Fourth point: Jesus died on a cross and bought each person’s life for the purpose of worship.
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
Good news of great joy. Good news, that’s another way of saying, the gospel. Why is the gospel good news of great joy? Because Jesus, the Savior, has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord.
Why is this good news of great joy? Because we are all sinners. Ever since the Old Testament, God’s people had to kill animals to atone for sin. Blood had to be shed in order for there to be forgiveness of sins. But the entire sacrificial system of the Old Testament was a pointer to Jesus, who is called the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. And finally, this Jesus, the one who has been prophesied about for centuries, the one we have been waiting for, Jesus, our Savior, is born. Why is it good news of great joy that will be for ALL the people?
To answer that, let’s turn to Revelation 5:8-10.
8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. 10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”
Jesus coming into the world is good news of great joy not just for me, it’s good news of great joy not just for a few of us in this room. But it is good news of great joy for all the world because the purpose of Jesus coming was to accomplish a complete reversal of the Fall where humanity and God were separated by a chasm of sin. Jesus died on a cross, but the death and resurrection is not the final destination. The cross and our individual salvation is not the end goal. The purpose of Jesus coming and dying on a cross is to purchase men and women for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.
In other words, Jesus came into the world to win back a people for himself. And what are these people going to do?
9 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
Jesus came into the world in order to die on a cross, but that’s not the end of the story. He died on a cross to win back a people. Win back people enslaved to sin. To release people from bondage – for what purpose? So that this new people of God purchased by the blood of Jesus can gather around a throne and in front of the Lamb and fall down before this Jesus in worship.
The fact that there are Jewish shepherds as well as Gentile magi from the east is a foreshadowing of this cosmic worship service. Those characters in Matthew and Luke’s gospel are representatives of the gathering of nations from every tribe, people and language. That’s why in the words of Luke 2:10, Christmas is a story of good news of great joy that will be for ALL the people. A gathering of all people from every nation, tribe, and language.
In conclusion, I have 2 points to consider, one that is personal or devotional and the second one that is more corporate and other-centered. First, may God take the truth of this text and awaken in us a desire for Christ himself. May we say from the heart, Lord Jesus, you are the Messiah, the King of the Jews. Not just Israel, but all nations will come and bow down before you. God is sovereign. He can control a star to guide a group of magi to Jesus. He can control a Roman emperor to conduct a census to force Joseph back to his hometown so that the baby Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. God is in control of all things and He is to be worshiped. Therefore, whatever opposition I may find, I joyfully ascribe authority and dignity to Christ, and bring my gifts and surrender them to Jesus. And in that act of surrender, I am saying to Jesus, you alone can satisfy my heart, nothing else, no one else.
It’s Jesus birthday. Have you brought him a birthday gift? Have you emptied your hands and given gifts, all the things you hold dear, have you given these to Jesus? Not grudgingly, not with a long face. Not grasping, nor grabbing, nor clutching. But laying down gifts with joy! To gain Christ, to say to Jesus, you are the treasure of my life and these things, they are nothing to me. What gift will you give him in 2012?
Second, at the beginning of Matthew’s gospel we have a “come and see” pattern. But at the end of Matthew in chapter 28, the pattern is “go and tell.” The magi came and saw Jesus. We are to go and tell the world about Jesus. The purpose in our individual coming and seeing Christ as well as our going and telling others about Christ is the same. I come individually to worship Christ and I bring others to Jesus for the same goal–our personal devotion as well as our evangelism is part of God’s redemption plan to gather the nations to worship his Son. And we–Jews, Gentiles, men, women, rich, poor, blacks, whites, yellow, brown, young and old–we will be glorifying Jesus altogether in a worship service that will never end. This is the message of Christmas.
As we come and see the newborn king and as we worship him more intimately, may this fuel our commitment to go and tell others about Jesus in the new year.