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  • Writer's pictureRev. Chris Brademeyer

Stand and Shepherd

Stand and Shepherd

Christmas Day Dawn – 12/25/2023

Micah 5:2-5a, especially verses 3-5a

 

That portion of God’s holy Word for consideration this morning is our Old Testament lesson from the Book of the Prophet Micah in the fifth chapter with special emphasis on verses three through five(a) which read as follows:

               

                "Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth;

then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace.”[1]

 

Thus far the Scriptures.

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

                The coming of the Lord Jesus was no accident. It was not an arbitrary event in history. It is, and remains, the very focus of all history. That is to say, the very center, the very lynchpin of history. Everything in God’s design either drove to this blessed event or reflects on it. In other words, what came before the Lord Jesus was meant to drive us to His coming. What comes after is but a reflection meant to lead us back to that blessed event. From the very beginning, it has been the Father’s intent to send His Son into this world in order to become a man, a member of our race. And in so doing, our race stands as one united with God through this incarnation. More still, the Lord’s birth brought about the real destruction of sin, the dismantling of death, and the end of the reign of Satan. All even was set to flight when the Almighty and Ever-living God stepped forth from the womb of His mother, the virgin Mary, into the world. The great host of demons was put to flight. Death ran in terror. Sin was driven into the darkness. And those these may moan and gasp and bare their teeth, they have no power, being as they are unmade in the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

                This feast, the Nativity of the Lord, colloquially known as Christmas, stands as one of the principal celebrations of the Christian Church for exactly this reason, namely that our great God came into this world to become one with us his chosen people and to vanquish sin, death, and the devil. This is our great feast Christ has come, born of Mary for us men and our salvation!

                And this was not some happenstance nor was it unexpected! Christ came exactly as foretold by the prophets of old. For consideration this morning is the Prophet Micah, who prophesied during the life of Isaiah, that is, during the destruction of the northern Kingdom of Israel. He, like Isaiah, was concerned with the repentance of Judah, particularly in focusing on calling leaders, both secular and religious, to repentance and denouncing false prophets. But, even more than these things, the good prophet was given words to console and comfort the remnant of Israel and the people of Judah who feared that the Assyrians would soon terrorize their nation with military might and horrid oppression. And even more than words of consolation and promises of restoration, the prophet was given these words, read here today, foretelling the great and wondrous moment we celebrate this morning. Christ was born of the woman in Bethlehem, a small and unremarkable hamlet just as Micah had foretold seven centuries before the Lord’s birth. And despite being so born, He did not originate there in the womb of His mother, but is the very Ancient of Days, that is, God Himself. He called to Himself His brothers from Israel. He stands, steadfast and strong, resilient and unshakable, shepherding the very people of God, both those born of the house of Israel and those Gentiles who will be granted in through Baptism and faith. More than bringing them together, He preserves and guards these same in His strength and might and provides for them peace and security in the salvation of sin and the redemption of both body and soul.

                Dear friends, this Man is no mere human being, but God Himself who put on flesh and who was born for us and our salvation. Such was the power and depth of sin that it took the very coming of God Himself to undo its reign and return us to our God. And now we have peace, everlasting peace which comes not from human might or the strength of human arms, but from God Himself, Jesus Christ our Lord.

                This one, as Isaiah notes, is to be called Prince of Peace,[2] that is, He is the very author and master of peace. And the peace and security He brings is no illusion of the sort of security that is propped up by governments, despots, and militaries, but a real peace, the utter lack of conflict given by us men being united together in Him, completely of one mind and judgement with our Lord and each other in the truth of His Word.

                So, dear friends in Christ, we must never underestimate the importance of this blessed event. God Himself, the very maker of heaven and earth, the architect of all creation, the one who knit together our bones and strung our sinews, the God who filled the oceans and drug the mountains from their deep, this God became a man. And He did not do this out of a need to ingratiate us to Him for His amusement. Our God is not a God beholden to petty and sinful things like ego or pride, but because of His great love for us He did this thing. And this great love bid Him to do more than simply enter the world and to unite Himself with the human race by becoming one of our members. This great love drove Him to be baptized by John the Baptizer. This love compelled Him to teach in parables and interpretation of the Old Testament Scriptures, particularly in showing how these pointed to Himself.[3] He healed, restored, and exorcized out of compassion for the state of our suffering and hardship here in this world of sin. And these also served to verify and prove His teachings about Himself, namely, that here in this man Jesus the Almighty Lord of Hosts was pleased to dwell with us men in order to save us from sin, death, and the devil. This great love, holding not even one small portion back, prodded the Lord to march headlong into the very jaws of death itself, and, in the greatest of things in history, the Lord and maker of all the earth was condemned as a criminal and put to death. But this was not simply because God was passive or some weakling, but it was His very plan that His death should unmake death and dethrone Satan, thereby destroying these enemies with their own devices.

                Yes, that same love that drove our God, Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of the Father, to become a man, also drove Him to give up His life so that we who are consigned to death might live and live eternally at that.

                So, dear friends in Christ, there is much to celebrate this day. Indeed, what else can rival these things? Christ was born of Mary to shepherd and save, to stand and secure, to bring us into the sheepfold of His Kingdom and to ensure the pardon of our sins and the salvation of our souls. No greater treasure can a man possess than this salvation and, through no work of our own, it is given to us free and clear. Earned in the holy and innocent suffering and precious death of our Lord Jesus. The Lord was born for these things; He came for you so that you might live in the forgiveness and mercy of God forever.

 

In the holy Name of + Jesus. Amen.

 

The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.


[1] English Standard Version translation

[2] Isaiah 9:6

[3] John 5:39

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