Going Fishing with Jesus

When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch” … “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” Luke 5:4,10 (Read Luke 5:1-11)

When I lived in northern Minnesota, I used to take advantage of every opportunity that came along to drop in a line and fish – even if it was only for a few minutes. After moving away from that fishing paradise, I kind of lost interest, perhaps because the challenge of catching fish was a bit more difficult and I seldom did very well. There were, however, other people catching fish and, had I taken the time to learn their methods and techniques, I might still be an avid fisherman. It’s not always enough to just throw in a line and baited hook; knowing where to fish and the right baits and methods are crucial to success.

Peter, James and John were experienced fishermen and knew where and how to catch fish. Yet, using their proven methods, they had worked all night and caught nothing. Jesus, after teaching the people from Simon Peter’s boat, directs him to launch out into the deep and let down his nets. The request made no sense to Peter. The time and method were all wrong, but at Jesus’ word he did so and his nets were filled. In fact, Peter caught so many fish, he had to summon for his partners’ boat to help bring them to shore.

Peter, James and John were astonished at the catch of fish and recognized Jesus as the Son of God and their fishing success as a miracle of God. They were afraid because of their own sinfulness; but Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” At that, they forsook all and followed Jesus.

Aside from wishing Jesus would so bless our fishing efforts when we drop in a line, what can we learn from this lesson in God’s Word in regard to fishing for men?

First of all, we see that the best efforts of men come up empty, even if they are the proven and accepted methods. We need to use Jesus’ methods and fish when and where He directs us. He commands us to disciple the nations by going out, baptizing in the name of the Triune God and teaching all that Christ taught (Matt. 28:18-20; cf. Mark 16:15-16). We aren’t to call people in with the bait of delightful programs and entertaining worship; we are to call upon all to repent of their sinful ways and receive God’s mercy and forgiveness through faith in Christ Jesus, who died for all sins and rose again (cf. Luke 24:46-47; 1 Cor. 15:3-4).

And who is it who fills the nets? It is not our fishing or evangelism skills. It is Jesus, who calls us to be fishers of men. We are called to let down the nets by preaching the Gospel of forgiveness and life in His name. He, by the Spirit’s working through the Word, is the one who fills them (cf. Rom. 1:16-17; 10:17; 1 Thess. 1:5-10; John 6:63; Acts 2:47b).

We are called to be fishers of men, using God’s methods and going where God directs us, when He directs us. He calls us to forsake our earthly goals and ambitions – to forsake all – and follow Him and be fishers of men. And we don’t need the biggest and best bass boat and the most expensive depth finders. We are called to simply preach His Word, calling upon all to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. We just keep fishing, even if it looks futile, because God, in His time and in His way, will fill the nets.

And, if not here, certainly in heaven, we will see that indeed our fishing efforts have not been in vain. His Word had effect and accomplished His purpose (cf. Isaiah 55:10-11). God grant that we go fishing with Jesus!

O dearest Jesus, You graciously brought us, through Your Word and Sacraments, to know and trust in You for forgiveness and life. Give us willing hearts to be fishers of men and to use Your Word of Law and Gospel to catch men for your kingdom. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

Who do you believe Jesus is?

And it happened, as He was alone praying, that His disciples joined Him, and He asked them, saying, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” So they answered and said, “John the Baptist, but some say Elijah; and others say that one of the old prophets has risen again.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” Luke 9:18-20

Little has changed today. Many still regard Jesus as a great prophet and teacher. Some would even call Him the Christ (Messiah) of God but then deny the necessity of the cross. But those to whom the Spirit of God has revealed the truth recognize Jesus as the Christ of God, the only-begotten Son of the Father, who came into this world to go to the cross and suffer and die and make atonement for the sins of the world.

Who do you say that Jesus is? Do you believe He is the Messiah of God? If so, what do you believe His role is as the Messiah?

Jesus said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” When Peter rebuked Jesus and said this would never happen to Him, Jesus said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (Matt. 16:23; cf. 16:13ff.).

And on the mount when Jesus appeared in glory, what did He discuss with Moses and Elijah? Jesus “spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” Peter and the disciples were ready to stay on the mount with Jesus and view His glory, but Jesus came to go down and die on the cross for the sins of the world – to be condemned and forsaken of His Father for the sins of all. Only then would He be glorified.

We too may wish to stay on the mountain with Jesus in glory, but we have work to do below – to deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow Jesus. Through the Scriptures, we have seen Jesus in glory. We have heard the words of the Father: “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” But we must come down from the mount, strengthened in the assurance that Jesus is the Christ, the only-begotten Son of the Father, and that through His death and resurrection, we have pardon, forgiveness and the glories of heaven. We are called to follow Jesus and do the work He would have us do that others too might know Him and trust in Him for salvation.

Glorious Jesus, Son of God, we thank You for revealing Your glory but then going to the cross to redeem us. Strengthen us through Your Word and grant that we take up our crosses and follow You, bearing witness to the truth and calling upon all to repent and trust in You. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

Does Demon Possession Exist Today?

“Now in the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon. And he cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!’ But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be quiet, and come out of him!’ And when the demon had thrown him in their midst, it came out of him and did not hurt him.” Luke 4:33-35

When we read of Jesus’ encounters with demonic spirits and of their influence and control over people, the question often comes up: “Is there demon possession today?”

In answer to that question, we must remember that the battle for souls still rages on in this world, that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).

And the Bible solemnly warns us: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Pet. 5:8-9).

We also know that all unbelievers, the whole world, “lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19), and that we were born into this world spiritually blind and dead to God and His Word and under the rule of Satan (Eph. 2:1ff.). But does it still happen that the devil and his fallen angels so possess a person that he or she could be called “demon possessed”? Cf. Luke 8:26ff.

The answer of the Bible certainly appears to be “Yes.” Though our godless society would explain it away, God’s Word does not. It can and may happen (though God sets limits) that a person’s body and mind are taken under the control of Satan or his evil angels. Evidence of such possession would likely include the destructive and suicidal behavior described in the Bible and a knowledge and fear of Christ Jesus and His authority and power as judge (cf. Gen. 3:1ff.; Rev. 12:7ff.; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6).

This, of course, should be a warning to us not to take the temptations of the devil lightly or consider him a harmless foe. And it is all the more reason to cling to Christ and be clothed in the whole armor of God described in Ephesians 6:10-18.

And how can the devil and his demons be cast out? There is no rite or ceremony given in the Bible for this purpose, nor does God promise to be invoked to take action through any man-made rites or ceremonies. It would be foolish for any man, regardless of his post or stature in the visible churches of this world, to assume to be able to cast out Satan by his own words or faith. Rather, Jesus told His disciples to pray and have faith in the power of God (cf. Matt. 17:14-21).

Should we encounter a person under the influence and control of the devil, the best answer is to pray and apply God’s Word. We pray in the name of Christ Jesus who defeated and crushed the head of Satan when He suffered and died upon the cross and made full atonement for the sins of the world (Gen. 3:15). We pray in the name of Christ Jesus, who rose again and descended into hell to proclaim His victory over sin, death and the devil (1 Pet. 3:18-20; Col. 2:8-15). And we minister to the afflicted one with the Word of God, pointing out sin and the just punishment of all who continue in the ways of Satan, but also speaking the good news of Christ’s victory over Satan and proclaiming forgiveness of sins, deliverance from death and the devil, and life everlasting through faith in Jesus’ name. Cf. Rom. 16:20; Rev. 12:11.

O gracious and merciful God, deliver us from the power and control of the devil by granting us faith and keeping us in faith in Christ Jesus and the salvation He won for all when He suffered and died upon the cross and rose again in victory. In the name of Jesus, Son of God and our Savior, we pray. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982
by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

Why do the nations rage against the Lord?

“Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.’” Psalm 2:1-3 (Read Psalm 2)

Is this Scripture describing the world of our day? The nations do rage and the people do plot a foolish thing. Our rulers take counsel together against the LORD God and His Anointed (Jesus Christ, Messiah and Savior of the world), saying let’s cut all ties with God and Christ Jesus and throw away the Bible, His commandments and anything which would bind us to Him!

But God, who is over all, laughs at man’s foolishness (v. 4-6). He speaks against it. How can people and nations free themselves from the Creator of the universe? From the one who holds their very breath in His hands (Dan. 5:23)? The one who determines their length of days and will be their judge (cf. Ps. 139:13-16; 96:13)?

In spite of man’s rebelliousness, the LORD God has sent His own only-begotten Son to redeem mankind and established His kingdom (v. 7-9; cf. Dan. 2:44f.; Isa. 9:6-7; 53:3ff.). He reigns over God’s people – those who have repented of their sinful ways and trust in Him – and will soon judge this world and establish His everlasting kingdom (2 Thess. 1:6-10; Rev. 19:11ff.; 11:15).

And the Spirit of God warns the kings and judges of the earth – words which all of us should heed as well (v.10-12a): “Now therefore, be wise, O kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little.” We should all be wise and honor the Son, acknowledging Him as God’s only-begotten Son and trusting in Him to show us mercy for the sake of the redemption He accomplished for all when He suffered and died upon the cross and then rose again.

And the Spirit tells us that those who trust in Him are blessed – blessed with forgiveness for all their sins and a place in Christ’s everlasting kingdom (v. 12b). God grant to each of us such faith in Christ that we may be among the blessed.

O King of kings and Lord of lords, grant that we humble ourselves, repent of our sinful ways and look to You for mercy and forgiveness; and grant that we bear witness in this fallen world against the foolishness of rebelling against You. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982
by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

Tempted by the Devil

“Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil.” Luke 4:1-2a (1-13)

Jesus “was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Sometimes it’s hard to imagine Jesus being tempted in the same ways we are tempted, but He was; and He never yielded but was perfectly obedient to God’s Word in every point that He might be our Savior.

When Jesus had been 40 days without food in the wilderness, the devil tempted Him to use His power as the Son of God to turn the stones into bread that He might eat. But Jesus trusted in God His Father to provide for all His needs and did not yield to the temptation to take matters into His own hands rather than patiently trusting in the promises of God’s Word.

Jesus came into this world to establish an eternal kingdom made up of people from all nations, and the devil offered Him an easier way than the cross to establish His rule, but Jesus refused to worship or serve anyone but the Lord His God.

And each time Jesus used the Scriptures – from Deuteronomy – to answer the temptations of the devil (Deut. 8:3; 6:16).

Jesus came to be recognized by God’s people as the Son of God, their Messiah and Savior. So, Satan took Jesus up upon a pinnacle of the temple and tempted Him to show Himself the Son of God and prove His trust in God’s promises to send His angels to bear Him up (Ps. 91:11-12). But once again Jesus used God’s Word to refute Satan’s temptation (Deut. 6:13; 10:20). He remained obedient to God’s Word, trusting in the Lord God and His Word.

Note that in each temptation Satan offered to Jesus a shortcut – and easier way – to meet His needs and achieve His purposes than trusting in God and His Word. And He still tempts us in much the same way today. When we have needs, He tempts us to find our own solutions rather than trust in the Lord God to provide for us in His way and in His time. We may needlessly borrow money, be less than honest or even play the lottery or gamble in an attempt to meet our needs our own way.

Satan offers us glory and fame – to be accepted and liked – if we just honor him in some way, and we so easily fall. We exalt ourselves, boast, belittle others, do works to be seen by others.

He offers us shortcuts to our goals and twists the Scriptures to make them sound good in our ears. He urges us to put God to the test, to tempt God and see if He will really keep His promises to protect us, provide for us, give us blessings. He even urges us to give in to our sinful passions, saying it will be alright because God will forgive us afterward if we just ask Him.

But what does God say? “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God”; “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve”; and, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.”

How thankful we can be that Jesus did not give in to the temptations of the devil, during this time in the wilderness or ever! How thankful we can be that, in the Garden of Gethsemane, He said, “Nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42)! How thankful we can be that He obeyed His Father and went to the cross as a holy Sacrifice for our sins and the sins of the whole world and then rose again! In Him, we have forgiveness (Eph. 1:7).

Dearest Lord Jesus, we thank You for Your perfect obedience and Your perfect sacrifice upon the cross that through faith in You we might have forgiveness for all sins and a place in Your eternal kingdom. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you….’

“But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior….’”Isaiah 43:1-3a

There are many who would have us believe that the Christian’s life in this world will be one without trouble and suffering, but God never makes such a promise. In fact, God tells us that our lives in this sinful world will be full of suffering. Not only will we be hated and persecuted because of our faith, we must suffer pain, sorrow and even temporal death because we are sinners living in a sin-filled world which is under God’s curse (cf. 2 Tim. 3:12; Gen. 3)

But need we be afraid in the troubles of life? God’s Word tells us: “But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.”

While God does not promise us a trouble-free life in this world, He does promise to be with us and keep us through all the sufferings of this life!

As Christians, we can draw on the comfort of Isaiah 43. Each of us has been created by the LORD God; and He has redeemed us with the holy and precious blood of Jesus, shed upon the cross for our sins. Through the preaching of the Gospel, God’s Spirit called us to faith in Christ Jesus and has made us the beloved children of God (cf. 2 Thess. 2: 13-14; Gal. 3:26-29; 1 John 3:1-2). We are God’s own special people (cf. 1 Pet. 2:9-10).

God, who has both created and redeemed us, promises us: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior….”

We can think of the examples of Israel passing safely through the waters of the Red Sea and the flooded Jordan (Ex. 14; Josh. 3- 4); and we can think of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, whom God preserved in the fiery furnace (Dan. 3); but this promise of God’s Word applies to the troubles and problems we face in our lives as well. Our Savior, Jesus, is with us always as He promised in Matthew 28:20. He will never leave us, nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5).

Even though troubles may be all around us, God promises us that “no evil shall befall you” (Psalm 91:10; cf. Ps. 121), and that all will work together for our good (Rom. 8:28).

Even in the valley of the shadow of death we need not be afraid, for our God is with us and will bring us safely through that we may dwell with Him in the house of the LORD for ever (Ps. 23).

Why does God do this for us? He tells us: “for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.” He is JEHOVAH our God. He is the Holy One of Israel, and Israel includes all who share in the faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And, He is our Savior. He has redeemed us from our sins and from everlasting death by His holy life and innocent sufferings and death for us upon the cross; and He will return to take us to dwell with Him forever.

As we suffer in this world, we also remember that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18).

Dear LORD God, our Maker and Redeemer, we give You thanks for the comfort of Your Word and for the assurance that You will be with us and bring us safely through this vale of tears to Yourself in heaven. In the name of Jesus, our Savior, we pray. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

‘Arise, shine; for your light has come!’

“Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” Isaiah 60:1-3

With the coming of Christ Jesus, the light of God’s truth and the very glory of the LORD God Himself shines in this dark and sinful world, revealing man’s sinful and lost condition but also God’s gracious plan of salvation through the holy life and innocent sufferings and death of his own beloved Son, born of the virgin to be our Savior. And for that reason, true believers in Christ have every reason to arise and shine.

This glorious light was seen not only by the Jewish believers of Jesus’ day – by people like the shepherds and Simeon and Anna (cf. Luke 2) – but by the Gentiles as well. Wise men from the east came to worship the Messiah and newborn King, recognizing that this Child was indeed the Son of God and the Savior of all mankind (Matt. 2). And wise men from all nations still seek Him and worship and honor Him as the King of kings and Savior of all the world.

The world is still a dark place – darkness covers the eyes of people around us – but the light is shining! God kept His ancient promises and sent His only-begotten Son to be our Savior by living a holy life in our stead and then bearing upon the cross the full punishment for our sins and the sins of all people and rising again in triumph. The light of God’s truth still reveals our utter sinfulness and inability to save ourselves, but it also reveals that Jesus Christ has won for us pardon and forgiveness and life eternal in God’s everlasting kingdom! Cf. Eph. 3:1-12.

That light has shined upon us, bringing us to faith in Christ and His redeeming work, and that light shines through us upon those living in darkness when we bear witness to Christ and all He has done for us. Through the preaching of God’s Word, the Day Star has arisen in our hearts (cf. 2 Pet. 1:19); and we show forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9).

The light of the LORD has risen upon us. His glory shines upon us, revealing to us the salvation God has provided for sinners in His Son (cf. John 8:12; 1 John 1:5ff.). We also become lights and shine in this dark world when we reflect the glory of our God and Savior and make known to all the salvation the LORD God has provided in Jesus Christ.

O Light of the world and our Savior, we thank and praise You for coming into this dark and sinful world and winning for us pardon and peace, life and salvation by Your holy life in our stead and Your atoning sacrifice for our sins. Open our eyes to see the light and trust in You, and grant that we also reflect the true light on those around us, that all – both Jew and Gentile – may walk in the light of Your grace. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982
by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

Jesus, Your Ruin or Your Savior?

Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:34-35

We have heard the account of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. We have heard the good news that He is the LORD God born into this world a true man that He might be our Savior from sin and everlasting punishment. We know and have heard of His holy life in our stead, and of His innocent sufferings and death for our sins. But how do we respond to Jesus?

There are many who feel that they can remain indifferent to Jesus and His coming into this world, but this is far from the truth! Whenever anyone hears of Jesus and His coming into this world to be our Savior, this message has an effect. Either one is moved toward repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as his Savior, or he becomes more and more hardened in his sin and unbelief.

How do you respond to Jesus? This is a question of great importance for each of us to consider; for, as Simeon told Mary, Jesus’ mother, Jesus was destined for the “fall and rising of many in Israel” and He was “a sign” which would “be spoken against” (Luke 2:34-35). Jesus Himself said that He would cause division on the earth, even within families (cf. Luke 12:51-53).

Among His own people there was great division. Some, like Simeon and Anna, being raised up from spiritual death, believed that Jesus was the promised Christ and trusted in Him for salvation (Luke 2:25-38). But others fell and rejected Jesus, hated Him and even crucified Him, causing Simeon’s words to Mary (v. 35) to come true. Cf. Isaiah 8:14-15; 28:16; 53:3ff.; 1 Peter 2:6-8.

How do you respond to Jesus? He cannot be ignored!

He came into this world for you and His Word has been preached to you! Are you, by the grace of God, moved to humbly acknowledge and confess your sins to the Lord and to trust in Jesus’ holy life and innocent sufferings and death for your pardon and forgiveness? Or do you turn away from the crucified and risen Christ Jesus and continue on in your sin and unbelief?

The Bible tells us: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

O Dearest Jesus, grant that we not turn from You or hide from You and continue on in our sinful ways; but move us to acknowledge You as our God and Savior, to have godly sorrow over our sins, and to sincerely repent, that we may trust in You and Your cross for our salvation. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

The Word was made flesh

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

This is an amazing thing: the Eternal Word, the only-begotten Son of God, who was in the beginning with God, who is true God with the Father and the Spirit, the Creator of all things, the Life and Light of men, became flesh, true man, and dwelt among us. As the LORD God dwelt among His people, His glory resting upon the tabernacle of old, so God Himself dwelt among us in the Person of Jesus Christ.

The Apostle John and the other apostles of Jesus could testify that they saw and viewed with their own eyes the glory of Christ Jesus, the very glory of the only-begotten Son of the Father! In the ministry of Jesus and through His mighty works (as well as upon the Mount of Transfiguration), they witnessed the glory which was Christ’s as the eternal Son of God.

And Jesus Christ, God the Son in human flesh, was “full of grace and of truth.” In Jesus, we see and know the grace of God toward sinners; and in Jesus alone is truth, the true way of life and salvation!

For Christ’s sake, for the sake of His holy life and innocent sufferings and death in our stead, God is gracious and merciful and forgiving toward us sinners (cf. Ephesians 1:6-7; 2 Corinthians 5:19). He is “the Way, and the Truth, and the Life”; no man can come to God the Father but through Him (John 14:6). Through faith in Christ Jesus, we sinners receive God’s grace and forgiveness and have the promise of everlasting life in heaven!

Do you believe that Jesus, the Child born to the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem, is the eternal Son of God and Savior of the world? Have you considered His glory? Cf. Isaiah 9:6-7. Do you trust that in Him – for the sake of His blood shed upon the cross – God graciously forgives you all your sins, accepts you as His own dear child and grants you life everlasting in His eternal kingdom? Cf. Colossians 1:12-23. Indeed, He is “full of grace and truth”!

O gracious Father, we thank You for so loving the world that You sent Your only begotten Son Jesus to be born a true man of the Virgin Mary that He might redeem us from sin and death and grant us life everlasting. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Who Is This Child?

“And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7 (Read Luke 2:1-20)

Far more than a quaint story, these verses from Luke, chapter two, describe an historical event which occurred in a real time and at a real place. It happened in the days of the Roman emperor Caesar Augustus. Quirinius was the governor of Syria.

Though the Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth, the ancient prophet foretold the birthplace of Messiah to be Bethlehem (Micah 5:2ff.); and God, in his divine providence, moved Caesar Augustus to take a census at just the right time, making it necessary for Joseph and his espoused wife to be in Bethlehem when the days were fulfilled for Mary to bring forth her firstborn son.

When Messiah Jesus was born and laid in a manger, an angel announced his birth to shepherds living a field nearby and keeping watch over their flock by night. The heavenly messenger brought them good tidings of great joy for all people; for that very day in Bethlehem, the city of David, a Savior was born, the Messiah, the LORD himself in human flesh.

And, as the angel choir said in their hymn of praise, this child brought about peace between God and man and God’s good will toward sinful man. How would this be? Christ Jesus satisfied the righteous demands of God’s holy law for us, and he suffered and died and paid in full the just punishment for the sins of the world that God might have mercy upon us and graciously forgive our sins when we look to His Son for pardon and peace!

Having heard these things, the shepherds were not content to go back to their work of guarding the flock; they went to see the things of which the angel told them. And, they found it just as the angel had said. They found Mary and Joseph, and with them was the baby lying in a manger.

Nor did the shepherds keep the good news to themselves; they told everyone – they made known abroad – what the angel had told them concerning this child born in Bethlehem. Mary herself treasured up the words of the shepherds concerning her son and pondered them in her heart.

When the Shepherds returned to their flock, they were glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard, which was just as the angel had told them. They were rejoicing in God’s gift of a Savior who would redeem them and give them a place in God’s eternal kingdom.

Of course, these events in history have great significance for each and every one of us today. God’s own Son was born in Bethlehem on that historic day. His birth is good tidings of great joy to us as well, for he is the long-promised Messiah, the LORD God himself; and he went to the cross for the sins of the world – for the sins of each of us – and he rose again in victory that each and every one of us might have forgiveness for all our sins and life eternal through faith in him!

O dearest Jesus, we thank you for coming into this world a true man – that babe born in Bethlehem – and going to the cross to redeem us and make us Your own. Move us to take the time to see, to worship and to spread abroad the good news of Your salvation. Amen.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.