B.A.S.I.C. NEWSLETTER #206
B.A.S.I.C #206 –DECEMBER 2011
Greetings in the name and for the glory of our Savior Jesus Christ!
It is my privilege to write to you on behalf of the CLC Board of Missions as we look back on a year of God’s abundant blessings and rejoice in the blessing that He has in store for us in the New Year as we work together to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ!
We are just two weeks away from celebrating our Savior’s birth. I would like to encourage you during this time of celebration with a Christmas Day sermon that was preached a few years ago.
I pray that the Lord will bless you all with Christmas celebration that is focused on our Savior Jesus Christ and the Joy and Peace that is made possible only through His perfect life, sacrificial death on the cross, resurrection from the dead, and His on-going work in our hearts through the work of His Holy Spirit in Word and Sacraments.
Others may look at our Christmas celebrations and conclude that this is a nice tradition or a wonderful way to give and receive gifts to our loved ones. But we know better because things like tradition, music, and gifts, are also reasons why people attend everything from music concerts to sporting events and birthday parties.
What sets this particular “holiday” apart from all other celebrations and events is found in a very special announcement proclaimed in a very special way, long, long ago, by an angel in the sky over Bethlehem.
This announcement was recorded, as the Holy Spirit breathed the very words of the angel into His chosen Gospel writer named Luke:
“for there is born to you this day in the city of David a SAVIOR, who is Christ the Lord.”
We set aside time each year to celebrate because:
Jesus the Savior is Born!
Born in the city of David
Born to be Our Savior
Now, when you and I hear the term “the city of David,” it may not mean a whole lot to our 21st century ears. But to the ears of 1st century Jewish shepherds, that term the “city of David” was packed with meaning. The city of David was Bethlehem, the city where the greatest king to ever rule Israel was born.
Many years earlier, the Prophet Micah had singled out Bethlehem for a very important purpose. He wrote,
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me, the One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2)
No matter what the shepherds knew about Bethlehem, there was one thing that they didn’t know until the angel told them. They didn’t know that on that very day, in the city of David, a Savior had been born. Think about the impact of those simple and yet wonderful words: “this day.”
For literally thousands of years, people had been waiting for this day to come. Ever since God promised to Adam and Eve that “Someone” would crush the serpent’s head, believers had been anxiously awaiting the birth of this child.
Just imagine, generations after generation, clinging to God’s Gospel promise to someday send the Messiah. And then suddenly for that handful of shepherds, “someday” became “THIS DAY!”
Now I realize that as you and I look back on those words “this day in the city of David,” we might find ourselves thinking, “Well that was an awfully long time ago. Do those words have any meaning for our lives, some 2000 years after that day? Yes, they do. Those words mean at least three things for us.
First, those words mean that God keeps His promises. 700 years before Jesus’ birth, God had promised that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. God was making good on that promise.
The second thing that we can learn from the statement, “this day in the town of David,” is that God chose to carry out His plan for our salvation at a specific place and a specific time in world history. In other words, your salvation was not accomplished in the timeless expanse of eternity. It was accomplished when God had His Son take on human flesh to be born into this world as a little baby boy. That’s not just a theory. It’s not some kind of ancient fable or legend. That’s historical fact. A REAL place at a REAL time
There is one more thing that we can take home from those words, “this day in the town of David.” Those words mean that God Almighty cared enough about you and me to actually step into our world and become one of us. Sometimes we tend to think of God as being million miles away or that He can’t relate to what we’re going through or that religion is purely theoretical and not relevant to our daily lives. Sometimes we’re tempted to think that God can’t relate to our hurts, our disappointments, our struggles.
But wait a minute! Our God was born in a barn! He was laid to sleep in a feed bunk. The Bible says that Jesus was made like you and me in every way-only He was without sin. God became a man just like you and me so that He could, in the words of Hebrews 4:15 “sympathize with our weaknesses.”
The Christmas narrative underscores the fact that God came into our world to relate to our problems and then to ultimately, rescue us from our biggest problem. In fact, that’s really the second and even more important announcement made by the angel on that first Christmas night.
After sharing the when and where of the baby’s birth, the angel goes on to explain who this child is and maybe even more importantly, what He had come to do. The angel announces that this child was Born to Be Our Savior.
Of all the words in Luke chapter 2, the most important word is the “SAVIOR.” And yet, for all the people who have ever heard that word read, or maybe even recited it in a Christmas pageant, I wonder how many really know what that word “SAVIOR” really means.
Do we fully appreciate the full meaning of that word, Savior? What does that mean to be the “SAVIOR OF THE WORLD” Are we talking – a super-man type character who will defeat evil criminals and save lovely women as they fall from sky-scrappers? No, by the grace of God we know that the Savior came to save us from ourselves.
When we are honest with ourselves, we know all too well that all people, every one of us, you and me included, at our very core, are all completely corrupt. By nature we don’t want to serve God, we want to serve ourselves. And we are willing to lie and cheat and hurt other people to get what we want.
God’s Word reveals this in a very blunt way:
“there is none who does good, no not one” (Psalm 14:3).
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23a).
And then the Bible goes on to tell us the penalty for all of this:
“The wages of sin is death” (Romans 3:23b)
“The soul who sins is the one who will die” (Ezekiel 18:4)
That’s the painful message of what we have earned by our sinful behavior. And there is nothing that you and I can do on our own to change that.
Why all of this talk of sin and death at Christmas time when we should be filled with “holiday cheer?” Because without a proper understanding and realization of what we have been saved from we can never truly appreciate the Savior who was born!
I just mentioned that there is nothing we can do about our problem of sin by ourselves, but there is something that God can do and has already done! He sent His Son to be our SAVIOR!
That means that Jesus came and lived the perfect life we could never live. And we know, by faith, that He then offered that life on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. In so doing, Jesus did far more than merely set a good example for us, or teach us how to love one another. Jesus literally rescued you and me from an eternity spent suffering in the fires and torment of hell. That’s what the angel meant when he said, “THIS DAY… a SAVIOR has been born.”
We celebrate the birth of our Savior because there is nothing we’d rather do than revel and rejoice in the good news of great joy that is for all the people:“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!”
On behalf of your brothers and fellow servants of the Savior of the CLC Board of Missions,
Pastor Todd Ohlmann, chairman