Friday, December 24, 2021

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Eve

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Eve

December 24, 2021

Text: Is. 9:2-7; Luke 2:1-20

            For unto us a child is born” (Is. 9:6; KJV).  A Child.  THE Child.  The Seed of the woman promised to Eve, He whose heel would be crushed in crushing the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15).  The LORD’s Anointed, the Messiah, the Christ.  He is a human Baby, flesh and blood, born of the Virgin Mary in the little town of Bethlehem, which means “House of Bread,” surrounded by beasts, wrapped in swaddling clothes, laid in a manger, because there was no room for Him in the inn.  Ten little fingers and ten little toes.  Dependent on His mother and Joseph for everything, for warmth and nourishment, for comfort and protection.  I very much doubt that the little Lord Jesus, no crying He made.  He is a real Baby in every way.  He suffers what we suffer.  Hunger.  Cold.  Spit-up.  Dirty diapers.  Certainly as an adult, Jesus wept (John 11:35).  Why not now?  A helpless Infant, holy, and lowly.  With us fully, flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone. 

            And yet, “unto us a son is given” (Is. 9:6).  This little Babe in arms holds the universe in His hands.  For He is the eternally begotten Son of the Father.  The Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Glory of the LORD that was wrapped in a cloud, now wrapped in skin and cloth and hay.  Mary and Joseph and all of us are dependent on Him for everything, this precious little Baby.  For warmth and for nourishment, for comfort and protection.  For life and breath and every beat of our hearts.  And crying we most certainly make.  For we are sinners.  Our father in the Garden, surrounded by beasts, reached out his rebellious hand to grasp the forbidden fruit.  And we’ve been grasping for it ever since.  That is why there are tears and hunger and cold and spit-up.  That is why every one of us is soiled with sin.  We weep.  How could we not?  And now God has come in the flesh?  For what?  Infant holy, infant lowly.  But He will grow up.  To smite us as we deserve?  God with us.  It is a fearsome thing. 

            Thus the shepherds in the same country, abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night, were sore afraid when the heavens opened, and the glory of the LORD shone round about them, and the angel appeared with the heavenly army.  When sinners are exposed to the holy things of God, there is surely reason to fear.  For sin and holiness do not mix.  Unmitigated holiness means death and damnation for the sinner.  Except…

            Fear not,” the angel preaches, “for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be,” not only to you shepherds, but “to all people.  For unto you,” and that means all the people, “unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).  You sinful shepherds need not fear, for the fulness of time has come, and God’s Son has been born of a woman, born under the Law, not to smite and damn the lawbreakers, but to redeem them, that they may receive adoption as sons, and call upon God as “Abba!”… as “Our Father, who art in heaven” (Gal. 4:4-6). 

            “All people” includes you, beloved.  You lawbreakers.  You sinners.  Fear not.  Heaven still preaches to you good tidings of great joy.  Unto you… unto you… is born this day in the City of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  Unto you a Child is born.  Unto you a Son is given.  He is the Gift of God most high, come down to be your Savior, to be flesh of your flesh and bone of your bone, to suffer and die for your sins on the cross, the Sacrifice of Atonement, the Propitiation, the vicarious Satisfaction for your sins, that you not die, that you not be damned, but live in the eternal presence of His glorious holiness, as children of God, and fellow heirs. 

            Unto you” means “for you.”[1]  Christ the Lord was born for you.  He lived for you.  He died for you.  In the very body born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem of Judea, the very body wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, the very body pierced and torn and wrapped in graveclothes and laid in a tomb because there was no room for Him in this world… That very body stands.  Christ the Lord is risen for you.  Fear not.  Gospel.  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).  Peace… because, on account of Christ, God no longer holds your sins against you.  Good will… because, on account of Christ, God counts you righteous with the very righteousness of Christ, and loves you as He loves His own dear Son. 

            Now the preaching of the angel drives the shepherds to go where they know they will find Jesus bodily present for them: Wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.  There He is, with His mother Mary, wrapped in strips and lying in the feed bin of beasts, the Bread of Life in the House of Bread.  So it is for us.  The preaching of God’s messengers drives us to find Jesus where we know He is bodily present for us, wrapped in bread and wine and lying on the Altar, the Bread of Life in His House, the Church.  The Service of the Word leads into the Service of the Sacrament.  There is Jesus in the very Body born of Mary, crucified, dead, and buried, risen again on the Third Day, given us to eat, His Blood, given us to drink.  We beastly sinners eat from the manger, and so receive forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and salvation.

            The manger may well have been made of wood.  If so, it points us to the holy cross on which our Savior died.  Or it may have been made of stone.  In that case, it points us to the tomb of Jesus, the tomb that was empty on Easter morn.  In either case, the manger preaches the death and resurrection of the Virgin’s Son.  The shepherds typify Christian pastors who make haste to find Jesus and tell abroad what was told them concerning this Child.  In other words, receiving the Gospel, they preach it.  Mary is the personification of the Church.  Beasts, having eaten from this manger, become like Mary.  Hearing the Word concerning Jesus, they keep all these things, and ponder them in their hearts.  Here we see the whole Gospel portrayed before our very eyes in the Nativity scene.  But this is no mere theatrical production, least of all a pious myth or magical story.  These things happened.  It came to pass,” Luke writes, “in those days,” when the decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed, when Cyrenius was governor of Syria, when each went to his own city to be taxed, and Joseph and Mary made the trek to Bethlehem, because they were of the house and lineage of David.  This is concrete history.  Which is to say, the Gospel is accomplished fact.

            And so, merry Christmas!  Unto you is born this day in the City of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  The people walking in darkness have seen a great Light.  They that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.  The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.  Fear not.  I bring you good tidings of great joy.  You shall not die, but live.  For this night, Christ the Lord is born for you.  In the Name of the Father, and of the Son X, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.



[1] John Bombaro,

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