Sermon from the Gospel of Luke | It Came Upon a Midnight Clear | Luke 2:8-14

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear (Luke 2:8-14)

When she was expecting RJ, Tammy had blood pressure trouble, so about three weeks before her due date, Tammy’s ob/gyn sent us for an ultrasound to make sure RJ was developed enough for her to induce labor. After the ultrasound, Tammy and I went to Dr. Eastham’s office. We were the only ones in the waiting room, and Dr. Eastham stuck her head out and said, “We’re having a baby tomorrow.” I don’t know what expression went across my face, but Dr. Eastham came over to me, put her arm around me, and said, “Honey, this too shall pass.”

Well, Tammy would not go into labor with IV meds. After 3 days, Dr. Eastham broke Tammy’s water to force labor. Complications in the delivery room made it obvious that RJ was going to be born by a Caesarean. At that point, Dr. Eastham became upset, said some four-letter words, and told the nurses to get Tammy and me to the OR. As we went into the OR, Tammy looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “The first words our baby heard were cuss words.” Well, not long after those cuss words, we had our first son.

You vividly recall the birth of your firstborn. Many of you guys paced nervously in the waiting room until a nurse came and told you the blessed news. Some of you guys held your wife’s hand while she gave birth. You women could tell about the pain and the relief from drugs. You could also tell about the anticipation and about finally cuddling that baby to your breasts and about nursing him or her and counting fingers and toes.

This morning’s text is about the birth of Mary’s firstborn. And Luke drew a parallel between Jesus and Augustus Caesar, the Roman Emperor, a comparison that showed Jesus to be far superior to the emperor. You see, regardless of the propaganda Augustus promoted, “Jesus is the Savior. Jesus is the Christ. And Jesus is the Lord.

Scripture (Luke 2:8-14)

verse 8:

Although both Moses and David were shepherds, most people saw shepherds as dirty, lowly, dangerous, and beneath them. God chose some of the most despised people on the planet to be the first to hear about the birth of his Son. Doesn’t that say something about how God views those society casts off?

Jerusalem was only about 5 miles from Bethlehem, and some scholars suggest that these shepherds were watching over sheep to be sacrificed for sin. If that is the case, think about the irony! The first to hear about the birth of the One who would be the sacrifice for sin were watching over animals which were sacrificed for sin.

verse 9-10:

The shepherds “were filled with great fear” when an angel appeared to them. Instead of fear, the angel had a message of joy for everyone on earth.

verse 11:

The angel proclaimed: “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Inscriptions hailed Augustus Caesar as “Savior” and “Lord.” Those titles didn’t belong to the Emperor in Rome but to a Babe in a manger.

In Bethlehem was born a Savior. The world needed a Savior, for Old Testament sacrifices could not remove sin: “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb 10:4). The Lord instructed Joseph to name his child Jesus, “for he will save his people from their sins” (Matt 1:21). Jesus understood that; about the cup at the Lord’s Supper, Jesus said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt 26:28).

In Bethlehem was born the Christ. The Greek term for “Christ” means “Anointed One.” In the Old Testament, prophets, priests, and kings were anointed. Jesus was anointed as the Christ, as prophet, priest, and king, when the Holy Spirit came upon him at his baptism.

In Bethlehem was born the Lord. The word “Lord” refers to one who is to be obeyed. Jesus expects obedience: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Lk 6:46).

verse 12:

The shepherds would find the baby “wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” Because Bethlehem was so small, the shepherds wouldn’t need to search many stables to find the right one.

verses 13-14:

A multitude of the heavenly host appeared praising God, a contrast with the earthly choirs which sang praises to Augustus Caesar.

The multitude praised God by saying, “On earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Augustus boasted about peace he had obtained by defeating Rome’s enemies; however, Jesus, not Augustus, gives real peace.


Jesus is the Savior. Jesus is the Christ. And Jesus is the Lord.” From this angelic message, you must understand: Jesus is your Savior, Jesus is your Christ, and Jesus is your Lord.

Jesus is your Savior.

Jesus came to save sinners. “The Son of Man came . . . to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt 20:28). “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (Jn 3:17). “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim 1:15).

Jesus did not come just to save the world; he came to save you from your sins. All those actions which cause you such shame—they are nailed to the cross. All those actions you wish you could undo—they are nailed to the cross. All your sins—no matter how embarrassing or how many consequences you still bear—are nailed to the cross, and you bear them no more. Jesus is your Savior.

Jesus is your Christ.

At Pentecost, Peter said, “God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36). As Christ, Jesus was anointed as God’s prophet, priest, and king. As Christ, Jesus is God’s prophet—he spoke God’s words; Jesus is God’s priest—he atones for sin; and Jesus is God’s king—he reigns over the kingdom.

Jesus is your prophet; therefore, you need to hear his words: “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matt 7:24). As your priest, Jesus allows you to go before God with complete boldness and confidence: Hebrews 4:15-16. As your king, Jesus reigns over your life.

Jesus is your Lord.

At Christmastime, you’ll see many homes and businesses and churches with nativity scenes. At the center will be a little baby who came to save the world from its sins. That’s such a sweet sight—a little baby in swaddling clothes who came to save me from sin and hell.

The angel told the shepherds that Jesus is the world’s Savior, but he is also the Lord. As Lord, Jesus demands your complete obedience. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt 7:21). “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt 16:24). “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15).

Jesus does not ask you to obey him when you feel like it or when you like what he said. He commands your complete and total obedience—period. Unless you obey Jesus with everything you have and everything you are, he cannot be your Lord.


The angel of the Lord announced to the shepherds that in the city of David had been born “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Is he your Savior? Is he your Christ? Is he your Lord?

This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at Church of Christ Deer Park in Deer Park, Texas.

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