The Grand Entrance
Text: Luke 2:1-20
Proposition: Everything in the details of Christ’s birth were exactly how God desired it to be for each detail shouted to the heavens Who He is.
Introduction: We used to have these two golden retrievers that would come racing down the stairs into the basement family room. Their nails would slip on the laminate floor and they’d crash into each other and whatever was in their way. It was an unrestrained excitement and joy that made me laugh every time. There’re things you hear, taste, see, smell and do that you never tire of because of the joy and love in them. What about you, what is it you never tire of? What about the story of the birth of Jesus, do you ever get tired of it? Does it still fill you with a sense of awe, a quiet beauty? When God pondered the entrance of His Son into the world, what do you suppose were some of the things that He considered? Was it how to present to the world the One who created it? Was it how best to care for the soon to be humanity of Jesus? Would the grand entrance describe in some way the personhood of God, His character, His nature, His identity? Let’s read again the details of the Grand Entrance, Luke 2:1-20.
I. The Chaos of Sovereignty Reveals God Perfectly.
You know what I mean by sovereignty, the ability to not only rule over all things but to set things in place exactly as you choose. So consider for a moment what we know to be true about the details of the grand entrance of Jesus Christ into an eternity of being human. The virgin birth was set to occur with a young woman of great faith and great poverty. Though she is engaged this unexpected pregnancy becomes grounds for divorce. The recovery of the marriage occurs as God directs Joseph to trust and believe but as soon as this stability is in place a census is announced and Mary, nine months pregnant, journeys 100 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Because they move so slowly by the time the time they arrive all available beds are taken and a manger is the only place of shelter. Sovereignty is the ability to set things into place exactly as you choose. God is absolutely sovereign so the chaotic details of this grand entrance are perfect for what He intends to declare about Himself. What do you suppose it was that God wanted to declare by such an entrance? Let’s consider two possibilities:
- God is Infinitely Different from Man. Isaiah 55:9, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” All you have to do is ask yourself if this was how you would have done it. How high are the heavens above the earth anyway? The distance, and we have to use the phrase, ‘known universe’, because we haven’t found the edge yet, seems to indicate immense distance, immeasurable distance. So the ways of God are higher, immeasurably, than our ways. His thoughts are immeasurably higher than our thoughts. God is infinitely different from man yet God entered into humanity eternally when Jesus Christ was conceived and then born. Which means that Jesus is infinitely different from any other person, perfect, sinless and righteous. Yet at the same time He was made in His humanity just like us. The very terms we use to describe Jesus declare how wonderfully different He is: He is Prophet – God speaking to man; Priest -man speaking to God; King -man speaking to man. From the details of His incarnation God introduces us to this truth. .
- God’s Timing Is Perfectly Different From Ours. 2 Peter 3:8. “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” What Peter is saying is that God moves in time as though it was a liquid rather than a linear concept. There is no time line to Him, it is all one fluid moment. C. S. Lewis once wrote, “If God foresaw our acts, it would be very hard to understand how we could be free not to do them. But suppose God is outside and above the Time-line. In that case, what we call "tomorrow" is visible to Him in just the same way as what we call "today." All the days are "Now" for Him. He does not remember you doing things yesterday; He simply sees you doing them, because, though you have lost yesterday. He has not. He does not "foresee" you doing things tomorrow; He simply sees you doing them: because, though tomorrow is not yet there for you, it is for Him.” Omnipresence, the trait that proclaims God is everywhere at once, has everything to do with time and distance. Add to this the Omniscient all knowing mind of God and we glimpse how a day can be like a thousand years to God.
- From the moment Joseph and Mary left Nazareth, God was timing their arrival with a precision that would make NASA seem primitive. Every detail in the chaotic grand entrance of Jesus had a timing to it. All of prophesy has a timing to it, from Isaiah to David, to Moses to Abraham to Noah to Adam. All the prophecy that came to us down through the ages resonated the truth of Who Jesus is. Since the creation of the world, well actually before the world was created, God was timing the arrival of His Son into the world. Do you remember that passage in Rev. 13:8 that says, “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Or Matthew 13:34,35, “All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: "I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world." Or Ephesians 1:4, “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love”.
Do you get that phrase, ‘before the foundation of the world’? Do you see the timing inherent in it? Perfect timing, not only as regards the birth of Jesus, but also your very birth, and even your second birth being born again in Christ Jesus by faith. All this is included in the perfect timing of God and God’s timing is perfectly different from ours!
God’s sovereignty can appear to us to be chaotic, we see that in this passage, yet it is perfect in what it achieves and it what it declares about Who God is.
II. The Design of Grace Reveals God Perfectly.
The word ‘grace’ has a number of meanings. It can describe elegance or beauty, it can refer to undeserved favor, it can even refer to an extension of time after a debt is actually due. Grace is the word that often comes to mind when we describe God. When we think about the Grand Entrance of Jesus Christ at His birth there is a design of grace that perfectly reveals God. There’s design in all the humble or lowly setting of Christ’s birth…the lack of a warm house and a soft bed, the lack of close friends and family, alone in the manger, the only privileged guests…shepherds. Everything that seems out of place for the birth of this King of kings is there by design, a design that pictures the contrast between heaven and earth, holiness and sin, deity and humanity. It is a design of grace in that it pictures the humility of Christ, it pictures a poverty of spirit and a purity of heart in Him that by grace He draws us to. Thirty years after Bethlehem Jesus would say, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God…blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” (Matt.5). Who is it that first sees Jesus, first sees God? It’s Joseph and Mary, holding in their arms the promise of nine months ago. Who is the first to visit? It’s the shepherds who believed enough in what the angel said that they would leave their sheep to see this sign, a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths laying in a manger, a baby that the angel said would be good news, a great joy for all the people. They believed, with a pure heart and they saw God. The design of grace is that we too would be pure in heart, we too would see God for all of Who He is and all He intends to do. I say that because that is what it means to glorify God, it’s an eternal pursuit.
It’s kind of like a father who gets down on one knee to talk to his child. It’s an act of grace that tells the child the father cares, it’s a way getting down to their eye level so they can see you, so they know you see them, hear them. It’s a way of speaking to the child in terms they can understand.
The design of grace has God’s highest creatures, the angels, the ones who were before the world was created, the ones who know what man is and have watched him since the beginning of time, the ones who know the blazing presence of God, these angels now see the Son of God incarnated into humanity and they cry out to the shepherds the deep, deep truth of what the shepherds cannot yet see: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
Jesus, our peace, is now among men. Jesus, the one with whom God the Father is pleased has come to us that we might come to God, that we might receive the right and the power to become children of God. Had mankind somehow pleased God enough that He then sent Jesus? In NO way! It was grace and the design of grace was that we by faith in Jesus as our Savior would become Jesus-like in His righteousness. The design of grace is that as Jesus was born in humble settings, God coming to man… even so we are born again by grace through faith and yet again God comes to us.
This grand entrance of our Savior Jesus Christ, perfectly planned that we would see and know the love of God, has brought good news of a great joy for all the people.