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Jesus: Our Everlasting


Week Two: Peace

Sunday, December 10 | by Dr. Jay Harley

Filmed October 5, 2023

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.

Wait! I think I have the wrong story.

Even though that story is not the main point of Christmas, there's something comforting to hear "Twas the Night Before Christmas".

You see, we enjoy our normal life. We enjoy the redundancy. We like to drive in the ruts.

We like to keep things the way they have always been.

We have a routine, we have a normal, and we like it.

We like the certainty and the predictability.

As we reflect upon and celebrate the arrival of Jesus Christ—the Savior, the Rescuer—He eliminates the ordinary.

The arrival of the divine Savior of the world as a baby in a manger on what began as a normal evening in a small town to a common family eliminates the ordinary. 

Luke 2:8 tells us:

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.

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord."

I am standing at a location just outside the modern town of Bethlehem known as the Shepherd's fields.

This is the general area throughout history in this part of the Holy Land where shepherds took their flocks into these fields of rolling hills.

There are caves nearby where the shepherds would move their flock into safety for the evenings.

On the night recorded in Luke 2, the shepherds are out in the fields living their ordinary, routine, simple life, going through the motions of being the best shepherds they could be, and God interrupts their routine. God interrupts their normalcy of life to bring them great news.

They were scared to death about what they had experienced.

Their moment of fear was the announcement of God's peace for all humanity.

Luke 2 records the angels saying to them in verse 10:

Don't be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

It's no mistake that the angels said that to the shepherds that night because the shepherds were outcasts themselves.

They were out working with animals all the time, they weren't considered clean, and their testimony wasn't considered in court. 

Here, an angel—a messenger from God—shows up to announce the birth of the Saviour to the poor, the commoner, and the outcast. The angels tell them that the savior of all humanity has been born.

It's kind of a paradox, isn't it? At the arrival of the Savior, the outcasts become honored guests. Shouldn't the angels have shown up at the temple to the religious leaders?

The shepherds may have looked at each other and asked, "Us too? Nobody that's religious wants much to do with us."

Great news: Jesus was for all the people, for everyone, no matter their background, no matter how against God they have been their entire life, no matter the mistakes they had made—even mistakes they had made that day.

As we celebrate that God himself came out of heaven voluntarily as a human and came to earth in humility as a baby in a manger to live perfectly and then to choose death on the cross to be the rescuer for us.

We know that we could not do it on our own.

The first word in Luke chapter 2 verse 11 is "today," a simple word, truthful word by the angels, "that today in Bethlehem, a savior has been born to you who is Christ the Lord."

Luke only uses the word "today" six times throughout his gospel.

Every time he uses the word "today," something big happens. 

And obviously, he uses it here: "that today in the city of David, a savior has been born to you." 

He also uses it in Luke chapter 4, verse 21, when Jesus gives his first public reading of scripture. Jesus says, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

Jesus then quoted a passage from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah where he said that he had come for the broken, hurting, outcasts, and the poor, and Jesus said, "Today, this has happened."

Jesus says, "Today, I'm here for the poor, hurting, and prisoners."

In Luke 5:26, after Jesus healed a leper, Luke says:

Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, "We have seen remarkable things today."

They had seen that Jesus had power over the most terrible disease of their time.

Luke 13:32-33, responding to King Herod, Jesus says:

"Go tell that fox, I will drive out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.' In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside of Jerusalem!"

Jesus was talking and saying that He will be about changing the way things are.

Luke 19:9, after Jesus's encounter with Zacchaeus, the small man, Jesus says, "Today salvation has come to this house."

After Zacchaeus encountered Christ that day, his life was transformed.

Luke chapter 23, Jesus is hanging on the cross, and He has a conversation with one of the thieves on the other side of Him. 

And Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

Every time Luke used the word "today," something really big happened.

The course of history for families and individuals was changing.

He was emphasizing the significance by telling us "today," "this happened today," "everything was going to be different because of the events of today."

In Luke 2:11, he tells that to the shepherd. Today, the whole course of human history has changed because in Bethlehem, the city of David, a savior has been born. He is Christ the Lord. 

God was up to something so big that Luke was telling us it was beginning right then and was going to change the history of humanity on that night.

In Galatians 4:4 the apostle Paul says,

"But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law."

At the exact perfect right time, Jesus enters the world.

We've talked a lot about the historical setting that is taking place at Jesus's birth.

The Roman Empire is in power. They are a powerful force in the world.

Caesar Augustus is the Emperor, and he had ended over a 100 years of civil war in Rome.

Many people considered him to be a divine king. He introduced to Rome what is called the peace of Rome, a long time of no wars for the Empire.

Here on this day where the emperor considers himself to be divine, today, a Savior, a Rescuer, has arrived, and He will bring true peace.

This Advent season does not have to be like all the other ones, and even today doesn't have to be the same that it has always been for us.

Today could be the day that the Savior, Christ the Lord, intervenes in our history and changes our story.

The good news does not end with the arrival of the savior as a baby in the manger; it continues to a grown man named Jesus who lived perfectly, taught amazingly, chose death, defeated death, and is alive today.

The angelic pronouncement concludes with Luke 2:14,

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"

For many of us, our current "normal" life is quite a mess.

We may be hurting deeply, struggling to make it through each day.

The arrival of Jesus Christ interrupts the normal and brings peace.

Maybe life isn't going to miraculously become "peaceful," but we can live in peace of mind and heart in great confidence in the victorious saving work of Jesus Christ.

Dr. Jay Harley serves as the Vice President of Student Affairs at Dallas Baptist University.

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