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God Sent His Son, part 3 - Galatians 4:4

God sent His Son into the world, but what did we see?

Luke 2:1-38; Galatians 4:4-6; Hebrews 2:10-17

Dec 22, 2013 12:00 PM

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Turn with me, please, to what is possibly the best known text in all of Scripture, the most familiar text in America, thanks to none other than Charles Schulz and Charlie Brown, Luke chapter 2.

It is interesting to me just how true it is that a cartoon broadcast annually since 1965 would be used of the Lord to cause the story of the birth of Christ to become so well know, so recognizable.  People who never go to church even for Christmas, watch A Charlie Brown Christmas year after year.  It is true, the Lord uses weak and insignificant things to accomplish His grand and glorious purposes, like a poorly rendered, very simple cartoon character like Charlie Brown.

1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 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 for them in the inn.

8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them,

"Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."

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. 21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons." 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 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. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 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."

33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed."

36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. (Luke 2:1-38 ESV)

When we look in the manger in Bethlehem, what do we see?  Being 2000 years removed, living on another continent in a different hemisphere, it is difficult to see clearly.  We’ve had pastors who tried to explain the event of Jesus’ birth, we’ve read books describing the events surrounding the first advent, and we’ve had movie producers film their interpretations of Christ’s birth.  So we are at least slightly biased by the things we’ve read and heard and seen concerning the coming of the Lord Jesus.

So, let’s ask the question another way: When the Father sent His Son into the world to be born of Mary, what did the people at that time see when they saw this little baby boy?  What did they think when they encountered the infant Jesus?  And, of course, this will be a lot of speculation on my part as I share with you.  But I pray the Lord will sanctify our thinking and cause us to at least grasp some of the same things the people at that time thought.

1.  What did the angels see, from their unique perspective, when they saw baby Jesus in the manger?  Angels play a large role in the coming of the Lord Jesus to earth.  They have known Jesus since their own creation by Him.  They have always worshipped Him.  They have served Him in glory since the beginning of creation.  They have watched Him and even accompanied Him as He entered the world on various occasions in the past, such as when Jesus and two angels approached and spoke to Abraham and ate with him.

The holy angels have known Jesus in His brilliance and splendor and glory and power.  They have known Him as the second member of the Trinity, as the creator of the world, equal to God the Father.  It is Jesus who sits upon the magnificent throne of the Temple in Isaiah’s vision, and they circle Him with their eyes covered, crying out, “Holy, holy, holy!”  That is how the angels have known and interacted with Jesus in the heavenly realms.

So, what do they think, when they look down from on high and see this newborn baby lying in an animal’s feeding trough?  I believe they saw, more than anything else, infinite condescension.  Babies are seldom considered very significant members of society.  They are not very important.  They cannot contribute to the physical needs of others. In fact, they are totally helpless and dependent upon those around them.  Very few people beyond the immediate family are even concerned when a child is born.  Babies aren’t important.  They are the weakest and most vulnerable members of society, but they often demand an inordinate amount of attention.  And they do demand it.  Who do they think they are?

Angels peer into the manger in the barn in Bethlehem and what do they see?  Surely, they can hardly believe their eyes!  This squirmy little baby boy is Almighty God, the King of Glory?  If we didn’t know it was true, we would never believe it could be possible.  Jehovah has become an infant, born of woman.  The Lord Jesus has gone from the most holy and exalted and glorious place in all the universe, to become this insignificant infant, in a little nation, in a little town, in a little stable, born to a little woman.  Why?

The second thing the angels see when they peek into the manger: infinite love.  The angels have been around since Eden.  They witnessed the Fall of the human race through Adam.  They saw the rebellion.  They watched the insurrection.  They guarded the way back to the Garden to prevent Adam and his progeny from re-entering it, eating from the Tree of Life and living forever under condemnation.

Angels have witnessed all of human history.  The angels who announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds also watched as God destroyed the entire human race in the flood because of their incessant, unrelenting, unbridled, perpetual evil.  The angels saw the evil of men at the Tower of Babel.  They saw the pervasive idolatry and wickedness of the nations.  They looked on as God brought judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah.  They have been witnesses to all the sinfulness of man and his hatred toward God.  They know the history of mankind and man has not been kind.

Angels are fully aware of the manner in which God’s prophets have been abused, scorned, and killed.  They know the world is not fond of the goodness and mercy and grace of God.  They understand there is a natural animosity of men toward God.  And it is into that wicked world that the angels saw God send His beloved Son as a baby to a peasant girl.  That is love immeasurable.  That is what the angels see when they look at the manger of the Lord Jesus.

2.  What did the shepherds see? Of course, they saw a newborn little boy, just like your typical newborn baby boy.  But they saw much more than that.  By faith, because they believed the words of angels, because they believed the word which God had sent them, they saw their own promised Messiah:

"Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."

They saw the Lord!  Christ, or Messiah, the Lord!  As far as we know, according to the biblical record, these are the first men, shepherds, to actually see the fulfillment of the promises made to Israel of the coming of God’s anointed One.  This is the one of whom Moses spoke.  This tiny little baby is the fulfillment of all the hopes of the people of God, . . . lying in a manger.

3.  What did Joseph see? When he looked at this child, what were his thoughts?  He saw what the angel had promised him in a dream.  He witnessed the birth of the child that would bring about his own re-birth.  He, by faith, saw what the shepherds saw, and what the angel said he would see: his own Savior who would save him from his sins.

Joseph saw right before his very eyes, a miracle.  His own Mary, whom he had not touched, whom no man had ever touched--his beloved, betrothed, virgin Mary gave birth to the Son of God.  God Himself caused Mary to be pregnant and bring this miraculous child into this world.  The birth was a miracle, but also the child himself was a miracle because His mother was Mary, but His Father was God.  No other child was ever, or would ever be like this one.  This child was obviously a baby boy.  And He was obviously the Son of God.  Joseph saw, not his own son, but God’s only begotten Son, lying in a manger.  God had sent His Son by means of Mary, and Joseph saw it.

4.  What did Mary see? Mary saw what the angel Gabriel said she would see:

[30] And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. [31] And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. [32] He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, [33] and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:30-33 ESV)

The question would be better asked, “Who did Mary see in the manger?”  The Son of the Most High.  She saw her own son, and she saw God’s Son.  She saw in that manger the eternal King of Israel who would reign forever.  This child is her, and Israel’s promised King!  She has given birth to the King of Glory, the King of Israel, the King of Heaven, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Her baby is the Son of the Most High.  That is who she sees.

5.  When Mary and Joseph to the baby to the Temple, what was it that the old man Simeon saw in this child?

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 . . . [H]e 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."

Simeon saw the fulfillment of God’s word to him.  He saw the fulfillment of God’s word to Israel.  He saw the Lord’s Christ.  He saw with his own two eyes God’s salvation.  God’s Savior.  He saw in this little baby hope for eternity, for the forgiveness of sins and everlasting life.  He saw what Jonah said: “Salvation is of the Lord.”  God had sent His Son into the world.  He had sent salvation in the form of a baby.  Simeon saw it.

6.  What did the prophetess Anna see? When she approached Mary and Joseph in the Temple and saw this infant, what did she see?

38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

She saw her Redeemer.  She saw the One sent by God to purchase His people for Himself.  She recognized through the illumination of the Holy Spirit that this little child was much, much more than a baby.

[4] But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, [5] to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. [6] And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:4-6 ESV)

God sent His Son to us, to redeem us from the curse of the Law, so that we might become sons and daughters of God.  Then He also sent His Spirit into our hearts.  That is why we turn to God and cry, “Abba!  Father!”  The Son of God has come to make us sons.  When we look into the manger, we see the King of Glory, we see our Redeemer, we see the Promised Messiah, we see our Creator, and we also see our Brother.

[10] For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. [11] For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, [12] saying,

“I will tell of your name to my brothers;

in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”

[13] And again,

“I will put my trust in him.”

And again,

“Behold, I and the children God has given me.”

[14] Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, [15] and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. [16] For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. [17] Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:10-17 ESV)


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