Angels, 25 December 2016

Series: First Christmas
Luke 2:1-14

Series Big Idea:
Most know the Christmas story, but what did the individual characters experience?

Big Idea: We need not fear angels…or anything but God.

Merry CHRISTmas! My name is Kirk and I’m thrilled to be able to celebrate Jesus’ birthday with you!

Throughout Advent—this season of waiting—we’ve been looking at the Christmas story through the eyes of various characters present at the First Christmas. We looked at the Wise Men, Elizabeth, the Innkeeper, Joseph, and today it’s the angels.

Have you ever met or seen an angel? Our minds picture a person dressed in white with wings and a halo, but angels are real creatures. In fact, they’re mentioned nearly three hundred times in the Bible! Unless they suddenly became an endangered species, they are just as real and important today.

We don’t have time to do a thorough study of angels today, but I want to look at two words they spoke: fear not.

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. (Luke 2:1-3)

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. (
Luke 2:4-7)

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. (
Luke 2:8-9)


Why were they terrified? They saw and angel. They saw the glory of the Lord.

It seems like often when angels appear, people are afraid. That makes sense, right?

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. (Matthew 28:5)

But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. (Luke 1:13)

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. (Luke 1:30)

Sometimes people are already afraid and angels are sent to bring comfort and peace.

God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. (Genesis 21:17)

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 1:20)

And we have the example in today’s text.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Luke 2:10

I have loved Charlie Brown for as long as I can remember. Being a musician, I should’ve identified most with Schroeder, but whenever I would read the Peanuts comics or watch the television specials I always connected with Charlie Brown.

Charles Schultz, the creator of Charlie Brown, told so many wonderful stories, but the best story he ever told was not his, but taken from the Bible.

Perhaps you’ve seen the Facebook post by Jason Soroski. I’m so grateful to Crystal who sent it to me. I nearly cried reading it…and I want to share it with you today.

Last year, A Charlie Brown Christmas aired on national prime time television for the 50th time. In a world where the latest greatest technology is outdated in a matter of months, and social media trends come and go in a matter of days, 50 years of anything becomes quite meaningful.

I am a fan of all things nostalgic and all things Christmas, and so when the two are combined I am hooked, and the Charlie Brown Christmas special falls squarely into that category.

I was in the first grade back when they still performed Christmas pageants in schools (less than 50 years, but still a very long time ago), and our class performed a version of the Charlie Brown Christmas. Since I was kind of a bookworm and already had a blue blanket, I was chosen to play the part of Linus. As Linus, I memorized
Luke 2:8-14, and that Scripture has been hidden in my heart ever since.

But while working so diligently to learn those lines, there is one important thing I didn’t notice then, and didn’t notice until now.

Right in the middle of speaking, Linus drops the blanket.

Charlie Brown is best known for his uniquely striped shirt, and Linus is most associated with his ever-present security blanket. Throughout the story of Peanuts, Lucy, Snoopy, Sally and others all work to no avail to separate Linus from his blanket. And even though his security blanket remains a major source of ridicule for the otherwise mature and thoughtful Linus, he simply refuses to give it up.

Until this moment. When he simply drops it.

In that climactic scene when Linus shares “what Christmas is all about,” he drops his security blanket, and I am now convinced that this is intentional. Most telling is the specific moment he drops it: when he utters the words, “fear not.”

Looking at it now, it is pretty clear what Charles Schultz was saying, and it’s so simple it’s brilliant.

The birth of Jesus separates us from our fears.

The birth of Jesus frees us from the habits we are unable (or unwilling) to break ourselves.

The birth of Jesus allows us to simply drop the false security we have been grasping so tightly, and learn to trust and cling to Him instead.

The world of 2016 can be a scary place, and most of us find ourselves grasping to something temporal for security, whatever that thing may be. Essentially, 2016 is a world in which it is very difficult for us to “fear not.”

But in the midst of fear and insecurity, this simple cartoon image from 1965 continues to live on as an inspiration for us to seek true peace and true security in the one place it has always been and can always still be found.

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

What are you afraid of? I know that’s an odd question to ask on Christmas Day, but what are you afraid of?

The dark?
Your credit card bill next month after Christmas shopping?
Your health?

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1John 4:16-18)

We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

Fear not!

The angels said it.

It’s the most common command in the Bible.

If we recognize the love and presence and power and wisdom and wonder and mystery of God, our other fears will diminish.

Technically, the Bible doesn’t say the angels sang. It says they praised God.

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (
Luke 2:13-14)

We can praise with words, but music has a special way of enhancing the worship.

“Angels We Have Heard On High” has possibly the longest word in any piece of music! The 18-syllable word is "Gloria." Gloria, in excelsis Deo means simply, “Glory to God in the highest.”

Fear Not

The message of Christmas is Immanuel, God is with us.

Fear not…God is with us.
Fear not…the Prince of Peace is here.
Fear not…you are not alone.
Fear not…the baby will return soon as King Jesus.

Happy birthday, Jesus! Merry CHRISTmas! God bless you!

  • You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.
  • The Call: Woman of Obedience, 23 November 2014

    Big Idea: Mary is not just for Catholics, but an obedient girl who responded to the call of God.

    The story of the birth of Jesus begins not on Christmas Day, but nine months or so prior. An angel calls Mary and announces her assignment (she really has no say in the matter!). She understandably asks the obvious question (v. 34) but does not object (as we will see next week). Has God called you to do something? It may not be as significant as giving birth to the Messiah, but are you being obedient to the smaller assignments He has given to you? Why did God choose Mary? It was likely because she was a woman (girl?) of obedience prior to the assignment.

    keywords: calling, mission, obedience

    Key Scripture: Luke 1:26-37

    Introduction: Call

    When someone calls you, what do you do?

    That’s a vague question, right? It depends upon who calls and how. Two hundred years ago if you wanted to call a person you could use your voice or possibly a letter, one a bit more instantaneous than the other!

    Then the telephone. We still have a land line. We almost never answer it, especially before political elections! If you ever call my house and we hang up on you, don’t take it personally! I’ve always tried to be respectful to people when they call. Half the time it’s not even a human on the other end. I sometimes pick up and just listen, waiting for a voice, then hanging up if there’s much more than a moment of silence on the other end. You might say I’m not very responsive if you call me on my home phone.

    The same is sometimes true for the office phone. Caller ID is a blessing! Perhaps a third of the calls to the church office are telemarketers, another third are people in distress asking for money, and the final third are people calling for other purposes.

    My cell phone is different. When it rings, I almost always respond. I don’t get too many telemarketers (knock on wood!). If my wife or one of my kids is on the caller ID, I almost always respond.

    Have you ever noticed sometimes the phone is more important than the person in front of you? It’s amazing how tempting it is to let a phone call with a human take precedence over the human with whom we are interacting. I try to never interrupt a live conversation for a phone call unless it is my immediate family. That’s why they created voice mail!

    Have you ever heard your name called in a public place? Your name may be the most important word in the world. It grabs your attention immediately. Perhaps you’ve heard your name over the PA system in a store or someone yelled your name across a parking lot. It’s unexpected, surprising, and sometimes rather fun. My father-in-law is the king of this! He retired to Florida and it seems every we talk with him he has another story of some old military buddy or high school colleague he encountered near his home.

    Imagine a stranger called your name. They came to you and said, “Greetings!”

    I’d probably run or tell them I’m out of cash if they wanted my money!

    Imagine being a teenage girl and suddenly you’re confronted by…an angel!

    Angels are real. The Bible is full of them. One third left to follow satan when he was kicked out of heaven for his pride, a failed coup attempt against God.

    Have you ever met an angel?

    In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel
    to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:26-28)

    This is great new! First, the angel is very friendly. “Greetings.” Then Mary is told she is highly favored. Who wouldn’t want an angel to announce that to them? Then Mary is told the Lord is the her.

    Imagine you go for a walk in the park and a friendly angel announces God is with you and you’re highly favored. What could be better?

    Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. (Luke 1:29)

    Greatly troubled at his words? It doesn’t say she was troubled by the appearance of a ghost. She was troubled at the angel’s words.

    But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:30-33)

    Mary was afraid. Perhaps angels can be scary! He repeats Mary’s favor with God. David is mentioned again…and Jacob, too. Gentiles tend to skip over these details, seeing them as unimportant facts, but as a Jew, they were significant. Prophecy clearly stated the Messiah would be a descendant of David. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were the beginning of the people of Israel.

    Matthew states it this way:

    A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose
    mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife, Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa, Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah, Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon. After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, Abiud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, Akim the father of Eliud, Eliud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. (Matthew 1:1-16)

    Last week we talked about women and how they have not always been given the freedom, recognition, responsibility, and opportunities afforded to men. Here is the family tree of Jesus. It’s not too exciting at first, but notice the women included—Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba…and Mary.

    Tamar and Rahab were prostitutes or alleged. Ruth was a foreigner. Bathsheba committed adultery—or was a rape victim. It’s startling that these women would be specifically mentioned (since each man listed had a mom!).

    The repeated phrase “The father of” shifts with Jesus since Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus, but He was born of Mary.

    For about 400 years God had been silent, the inter-testamental period between the old and new. Then the aged Elizabeth gets pregnant and now the virgin Mary is with child.

    “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34)

    Very good question!

    The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” (Luke 1:35-37)


    With few exceptions, “Mariam” has been tossed aside by Protestants except for the month of December when we let her sit in the nativity scene beside the baby Jesus. Not wanting to “worship” her as Roman Catholics are often accused of doing, we ignore her faith, obedience, and important role throughout the life and death of Jesus. This series will strive to uncover the character and narrative of one of the Bible’s most underrated figures and one we are to call “blessed” (Luke 1:48b).

    Why do we virtually ignore Mary? For some it is a reaction to Catholics. Contrary to some rumors, Mary was not a Roman Catholic!!! If Mary is overrated by Catholics, she is underrated by Protestants. Aside from being the mother of Jesus, she found favor with God and was carefully chosen to bring the Messiah into our world. As my professor Scot McKnight says, “We are Protestants; we believe in the Bible; Mary is in the Bible; we need to believe what the Bible says about Mary.”

    Mary was obedient, not only in giving birth to Jesus (did she have a choice?!) but she clearly lived a life that honored God. She was undoubtedly faithful in the small things that allowed her to be chosen for a most monumental task.

    So What?

    What about you? Are you highly favored by God? I can promise you God is with you. That was His promise. Matthew’s final recorded words of Jesus—known as the Great Commission—say this:

    Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

    Notice two things:

    1. Jesus wants His followers to obey…and teach others to obey. Obedience is God’s love language.
    2. He promises to be with us. Always. Psalm 139 is one of many explicit passages about God’s omnipresence—His ability to be with us always and everywhere. We are never alone. Never.

    What is God saying to you today? What are you going to do about it?

    Those two questions will determine not only your present but your future. God is not mad at you. He’s not trying to harm you or make your life miserable. He’s a great, loving Dad who can be trusted—even when He’s not understood.

    One of the great things about Thanksgiving is the way it reminds us how we are truly blessed. Every good and perfect gift is from the LORD.

    My prayer for you and me is that we would trust and obey. He’s calling you to obey. He’s calling me to obey. Have you heard His voice? If not, perhaps it’s time to spend more time with Him—in prayer and study of His Word.

    For Further Study

    The Real Mary by Scot McKnight

    You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.