Here are my notes from an Advent message on Joy/Shepherd Sunday.
Intro: The Advent season is a time to remember when Jesus came to earth. It is also a season to celebrate the future coming of Jesus. When God became a man in Jesus, there was great joy in the hearts of all who knew him. The greatest joy always comes after a time of great sadness and expectation. Man’s experience waiting for a savior is one of great sadness. Yet his experience when the savior comes is one of great joy.
Today we will be lighting the third candle. This candle is different because of its color. Long ago, and in some parts of the world today, the season of advent was a time of fasting and confession of sin. This was based on the idea of preparing ourselves for the return of Christ by eliminating sin from our lives. On the third week, to remember with joy the fact that Christmas (and Christ!) is almost here, they used a lighter candle. This was to be a more joyful week, because the time of fasting was almost over. This week we remember the joy of Jesus’ coming. We also wait with expectation for the joy we will experience when Jesus returns for his church.
Luke 2:8-12 says, 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great JOY for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
[Luk 2:4-7 ESV] 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place [room] for them in the inn [room]. . . .
Title: Joy of Christ’s Advent
Thesis: Advent reminds us of the backwards-forwards way we live our lives. We remember that our salvation has some, and our salvation will come. You have been saved. You are being saved. You will be saved.
Trans: What in your life is a foregone conclusion? Death and taxes? What can you count on with certainty? We have faith in many things that have been reliable for us so far, even if they fail us. Your car? Your job? We know what faith is because we misplace it all the time! The faithfulness of Christ surpasses these all.
Joy reflects on the salvation Christ brought to us
[Luk 2:13-20 ESV] 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
- Jesus is our ultimate rescuer
- In the announcement by the angels, Jesus is called 4 things:
- Savior – rescuer, deliverer
- Messiah – anointed one, king
- Lord – master, even YHVH
- Baby – you need a definition?
- “The life of Christ is bracketed by two impossibilities: a virgin’s womb and an empty tomb. Jesus entered the world through a door marked No Entrance. And He left through a door marked No Exit. And because Jesus exited that empty tomb, the Bible says one day those of us who are related to Him by faith are going to exit going to exit the tomb as well—because Jesus is our rescuer from death.” – Dr Robert Jeffress
- In the announcement by the angels, Jesus is called 4 things:
- Jesus came to do for Israel, and the Gentiles, what they could not do for themselves.
- When Israel could not follow the law, God came as the righteous Israelite to fulfill their end of the covenant.
- God would not leave his people stranded, nor will he leave you.
- [Gal 1:3b-4 ESV] 3 the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.
- We’re reminded of what Simeon said of him:
- [Luk 2:26, 28-32 ESV] 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. … 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
- Jesus in Hebrew is Yehoshuʿa – The salvation of YHVH or YHVH is salvation
- Matthew reminds us of this meaning. It was given by Gabriel to declare Jesus’ mission, “he will save his people from their sins.”
Trans: Just as Advent points us backwards to Christs’ first coming, it points us forward to his second. Consider the anticipation with which Israel awaited its messiah. The King from the line of David would once again deliver them from their enemies and sit on his eternal throne. They misunderstood…
Joy looks forward to Christ’s future coming
[Luk 14:16-18,22-24 ESV] 16 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. … 22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.'”
- There is a banquet prepared for us. You are invited! As with the weddings of Israel, there is no knowing the day nor the hour that the invitation will be enacted. When the feast is ready, the groom is ready, and the time is just right, he will come.
- At Jesus’ first coming, many were not ready and made excuses. There will not be such an opportunity the second time around.
- [Luk 18:8b ESV] 8 … when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
- Do we likewise make excuses away from holiness in preparation for his second coming?
- He has taken this long…
- [2Pe 3:4-7, 10 ESV] 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. … 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
- [Joe 2:13 ESV] 13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.
Trans: We’ve taken this same principle to apply to our children at this time of year. Santa Claus is coming to town after all. In case he’s not as omniscient as our Lord, maybe the Elf on the Shelf will advise him of our behavior. Do we forget that our omnipresent omniscient Lord sees every day and act?
Joy comes from repentance and preparation for his coming
[Col 3:4-11 ESV] 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
- You will appear with Christ in his coming!
- God knows no distinction among his people. There are those whom he will save and those who will “save” themselves. There is no other distinction
- How now shall we live? If eternity is legitimately at hand, what effect will it have on our lives?
- [2Pe 3:11-12, 14-15 ESV] 11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! … 14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him,
- Before we become overly-anxious remember:
- Those who fear the Lord have nothing to fear. It is those that do not fear Him that have every reason to be afraid.
- [Psa 40:12 ESV] 12 For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me.
- [Mat 10:30 ESV] 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.
- Jesus’ knowledge of the hairs on our head is not mere trivia
- [Psa 40:13 ESV] 13 Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me!
- [Mat 10:31 ESV] 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Trans: Fear not. The angels say to the shepherds…
- [Luk 2:10 ESV] 10 “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
- [Luk 12:32 ESV] 32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
- [Rev 1:17 ESV] 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last,
Conclusion: Advent means arrival. Your salvation has arrived. Your salvation is arriving. Your salvation will arrive.
- Have you accepted the salvation he already offers?
- Are you living by faith in the grace that his salvation now brings?
- Are you preparing your heart and life to participate in the salvation of his future coming?
Our Father, may we trust the salvation that you bring us, acknowledging the death that we have walked into. May we thank you for the salvation we now live. May we repent and prepare for the salvation that is to come. May we not fear. May we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”
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