Introduction: If your family is like my family, you all enjoy giving and receiving presents at Christmas time. I really see no problem with celebrating Jesus’ birth by enjoying giving to others as a way to emulate His love and to “remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35). However, we must always be careful not to forget what we should really be celebrating at Christmas, which is the marvelous Gift that God has given us in sending His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. As the Apostle John tells us:
NKJ John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
With this in mind – and in order to help focus our attention upon the true “reason for the season” today – I would like to point out five blessings or characteristics of the great Gift that Jesus is to all of us from our loving Father in Heaven.
I. Jesus is a Gift that Casts Out Fear

Let’s read verse 8 through the first part of  verse 10 once more:
NKJ Luke 2:8-10a Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid …”
After telling us that the shepherds were “greatly afraid,” the very first words the angels said the to them were, “Do not be afraid.” I think John Piper has done a good job helping us grasp the significance of these words when he said:
It’s a natural thing for a sinner to fear. The more guilt we have, the more things we fear: fear of being found out for some little deceit, fear that some ache we have is God’s judgment, fear of dying and meeting the holy God face to face. But even though it’s natural, God sends Jesus with the word: Fear not! Hebrews 2:14 says: Jesus became man ‘that through death He might destroy him who has the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death have been held in lifelong bondage.’ Doesn’t this last phrase imply something tremendously liberating for our daily life? If the worst fear – fear of death – has been taken away through the death of Christ, then surely God does not want us to fear the lesser things in life. (A Big God for Little People)
What is it you are fearing this morning? Is it fear of facing an old hurt from a family member that you will have to see again this Christmas? Is it fear of not knowing how you will pay all the bills? Is it fear that you may lose your job? How about fear that you will fail at some endeavor, like starting a new job, or taking a test at school, or having to speak in front of some group at work? Or maybe you fear that you will disappoint others? Or, more importantly, maybe you fear God’s judgment due to some besetting sin in your life?
Whatever it is that you may be fearing in your life, remember that God’s perfect love casts out fear! (1 John 4:18). This Christmas let us remember the words of Jesus:
NKJ Matthew 6:25-30 Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
Or as the Apostle Peter reminds us:
NKJ 1 Peter 5:6-7 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
Or let us say with faith this Christmas season:
NKJ Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid.
Let the words of the angels to the shepherds be a reminder to you this morning that our Lord Jesus delivers us from our fears. In fact, He delivers us from the greatest fear of all – fear of death and the judgment of God.
II. Jesus is a Gift that Brings Joy

Let’s read verse 10 again:
NKJ Luke 2:10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.”
The second thing that the angels said to the shepherds was, “behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy,” and this should be a reminder to us today of the joy we have in Jesus Christ our Lord.
I have seen over the years that for many Christians the Christmas season is not a time of joy at all, usually because it reminds them of lost loved ones or of broken or strained relationships with family members. This is especially true for those who may have come from broken or abusive homes. There are some who even become quite depressed at this time of year! In fact, I can testify to my own struggle with this over the years. Perhaps there are some of you, too, who struggle in this way.
On the other hand, there are those who have gotten so caught up in Christmas as a season to celebrate shopping and materialism that they have turned it into one big stress-filled hassle. They have truly lost sight of the real reason Christians choose to celebrate this holiday, which is God’s gift of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. They have thoroughly forgotten that it is about good tidings of great joy! But Jesus greatly desires that we have joy from Him that springs from His great love for us. Remember that He said:
NKJ John 15:8-11 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. 9 As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.
The fullness of joy that Jesus brings can also sustain us through the most difficult of times. Remember what the Apostle James wrote:
NKJ James 1:2-5 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
Remember also what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians:
NKJ Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
Perhaps there are some here today who simply need to pray with David this Christmas season:
NKJ Psalm 51:12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
After all, Christmas is about God’s generosity, not ours!
III.  Jesus is a Gift that Brings Peace

Let’s read again verses 11-14:
NKJ Luke 2:11-14 “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, 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, goodwill toward men!”
Our focus here will on on the words of the angels in verse 14, which the New King James Version translates, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” However, this verse is better translated in several of the other modern versions. For example:
ESV Luke 2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!
NAU Luke 2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.
NIV Luke 2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.
In other words, God’s gift of His Son Jesus brings peace to believers, for it is only believers with whom He is pleased, for “without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). And the peace that Jesus brings to believers is a peace that the world cannot offer! Remember Jesus’ promise:
NKJ John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
This peace is for any who put their faith in Christ as Savior and Lord and, as Paul teaches us, it can be accessed through prayer whenever we feel it waning due to our lack of faith:
NKJ Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Such peace can be known even in the midst of our greatest trials, in which we might be tempted to be very anxious and worried. It is a peace that every true believer has known. Even though it cannot fully be explained, since it “surpasses all understanding,” it may be experienced anew by each one of us if we trust in Christ as Paul tells us to do.
IV.  Jesus is a Gift that Leads Us to Worship

Let’s read again verses 15-20:
NKJ Luke 2:15-20 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
Here we will focus our attention on verse 20, where we see that the shepherds are an example to all of us of the heartfelt worship that Jesus should engender in us. We are told that the “returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen.” And, if they were led to worship God at the announcement of the birth of our Lord, how much more should we be led to worship by the knowledge of His sinless life, His atoning death, His glorious resurrection, and His sovereignty over all the universe as He reigns at His Father’s right hand! How can our hearts not be filled with an even greater desire to praise Him as we remember His birth, since we know so much more fully what this means for our salvation!
V. Jesus is a Gift to be Shared with Others

Let’s back up in the text a few verses and read verses 17-18 again:
NKJ Luke 2:17-18 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
Again the shepherds serve as an example for us. Not only do they demonstrate hearts properly brimming with praise, but they also show us that those who are filled with a desire to worship the Lord will be filled with a desire to share the good news about His saving work with others. Thomas Constable does a good job of describing the significance of the fact that God first announced this good news to shepherds, who in turn told others:
Shepherds were socially looked  down upon in Jesus’ day. Their work made them ceremonially unclean, and they had a reputation for being untrustworthy. Thus God first sent the gospel to the lowly. Luke had a special interest in the lower elements of society. David, of course, had been a shepherd, but God had elevated him to be the ruler of His people (2 Sam. 7:8). Jesus’ career would follow the pattern of his ancestor generally. Throughout the Old Testament God used shepherds as symbols of those who cared for His people (Ps. 23:1; Isa. 40:11;  Jer. 23:1-4; et al.). Consequently these shepherds represent all people of lowly origin and reputation who receive the gospel by God’s grace and proclaim it joyfully to others. (Notes on Luke, e-sword)
This means that each of us can rest assured that we can be used of God to share the Gospel. In fact, perhaps we can all best celebrate this Christmas season by resolving to renew our efforts to tell others about Christ. The Lord Jesus Himself has certainly commanded us to do so:
NKJ Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
But not only can we ask the Lord to renew our zeal for sharing the Gospel with others in obedience to His commands, we can also pray that He will send even more witnesses into the lives of those we know … as well as to the rest of the world. Remember His command to His disciples that they should pray for God to send laborers into the harvest:
NKJ Matthew 9:37-38 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
Surely we, too, should be moved to tell others about our Lord Jesus and to pray for more laborers for the harvest!
Conclusion: Well, I hope today we have all been reminded about what Christmas really means, and I hope we have all been strengthened in our faith, looking to the Lord as the one who  casts out fear, who brings great joy and peace that passes understanding, and who calls us to worship Him and tell others of the salvation He offers in Christ. I will remind you once again that the meaning of Christmas may perhaps best be summed up with these well known words from John’s Gospel:
NKJ John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

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