Published December 4, 2008
Luke 2:8-12, 16-18, 25-32
Related Sunday School Lesson, Bible Studies for Life, Dec 21
The message of missions is that, indeed, a Savior has come offering salvation to the whole world. The focal passages present three scenes for our consideration:
Scene 1: A field near Bethlehem - Luke 2:8-12
The birth of the Messiah took place amid very humble surroundings. The announcement of His birth was made to humble men. The birth of an earthly king’s son was an incident with much pomp and pageantry but not so with the birth of the Prince of Peace.
The announcement of His birth was made privately and at midnight without any showiness that would normally accompany such an event. It was made not to the priest and rulers nor the Scribes and Pharisees but to shepherds in a field near the little town of Bethlehem. This should remind us that the things of God are often hid from the great and noble and revealed to the poor and humble of this world (Jas 2:5).
The angel’s description of the newborn Babe involved three things: First, it involved His function. He was to be a “Savior,” which He Himself later declared when he said, “For the Son of man came to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10).
Second, it involved His office. He was “Christ” or the long awaited Messiah who had arrived to be king over God’s people and to fulfill all the great promises made to them all through centuries past.
And thirdly, it involved his dignity. He is described as “the Lord.” He is born the one in whom God has appeared on earth to establish His Lordship over all humanity and over the entire universe.
The announcement was one of “good tidings.” Christ is birth was good news. It was good news because it was for all people. The way for pardon and peace was about to be opened to all men. Liberty was about to be proclaimed to the captives, and recovering sight to the blind.
The truth was about to be proclaimed that God could be just and at the same time offer forgiveness to the ungodly. The knowledge of God was no longer to be confined to the Jews only but to the whole Gentile world. Lost man was now being offered a plan whereby he could be forgiven of his sin and brought into a saving relationship with the living God.
Scene 2: A manger in Bethlehem - Luke 2:16-18
The shepherds, alarmed by what had taken place, were reassured by the angel. They rushed to Bethlehem and found that what the angel had said to them was true. There they found Mary, Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Their immediate response was to go out and share with others what they had discovered about the Savior.
The work of evangelism is for all who have personally found Christ for themselves. The response made by the shepherds should be no different with Christians today. The natural reaction should be for us to tell all we have seen and heard concerning Christ. The gospel is available to all people, even the poorest people like the shepherds. Many across the world are wandering in the darkness of spiritual ignorance and will die that way unless they are told about the Savior.
The shepherds returned with joy in their hearts and praise on their lips. Let us have the same spirit. Let us, in simple faith, see Christ for who He is and tell our story to the lost culture around us.
Scene 3: The Temple in Jerusalem - Luke 2:25-32
In compliance with the Old Testament law, at the proper time, Christ was brought into the temple in Jerusalem and presented the same as all male babies were in those times.
In the service of dedication He was seen by a man named Simeon. We know nothing of this man other than what is said here. He is a good representation of the best among the Jews at the time Christ was born.
For example, Simeon is described as “righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel.” He was a man of faith with an earnest expectation of the arrival of the Messiah in his lifetime.
Simeon’s example teaches us that God still had a believing people in the worst of places and in the darkest of times. True genuine faith was very rare in Israel when Christ was born.
It also teaches us that God honors devout and righteous people. The Spirit revealed to a devout old man that he would see the promised Messiah before he died. The Spirit led Simeon to be at the right place at the right time in order for this to happen. Let us remember that God still blesses in special ways when we remain under the direction of the Holy Spirit.
We notice also that Simeon had a clear view of the work of Christ. Before the gospel was ever preached he speaks of Jesus as “the salvation which God had prepared before the face of all people – a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.”
Christ was indeed the “light to lighten the Gentiles.” Without Him they were sunk in gross darkness. They worshipped the works of their own hands and were completely ignorant of the one and only true God.
Christ was also the “glory of Israel.” The highest of all honors shared by the nation of Israel is the fact that from the seed of Abraham was born the one who is the Savior of the world.
The message of missions is one of redeeming love. Multitudes of souls have been saved, cultures have been changed, and nations have been saved by its powerful influence. Let us go tell it!
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