What a Difference a Day Makes! (Luke 1:57-80)Pastor Jon Truax, December 24, 2017
Part of the Christmas series, preached at a Christmas eve service
What a Difference a Day Makes!
Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.
On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.” Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.
Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a mighty savior for us
in the house of his servant David, as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
and has remembered his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.” This day.
Has your life ever changed in a single day?
I know my life has. There’s the day I was born, of course – January 16, 1970. I’m sure that must have been a pretty dramatic change. It left me speechless for months! Eighteen years later, on February 1, 1988, my dad had a heart attack followed by double bypass surgery. That was a huge wake up call for our family. June 13, 1992, was a happier occasion – the day I married Debbie. Yeah, life changed a little after that. My life changed again on April 1, 1995, December 8, 1997, and October 19, 2000 when we greeted Daniel, Bethany, and Katie for the first time. Suddenly I had all these little people living in my house. Probably the most recent day that changed our life was ten years ago: June 1, 2007, when I became the pastor of this church. Life can change in a heartbeat, and you will remember that day that happens. The funny thing is that each of those dates didn’t mean anything special before they arrived on the calendar, but once they came, they changed my life forever. They are dates that I will remember forever.
What days in your life have been page turners? What days have made a difference? Surely the day you were born. Maybe the day you started school. The day you graduated. If you got married or had children, those days would be included. The day you became a Christian. The day you lost a loved one. The day you heard a troubling diagnosis or suffered a devastating trauma. Those can be wrenching changes, but the fact that you’re here tonight, ready to celebrate another Christmas, means that you survived it, so that can be a good thing.
Christmas is a day like that. Christmas is a day that changed everything. What a difference Christmas makes!
Mary and Joseph’s life certainly changed that day when Christ was born – but more than that, the world changed, forever different than it was the day before.
Did you know that even the world itself can change in a single day? Sometimes it’s obvious, like September 11, 2001, when the towers fell, or the day President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, or Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, 1941, a date which lives on in infamy.
Sometimes it’s not so obvious. Some days the world changes in an instant, but the observers don’t even realize it. This past year we celebrated the 500th anniversary of October 31, 1517. That became known as Reformation Day but probably no one, even Martin Luther who changed Christian history by nailing 95 theses to the church door of Wittenberg, realized how significant that day would become at the time. On July 4, 1776, only a few people in Philadelphia knew about the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but it would go on to make its mark upon world history. Only Columbus and his crew knew they had made a world-changing discovery on October 12, 1492.
That’s also the way it was 2000 years ago. The world was a profoundly different place before the birth and after the birth of Christ, but not everybody knew it. The Son of God had taken on flesh and been born in Bethlehem, but only His immediately family, some shepherds, and some foreign wise men were in on it.
How do we know the world changed forever on the day of Christ’s birth? One way is to play the game, “What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?” Sometimes science fiction shows or comic books will ask imponderable questions like these. How do you think things would be different if Jesus had never been born?
We wouldn’t be here tonight, because it would just be another winter night, like January 16. January 16 is my birthday, but we don’t all gather to have a candlelit service about it. That’s because I’m not Jesus! We celebrate Jesus’ birthday because He made such a profound difference in the world!
We wouldn’t have the New Testament. We wouldn’t have Luke chapter 2, John 3:16, or I Corinthians 13, or any of the stories about Jesus, for that matter.
We wouldn’t have the hospitals, schools, and libraries that we do today. Slavery would still be legal?
Human beings would be lost in darkness, apart from God. No provision would have been made to reconcile us to God.
So tonight we celebrate not just the birth of a child, but all the wonderful consequences of that Child’s birth.
Tomorrow will be a different day than today. Anticipation will turn into celebration.
What can you do about taking each day and allowing it to change you into the image of Christ?
You don’t want to be the same person tomorrow as you were today.
Offer God each day and it can become your before/after day.
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57Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. 58And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. 59And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father. 60And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John. 61And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. 62And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. 63And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all. 64And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God. 65And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea. 66And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him. 67And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, 68Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, 69And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; 70As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: 71That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; 72To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; 73The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, 74That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, 75In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. 76And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; 77To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, 78Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, 79To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. 80And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel. (KJV)