“The Hinge of History”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

3RD SUNDAY OF ADVENT

DECEMBER 16,2018

Title: “The Hinge of History”

Text: “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).

Scripture Reading Luke 2:1-10

 

The story is told how two friends had an argument that it was unfair that atheists had no recognized days for their religion as other religions did. The case was brought before a judge. After listening to the passionate presentation by the lawyer, the judge banged his gavel declaring, “Case dismissed.” The lawyer immediately stood and objected to the ruling saying, “Your honor, how can you possibly dismiss this case? The Christians have Christmas, Easter, etc. The Jews have Passover, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, and Hanukkah. Yet my client and all other atheists have no such holidays.” The judge leaned forward in his chair and said, “But you do. Your client, counsel, is woefully ignorant.”

The lawyer said, “Your Honor, we are unaware of any special observance or holiday for atheists.”

The judge said, “The calendar shows April 1st is April Fools Day, and Psalm 14:1 states: ‘The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.’Thus, it is the opinion of this court, that if your client says there is no God, then he is a fool. Therefore, April 1st is his day. Court is adjourned.” This story brings to the fold similar beliefs by many that Christmas is not the birth of Jesus Christ, and Christmas is of no significance because Christ was not born on December 25.  The Bible however explains the opposite. Jesus Christ’s birth was foretold. He was born on a specific day and time. He was born at a specific place. Our text today tells us about the angelic announcement about the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It tells us that His birth is the hinge of past and present events. It tells us that Christ’s birth is the hinge of history (Luke 2:10-11).

How remarkable is heaven’s announcement of the birth of Christ.  Not to Caesar Augustus in the city of Rome did the news come. Not to Herod the Great, nor to the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem was the announcement made, but “to certain poor shepherds in the fields as they lay” (Luke 2:8-9)  The angel’s announcement is the heart of the Christmas story.

Christ’s birth is the hinge of history, the dividing line. Every date affixed to a check or legal document is witness that the central events in history was the birth of Christ.  Our thinking is in term of either BC, “before Christ” or AD, anno domini, meaning the year of the Lord. this tells that Christ birth is true.

In this annunciation the angel tells us that Jesus’ coming may be regarded from different points of view.  These points of view authenticate the birth of the Savior.

Jesus’s coming has a universal dimension.  “I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all the people” (Luke 2:10).  Christianity is for all people of all time. Jesus was born a world Savior. He so understood his mission.  Jesus Christ coming is the hinge of history in that the coming of Christ provides joint upon which everything binds. Thus Paul interpreted it.  In one of the most breathtaking passages of Scripture which appears in the opening of Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians, the Apostle literally starts at the very beginning when he writes, “In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ” (1:4–5). As Paul unfolds all of the blessings that believers receive, he anchors salvation in Christ with the repetition of a phrase: “In him …” Paul writes, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses … to unite all things in him…. In him we have obtained an inheritance…. In him you also … were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” (vv. 7–13, emphasis mine). Paul repeats the refrain “in him,” which points us to the doctrine of union with Christ.

 And thus his early followers.preached. They preached that through Christ everything else is possible, just ask (Matthew 7:7). Most of the world’s religions-Confucianism, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism have a limited appeal, but Christianity has followers in all countries .  People everywhere need a Savior from sin and a hope for eternal life. Christ came to meet these needs.

As we come together today, we are conscious of being part of a great company, a worldwide fellowship.  Though in many lands Christ’s followers differ in language, in custom, in manner of celebrating his birth, the joy in the hearts of all Christians is the same.

Christ coming has a historical dimension.  

“Unto you is born this day,” the angel said.  “This day.” Jesus was born at a point in time.  Something happened, and that event is dated .This is not an abstract proposition; it is a historical fact.This is not an ancient legend or a bit of Jewish folklore; this is the record of a historical event, an event by which all others are dated.  The faith of Christendom is that at one point in history, God broke directly into this world. Our faith centers in what God has done. Seeing or failing to see this will shape our whole philosophy of history.

The Greek defined history as a series of non-unique, ever-recurring events.  They were saying that history repeats itself. Their cynical attitude was, “That which shall be has already been.”  But the birth of God’s Son assures us that they were wrong. History does repeat itself. History does repeats itself, it does recur in cycles, but nonetheless it is moving toward a goal, a consummation; and along the way there are great towering mountain peak.The highest of them is this, “Unto you is born this day.”  Isaiah the prophet also foretold it (Isaiah 9:6).

Jesus’s coming has a geographic dimension.

“Unto you is born this day in the city of David,” was the angel’s tiding “In the city of David.”  Jesus was born at a place on the earth, at a spot on the map you can pinpoint. Humanity has always wanted to believe that the universe has meaning, that something more than human power makes for righteousness, and that the world operates out of the framework of moral law.  In the historical appearance of Jesus, born at a certain time in a certain place, God assures us that this is true. Jesus was not born in some hypothetical place, in a dim and distant never-never land, but at a definite place, “the city of David.” Not only was Jesus born at a definite point in time, he was born at a definite place on the world’s surface.  The third fact confirms and support the second.

Jesus’s coming has a redemptive dimension.

“Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior.”  How joyous was the good tidings of the angel messenger! There is born… a Saviour.”  Not only was he born at a specific time and place, but for a specific purpose, announced by God’s angelic message before his birth: “And thou shall call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from sins” (Matthew 1:21).  Always God is the initiator in the redemptive drama. In a way people did not suspect, God was invading human life.

The consciousness of Jesus’ redemptive mission bore heavily on his mind and heart and drove him on with an imperious sense of urgency never before known to mortal man (John 9:4).  Jesus said, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.”

Jesus’s coming has a prophetic dimension.

“Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”  This was “good tidings of great joy” indeed. None of the shepherds could have understood.  No devout Jew of that day, steeped in the religion of his fathers, could have misunderstood the phrase “which is Christ the Lord.”  This was the glad announcement that the promised Messiah and “King of David’s line had been born.

This was the hope that enabled the Jews to survive the shock of national destruction and to preserve their national identity during seventy years of exile and return to their own land.  This was the hope that enabled them to survive the persecution of the inter-biblical period and to throw of the yoke of the Greek oppressor, This was the hope that strengthened them in Jesus’s day and enabled them to endure the iron heel of Rome upon their necks.  The angel said, “This day that hope is fulfilled. The one born is “Christ the Lord.” God’s prophets had promised, and God kept the promise made through his prophets.

Beloved, that promise is to all, even to us.  This event at Bethlehem is no private matter. Let me emphasize in closing a phrase of the text that is near its beginning.  “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” Hear him. That herald angel is speaking “unto you.”  God bless you.