I’m preaching through the Gospel of Luke this year. For anyone who wants to follow along with our study, I will be posting my sermon notes and the link to each message. Thanks for joining us in our study of Luke!
Sermon Outline for Jan. 25, 2015
1. Text: Luke 2:1-20
Where are we in redemptive history?
* Jesus has just been born.
* The Kingdom of God (the Age to Come) has just broken into This Present Evil Age.
* The Messiah, in fulfillment of the Prophetic Scriptures, has come.
What do we need to know to understand this passage?
* With the huge influx of people to register for the census, there weren’t any guest rooms available, even for a pregnant, laboring woman.
* Mary gave birth in a barn, surrounded by traveling animals and livestock – perhaps the most humiliating place for a woman to give birth. Fitting then, that Mary gave birth to the Lamb of God.
* The strips of cloth (or swaddling clothes) Mary wrapped Jesus in are much debated.
– One theory is that this was just a normal word for diapers.
– Another theory contests that these were clothes own only by wealthy families and that they link Jesus with Solomon, the Son of David. It would have been unusual to see a baby wrapped in such fine cloths lying in a feeding trough surrounded by livestock.
– Yet another theory, the one I personally buy into, is that these strips of cloth would be the same or similar to what would be wrapped around a dead body (see John 11:44). The sign, then, was that Jesus was the only person ever born who was supposed to die. Even at Christmas we see the prelude to Easter.
– Regardless of what these strips of cloth signified, they were the sign that identified Jesus as the Messiah to the shepherds.
What principles or theological truths do we encounter in this passage?
God can and does intervene in human history.
* Mary and Joseph were living in Nazareth when Gabriel announced that Mary would become pregnant and give birth to the Messiah.
* However, even after such an amazing pronouncement, they didn’t move to Bethlehem which is where the Messiah was supposed to be born.
* So God had Caesar call a census. This made Joseph and Mary move.
* We could have a very interesting conversation about acting on prophetic words at this point. Mary may not have had to give birth in a barn if they had moved earlier. Regardless, the point is that God can and does intervene in human history to bring about the fulfillment of His Word.
* This phrase comes from George Eldon Ladd’s theological masterpiece “The Gospel of the Kingdom.”
* Inaugurated eschatology is the belief in Christian theology that the end times were inaugurated in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and thus there are both “already” and “not yet” aspects to the Kingdom of God.
* We live in this time between the times. God’s Kingdom has broken in to this Present Evil Age, but it isn’t yet here in its fullness. Jesus hasn’t fully “taken over.” While Satan and his regime still exercise significant control over world events, their rule is passing away.
* This is similar to D-Day and VE-Day in World War 2.
– D-Day is seen as the decisive turning point in the war, when the Allies gained the upper hand and the end of Hitler’s reign was apparent.
– However, the final victory took almost another year.
– The Nazi’s didn’t just surrender, they tried to do as much damage as they could until they were defeated.
– So it is now. Satan knows his time is short and he wants to do as much damage to humanity as he can until he is finally overcome at Jesus’s return.
– Even though Satan rages, we don’t have to stand back and watch. We can and should resist.
* As Christians, we have the privilege of partnering with Jesus to see the Kingdom of Heaven come to earth. We can press in and lay hold of the Kingdom, living in Kingdom Reality now, even though it technically isn’t time. This is what spiritual violence is all about.
* Jesus’s birth was the ultimate act of warfare on Satan’s reign of terror. Is it any wonder that the armies of heaven filled the sky over Bethlehem?
The Gospel is that God came to rescue us.
* Speaking to the shepherds, the angel announces to them “the most joyous news the world has ever heard! Today, in Bethlehem, a rescuer was born for you” (v. 10)
* This is Good News only if we believe we are in need of rescue, which the Bible repeatedly stresses we are.
* The Bible’s stance is that humans are hopelessly enslaved to sin – a lifestyle of rebellion and defiance against God. Because we can never submit to God, serve Him or love Him of our own accord we were unfit to live in His Kingdom and the punishment for our treason was Hell.
* HOWEVER, even though we didn’t love God, He loved us. Erasing Hell was not an option, but redeeming us was. Therefore, God sent His son to take on flesh and be born of a woman. God’s son, Jesus, would live as a man, enduring every temptation without sin and bearing every burden without complaint. He suffered in his body the just punishment of sin so that God could extend mercy to us in his name.
* Jesus rescued us from sin, he posted our bail, he died in our place. He did what no one else could do – that is why the angel says this is Good News.
How does this text reveal God’s true character and destroy lies we’ve believed?
* Some view God as distant and/or unconcerned with our lives here on earth. Nothing could be further from the Truth! God is primarily concerned with us.
– This doesn’t mean that bad things don’t happen. We are still living in the Present Evil Age, waiting for the Kingdom of God to come in its fullness.
– Until Jesus comes back to establish the Kingdom, evil will continue to get worse.
– However, we don’t need to embrace this in a fatalistic way. God’s Kingdom has broken into this world, death is defeated and the Holy Spirit has been made available to us. The question is, “What are we doing with it?”
*God chooses to work through the cooperation of His people. Occasionally God intervenes in history in a completely Sovereign way, but most of the time He governs through partnership with those that love Him.
*God is Supremely Humble. He could have made sure Jesus was born in a palace, surrounded by luxury and the most influential people. Instead, God chooses to identify with the poor, the lonely and the mistreated. He chose to have His son grow up with the social stigma of being a bastard child. None of that mattered. Jesus didn’t come for the smug and self-satisfied, he came to help those who couldn’t help themselves. Jesus is a King who came to redeem us AND establish his Kingdom on the Earth.
How does this revelation of God’s character call us to live differently?
* We are living in the time when the old order of things is passing away and God’s Kingdom Reality is beginning to manifest. We can either partner with this new Reality or not. It is my belief that, as followers of King Jesus, our responsibility is to transform out society even as we are transformed individually. Learning how to partner with Holy Spirit to advance God’s Kingdom is our top priority.
* We must learn to live in the tension of the “now and not yet”. In many ways, God’s superior Reality is available if we will learn to partner with Him to release it. Yet it is still our experience that God’s Kingdom is not yet here in its fullness and we need to learn how to wisely and compassionately deal with sin, sickness, disease and death until those enemies are completely destroyed.
Are there any practical skills we need to teach or resources we need to make available?
* Partnering with Holy Spirit to release the Kingdom of God can take any number of forms. What we primarily see in the life of Jesus is him triumphing over the work of the devil through physical, emotional, and spiritual healing.
* Alexander Venter’s book “Doing Healing” is the most powerful book I’ve ever read in learning how to minister the healing power of God.
* The 5 step prayer model
Step 1 – Contact
Someone has either asked you for prayer or it is someone you approach because you want to pray for them.
Step 2 – Interview
What is the problem? What do they want God to do for them?
Step 3 – Pray
Keep your eyes open – it allows you to remain focused on the person
Lay your hands on them if it is appropriate – God’s Holy Spirit is in you. Our hands serve as a contact point where we become a conduit of God’s presence and power.
Dial up the risk – move from general prayers to specific prayers. Take risk, be bold.
Dial down the hype – Remember that the volume of your voice is not a gauge of authority and you don’t need to use “special” language to be heard by God. Also, don’t forget, you are practicing. If you hear something that doesn’t resonate with the person, no big deal.
Step 4 – Asses (and pray again if necessary)
How are they feeling? If their pain/disease was a 10 before, where is it now? Did they have any thoughts or feelings during the prayer time?
If they aren’t completely healed, pray again. If Jesus had to pray for a blind person twice, we get at least 30 shots at it.
Step 5 – Closure
Care for them and encourage them with the Truths of Scripture, especially if they didn’t subjectively feel anything. Our senses are not always accurate indicators of God’s presence or work in our lives. If you have any wisdom or instructions for going ahead, share them at this time. It is absolutely essential that people walk away feeling loved and cared for. We don’t control if someone gets healed. We do control how we interact with them.
5. Ministry Time:
How is God calling us to respond RIGHT NOW?
* If you feel like God is uninterested in you or doesn’t hear you, I’d like our ministry team to be able to pray for you, bless you and speak into your life. God sees you, hears you and is interested in you – those are things we believe and receive by faith. But sometimes we need a reminder, and that is what we’re going to ask God for this morning – a little reminder that He sees us, hears us and knows us.
What does God want to give us to help us live this out?
* I believe God has two things for us this morning: an additional measure of faith and passion to see His Kingdom come. The faith is to believe that He does see us, know us and love us and the passion is to live our daily lives in a more focused way – looking for opportunities to partner with Holy Spirit to love, serve, heal and share the Gospel.