I know - this is the same title you've seen the last two weeks, but there's a reason for that. The changes Christ's birth made and continue to make cannot be summed up in 500 words. Look now at Luke 2:12, where the angel is telling the shepherds about the life-changing birth in Bethlehem. In this verse the angel makes clear that something is very significant about this birth, our God entering our world:
"This will be the sign for you," the angel says. Not just 'a' sign; the Greek says the sign. This sign is significant. It speaks to how our God does things. He changes everything we would expect. This is a profound sign about the character of Jesus' birth and its theological significance. This good news, this reign of peace would not flow from the imperial city. Rather, the real good news and real peace would grow from this humble manger, this powerless infant, this great humiliation of God. "This will be the sign for you. You will find the baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Islam shouts "Alluakbar" which means "God is great." But ultimately, no one needs to be taught that. That requires no revelation. Conscience and nature can tell the Muslim that God is great. We get that. The Old Testament Israelites understood that. They knew they couldn't see God and live. They couldn't touch the Ark of the Covenant. They couldn't go in to the Holy of Holies in the temple. In fact, when the high priest went in that one time a year, they tied a rope around his leg. Why? In case he did something wrong and was struck dead. They wanted to be able to pull him without being zapped dead for going into God's presence themselves. So great was the fear of God that they wouldn't even mention the name. But the great change that happened with the birth of this child is the reality that God is little. God is approachable. That is a truth which only angelic revelation and divine intervention could create. God is little ... for me ... for you.
Stop and think about that for a minute. Consider how even the petty rulers of this world move about. Even second rate pop stars require entourages to go through an airport. But the God who out-roars the wind and waves and who can order armies and empires like pawns on a chessboard came without retinue or entourage. The event that divides history, that divides our calendar into two parts, may have had more animal than human witnesses. A mule could have stepped on him. God is humble. God is little because God has come here to die. This will be the sign for you. You will find the baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.
You see, even his birth was about his death. He came like he did so that he could do what we needed. Just the words that Luke uses remind us what is coming. "She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." Can you hear the echo 21 chapters later? "Going to Pilate, (Joseph) asked for Jesus' body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth and placed it in a tomb, in which no one had been laid." A borrowed bed, the strips of cloth, helpless. This child was born to do that for us to save us. His humble birth was not just a sign, but the sign that the Lord and God had come - not to judge, but to save.
And he has. And that changes everything. Our sins can't condemn us. Our guilt is silenced. Our broken relationships here can't affect our restored relationship with God. God gave his life to guarantee it. And it all starts with the birth of this child. Thank God that this child changes everything. Join us each week and see just how much it changes. Merry Christmas all year long.
But Luke isn't done with his story of how this Christmas child has changed everything. The new king of heaven and earth was born. Now think about how that fact was announced. The angels didn't appear in Rome. Wouldn't that have made more sense? "Go tell the emperor." No, God is no respecter of titles. He goes to the lowliest of the low to tell them that the child that was born would and, in fact, did change everything.
"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified." Literally, they feared a great fear. But this message, this child changed that. "But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people." There it is. The angel did it. He turned that great fear into great joy. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
Heaven confirms for earth the reality that the Creator had come as creature. And that changes everything. When is it changed? "Today," the angel says - "Today in the town of David." Next time you read through Luke, notice that he uses that word "Today" to consistently describe the fulfilling of promises and establishing this new world order. At Jesus' baptism, the Father cried from Heaven - "You are my son. Today I have begotten you." Jesus, preaching in the synagogue proclaims, "Today, this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." To Zacchaeus, "Salvation has come to your house today." To the thief on the cross - "Today, you will be with me in paradise." "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord." Yes, Herod was still king and Caesar still emperor - but today, today is the beginning of new life. Today, today God keeps his promises. Today, everything is changed even when nothing looks like it, because today, in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord. God himself is born for you.
Today you are reading this and realizing the depths of love God showed at Christmas. Today, it is starting to dawn on you that this birth affects more than one month a year. Today, you are looking to make this new year better. Today - God tells you how. Learn more about this child - what he has done and what that means for you. Grow closer to God through his word. Today - decide that this year is the year you start to understand the fullness of God's love for your life. And make it happen by signing up for our 12-week Bible Information Class - guaranteed to strengthen your relationship with God - today. Call (770) 385-7691 for all the details.