‘The Characters of Christmas’
Message: ‘Angels: Joy’ Text: Luke 2:8-20
Introduction: You may not know it, but my granddaughter Riley was named after a character in the Disney movie, ‘Inside Out.’
The plot of the movie revolves around 5 dominate emotions that were battling inside 11 year old Riley when she was forced to leave her friends and her hockey team, in a small rural town and move to San Francisco when her father is transferred.
The 5 dominant emotions inside Riley’s head were; joy, sadness, anger, fear and disgust. When the move to San Francisco takes place, all five emotions vie for dominance.
- Drastically changing Riley’s personality
- And not for the better.
In the movie the first emotion riley experiences is joy. But because her joy is not grounded in anything, when situations change in her life, joy comes and goes.
It’s interesting that the 4 other dominant emotions come to realize that when they try to ‘control’ Riley, it results in trouble for her.
So, they all decide the best thing to do is let joy be in control to help Riley live a happy, productive life.
While ‘Inside Out’ is not a religious movie, it shows us 2 things that are consistent with Biblical teaching.
- 1st, when our joy is not based, rooted in Jesus, it will be fleeting, inconsistent and at the mercy of all our other emotions.
- 2nd, Joy should be the predominant emotion in our lives as Christians. It should be the emotion that drives/controls how we view life.
Kathy and I are starting to see the struggle for emotional dominance in our granddaughter Riley.
- She is a lovely little girl; happy, smiling, making fun sounds. She smiles and laughs and we are so blessed to have her in our lives.
- BUT, other emotions are starting to develop; she can be angry, sad, even afraid at times.
God knows that’s the natural progression in life. And that’s one of the reasons He has, over and over again in the Bible, shown us the need for joy to be prominent in the Christian.
Read: Psalm 68:3 But the righteous shall be glad; they shall exult before God; they shall be jubilant with joy!
Read: Proverbs 17:22a A joyful heart is good medicine
Read: Acts 13:52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:52)
In our text this morning, the angels will tell us why joy should be the predominant emotion in our lives. One that won’t change as situations do.
Transition: Open your Bibles to Luke 2:8. We will look at the same text we looked at last Sunday. Only this time it will be from the perspective of the angels.
- Luke 2:8-9 An angel appears
Read: Luke 2:8-9
Angels, are everywhere this time of the year.
- They’re found in stores, in front yards, on cards, in movies, even on top of Christmas trees.
Why do angels have such a prominent role at Christmas? Because they have a prominent role in the Christmas story. Think about it:
- An angel announced to Zachariah that he and his wife Elizabeth would have a son who would prepare the way for Israel’s Messiah.. and his birth would bring them joy and gladness.
- The angel Gabriel came to Mary and told her she would bear a Son and He will be the Son of God.
- An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream telling him to take Mary as his wife because the son they are having is from God and He will save His people from their sins.
- Now an angel appears to shepherds announcing the birth of Israel’s Messiah.
- Later, an angel will come again to Joseph telling him to go to Egypt to keep the baby Jesus alive.
While each mention of an angel in the Christmas story is important, it’s the one in our text today that amazes me the most.
An angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds and the text tells us that the glory of the Lord shone around them.
- Because the angels are continually in God’s presence, they reflect His glory.
- And here, in the darkness of the night, the light of that glory is now reflecting off the angels and onto the shepherds.
I think it was a visible example, an object lesson if you will, of the message the angel was bringing to the shepherds that night and it runs through all the Bible.
Read: Isaiah 9:2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.
Read: John 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Read: John 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
Folks, all of that is still true.
- God still breaks into history in very unexpected and often surprising ways.
- He still reaches out to bring light into the dark places of our lives.
And when you look, when you see the light of Jesus in the darkness of life, it will bring you great joy! Because you’ll know… God is near!!
Luke 2:10-12 The angel’s message
Read: Luke 2:10-11
The angel told the shepherds not to be afraid because he came to give them good news. This is the first time the Greek word euangelizo is used in the New Testament. It’s translated Good News. What’s the good news?
First, it’s joy!
- And not only joy, according to the Greek it can be translated mega joy, joy on top of joy, a whole lot a joy! The greatest joy you will ever experience.
The angel tells us there is great joy because of the Good News.
Second, it’s for everyone.
We looked at that last Sunday. By announcing the good news to the shepherds, we see that the message is for all, not just the religious elite.
- The Apostle Paul agrees when he wrote Rom 10:13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
- Jesus said this was His mission in Luke 4:18-19 The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
The angel tells us there is great joy because the good news of salvation in Jesus is for everyone.
Third, the promised Messiah has been born… this day, this specific day in Bethlehem. The apostle Paul writes of the significance of this specific day in Galatians 4:4-5
- when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. That’s Good News!
The angel tells us there is great joy because the good news of salvation in Jesus is here, today.
Fourth, He is the Savior
- In Matthew 1:21 we get a bit more information about why we need a Savior.
An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and said She will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.
The angel tells us there is great joy because of the good news of forgiveness of sin in Jesus
Fifth, Jesus is Christ the Lord.
- The angel reiterates the fact that Jesus is Israel’s Messiah by calling Him Christ which means Anointed One or Messiah.
- He also calls Jesus Lord which means Master, the one to whom we belong.
The angel tells us there is great joy because the good news means we belong to Jesus.
Did you know that the nickname for Missouri is the ‘Show Me’ state? When it comes to spiritual things, we’re all residents of Missouri. And God knows that. Which is why the angel’s message included information that would validate what he was saying to the shepherds.
It would have been easy for the angel to stop with Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Instead, the angel told them what to look for and where to find the baby Jesus.
The angel tells us there is great joy because the good news… is real, it’s true!
- Luke 2:12-14 The angels worship
Read: Luke 2:13-14
One of the things that makes Luke’s Gospel unique is that it contains a lot of songs. Verse 14 is believed to be a song sung by an angelic choir… a huge angelic choir, as seen in the description: a multitude of heavenly host.
Singing is a big part of our Worship Celebration on Sunday mornings. And it was a big part of corporate worship found both in the OT and NT.
And, as we see from the text, worship can be contagious.
- Here we read the angelic choir started praising God and singing.
- Last week in verse 20 we found the shepherds left the manger that night glorifying and praising God…
When the angels thought about what God was doing in the lives of humanity… their response is no different than what ours should be… JOY!
- Joy expressed in praise, in song, in thanksgiving… in worship!
One last thing. When the angels sang glory to God in the highest,
- they were not saying to give glory to God who is in the highest place.
- But that God should receive the highest form of glory; from our lips and in our lives.
Folks, that tells me
- that our highest expression of love,
- our highest expression of thanksgiving,
- our highest expression of joy,
- should be to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
Conclusion: You are all perhaps familiar with Dr. Seuss’ ‘The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.’
- The Grinch was a mean, creature who hated Christmas. On Christmas Eve, he put on a Santa suit and quietly took all the presents while the villagers were sleeping. He also took everything that was a part of the Christmas celebration; Christmas trees, stockings, even decorations. His intent was to stop the joy of Christmas.
- The next morning the Grinch woke up to the same singing he had heard at that time of the year. He looked out his window saw that he had failed to dampen the villagers’ joy.
- The Grinch had stolen all the presents, toys and decorations but the villagers did not miss them. They were still standing together, holding hands and singing joyfully. (Victor Yap)
Jesus said These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:11)
The point of the movie ‘The Grinch who stole Christmas’. The point of the movie ‘Inside Out.’ The point of the angels message. The point of Jesus words in John 15:11 is the same.
When your life is rooted, based firmly in Jesus and His saving work of the cross of Calvary, nothing can steal your joy!
- Not a broken relationship.
- Not the loss of a job.
- Not being childless.
- Not living paycheck to paycheck.
- Not being passed over for a promotion.
- Not your children when they fail to honor Christ in their lives.
- Not being alone on Christmas morning.
No situation, no person, can steal your joy… when your joy is Jesus!