“This Thing That Has Happened” — Part One
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“This Thing That Has Happened” — Part One

Luke 2:8–20  (ID: 3532)

Jesus’ birth is no myth; it’s the wondrous, supernatural entry of the eternal God into a specific time and place in history. Examining Luke chapter 2, Alistair Begg notes that the angel’s message to the shepherds was the very word of God, compelling them to go and see all that had happened just as the angel said. God’s Word does not demand blind faith but encourages us to consider and declare the historical reality of the baby in a manger—a baby born to be the Savior of the world.

Sermon Transcript: Print

I invite you to turn with me to the Gospel of Luke and to chapter 2 and to follow along as I read from verse 8 through to verse 20. Luke’s Gospel, chapter 2, and reading from verse 8:

“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’

“When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”


Let me just pause before we turn to God’s Word:

“Speak, O Lord, as we come to you to receive the food of your Holy Word.” Please, “take your truth, plant it deep in us.”[1] For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

“And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, [Come,] let us now go … unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which [has] come to pass, which the Lord ha[s] made known unto us.”[2] Depending on your vintage, some of you will recognize that as Luke 2:15 in the King James Version. I was quite slow on it, but I recall it because I was taught it at primary school in Glasgow. In fact, most of the Bible memorization I’ve done in my life has been done in the King James Version. And therefore, the Christmas story is very familiar to me. I have subsequently read it, as you have, in modern translations and yet find myself going back again and again to the grandeur of the King James English and to the sense of sort of otherworldliness that emerges from that translation.

That’s not to say that what we have just read in the ESV is diminished in any way, but it is to acknowledge that as I have in these last days—along with you, perhaps, in your preparation for Christmas—been reading Advent readings, you, like me, will perhaps have found benefit in going back to reading it in other translations, because it becomes so familiar to you. And during these readings, I was struck, and I was forcibly struck, not by the King James Version but by the ESV and by just a phrase in Luke 2:15. And I’ve read it many times, and so have you, but I stopped on it. And then, having stopped on it, I got stuck on it.

You say, “Well, what is the phrase?” Well, if you look at 2:15, you can see there what it says: “When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see’”—here we go—“‘this thing that has happened.’” “This thing that has happened.”

The birth of Jesus is the most momentous thing that has ever happened or will ever happen in the entire world. In the scheme of world history, there was never anything like it; there never will be anything like it.

And I sat there at my desk for a while, just saying to myself out loud, “This thing that has happened.” We’re dealing with history! “This thing that has happened.” The angelic announcement of the birth of a Savior. The supernatural entry of the eternal God into time and space. The fulfillment of the words of the prophet, bringing light into four hundred years of darkness and bringing the four hundred years of darkness and silence underneath the sound of the very Word of God himself.

It’s no wonder, then, is it, that the clouds would be filled up with the multitude of a heavenly host doing what we sought to do a few moments ago, and that is to sing, “Gloria in excelsis deo, glory to God in the highest”? Because we’re dealing with “this thing that has happened.” This is the most momentous thing that has ever happened or will ever happen in the entire world. In the scheme of world history, there was never anything like it; there never will be anything like it. Literally, the world could never, ever be the same again. Why? Because of “this thing that … happened.”

Now, Luke, who is the writer of this Gospel, which we know, tells us at the very outset of his letter that he is not writing poetry. He’s actually writing history. And if you turn back a page, you can see the way in which he sets up his Gospel. Paraphrasing what he says there, he says, “You know, many different people have undertaken to write a narrative of the things that happened in relationship to Jesus of Nazareth. Some of them have been retained. Some of them are gone.” Presumably, there were all kinds of people who wrote all kinds of things. And he says, “There’s tons of that stuff out there. I decided that I could make a contribution to it,” he says, “and so I, without having access to the material firsthand, have relied on eyewitness reports, and I’ve relied on them in such a way and done my investigation in such a way that, with a careful commitment to it, I might be able to produce something for you, Theophilus, that will give you certainty in the things that are described here.”[3]

In other words, he’s not writing simply to encourage the reader’s curiosity, although there is much to encourage us to be curious about things. And actually, many a person has finally come to bow before Jesus as Lord and Savior and King because they started simply curious, simply saying, perhaps, “I went to that children’s program, and it made me curious when I heard them sing. Their little faces shone and their voices sang out with such a sense of conviction that I, the grandpa, that I, the uncle, that I, the dad, have had to go and start to read my Bible. I am curious.” And you may be here this morning, and that just summarized you: Miss Curious or Mr. Curious. That’s okay. But Luke’s purpose is not curiosity. Luke’s purpose is certainty, to a conviction that “this thing that … happened” not only altered the world forever but alters everybody’s individual world who comes to love and trust and follow the one who’s here.

Now, we needn’t delay on this; you can do this on your own. But the way in which things would be established, according to Luke’s purpose, is to allow us to say, “Well, geographically, where are we? I mean, can we find this on the map?” And the answer is yes. You can go find it even today. And also, if you know your Bible at all, you know that what has happened here has happened in Bethlehem. Well, of course, you know of Bethlehem, because you know the story of Ruth and Naomi and how it was out of Bethlehem that Naomi and her family fled because of the absence of bread. It was along with Ruth the Moabitess that Naomi reemerges in Bethlehem, and it says that the whole place was stirred, and they said, “Wow, Naomi’s come back!”[4] That was Bethlehem. It was actually Bethlehem, in the fields of Bethlehem, that Samuel—you know Samuel?—that Samuel brought to the fore a young, ruddy-faced fellow called David. Same fields, same place, real geography.

Also, he sets it in social terms. Why is it that this young couple is there? What has been going on with them? These are real lives. Well, we’re not going to break into the story. You can, if you’re curious, follow up on your own. But two things really combined: love, which had led to their betrothal—it wasn’t just engagement. It was far more significant than engagement. It could only be broken by divorce. And they were betrothed to one another. And on account of their love for one another, they were together. And on account of the jurisdiction of the time, the civil authorities, there was a registration that was called for, which meant that Joseph, whose residency was in Bethlehem, would have to go to Bethlehem in order to register when Quirinius was governor. That’s what it says in the text.[5] And since Mary loved Joseph, although she herself was not required to go, she was in his company. So, two relatively straightforward elements contributed to the fact that Micah 5:2 was fulfilled: “But you, Bethlehem, though you are least, out of you will come forth a ruler for my people Israel.”[6] Well, they just fell in love with one another. They were just doing what you’re supposed to do. And God by his mighty providence is overseeing everything.

And politically, the same is true: Caesar Augustus, big guy, big man on campus, reigns from 30 BC to 14 AD, and there’s nobody really like him at all. We’ll say more of him later.

But here’s the point. (You say, “Good, I’m glad there’s a point.”) Luke’s Gospel is, as I say, the product of his interviewing eyewitness testimony. And presumably, I think certainly, part of that eyewitness testimony came from Mary herself. Because there is a period of time when Luke, who’s in the company of Paul, ends up for two years in Jerusalem while Paul is in the jail. And he had to be doing something during that time. And it would be a wonderful, opportune time for him to do a little research on his Gospel.

So if you imagine that he sits down in the company of people and he says, “Tell me about what happened. I’m writing it down. I’m not sure how I’m going to put it together at the moment, but I’m just taking notes. Mary, tell me what happened.” And she recounts all these things, and he puts them all down. And then eventually, at some point, he sits down in his room, and he says, “Now, I’ve got all of this material. How am I going to collate all of this material? How will I put it together in my Gospel?” So he has to make some choices—under the direction of God the Holy Spirit, but he’s still making his own choices.

And so what we have here is the product of that. And I’m actually immensely grateful to Michael Wilcock, who’s an elderly Anglican friend, for his observation of this second chapter of Luke. He makes the observation that Luke has obviously decided to fasten on three particular incidents. In each case, the speaker is, if you like, the messenger of God clarifying what’s going on.[7] Now, the first of these, the messenger is the angel themselves. All right? The second one—which we will come to, God willing, next Sunday—the messenger is Simeon. And the third one—which we will come to on the twenty-sixth, all being well, if you can get out of your beds and show up—we will come on the twenty-sixth to consider the messenger who is none other than Jesus himself as a twelve-year-old boy. All right?

Now, let’s just look at the first. And incidentally, the outline for each of these studies will be the exact same: there’s a description, there’s an explanation, and there’s an application. Description, explanation, application.

The Description

Here we have it: the description. Fascinatingly, there is no detail about the birth. No detail about the birth. You will notice that it simply says in verse 7, “And she gave birth to her firstborn son … wrapped him in swaddling cloths … laid him in a manger,” and “there was no [room] for them in the inn.” Wow! That’s not what you would call extensive coverage, is it? You say, “Well, perhaps Matthew is a little more effusive.” No, no, no. He’s actually—no, he’s no better at all. Matthew 1:25: “He took [her as] his wife, but [he] knew her not until she had given birth.”[8] And then, “Now after Jesus was born…”[9] “She gave birth. Now let me tell you what happened afterwards.” “And she brought forth her son, laid him in swaddling clothes, laid him in a manger.” End of story.

What is it with people who give us all these details about the birth of their children? I’m not a medical doctor. I don’t even understand what the word breech really means, but it gives me a funny feeling when I hear it. I don’t need your details. I pray for you. I will. We’ll pray for you. But I don’t need the details. Learn from the Gospel writers! “We had a baby.” Thank you! We’re good. We got it. Once they were not there; now they’re there. That’s it! Yes. New person, fresh minted. Beautiful! So for those of you who are just about to write about the thing and the upside down and back to front and around the corner and so on, good on you. That’s all I’ve got to say.

So what is the description? It’s not a description of the details of the birth. Fascinatingly, what causes the shepherds to leave their sheep? What causes the shepherds to head for Bethlehem? Not the birth of a baby. The birth of a baby was and is commonplace. It happens all the time. So Luke here—remember what he says: “I decided to tackle this in such a way that you might be certain about things.” Luke wants his readers—we’re his readers—not to focus on how, not even to focus on where, but actually to focus on why. On why.

Now, the description, then, that is provided for us is very straightforward. In verses 8 and 9, you have this dramatic intervention on a routine evening. I take it that it’s a routine evening: “And [there were] in the same region” shepherds doing what shepherds do, “keeping watch over their flock by night.” Dramatic intervention: “An angel of the Lord appeared to them.” Understandable reaction in the second half of verse 9: “The glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.” Whenever you have this notion of God manifesting himself, showing himself in a dramatic way, whether it’s in the New Testament or in the Old—for example, later on, when God shows himself strong in the boat, when Jesus as almighty and incarnate God stands up and silences the wind and the waves, the people don’t go, “Hey Jesus, do that again, that was awesome!” No, they say, “Depart from me, [because] I am a sinful man, O Lord.”[10] When it happens to Isaiah in the temple, the same thing: “Woe is me!”[11] When it happens to the people on Mount Sinai, “the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain,”[12] and they were filled with great fear.

So, they make a shared decision. And the shared decision is there in verse 15, isn’t it? “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see.” See what? “This thing that has happened.”

That’s the description. You can do more on your own.

The Explanation

Secondly, the explanation.

What is going on here? You see, the shepherds are aware of the fact, and immediately aware of the fact, that what is taking place, what they are encountering in that moment, in real time, may only be explained in terms of God’s disclosure of himself. You will notice that, because they do not simply say, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing [which] has happened,” full stop. “Which the Lord has made known to us.” Yes, sure, there has been an angelic visitor. There has been a fearful encounter, as it were, in the sky. There has been that which has broken into their routine lives and set them back on their heels, and they say to one another, “This is Yahweh who has made this known to us”—but “to certain poor shepherds in fields [where] they lay, in fields where they lay keeping [watch over] their sheep.”[13] “And the glory of the Lord shone around them.”

Let me just say something parenthetically: if you’ve had an occasion to listen to the Word of God being preached and you have had that peculiar notion that riveted you, wherever you were—whether you were sitting listening to a CD or you were in your bedroom, wherever you were—and in a way that you could not entirely articulate or explain, you said to yourself, “This is the Word of God, this is the Word of God”—now, when that happens to you, and, incidentally, until it happens to you, then the Bible may be a history book, a geography book, an interesting book, but it will not be to you the Word of God. So whatever happened to these characters, they weren’t immediately saying, “This was a Disneyland experience.” No, they were saying, “The Lord has made this known unto us.”

An angel. An angel! A messenger of God. Angels. They’re everywhere, aren’t they? In the Gospel record, that is. They’re here at the birth of Jesus. They’re present in the garden, when Jesus could have called a legion of angels, remember? When he says to Peter, “You don’t need to fight. I’ve got access to angels. If I want angels, we can turn this thing on its head in a moment.”[14] They’re created beings. They’re also spiritual beings. They’re intelligent beings, but they’re not all-knowing. They’re powerful beings, but they’re not almighty. They exist to do the bidding of God. And the bidding of God in this moment, at “this thing that has happened,” was to make clear what had happened in this birth.

And so you will notice that they speak to the shepherds. They speak to them in their fearfulness: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” You notice the “great”: “And they were filled with great fear.” In Greek, that’s mega, megalēn. “They were filled with mega fear.” And the antidote to their mega fear was the news of mega joy. And this mega joy was not unique to them. It was a joy and a story “for all the people.” “For all the people.” This story, there’s no person that it cannot reach. There is no boundary that it cannot cross. “For [to] you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

And they sang, “Glory to God … and on earth peace.” Well, of course, these shepherds knew about “On earth peace,” because that was Caesar Augustus, again, wasn’t it? He was the one who was able to establish the Pax Romana. He was the one who actually had coins minted with his head on them. He liked people to call him God. But he couldn’t bring peace. And there hasn’t been an earthly ruler since the days of Caesar Augustus who is able to bring peace.

Oh, they must have listened with special ears. Because their world, like our world, was growing old, and there was no Caesar who could make it young again. Our world is growing old. Our world is collapsing under its own weight of emptiness. And let the spotlight zoom around the world for those who will stand forward and declare the way of peace, while the Christ child, who was left in an outhouse at his birth, largely lives in the outhouses of Western civilization, with no room for the only one who is able to bring the peace for which men and women, boys and girls, countries, nations, clans, and tribes long. It’s all in “this thing that has happened.”

Jesus! Jesus! “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior.” Incidentally, that word sōtēros in Greek is the word that Augustus Caesar applied to himself. He said he was the savior! Here’s the Savior. Jesus. His name had been announced privately: “You [will] call his name Jesus.”[15] It is about to be declared publicly down in verse 21, but we’re not there yet. He is Christ. He is the Messiah. He is Lord. The word that is translated in the Greek translation, in the Septuagint, in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, is the word for Yahweh.

The angelic announcement is absolutely clear: “You need be in no doubt about his identity. And there’s a sign for you. There’s a sign.”

“How can we know this?”

“Well, you will find a baby.”

“Wow! That’s quite a thought, isn’t it? We’ll find a baby.”

“No, but just make sure you go. You’ll discover that he’s wrapped in swaddling clothes and he’s lying in a manger.”

“Oh, but babies don’t lie in mangers. No, we don’t put babies in mangers.”

“No, I know, I know. That’s part of the sign. Because if you go around looking for babies in a manger, you won’t be able to find them. There’s only one at the moment who’s in the manger. That’s why I’m sending you there. You’ll find it. It’s a sign for you.”

We meet the Savior not on the ramparts of a castle but nailed to a cross.

Have you been doing the Murray M’Cheyne? ’Cause you just did John chapter 2—was it yesterday? Maybe it was today. I don’t remember. Time runs by. The wedding at Cana in Galilee. Remember what John says? When Jesus turns the water into wine, and John says, “And this is the first sign that Jesus did.”[16] And then you get to the end of John’s Gospel, and it says, “And he did many other signs. And all these signs were pointing to his identity, in order that you might believe that Jesus is the Messiah and that by believing you may have life in his name.”[17] That’s what’s going on here. That’s what’s going on here! There is something vast about the Christmas story. There is something profoundly significant about it. It cannot be dismissed. It cannot be written off on the back of a card. It cannot be thrown away with the children’s program. You cannot get out of it. No! Look at this. There’s a sign that is given. There’s a song that is sung: “Gloria in excelsis deo.” God’s provision for our predicament.

You see, when the New Testament gives us the unfolding story, when it gives us description, it gives us explanation. People say, “Well, you know, that’s just your interpretation.” Well, you can have various interpretations of interpretation, but the Bible gives its own interpretation. It’s telling us here that Jesus Christ is the Savior. He’s the Savior, he’s the Messiah, he’s God. Okay? You have the very same thing when you have the death of Jesus: Christ died. Explanation: for our sins. So we’re not left in any doubt about the nature of the death of Jesus: he died to bear our sins. We’re not left in any doubt about the birth of Jesus, because he is the Savior for all people.

It’s quite dramatic, isn’t it? It’s really quite wonderful: God making himself known. Almighty God coming to us, not in a palace but in a manger, not amongst the cultural elite but in the presence of shepherds, lying amongst beasts. We meet him not on the ramparts of a castle but nailed to a cross.

Now, who would ever invent this? Who would ever create this? Almighty God in a manger. The shepherds, routinely involved in the care of sheep, look down into the face of the child looking back at them who one day will stand and say, “I am the Good Shepherd. And the Good Shepherd gives his life for the sheep.”[18] It’s all in “this thing that has happened.”

The Application

Just a word or two by way of application.

When they go and investigate, the record is clear: they saw it as it had been reported. So the sign that was given to them was confirmed by their experience. It was not that they went in search of an experience, although they had an experience. They went in search of verifiable data. You see, if the word had been “You know, you’ll get a feeling in your tummy, maybe; let me know if you ever do,” now how could you have ever dealt with this? No, they said, “No, there’s actually a sign. You can go and check it out.”

You see, the idea that the Christmas story calls for us somehow or another to suspend our faculties, such as they are, limited as they are in many of our cases… I listened early this morning to something on the BBC, a fifteen-minute program on infinity. Infinity! Is there such a thing that is so infinitely small that there is nothing smaller than the smallest thing? Is there something so infinitely vast? Is space so infinitely huge that if you found an edge, how could you know it was the edge? This is, like, at five o’clock in the morning I’m listening to this. I know that, ’cause my wife hit me at that point. She didn’t know what I was doing, ’cause I had my earbuds in. But she said, “You never sleep.” “It’s none of your business right now. I’m dealing with infinity!” But the fact of the matter was, I couldn’t shout out—’cause I wasn’t on my own—I couldn’t very well shout out, “Hey, hey! Hey, of course! Listen: there is infinity! ‘Immortal, invisible, God only wise, in light inaccessible hid from our eyes.’”[19] You know, “This is it!”

Oh, I wonder—I wonder, have you really paid attention to this? Now, I want you to notice that when… “And it came to pass that after the angels had gone away into heaven, they said to one another, ‘Let’s go. Let’s go.’” When they reemerge, they are now declaring what had become clear to them. “And when they saw it,” verse 17, “they made known the saying that had been told them.” In other words, they didn’t go out and say, “You’re not going to believe what happened to me.” Because then the people would say, “Well, it might never have happened to us.” That’s what people say: “You’re not expecting me to be converted like Saul of Tarsus, like I have a dramatic experience and I fall down on the road and everything else?” Well, maybe, maybe not. But no, that’s not the issue. No, they didn’t go out and say, “Wow! You should see what happened.” No! They went out and said, “Do you know what the angel said?” When they went out, they declared, they told, verbalized, the things that had been made known to them concerning Jesus. In other words, the facts. Just the facts.

So what it does is it gives us an invitation to ponder. It gives us an invitation to think. It gives us an invitation to wonder. But it doesn’t give us an invitation to leap into the dark but rather to step into the light.

H. G. Wells was not a believer—far from being a believer. He was clear about that. But on one occasion he wrote, “I am a historian. I[’m] not a believer. But … this penniless preacher from Galilee is irresistibly the center of history.”[20] “I’m not a believer. I’m a historian. But applying my mind to it as it is, I am forced to conclude that he is the center of history”—because of “this thing that … happened.”

You see, the declaration of the Gospels, and of Luke’s Gospel, is very straightforward: he is declaring the good news of salvation that is found in Jesus alone, and it is for the whole world. For the whole world.

Tonight, we’re going to view the movie of one of the fascinating stories of the twentieth century in terms of somebody coming from atheism through agnosticism to believing faith. And I don’t want to spoil tonight in any way, but Lewis is wonderfully helpful, and may be really helpful to you as you listen to me now. Because you’re saying to yourself, “I don’t think C. S. Lewis is the most reluctant convert. I think I’m the most reluctant. In fact, I’m not converted.” Well, when you come tonight, you’ll realize that Lewis was struck by what he referred to as “the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet.”[21] “The steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I desired so earnestly not to meet.” And he says, “You know, it is one thing for God to welcome the Prodigal back up the road. Such a mess! ‘I have sinned’ and so on.” Lewis says, “That is marvelous. That is wonderful. But,” he says, “have you pondered the divine humility whereby God is prepared to accept the sinner who comes screaming and kicking and arguing her way into heaven?”[22]

The declaration of Luke’s Gospel is very straightforward: he is declaring the good news of salvation that is found in Jesus alone, and it is for the whole world.

“Now.” “Now.” What? In the King James Version, it says, “And it came to pass, after the angels had gone into heaven, that they said one to another, ‘Let us now go unto Bethlehem.’”[23] It doesn’t say, “Let us go now.” It says, “Let us now go.” The ESV says, “And they went with haste.” They’re getting across what’s there in the Greek. It was a matter of urgency. They didn’t say to one another, “Well, that was pretty interesting! We ought to do something about that some time maybe. Well, yeah, that was great. Yeah.”

This is a matter of peculiar urgency, my friends. Either the New Testament is true, or it’s a collection of radical fables. Either we’re dealing with “this thing that … happened,” or we’re dealing with speculation and poetic invention. You’re not going to take my word for it. It’s the Spirit of God that will bring this home to you. When do you plan on settling this matter? When? You got your insurance policies in place? Some of you have bought your burial plot but have made no provision at all for an encounter that is on your calendar, whereby you will meet the one whom we encounter here.

“Let us now go.” “Now.” So when you come tonight, you can say to your wife or your friend, “You know, up until this morning, around 9:59, I viewed myself as the most reluctant convert. But this morning, just where I was seated, I laid down the arms of my rebellion, and somewhat reluctantly, but definitely, I went to Christ.”

I leave it with you.

Let us pray:

It is a thing most wonderful,
Almost too wonderful to be,
That God’s own Son [would] come from heav’n
And die to save a child like me.[24]

O Lord, grant that as we go forward from this moment, that we might go and see, that we might trust and believe, and then that we might go again, as they went, so that we might tell the thing that has been said, not leading with our own experience—we all have our own stories—but making clear what the angel made clear: “This is Jesus, the Savior, the Messiah of God, God himself.”

Hear our prayers, O God, we ask. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

[1] Stuart Townend and Keith Getty, “Speak, O Lord” (2005).

[2] Luke 2:15 (KJV).

[3] Luke 1:1–4 (paraphrased).

[4] Ruth 1:19 (paraphrased).

[5] See Luke 2:1–2.

[6] Micah 5:2 (paraphrased).

[7] Michael Wilcock, The Message of Luke: The Saviour of the World, The Bible Speaks Today (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1979), 42–45.

[8] Matthew 1:24–25 (ESV).

[9] Matthew 2:1 (ESV).

[10] Luke 5:8 (ESV).

[11] Isaiah 6:5 (ESV).

[12] Exodus 24:17 (ESV).

[13] “The First Noel.”

[14] Matthew 26:52–53 (paraphrased).

[15] Matthew 1:21 (ESV).

[16] John 2:11 (paraphrased).

[17] John 20:30–31 (paraphrased).

[18] John 10:11 (paraphrased).

[19] Walter C. Smith, “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise” (1867).

[20] Attributed in Vaughan Roberts, Turning Points: Is There Meaning to Life? (Carlisle: Authentic Media, 2003), xiii.

[21] C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life (1955), chap. 14.

[22] Lewis, chap. 14. Paraphrased.

[23] Luke 2:15 (paraphrased from the KJV).

[24] William Walsham How, “It Is a Thing Most Wonderful” (1872).

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.