Theme: The Divine Messiah
We see the birth of Jesus through the eyes of Joseph, the innkeeper, the shepherd, Mary, and the angels.
Scripture: Luke 2:1-20
With the exception of the innkeeper, who saw nothing important about the birth of Jesus, each of the other characters in the story saw something that was both true and significant. Looking at Jesus through the eyes of Jewish tradition and Messianic expectation, Joseph saw him as the king who was to reign on his father David’s throne. Looking at him through eyes conditioned by their poverty and low social status, the shepherds saw him as the gracious one who became a friend to sinners. Mary saw Jesus through the eyes of faith and recognized him as a miracle of God’s grace to be forever marveled at and pondered.
All these were valid and true insights. We need those perspectives too. But the most valuable truths are those provided by those beings who had the most ancient eyes of all, namely, the angel who described Jesus as “a Savior” who is “Christ the Lord” (v. 11) and the heavenly host who then praised God, saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14).
The angel who announced the birth of Jesus, identifying him as “a Savior” who is “Christ the Lord,” was saying several absolutely vital things about him. The first is that Jesus is the Messiah. We speak of Jesus Christ, as if “Christ” were Jesus’ last name. But actually “Christ” is a title. It comes from the Greek word christos, meaning “anointed,” which is also what the Hebrew word meshiach (or “Messiah”) means. The Christ is the “anointed one” of God, destined to fulfill all the prophecies about him in the Old Testament. He was the one the Jewish people were (and some still are) waiting for. So when the angel described the birth of Jesus as the birth of the Christ, he was saying that the goal of history and the culmination of the promises of God are reached in him.
The second thing the angel said about Jesus is that he is the Savior. Savior from what? From sin, of course. Over the centuries people have sought salvation from all sorts of things and have looked to Jesus for the salvation they were seeking, whether from such issues as political oppression, despair, failure, sickness, or a low self-image. But while the impact of Jesus and his life has been so profound and pervasive that it has undoubtedly had an effect in these areas, this is not the kind of salvation Jesus came to earth to bring. According to the Bible, the root cause of all the world’s sufferings and misery is sin, which is rebellion against God and harm to others. Jesus came to save us from sin by dying in our place on the cross. By dying, he has taken our penalty upon himself and had made it possible for us to have a restored, life-giving relationship to God the Father,
When the angel identified Jesus as the Christ who is the Savior, he was saying that Jesus came not to rule over us as an earthly king, but to die for our sin and then to rule over us by the power of his life and love. And he has showed that God the Father loves us too. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
The third item is that Jesus is the Lord. The Christ who was sent to be the Savior is also the Lord, meaning “God.” The Greek text is very interesting at this point. In the Greek text the two words “Christ” and “Lord” are in the nominative case, which means they are equated. This is not what we might have expected. It would have been normal for the second word to be in the genitive case, in which case the sentence would read, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Lord’s Messiah.” That would have been true. Moreover, it is what the Jewish people, including the shepherds, were expecting. But when the angel announced the birth by a subtle change from the genitive to the nominative case, he was proclaiming the child to be not “the Lord’s Anointed,” though he was that too, but “the Anointed who is the Lord.” In other words, it was an announcement not only of his function, but of his divine nature. The angel was declaring that Jesus Christ is God.
That is essential for everything else too. For it is only as a divine Savior that Jesus can truly save us from sin. It is only as a divine king that he can reign over our hearts and not merely over the bodies and external destinies of men and women. Is it any wonder that the heavenly chorus then broke forth into praise of God, singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14)? Surely “salvation comes from the Lord” (Jonah 2:9), and Jesus is the Savior.
In what three ways did the angels describe the Christ child?
Why is a divine Savior necessary?
How does Christ’s work restore us to the Father?
Application: Praise God by praying through the angel’s praise in Luke 2:14.