Christmas 2, 2019
The Epistle – Isaiah 61:1-3
The Gospel – St. Matthew 2:19-23
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.
On Christmas Day we noted the similarities of two scripture passages. Genesis chapter 1 and John chapter 1.
Both spoke of “In the beginning” and then went on to tell us what happened.
Genesis records God saying, “Let there be light” and goes on to speak of the details of creation, day by day.
John, in his “chapter 1” tells us about Jesus Christ, who was born of the Virgin Mary.
John says that He was “…in the beginning” as well.
John makes a direct connection, linking Jesus with the creation of the universe…and indeed the light that is spoken and then comes in to lighten the world.
This is logical because much of what we celebrate at Christmas is bigger than just Jesus the baby in the manger.
We celebrate the Incarnate Deity.
The Savior which is Christ the Lord.
Immanuel, God with us.
The One prophesied from Old.
And speaking of that light, our Prayer this morning acknowledged that God has poured upon us the new light of His Incarnate Word.
This is what John meant. Jesus is the light that came into a dark world. A world darkened by sin.
And He has poured His light into us, in coming to us, regenerating us and making us His own and then working by His Spirit to shine inwardly to enlighten our minds…. and outwardly through us to share this Gospel with others.
We ask this day that the light of Christ that has enlightened us and awakened us and brought new life to us will shine forth in our lives, through Jesus Christ.
The light must shine through Jesus Christ by the Spirit. We are only light bearers as we are given that light by Christ.
The concept of light is all through the Scriptures. We can only touch on a few here this morning.
The concept of light is used in multiple ways and it should be understood by us, so that we can better understand what Christmas and the Incarnation are about.
The first act of God is bringing forth light. Before there was anything, there was light.
And from here, God used this first-step concept to enlighten us with all that this means.
Before there was light, we are to imagine all was dark.
God, being light Himself, brought forth light as His first act and this set the stage for all that was to come.
Though all things are clear as mid-day to God, we can think of this in our own finite terms.
we go to
work in a low-lit environment, we bring light to our work area so we can see
what we are doing.
In like manner, God first speaks light into the world so all that is to come in the way of creation, can be seen and His glorious creative power can be viewed and observed by the angels.
In fact, John tells us, “1 John 1:5b
“…God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (ESV)
James 1:17 calls God the “Father of lights.”
God, by nature is light.
So, all that comes from Him has its source in Him and is a result of Him lighting things…or bringing them into existence.
By extension, then, Jesus of course is again called the light of the world.
Jesus says in John 8, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (ESV)
So knowing and following Jesus is having the light of understanding.
During Jesus’ ministry, speaking to His Apostles, He said, referring to Himself,
“The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going.  While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” (ESV)
So even we are light. We are sons of light as we walk in the knowledge of Christ and live by His power.
The Psalmist says of God,
“The LORD Is My Light and My Salvation. whom shall I fear? (ESV)
“For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. (ESV)
St. Paul says, Ephesians 5:6–11
“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.  Therefore do not become partners with them;  for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light  (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true),  and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.  Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” (ESV)
So, we are encouraged to walk in the light, for since we are no longer in darkness, we are to walk as light in the Lord.
Sometimes light is used to express the illumination that happens when people come to the knowledge of God and his salvation.
For example, Simeon was into the Temple when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus. He takes Jesus into his arms and blesses and praises God by saying,
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” (ESV)
So Christmas is a celebration of Jesus’ arrival and presence. It is an act….It is THE act of bringing light into the world.
This is the light of revelation that Simeon is talking about. It is the light of knowledge of Him. It is the light of the glory of God.
Now, we are closing out the Christmas season and tomorrow, actually begins the Epiphany Season.
Importantly, Epiphany means “appearance” or “manifestation”…and we might add “Illumination.”..if we use it correctly and carefully.
The appearance, the manifestation of Christ in the world, to Jewish parents first, then to the Gentiles next was light.
Christ is the light of revelation to both Jew and Gentile…
So, these lessons today are really good final ones for Christmas and good ones to get us ready for Epiphany.
First in our lesson appointed for the Epistle from Isaiah. Isaiah is a prophet living about 700 years before Jesus is born.
As all true prophets do, they speak the words of God. They speak the light of God’s truth and commands to the people God wants to have hear.
And today, here is an interesting passage.
These words, though uttered by the Prophet Isaiah 700 years before Jesus is born are understood to be spoken by the second person of the Trinity, who would become the Christ in human flesh…700 years later.
There are a few places in the Old Testament where the speaker is clearly Christ, speaking to the Father. And here is one of them. This is a prediction or an announcement of what He would do when He came into the world.
When you hear this, is this not Jesus speaking??
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor, etc.
How are we
to understand this passage?
How might we be enlightened by such words?
This is first, inspired by the God the Son….uttered and written by Isaiah the Prophet, and yet they are once again the words of Christ.
As Jesus begins His ministry He finds a time to announce those very words uttered by Isaiah and apply them to Himself.
Luke 4:14–22 we read, “And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country.  And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.  And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”
“And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.  And he began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’  And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, ‘Is not this Joseph's son?’” (ESV)
Jesus Christ… come into the world at this time, to bring the light of life to all who will receive Him.
He says that the Spirit of the Lord is upon Him. Of course this is true. God the Son is in an eternal loving relationship with God the Holy Spirit.
The Father is pleased with the Son and the Holy Spirit descends on Jesus in approval and power and anointing.
This is what Jesus was telling the men in the synagogue that day.
He reads that the Spirit of the Lord God has anointed Him to proclaim good news to the poor.
What is the Good News? The Gospel of His coming and His free gift of salvation.
Who are the poor? Those He came to die for. We are the poor and the lame and the blind and the deaf. The poor are by definition those who need to hear the Gospel of Grace.
Those whom God promises to restore are called poor, blind, lame, deaf, etc.
Christ’s arrival was to bring the light of life to all of those spiritual ailments of sin that afflict us.
Deafness to the voice of God.
Blindness to the glory of God.
Deadness to the salvation of God.
All of that, He came to reveal to us in Himself.
What else? The Spirit of the Lord has anointed Him to proclaim liberty to the captives. To set at liberty those who are oppressed.
The captives are those who are captive to sin. A condition we all shared in at one-time. But now that we are freed by His grace from the power of sin, we are to no longer let sin reign in us.
All of this, however must be understood and grasped by us in humility.
We cannot enjoy the benefits Christ brings to us unless we are truly humbled by conviction of sin and then by coming to Him as hungry, poor, blind sinners, groveling the dark.
Finally, Jesus says He came, anointed by the Spirit to proclaim the year of the Lord’s Favor.
It is not 2020 that is the year of the Lord’s Favor, nor was it strictly speaking the 1st century when Christ appeared.
The time of salvation is now for all men. Every day is the day of salvation.
St. Paul says in Galatians 4, “…when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,  to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (ESV)
Jesus Christ is the light of the world.
He is the Light of Salvation. Born to redeem those who are in the dark.
Let us close out this Christmastime with hearts set to obey Him, desires and affections for Him, a hunger for His light to increase upon us and a hope for the eternal light to shine upon us in the age to come.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.