Savior, Christ, and Lord
Jesus was born before there were birth certificates. At that time the idea of a birthday celebration was reserved for royalty. Most people had no idea when they were born or the exact date of their birth.
From time-to-time a person of common birth would grow up to become a person of historic significance. People would want to celebrate the historical significance of this person’s birth, but because no one knew the date of his or her birth, the cultures of the day came up with a formula for those whose birthdate was unknown.
This tradition proposed that the date of conception was the same as the date of death. So if a person died on January 1, they would say that he was conceived on January 1, and his birthday would be nine months later on October 1. In reality, they had no idea when the actual date of his or her birth was, but would celebrate their birth from that point on every year on October 1.
That’s how it was with Jesus. The early church focused on the day of His crucifixion and the day of His resurrection. By the time people thought it would be good to celebrate His birth as well they had long ago forgotten the date. But … they did know that Jesus had died on Passover.
The problem with Passover is that it always comes on a full moon which means it’s on a different day every year. And so the church did its best to figure out when Passover was during the year that Jesus died and set nine months later as Christmas.
As time went on, people started to notice that spring came a little bit later than it used to. At about the same time astronomers had figured out that an extra day needed to add to the calendar every four years in order to keep the calendar in sync with the seasons. Since there had been no “leap year” before they decided to add a dozen leap days in one year to get things back on track.
That led to the church having to decide: Do we adjust all the church holidays because of these extra leaps days, or should we keep them the same? The church in the East, decided one way and the church in the West the other. So, today the Western church celebrates December 25 as Christmas while the church in the East celebrates Christmas on January 6. The difference is twelve days or what we know as the Twelve days of Christmas.
Today we understand that the miracle of Jesus’s birth is the same miracle that takes place every time a baby is conceived. A single human cell within the womb of the virgin Mary began the process of dividing first into two cells, then four, then eight, for the next nine months. The unique thing is that even as one cell, God was present in all of His fullness.
And so Mary gave birth to God the Savior who would one day crush the serpent’s head lays sleeping in a manger. And satan, the world, and our own sinful flesh want to keep this child right where you see Him, that is in the manger. The last thing satan wants is for us to remember that this child who rests in Mary’s arms will one day hang from the arms of a cross as a sin offering.
The world works hard to produce a flashy, entertaining Christmas holiday. The world would be happy if the only image you had of your savior was that of a baby peacefully sleeping in a manger surrounded by His mom, dad and some adoring shepherds, and that’s all there is to it. The world would truly celebrate if the holiday of Christmas was all that you knew about Jesus.
And the world uses some of the best traditions to take our minds off the savior. The world would have us believe that getting together as a family is the main reason for Christmas, but it’s not. The world would have us believe that generosity is the main reason for Christmas, but it’s not. There are all kinds of good and noble traditions associated with Christmas and the world stands ready to push them all in order to divert our thinking from the true meaning of Christmas.
My friends it’s the angel’s proclamation to the shepherds that warns us about those traps. From them we learn that there is more to this child than just a baby in the manger. 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. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.
The angel used the words: Savior, Christ, and Lord. Savior from what? Well the Scriptures teach that we’re all conceived and born sinful and would be lost forever unless delivered from that sin and the condemnation it brings. The angel wants us to know that this One who is born in the City of David is that promised Savior.
The title Christ means the anointed one. Here the angel tells that this new born in the City of David is anointed to an office. In fact, it’s the three-fold office, that of prophet, priest, and king.
As prophet He speaks for God. And who better suited to speak for God than God Himself. Even then Jesus is more than a prophet. When prophets speak for God they revealed promises of God. Jesus not only makes Divine promises, but He fulfills them as well.
The King is the One who reigns. As Christ, this baby born in the manger is anointed to reign over all things. The one who reigns makes the rules. But most Kings set themselves above the rules. Not so with Jesus He was as God reveals through St. Paul … born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
A priest is a mediator between God and man. He prays to God for the people. He also offers up sacrifices on their behalf. As the Christ, this baby in the manger is the one, true mediator between God and man. He not only prays for the people, but He is the answer to our prayers. He not only offers up a sacrifice for the people, but He Himself is the sacrifice for all people. When the angel proclaims the birth of Christ, he is pointing us to the cross.
The angel called Him Lord. That is the baby lying in the manger is more than just a human being. He is God in human flesh. He was anointed to fulfill the promises of the prophets, keep the laws of the king, and offer Himself as the sacrifice that washes away all sin. The angels carry with them the truth in a manger for all the world to see, is God in the flesh who has come to save His people from their sin.
see even on this night we are reminded that all of us are conceived and born of sin and walk the road that leads to death. But we are also reminded that it was on a night like this that God who took on human flesh and blood was born into His creation that He might walk that road of death and die in our place so that by grace we might live eternally with Him who was born this night for us all.
In the Name of Him who saves us, Amen.