minded to put her away secretly” (Matthew 1:19).

But as he thought about these things, “An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.  And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins’” (Matthew 1:20-21).

Whether it be Joseph who was engaged to Mary or the virgin conceiving by the Holy Spirit in her virgin womb and giving birth to a Son, neither were kept in the dark regarding who Jesus was.

The shepherds were not clueless as to the signs by which they would find the child of whom the Angel spoke and of whom the angels sang.

The Magi, late, also were not lost with reference to the King’s birth place in Bethlehem.

The Lord had revealed to the Magi, the Shepherds, Joseph, and Mary herself who Jesus was and where He was to be found—through Word and sign.  This was not just any baby.  This was Jesus the Christ, God in the flesh.

So also does the Lord God reveal this truth to you, today, where Jesus is, also by means of Word and sign.  Though none of you were there, God’s Word reveals it to be so, that you firmly believe it, though the world and your reason say otherwise.

Where God’s Word is spoken, where Christ is preached, there God would have you know that Jesus is your Savior, your Savior from all your sin.

Through the darkness of the womb He was born.  In the darkness of the tomb was He laid.  Yet three days later, He burst forth from the darkness of death into the light of life, giving you life through His life.

What God has revealed, that the child born of Mary is God in the flesh, He who created the world and was at the beginning with God and was God (John 1:1), so we also believe.  ‘From Heaven Above to Earth’ did God come.  Him you see in His Son.

This is your confession, because God has so made it known through Word and sign to you.  God reveals His grace and mercy to sinners through what is preached, through the preaching of Jesus, who was “born of a woman and born under the law, who came to redeem us from the curse of the law” (Galatians 4:4-5).

Through the Word proclaimed, the Lord reveals not only your need for a Savior, but also the Savior who has come, who brings life eternal through His suffering and death.

God saw fit to become man.

God is high and mighty, but for you, because of His great and abundant love for you, He was laid “Away in a Manger.”

God humbled Himself, in order that you be exalted and receive the adoption of Sons (Galatians 4:5), becoming children of the God of heaven, not born of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but born of God (John 1:13).

God came for you, and God comes to you now, in Word and Bread and Wine, that you believe His Word and believe Him to be your Savior and your help, your refuge and your strength.

No longer is Jesus ‘Away in a Manger’ with ‘no crib for a bed’.

Once He was, but no more.

Now, Jesus sits at the right hand of God the Father, having ascended on high.

Through Word and sign, Jesus points you to where to go to receive Him and God’s blessed and undeserved gifts, His Holy Word and Sacrament.

God’s Word reveals what is, that you have a Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord.

God reveals His grace and blessing through Word and Sign, where He placed His Holy Name upon you through the washing of new birth in Baptism; and where He says, ‘Take eat, Take drink.’

We call these signs because by these, God directs you to where He says that He will be for you:  no longer in the manger, but in His Word; no longer wrapped in swaddling clothes, but wrapped in preaching and sacrament

Here, Christ gives you life.

Here, you behold His grace and His favor.

Here, He comes to you lowly, still. But on the last triumphant day, then all will see, and all will bow the knee before the Lord of lords and King of kings (Revelation 1:7; Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:9-11).

As the shepherds went and found the child just as it was told them, so do you.  Christ is right where He promises to be.

Seek Him where He is to be found, not in the manger, not on the cross, not in Your heart, but where His Word is preached and where His body and blood are given under bread and wine, for you.  There, God gives certainty of His grace, the certainty of God’s love, for you.

Skeptics, naysayers, and others will say otherwise.  They will seek their own way, their own peace, and deny or ignore the very truth laid out right in front of them, even as it is revealed to them.  But God does not lie, nor does He mislead.

Rejoice, therefore, for Christ your Savior has been born.  He has died and is raised from the dead and now sits on the throne of His Father, for you.

Jesus is the King of kings.  Salvation He brings.  No longer is He a child, but still is He the Christ, the One of whom the angels sing and unto whom the glorious songs of old still sound forth.  Amen.

 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, open my eyes to see, my heart to believe, and my mouth to boldly confess Jesus to be the Christ, my Redeemer from sin, death, and hell. Amen.

 

 

“Conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,” Matthew 1:18-25

18Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:  23“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,  and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). 24When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

 

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Jesus is the confession of our faith.

Nothing surpasses the grace of our Lord and His Work in Christ.

Jesus is the center of our faith.

Apart from Him, there is no everlasting life.

Jesus is the cornerstone upon which His body, the church builds.

“No other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11).

Jesus Christ is the sum and substance, the nucleus and the center, of Christianity.

The church calendar revolves around Him and His life.

Our hymns declare His praises.

Our liturgies speak God’s Word and declare God’s work among us.

Our preaching points to Him who freely saves through His cross.

The absolution declares God’s forgiveness.

Our prayers petition the God on High to hear our requests for Jesus’ sake.

And He does.

His promises are everywhere in His Word and there we go to find them.

There does our Lord give them to us.

We need not look far.

The Lord comes to us.

He comes this Advent tide clothed in His Word, wrapped in the elements of the Sacraments, robed in preaching, giving gifts of everlasting life.

Though we give gifts to others this Christmas, our giving only shadows God’s gift to us.

We wrap with paper and bows.

God wraps His most precious gift in flesh and blood, having Mary cover Him with swaddling clothes and lying in a manger, the Christ child.

Him we honor and adore, bringing our gifts of praise and thanksgiving.

Yet these are incomparable to the riches of Christ, for as St. Paul says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:3-6).

The gifts of God are eternal and life saving.

They give what He says they give—life to those who believe, death to those who don’t.

These are not the temporal gifts that we give one another.

We do nothing to receive what our Lord bestows.  He gives freely.

It’s not like this with the one they call Santa.

Though God does know whether you’ve been naughty or nice, His giving to you is not determined by how good you’ve been.  If it did, none would receive anything good from the Lord.

God’s judgment to give or not to give what is good is not on you ‘watching out, not crying, and not pouting’ as the Santa Claus is coming to town song goes.

You are not the final factor.  God is.  He gives because He is a gracious God who Himself is love Incarnate.

It is the will of God that He forgive you, cleanse you, preserve you, sustain you, and gift you.

God offers these wonderful presents to you because of His abounding mercy and because of His steadfast love.

These never will fail. God never lies.  His promises are always certain.

Unlike we who make promises, even small ones, and fail to keep them, God keeps His Word, and not one Word of His is or will ever be broken.

The Lord God keeps His promises.

He does not change.

He even says, “I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob” (Malachi 3:6).

You are not consumed on account of God’s favor, because of His beloved Son, whose birth we celebrate on the day we call Christmas, not winter break, Hanukkah, Happy Holiday, or Kwanza.

As much as the world may want to tone down or cover up the true meaning of Christmas, they cannot and will not be able to.

God has revealed the Savior of the world in Jesus Christ, the very same One who was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin, just as it was said of Him, just as we confess.

This good news of great joy will continue to go forth throughout the world.

God continues to proclaim peace on earth and His good will toward men; not a worldly or earthly peace; and not a place of tolerance for anything and everything.

Instead of these things that the sinful world seek after, God promises something else.

God promises a peace which “the world cannot give”; a “peace that surpasses all human understanding”; a peace that is from everlasting to everlasting (John 14:27; Philippians 4:7).

This kind of peace which the world cannot give is the peace that “will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

This is the peace of which the angels spoke in the hearing of the shepherds as they watched their flocks by night (Luke 2:8ff).  It is centered on none other than Jesus the Christ, who was born to Mary, a woman who did not know a man before His birth.

He is the ‘reason for the season’.  But even more than that, Christ is your salvation.

In Him is given you all God’s love, all God’s blessing, and all God’s favor.

This Christmas season is truly about giving.

But it’s first and foremost about God who does the giving, the very giving of our merciful God of a Son for our salvation and that of the world.

True giving doesn’t start with buying presents, wrapping them, and placing them under the tree.  These things we might do, but true giving begins in the heart, only after it has truly opened the gift of everlasting life through faith in God’s Son.

From God to us, true and lasting gifts continue.

We thus confess the birth of Christ, which happened as recorded in the Scriptural text.

True confidence and lasting certainty that God gives is given only through His Holy Word.

There is nothing more sure than the Holy Word of God.

Where doubt is placed in this, uncertainty will only increase and trust in the written inspired Word will only decrease, the very thing happening in Christendom all around us.

In a Time magazine article awhile back titled, ‘Secrets of the Nativity’, so called ‘Christian scholars’ were asked questions and they responded with less than Christian answers, concluding that we may never know how the birth of Christ really happened as a result of Scriptural uncertainty.

But place uncertainty in the Word, and Christ Himself gets the snub as Savior of the world.

Our confession of faith is of Christ, but not just of any Christ—THE Christ of Scripture.

God has declared Jesus to be your Savior, born just the way it is written.

God fulfilled His Word to King Ahaz through the babe born in Bethlehem, as foretold in Isaiah 7.

The virgin really did conceive and bear a son, and call His name, Immanuel, Jesus, God with us, the savior from all people’s sins, even your own.

Thankfully, the holy God has revealed His Word and will in human language so that we too believe and so have everlasting life.  Jesus Christ was truly born of a virgin, conceived by the Holy Spirit through the Word of the Living God who spoke through the angel Gabriel.

Our Lord Jesus is the very One that God sent at just the right time to save the world from sin and sins consequences.

Just as Abraham believed God and his faith was counted as righteousness, so also is your faith counted as righteousness, as that faith is placed in the One who is Himself righteous, born of flesh and blood, who lived, died, and rose again (Genesis 15:6).

Because Christ came into the world, light has pierced through the darkness and shines in our hearts, testifying of our peace with God and of His never ending love towards us sinners.

God’s word is God’s truth and gives boldness to stand on His declarations, pronouncements, and proclamations.

Christ is your confidence and certain hope that all things are well between you and God.

It is as our Lord had spoken through the angel, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

The virgin did and Jesus alone saves.  Amen.

Prayer: Increase my faith, O Lord, that I have confidence in Your Word and believe Jesus to be Who You reveal Him to be for me, my Savior, God in the flesh. Amen.

 

 

The Nativity of Our Lord, Christmas Day Sermon

Unto You Christ is Born

[10] And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.  [11] For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. [12] And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12)

What good news this day brings, the GOOD NEWS that to us, to us and for us, the Savior had been born.  In that city of David, Christ the Lord lay in a manger.  He came into the world to save us from sin, our sin, and in doing so, is our Savior, our only Savior, apart from whom there is no other.  The world might talk about the spirit of Christmas, Christmas cheer, and the holiday season, but apart from Christ’s birth and that babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, there would be no reasons to celebrate.

On that night when the angel visited those shepherds, it was unto them that the angel declared a Savior, Christ the Lord.  But the angel did not speak generally, as if the Savior was for everyone else and the world, but not for them.  Instead, the angel announced to the shepherds in their ears, 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).  To them the angel proclaimed the GOOD NEWS.  To them, to humble and lowly shepherds, did God reveal His salvation.  To them, He spoke in their ears what no natural man could know, nor can know, unless God had revealed it, that salvation is through Jesus Christ, He who was born of man, and yet God in the flesh.

That Jesus Christ was man, few will deny.  To be born into the world means to have flesh and blood.  But that the child Jesus was also God, many will reject.  This is because The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned 1 Corinthians 2:14).  Unless God had revealed it, man would keep denying it.  And man still denies it, not receiving the testimony and witness of God through the Apostles and the Prophets.  But all who do believe in God’s Son, that He was (and is) both God and man, having two natures, the human and the divine, these demonstrate a God given knowledge, one that man cannot know apart from God’s revelation.

Apart form God’s revelation, the shepherds would not have known about the Christ child being born to them.  Least of all would they have known that He we was wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger (Luke 2:12).  The shepherds had not followed their own thoughts and inclinations.  They instead believed the Word of the Lord as spoken through God’s messenger.  And they found the Christ Child in just the place where it had been told them.  The Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord, the One born that day in the City of David was indeed wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.

It could have been no other way, for the words of the messenger are as the words of the one who sends him.  The angel sent to declare the Good News of Christ’s birth to the shepherds was simply repeating what God had given to declare.  Therefore had the shepherds believed God’s Word.  And they acted according to that Word, and found Him of whom the angel spoke.

The sign that the angel had given the shepherds would have meant nothing to them, had not God’s Word also been attached.  A child wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger seems of little significance.  But the angel’s word indicated differently.  Here was a boy born, but not just any boy, but the boy who was Christ the Lord.  Going by appearances alone would have told the shepherds otherwise.  But judging by appearance is dangerous business.  When it comes to matters of faith and eternal significance, these matters are not to be judged by the eyes.  They are to be judged by the Word alone, God’s Word and nothing else.  Judging by anything else will only deceive and mislead.  Only the Word of God gives absolute and certain confidence.

Judging by the Word that our Lord has given, that of Holy Scripture, we know that that baby Jesus was not only man, but God in the flesh; that He fulfilled the Holy Law of God, died our death, and was raised to life; ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the throne of God.  But all these things He did not do for Himself; neither for example, nor for show.

For you Jesus was born, lived, died, and rose again.

The words of the angel to the shepherds were not merely, ‘The savior of the world is born in the city of David.’  Instead, the angel of the Lord announced, Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord Luke 2:11).

With these words, that angel personalized that wonderful good news to the shepherds.  And by believing the ‘unto you’, they made that Good News their own.

By believing the ‘for you’ of God’s Word, you, too, make His Word your own, even the ‘for you’ of sins forgiven, and the ‘for you’ of Christ’s body and blood for the remission of sins.  What your eyes would tell you, deny when it comes to the things of God.  Instead, go by what God says, sins forgiven and peace with God through Jesus the Christ.  It does not make sense that the news of our Lord’s birth would be to mere shepherds and not to kings and nobles.  It is beyond human comprehension that Christ was not born in a palace with help all around.  But to kings and nobles Christ’s birth was not announced.  In a palace Christ was not born.  Neither was His death on the cross more highly exalted than His birth.

But He who died between two criminals is He who died as One of us, but God in the flesh, FOR YOU, that your sins not be counted against you.  He who was laid in a manger is He who sits now in the heavens, FOR you, bestowing His grace and mercy only upon sinners, according His Word and promise.  He whose birth the angel announced to lowly shepherds is He who announces God’s peace and good will upon all who hold Jesus to be their own and their only Savior.

And so He is, and also is He your Savior, not because you see with the eyes, but on account of God’s Word through your ears.

You have reason to rejoice this day.  You have no reason to fear or to be afraid.  For unto you Christ has come.  And to you, your sin is forgiven.  Amen.

Lk01.1-20, Christmas Day, 2011B, Outline & Notes

The Virgin Birth of Our Lord–An Article of Faith

“So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
Luke 2:6-7

 

In the Name of Jesus, the Son of God.  Amen.

So insignificantly, lowly, and humbly did Christ enter the world.  Hardly did the world at all take notice.  Yet angels sang and the heavens rejoiced (Luke 2:13).  Mere shepherds went to Bethlehem to see that which the Lord made to pass by the announcement of the angel,  “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:10-12).

If such record had not appeared in Holy Scripture, who would believe it—that God became flesh through the womb of a virgin, having been conceived of the Holy Spirit?  That God did become flesh, though without any sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15), is truly an article of faith.  Yet, this God-man Jesus became sin for us, for you, that you “might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Few believe such Good News today because they do not want such a Savior as the One whom God sent.  They want a savior of their own making.  But such a man-made savior does not save, nor will the vapor of false confidences remain.  Only One truly delivers from sin, death, and the devil.  This is none other than the Jesus Christ born of the Virgin and even laid in a manger; the Jesus Christ who was laid on the cross to bear our sin.

There, too, on the cross, Jesus did not look like much of a Savior.  But there, on the cross, is where all your sins died, with Christ’s death.  Yet He, approved by God, rose the third day.  In the grave your sins remained.  Yet He triumphed over death and the grave, and gives eternal life to all who believe this.

Insignificantly, lowly, and humbly does Christ come into the world still.  Through Word preached, Holy Baptism, and the Holy Supper of our Lord, Christ Jesus comes to you to give you life and salvation.  Indeed, these means and gifts of God mean little to the world.  But they do not lose their power because of that.  Nor do they lose their effectiveness because few believe and doubt.  They are effective because God Himself works through them, though the world deny such great blessings.  And they remain the very means by which God calls, gathers, and enlightens the Christian church on earth.

For now, this church appears as insignificant, lowly, and humbly as Christ did.  Yet as Christ comes again in all of His glory, so also will His bride be revealed in all her glory, which is Christ’s.

 

The Lord richly bless you this Time of Christmas as you rejoice in the gift of your Savior, Jesus Christ!  Amen.

 

 

Lord Jesus, as you came into the world, being laid in the manger low,

So greater faith and courage on me bestow,

That I may believe in Your Holy Word each and every day,

And not at all doubt whatever you say.

Lord Jesus, forgive me for dwelling on my sight

And for walking in the uncertainty of night.

Grant me an ever firmer trust and confidence that is daring and bold,

With a confession that is courageous and a heart that is neither lukewarm nor cold.

Lord Jesus, keep me in the holy and true faith and doctrine to the end,

And open my ears to gladly hear and believe the messengers whom you send,

For they speak of Jesus, who lived, died, and rose the third day,

To save me from my lawlessness and for all my sins to pay.

Give me joy and blessing this Christmas Tide and season

And bring me to live only by faith in Your Word above human reason,

For the world and its ways are corrupt and have an end,

Yet Your ways are holy and just, and my ways You transcend.

Amen.

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