Christmas is about Worship
And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.7 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.
8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.10 Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.11 "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.12 "And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
14 "Glory to God in the highest,
1 And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"
15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us."16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
After attending church with his father one Sunday morning, before getting into bed that evening a little boy kneeled at his bedside and prayed, "Dear God, we had a good time at church today, but I wish you had been there."(1)
So it is with worship. Worship has in some ways become entertainment. People come to see what the church will put on today. But two thousand years ago we find a true glimpse of worship in both the angels and the shepherds. Let us look at this passage.
- The birth of Christ the Lord
- The time
- During the reign of Caesar Augustus
- At the time of the first census
- The place
- Because Joseph was of the household of David.
- The decree demanded that they return to their ancestral home.
- The stable of an inn.
- There was no more room so it would be in a stable, a barn that Jesus would be born.
- So she brings forth her firstborn son and lays Him in a manger, the place where the animal feed would be placed for them to eat.
- The announcement to the shepherds
- The shepherds.
- These shepherds were just caring for the sheep in the country side.
- The land was like an open range with no fences so it took a constant presence with the sheep to protect them and to keep them from wandering away.
- Shepherds were just about on the bottom of the social structure and would no doubt be poor.
- The angel
- He suddenly appears before these shepherds and there is a glory come from God that extends all around the angel and them.
- His message
- He brings good news, joyful news.
- He comes to calm the fears of the shepherds.
- He comes to announce the birth of a Savior.
- He comes to announce the coming of Christ the Lord.
- He gives them a sign of the facts of this message.
- The can find the babe in Bethlehem in a manger wrapped in swaddling cloths.
- This was more than an announcement, it was an invitation.
- An invitation for them to go and to see.
- The worship of angels
- Suddenly the angel was surrounded by a multitude of angels who broke into praise.
- They praise God in heaven.
- "Glory to God in the highest,
- That is worship
- Ascribing to God His worth.
- We assemble here each Sunday and the most important thing we do is to ascribe to God His worth.
- To praise Him for being God.
- We have lost the sense of authority in this country.
- We have so many liberties that they threaten to destroy us.
- In other times to mock the King could mean to loose your head.
- But we need to remember that God is no elected ruler and will not be mocked but demands worship of His creation.
- The rule to remember is God is God and we are not.
- To honor Him for His majesty and greatness.
- To praise and thank Him for His mercy and His grace.
- To praise Him for the wonderful creation of life and all the blessings He has given us.
- To praise Him for His protection and providence over us.
- The also pronounce a blessing on mankind.
- And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"
- What a blessing it is.
- That sin is conquered, death is to be destroyed.
- The worship of the shepherds.
- The angels ascend into the heavens and out of sight.
- The shepherds determine to go and to see this wonder.
- It was not that they wanted to see if it was true.
- At this point they were not in doubt of the angels message.
- So it was with hast that they immediately go to Bethlehem.
- They find it all as the angel had said.
- There was the Baby in a manger, wrapped in long strips of cloths.
- Mothers would do this to keep the baby warm but also to restrain the child to protect it from injury.
- The type of cloths that He would be wrapped in at death but they could not hold him then.
- They now go every where telling the things that had happened to them that night.
- Who could keep such a thing.
- How could they not tell what was told them and how it was all true.
- Those who heard had to make a judgment.
- Could this be true.
- Could the Messiah have been born.
- It seemed so unlikely.
- It seemed so obscure.
- It seems so incredible.
- But it did make the people marvel just to think it might be true.
- But for the shepherd there was no speculation.
- They had heard the angel and had been there and seen Him.
- All they can do now is glorify and praise God for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
Do you have that in you this morning? Has God worked so in your life that people may marvel and doubt what you say but you know it is true and you cannot help but praise Him.
There would be no better time then here at Christmas to find Christ. Or if you know Him, there would be no better time to praise and glorify His Name.
Many years ago, Thomas K. Beecher once substituted for his famous brother, Henry Ward Beecher, at the Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, New York. Many curiosity seekers had come to hear the renowned Henry Beecher speak. Therefore, when Thomas Beecher appeared in the pulpit instead, some people got up and started for the doors. Sensing that they were disappointed because he was substituting for his brother, Thomas raised his hand for silence and announced, "All those who came here this morning to worship Henry Ward Beecher may withdraw from the church; all who came to worship God may remain."
The example of godly leaders is helpful, but only the Savior is worthy of our worship and devotion. (2)
1. Green, Michael P., Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House) 1989.
2. Green, Michael P., Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House) 1989.
This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com