These are my sermon notes and commentary on Matthew 1:21-2:6. It has not been proofed for spelling or grammar. I present it to you as is.
We have been in a series of messages called, “Christmas, It’s Complicated.” Christmas can be complicated in two ways.
- First, the Christmas holidays can be complicated. The pressure to spend money you don’t have in order to buy presents. The complications in deciding which family to see on Christmas day. Then you throw in divorce so mom is over there and dad lives over there. Then you add death, a loved one died this past year and this is the first Christmas without them. Complicated. Then you struggle with the cold weather, shorter day light, anxieties, and depression and weight gain. Man, it gets complicated.
- Secondly, the Christmas story dealing with the birth of Jesus can be complicated. When you get down to it, the Christmas story is about a complicated pregnancy and birth. There are some difficult and odd things happening around the birth of Jesus.
It’s complicated because it begins with a young lady named Mary who says an angel of the Lord appeared to her and said she is pregnant.
When she tells Joseph, her fiancé, he doesn’t believe her. But he later changes his mind because he says an angel appeared to him in a dream and told him what Mary said was true. This appears to be two young crazy people trying to hide something. But everyone will find out later that what they said was true.
Can you imagine what their parents, relatives, friends, and neighbors said to them and about them? I’m sure all kinds of rumors spread. This birth is getting complicated.
Nine months later she is about ready to give birth but they are required to travel to Bethlehem because of a census that was being taken. She had to ride on the back of a donkey for miles, while being 9 months pregnant. Can you imagine that? This birth is getting more complicated.
During that time they couldn’t call ahead and make reservations. When they arrived the town was full of people because of the census. All the places to stay were full and the last place they checked was an inn and there was no room for them. But, the owner did have a stable out back they could stay in. This birth is getting more complicated.
Eventually, she gives birth that night in the stable. What a wonderful place to have a baby (not really). Around animals, hay, and other things that are in a stable.
But this complicated birth produced a baby in a manger that would change the world and the eternity for many people. Who is this baby in the manger that shepherd’s came to see, Magi came to worship, and King Herod wanted to find and kill? Well, Matthew gives us a description. Let me tell you about this baby in the manger. Well, who is He?
Jesus, He is my salvation
Number one, He is Jesus – He is my salvation. In Matthew 1:21 an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and spoke to him about Mary saying, “And she will have a son and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (NLT). There is good news and bad news in that statement.
- The bad news is we are sinners. We have sins in our life. This sin separates us from God. Our sins are what causes us to rebel against Him, hurt ourselves, and to hurt others. It’s our sin that causes so many problems in our life. The Bible is clear when it says, “For everyone has sinned” (Rom. 3:23, NLT). No one, except Jesus, has escaped sin. We are all trapped in the prison of our own sin. If we die without our sins being dealt with in some way, we will die and spend eternity separated from God in a horrible place called hell. That’s the bad news.
- The good news is we have a Savior. His name is “Jesus” and He came to “save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21, NLT). He would do so by living a sinless life and becoming the perfect sacrifice to pay the debt of sin you and I owe toward God. Listen carefully to Hebrews 9:27, “And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgement, so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him” (NLT).
This miraculous baby in the manger I call him Jesus because He takes away my sin.
Jesus, He is my God
Who is this baby in the manger? Secondly, He is my God. Jesus is God in the flesh. He is God incarnate. He is the God-man. He is 100% human and 100% God. The angel in Matthew 1:23 put it this way when he said, “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God with us’” (NLT). There are two significant thoughts here.
- For one, the title Immanuel refers to God becoming human. God was physically among His people through the life of Christ. If you saw Jesus you saw God. They were one in the same. This is what Paul was explaining to the Philippians believers when he wrote, “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-7, NLT). Here is where we see part of the Trinity operating as God the Father and God the Son. But the bottom line is the birth of Jesus is when God became a man.
- Another significant thought about the name Immanuel is that God desires to be present among us. This is not a God who is simply aware of us, but a God who is with us. This is not a God who simply created us, but a God who is with us. This is not a God who has forgotten us, but a God who is with us. God makes this very clear in Hebrews 13:5 when He says, “I will never leave you or forsake” (HCSB).
Who is this baby in the manger? He is Immanuel, God with us.
Jesus, He is my King
Number three, Who is this baby in the manger? He is my king. Sometime after Jesus was born wise men, also known as Magi, came looking for Jesus. When they arrived at Jerusalem they started asking around the following question, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2, NLT). Within their question, they describe Jesus as a king. Later we would find out that Jesus is the ultimate King, known as the king of kings (Rev. 17:14; 19:16).
When Jesus is called “King of kings and Lord of lords,” it means that, in the end, all other rulers will be conquered or abolished, and He alone will reign supreme as King and Lord over all. There is no power, no principality, and no devil who can oppose Him and win. This title King, points to the future when He completely does away with sin, punishes the devil, and creates a new heaven and new earth for His people to experience all the fullness of His kingship and kingdom over their lives. Jesus as our King guarantees our victorious future. Who is this baby in the manger? He is my king!
Jesus, He is my shepherd
Finally, who is this baby in the manger? He is my shepherd. He guides me. Feeds me. Cares for me. Loves me. The Magi had arrived in Jerusalem and were asking where this miraculous baby had been born that they were referring to as the “king of the Jews.” This bothered King Herod and so he called for a meeting with the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked them, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” They told King Herod that He would be born in Bethlehem and then quoted the prophet Isaiah in Matthew 2:6 saying, “And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel” (NLT). What I want us to focus on is this description of Jesus as the “shepherd for my people.” What is God telling us about Jesus when He refers to Him as a shepherd? Several things.
You need to know that in John 10 Jesus is described as “the good shepherd.” A good shepherd is marked by several characteristics.
- First, a good shepherd guards his sheep. Shepherds guarded and protected the sheep from wolves and thieves. In the same way, Jesus, our good shepherd, guards us from false teachers which the Bible calls “wolves in sheep’s clothing” and from the Devil who is called a “thief” who has come to steal, kill, and destroy. Jesus, he guards you from them.
- Second, a good shepherd guides his sheep. Shepherds didn’t drive the sheep from behind, but lead them by being out front. The sheep would follow the shepherd. In the same way, Jesus guides us by His example and the Bible says we are to follow in His footsteps.
- Third, a good shepherd ministers to his sheep. If a sheep got cut, bruised, or had a broken bone the shepherd would minister to them until they were well. In the same way, Jesus is our great physician, He ministers to you through His Spirit, His Word, and His people when you encounter the cuts, bruises, and hurts in life.
- Fourth, a good shepherd feeds his sheep. Shepherds were always taking their sheep to green grass and clear water. They wanted their sheep to be healthy. In the same way, Jesus feeds His people the milk and meat of God’s Word. He wants you to be spiritually healthy and mature.
- Finally, a good shepherd sacrifices for his sheep. A good shepherd loves his sheep. He will protect his sheep to the point of losing his own life. Jesus said in John 10, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep” (v.11, NLT). Jesus loves you so much that He sacrificed His life on the cross for you. He is the good shepherd.
If you were to ask me today, who is this baby in the manger? I would say, “He is Jesus – my salvation, my God, my King, and my shepherd.”
Christmas, it can be complicated. The birth of Jesus was complicated, but it was definitely worth it. There is another birth that is often surrounded by complications. The Bible calls it being born again, becoming a new creation by the hands of God. Getting a new heart and discovering your real purpose in life. Becoming born again is about acknowledging Jesus as your savior, as your God, as your king, and as your shepherd.
But often times recognizing your need for Jesus is often brought on by complications. A broken relationship, the death of someone we care about, an accident, a health concern, or a loss of a job are complications in life that God often uses to open our eyes for the need of Jesus in our life.
If this is a complicated Christmas for you and you would like someone to pray with or you have questions about becoming a follower of Jesus, then let me encourage you to do one of two things (fill out the card or come talk to one of our counselors).