THE UNITING GOOD NEWS
By Pastor Paulus Budiono
Lemah Putro, Sunday, December 22, 2019
Celebrating the birth of Christ, we sing Christmas songs and decorate our church to add the Christmas atmosphere. With all of this, what kind of news is usually shared on Christmas day? “For there is born to you this day (not yesterday or tomorrow) in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)
At Christmas we supposedly hear joyful news, but for the time being the speaker is sharing some verses that have a rebuking tone to two women who didn’t have a like-minded heart, which is taken from the epistle of Philippians 4:2-3, “I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.”
Is there anybody among us who doesn’t have a like-minded heart on this joyful Christmas that we are singing praises to the Lord with a fake joy, and we go home later without experiencing unity? Anyhow, today we have this service on December 22 which is also a mother’s day, it’s marvelous that the Word of God today is talking about women who took a role in the Gospel sharing.
Now what is the connection between the joyful news (of Christmas) from the angel and the two disunited women from Philippi? The phrase bring good tidings has the same meaning as preach the Gospel (Luke 2:10). In other words, the spreading of the great joyful news of Christmas is actually the same as the Gospel spreading – let’s not classify them. So, the Gospel (= the joyful news) talks about the Savior and Christmas though celebrated in many ways every year, actually talks about the same Jesus as the Savior – not only as a prophet, healer, miracle worker, etc.
Who listened to this great joyful news and responded to it?
♥ The shepherds who were shepherding the herd in the field, saw an angel in such glory telling them that a Savior, the Lord Christ, had been born in the city of David. It’s clear that the name of Jesus wasn’t mentioned at all here. Hearing that, they immediately went to Bethlehem to meet Mary, Joseph and the baby lying in the When they saw the baby, they shared with them what the angel told them concerning the child (Luke 2:16-17). “All those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds" (v.18).
When the shepherds first saw the angel, they were frightened; however, they ended the day praising and glorifying God joyfully (v.20). Which one would we choose? Having joy and ending up in fear or the other way round? Actually, when we listened to the Word of God and we have a certainty that it’s from God, then we will have joy and much gratitude to Him.
Those who heard the message from the shepherd marveled; unfortunately, there wasn’t any follow up. Many Christians tend to happily attend Christmas services, but after Christmas season ends they don’t go to church anymore.
♥ Mary (a woman) also heard the message delivered by the shepherds about the identity of the boy she gave birth to. She responded by putting it in her heart and pondered about it
In his evangelical work, the Apostle Paul was full of joy though he had to face a lot of suffering and even imprisoned. He saw that the congregation in Philippi also had joy in the Gospel (Philippians 1:3-5). So, he wanted the Gospel shared by the two women (Euodia and Syntyche) would also bring great joy. Therefore, he was sad knowing the two women were not like-minded; for this could disturb and ruin the spreading of the Gospel. Because he was still in prison, the Apostle Paul asked Clement to reconcile these two women (Philippians 4:2-3).
Application: We should be a “Clement” in sharing the joyful Gospel (the Christmas news) that unites people.
Let’s learn further from Mary’s (a woman) response when she first received the good news at her young age, got married and grew older.
♦ Since her younger age, Mary wasn’t an expressive person when it came to showing her emotion. She was such a thoughtful person. She used her IQ to hear, think/meditate, judge, process and keep the news that she heard from the shepherd who got it from the angel. It was different from Eve who recklessly picked, ate the fruit and even shared it with her husband (Genesis 3:6).
Mary seriously considered the news the shepherd brought as something important that came from Heaven. Therefore, she kept it in her heart. Likewise, we should learn to keep the message from Heaven – the word of God – in our hearts, so that we wouldn’t sin as what King David said in Psalm 119:11. The Word of God that we keep in our hearts will help in hard time. It could also be a reminder for us not to take the wrong way.
At that time Mary and Joseph were still engaged and had not lived together as husband and wife. Joseph was about to divorce Mary in secret but the angel came and told him not to be afraid of taking Mary as his wife for the baby was from the Holy Spirit and he should name him Jesus (Matthew 1:18-21). Because Jesus (God the Savior) was there, divorce didn’t happen.
Mary was still 14 or 15 years old and betrothed to Joseph when the angel Gabriel came and told her that she would conceive and give birth to a Son, and should call His name Jesus (Luke 1:26-31).
Listening to what Gabriel said, she didn’t immediately say yes but thought and used her ratio to ask how it would be possible for she had never been with a man (Luke 1:34). Having understood the explanation from Gabriel, Mary’s mind was opened and she accepted the news though she had to bear the impending risk to be divorced or stoned to death for doing an infidelity. She put herself as a servant of God. She understood that the Lord had chosen her, so she believed God would protect her marriage. This shows that although she was young in age (she’s only 14-15 years old), she was mature in mind.
Application: Facing any problem, we must always hold on tight to the protective Word of God that can make the impossible happens.
What did Mary do soon after receiving the news? She left Nazareth to go to the mountain in the city of Jude where the old six-month-pregnant Elizabeth lived. Mary was full of the Holy Spirit and so was the old Elizabeth; when they met, a fellowship happened and they praised the Lord together. The young Mary felt comfortable living with the old Elizabeth for three months (Luke 1:56). What did they possibly talk about every day? It might be difficult for Elizabeth to be pregnant at her old age, to communicate with her husband, Zechariah, who had been made mute for disbelieving the message about his old wife’s pregnancy (Luke 1:13-20), and also to accommodate young and pregnant Mary at her house; however, despite the generation gap, they could live together in harmonious fellowship that surely came from the hearts filled with the Holy Spirit – not from eloquence.
Application: If the Holy Spirit is among the congregations, there won’t be any competitiveness or fights that cause separation/divorce that make the congregants move to another church or even build a new church. Each member of the church (new or old one) needs the Holy Spirit so that he can get along with and accept one another.
♦ Mary obeyed the Law that eight days after delivering the baby, she brought him to be circumcised and named Him Jesus according to what was told by the angel before He was conceived (Luke 2:21).
Both Joseph and Mary named Him Jesus after being circumcised on the eighth day. What does the name Jesus mean? God the Savior.
When Zechariah and Elizabeth’s baby was circumcised on the eighth day, they also named him John not Zechariah after his dad (Luke 1:59).
Application: Husbands and wives should be like-minded so that they will be united and their marriage is protected by the Lord.
Mary and Joseph took the twelve-year old Jesus to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover (Luke 2:42). After the celebration they went back home but Jesus stayed in Jerusalem without His parents’ permission. When they realized Jesus wasn’t with them, they went back and found Jesus in the temple listening and asking questions to the teachers. Mary spoke of her concern to Jesus who didn’t go back with them, but Jesus answered, “Why did you seek Me?
Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (v. 49).
(The teenage) Jesus was “missing” and found in the temple, instead of places that corrupt the teenager’s morality like what often happens to the youth nowadays because of bad social environment.
♦ Mary and Joseph didn’t understand what Jesus said. However, Jesus then went with His parents back to Nazareth and continued living under their care. Mary kept all of what happened in her heart (v. 51).
Growing older, Mary used her brain more. She remembered the message from Gabriel about who Jesus was. “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David” (Luke 1:32).
Who is the Son of God? He is the Word who becomes flesh (John 1:14). When Jesus – the Word – spoke, Mary started to think about the spiritual matter, not about physical matter anymore.
Improvement is taking place here, Jesus, the Savior, came to save us not simply for physical matters (material blessings, intellectuality, health, etc.) for salvation is not in anybody else but only in Him – under the heaven there isn’t any other name but only by the Name of Jesus we are saved (Acts 4:12).
Besides giving birth to Jesus, Mary had some other biological kids with her husband, Joseph. With the increasing numbers of the family members, more efforts were certainly needed so they could get along well and be united. It could happen only because Jesus (12 year-old) lived with them. Jesus lived in Nazareth – a small town that wasn’t reckoned by people, but from there came a great Man.
Application: a healthy spiritual maturity happens not because of living at elite or renowned place but because of God’s presence. If we have the Word of God, we can surely live happily in our homes.
♦ When Jesus was 30, Mary didn’t only meditate on His words but also put them into practice. She knew who Jesus was so she obeyed Him and asked the servants to do what Jesus asked when they were running out of wine in the wedding feast in Cana (John 2:1-5).
On another occasion, Jesus was busy with His evangelism works with His disciples in a house. Many people were there listening to Him when Marry and Jesus’ brothers was about to take Him for they thought Jesus wasn’t sane anymore. They were outside and couldn’t go in, so Mary asked someone to call Him (Mark 3:20-21, 31). Mary treated Jesus – the Savior – like a child that she could dictate for she thought she had raised Him. Jesus wasn’t angry, instead He said, “Who is My mother, or My brothers?” And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother” (vv. 33-35).
There were times when our families were against us of our being very active in church for they saw it as a form of laziness and stupidity. However, don’t let man dictate the word of God; on the other hand, we must let the word of God chasten and dictate us.
No matter what, Jesus still loved His mother, Mary; on the cross He looked at Mary and said, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” (John 19:26-27). That was the final reconciliation between a parent and her young son because of love.
The Apostle Paul also wanted a reconciliation between the two women (Euodia and Syntyche) who was decreasing/even didn’t value the sacrifice of Christ anymore.
The joyful news of Christmas is a Savior has been born for us and He is the Lord Jesus Christ. The name of Jesus was given after He was circumcised to obey the Law. After Jesus died and rose (He was 33). Peter preached, “…Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). And it was affirmed by the Apostle Paul who admitted, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15). We all know how Paul was before he knew the crucified Christ. He was a blasphemer, persecutor and a vile man to the follower of Christ. However, he got the grace from the Lord and became an evangelist to other nations (gentiles), so that they also believed in Him and obtained eternal life (vv. 12-17).
Now let’s celebrate the day when Jesus – our Savior – was born, receive His sacrifice and acknowledge Him as the Lord and Christ, hence we will be filled with joy and be able to live in unity until the day He comes again to pick us up to be with Him forever in the New Jerusalem. Amen.