Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

Luke 2:14c (part 2) (Holman) “ . . .to people He favors!”
On Christmas Day, God our Savior showered goodness and love on us, though we are sinners (see Titus 3:4). At Bethlehem, God proved He has a deep, abiding concern for people. He was bestowing on us good will, His clemency and mercy.

God’s grace is the only cause of our salvation. No merit on our part brought Jesus down to us. Only His good will toward us did.

A gift, when graciously given to someone, bespeaks good will. The measure of the esteem is shown in the sacrifice behind the gift. At Bethlehem, God gave us a gift of infinite cost to Himself that continues to bless us. “Good will” was the angels’ text at Jesus’ birth. His life furnished a sermon the centuries have echoed.

Do we appreciate God’s good will? What more could He do to earn our love? We were sick, what more could we have wanted than recovery of health? Behold our Great Physician lying in a manger. We were slaves to sin. Should we not be satisfied with freedom? Behold our Redeemer born in Bethlehem.

At a wedding, shouldn’t we rejoice? Look closely. The Christmas story is the marriage of Heaven and Earth. Is any sound more welcome than a friend’s voice? Behold God’s Word made flesh, the dearest Friend of humanity.

Luke 2:15a When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem . . .”

They didn’t dare go back to sleep. They wanted to know for sure that this had not been a dream or hallucination. Off they went to Bethlehem, home of Boaz and Ruth, and where David was anointed.

The word “Bethlehem” means house of bread. It is appropriate this would be the birthplace of the One who came to be the Bread of Life.
Luke 2:15b “ . . . and see what has happened, . . . “
If we want the peace and good will of Christmas, if we would glorify God, we have to do what the shepherds did. We must come close to Jesus.
Draw near. When speaking about Christ, Andrew told Nathanael, “Come and see.” Jesus said, “Come follow me.” John the Beloved found joy in His bosom. Mary was content at His feet. Children enjoyed sitting on His lap.
We cannot repeat these acts physically, but we can do them spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Hear about Him, read about Him, think about Him, find Him, and have Him.
Luke 2:15c “ . . . which the Lord has made known to us.”
No human could have ever invented this story. This illustrates the word “mystery”. In the New Testament, a mystery was not something hard to understand, but rather something we could have never known about unless we are told.
For example, at this moment I have something in my pocket. No one in the room knows what it is. It happens to be a Roman Coin, a denarius. A mystery was not hard to understand, just unknown till revealed by someone.
The Christmas story has been “made known to us.” No one could think it up. We would know nothing about incarnation apart from what God Himself told us about it.
We could have maybe had hunches about its purposes—God needed to help us, God wanted to give us a role model, God needed to show compassion—but on our own we can understand nothing of the mechanics.
Thoughts are paralyzed when we ponder the Infinite reduced to dimensions, the Creator becoming a creature, the same nature that sinned having to be the nature that bore its punishment.
Many make the fatal mistake of wanting to study Christianity as a comparative religion, as one of many manmade philosophies. But Christianity is not grasped until we see it as a revelation from God, a story only He could tell, beginning with a Child in Bethlehem, and proceeding to what He came to do for us through a cross and an empty tomb.
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