Luke 2:4-20 Salvation is secured through protracted battles against sin to establish Christ’s kingdom.

Luke 2:4-20 Salvation is secured through protracted battles against sin to establish Christ’s kingdom

4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, 5 in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. 6 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. 17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

Background

The shepherds were greeted by a host of angels announcing the birth of the Saviour in the city of David. The shepherds understood the message as a good news of imminent liberation from poverty and oppression. Indeed, salvation of Israel will come by way of Christ in the same way as it did in the days of king David. Except that through Christ, believers are given divine authority to destroy the agents of darkness. Today’s devotion teaches us that salvation is secured through protracted battles against sin for the sake of Christ’s kingdom.

Observation

Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem.

Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem, Joseph’s ancestral home for the region wide census. It was during their time in Bethlehem that the Child was due. As there were no facilities available at that time, the holy family was forced to content with a manger from which livestock fed. However, by divine providence, a new born in a manger became an unmistakable sign for the visiting shepherds.

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.

The magnificent appearance of the angels impressed upon the shepherds the divinity of the message. Having been convinced of it, the shepherds proceeded to seek out the Child who was to bring peace among men. “Peace” connotes a state of blessedness which God will bring to man out of His love and goodwill. The angels, in declaring “Glory to God in the highest” announced the successful implementation of God’s salvation plan for humanity. And no evil would be able to thwart God from implementing His salvation plans on earth. Being a descendant of David and birthed in the city of David, identifies the Christ as a type of king David who is to bring salvation to Israel. Hence, the Christ is not only Saviour but King of the world.

“Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.”

The news of the Saviour’s birth brought indescribable joy to the people who were oppressed by the rulers of darkness. The Child is to grow in wisdom and stature, in favour with God and man (Luke 2:52). And having obtained all authority from God (Matthew 28:18), He will disarm the powers of darkness that oppresses the righteous (Colossians 2:15). Having done so, He will entrust His supreme authority to faithful believers (see John 20:21) who will reign over creation by destroying the powers of darkness. Having learned of so great a salvation, the shepherds returned with great joy being assured of imminent liberation from poverty and oppression.

Truth

Salvation is secured through protracted battles against sin to establish Christ’s kingdom.

The manner in which Christ is styled in this angelic proclamation holds important implications concerning the process and motivation of securing salvation. As the shepherds understood it, salvation of Christ shall come in very much the same way as it did in the days of king David where he first triumphed over Goliath, then king Saul and subsequently the enemies of the land. The shepherds in hearing the good news of great joy knew very well that…

  • Salvation is secured through protracted battles against the enemies of God.
  • The soldiers are motivated to fight for the salvation of their nation, not just for themselves.
  • The soldiers may not immediately enjoy the fruit of their struggles.

The shepherds knew full well the price and process involved in securing peace on earth and goodwill to man. As opposed to the modern day idea of salvation where nothing is required of the believer except a verbal confession… in fact, salvation comes at great cost for both the king and the soldier. That said, many believers today are focused on their own salvation with little regard for others. The idea of salvation as the shepherds understood it concerns the nation Israel as a whole, not just the individual.

Today, our battle is not for political sovereignty of any country, but for salvation; the rule of Christ over humanity. Nevertheless, the process and motivation of securing salvation remains the same. Believers must do battle to uphold righteousness, mercy and the worship of Christ where they are planted. Indeed, the rule of Christ and His truth traverses political, racial, and cultural boundaries. However, churches are losing the fight, felled by the sting of sin, adultery, and greed. And already, many faithful believers are suffering from the onslaught of the enemy on a daily basis… They were sidelined and cast aside because of the truth they stood for. Revelations 6:10-11 detailed the battle cries of the faithful and Christ’s directive to soldier on against the tide of sin,

“How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also. Revelation 6:10-11 (NASB)

Here, salvation is depicted by a white robe after believers have given their lives for the fight against sin. Indeed, it has always been sin that caused Israel or any country to decline and be absorbed by their neighbours. The sin that seeks to engulf and decimate humanity is:

  • The sin of sensuality, which is apostasy and adultery.
  • The sin of greed to acquire more wealth, which is idolatry.
  • The sin of pride to dominate others, which is oppression.

Therefore, believers must stand for the truth where they are planted by exposing the hidden works of darkness. To educate the young concerning the ways of Christ by being a living example. To uphold justice, mercy and safeguard the interests of the marginalised. God is calling for all believers to recalibrate their vision by not focusing on their own welfare but the salvation of the nations. The battle against sin is far from over. If believers become complacent and do not join in the fight, the tide of sin may very well come up to our door steps and rob our families of their salvation.

Application

As a follower of Christ, we must actively fight against injustice in the work place where the weak are unfairly treated and marginalised. We must actively uphold integrity in the work place where errors are covered up for the benefit of the wealthy and powerful. We must prevent ourselves from falling into the sin of sensuality that leads to unfaithfulness. We must guard ourselves from greed and the desire to dominate others. By utilising the supreme authority of Christ, we are assured of protection and victory over the dark forces that operate in the background. Most importantly, we must educate the young concerning the truths of Christ by becoming a living example. And having established a culture of justice, mercy and humility, we bring our community closer to the recognition of Christ as Lord and Saviour.

Dear Lord, I desire to complete the battle that you have started in the world. Use me to establish your rule in my family, community and nation. Grant me boldness and kingly authority to uphold equity and justice, mercy and humility in my family and at the work place. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.


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