Lighthouse Leader Study Guide
Date: December 4, 2016
Series: Born This Day: Christmas 2016
This Week’s Printable Resources:
Overview of this Lesson
This week we begin our Christmas 2016 series, “Born this Day.” Each week the next four weeks we will examine an aspect of Jesus Christ as revealed to us in Luke 2. This week, our focus is upon the reality that “a savior is born.”
Have you ever wondered how those words were heard by the men and women living in Israel at the time of Messiah’s birth? Clearly, they rejoiced, but why? We understand that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus and that Jesus came as Savior of the world. But, we have John 3:16 and a multitude of other New Testament verses that testify to His deity and His mission. These were not New Testament people, however, they were Old Testament people. The New Testament didn’t begin until the death of Jesus (Heb. 9:17), so the shepherds, Mary & Joseph, Zecharias and Elizabeth, and every other person living at the time only had the promises of the Old Testament, yet they all clearly understood the significance of the angel’s announcement that a Savior had been born in Bethlehem.
In this lesson, we will look at the Old Testament teaching concerning God our Savior and why the Old Testament saints at the birth of Jesus knew exactly what was meant when a Savior had been born.
They rejoiced, but how do we respond today? For many, the Christmas story has become familiar to the point it no longer holds any true special significance. We celebrate Christmas every year, but do we really understand what it means that a Savior has been born? At the end of this lesson, you will spend time with your group discussing how we can keep the joy of Christmas and the reality of a Savior present in our thoughts not only this week, but throughout the year.
Memory Verse for This Week
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. – Luke 2:11 (ESV)
This Week’s Core Virtue
Hope (Hebrews 6:19-20): I can cope with the hardships of life and with death because of the hope I have in Jesus Christ.
This Week’s Take Home Truth
“Jesus is our ultimate deliverer, God’s only means of salvation for our souls and bodies from the graveyard of death and hell.”
1. What was the best gift you received for Christmas as a child?
2. Have you ever received something you needed (badly) as a Christmas gift?
3. Looking back at your notes from this week’s sermon, was there anything that particularly caught your attention, challenged or confused you?
Make sure you ask this question this week. It gives people the opportunity to discuss questions or issues that come up beyond the written questions. People’s responses can often lead into one of the questions in the “Digging Deeper” section. Also, some weeks this question will result in a lot of discussion, other weeks, not so much.
Read the Text (Luke 2:1-21)
Luke 2 is one of the most beloved and familiar stories in the Bible. Read the Christmas story as a group and place yourself in the shoes of the people mentioned as they encounter the reality of the birth of Jesus.
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
The Shepherds and the Angels
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 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. 10 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. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
15 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.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
In this section, feel free to develop your own questions to help guide your group’s discussion. Below are some suggestions. Remember, if you are hearing from everyone in your group, chances are you won’t have to time to discuss every question. You may start with one that catches your attention so you don’t run out of time. For example, it’s not odd to start with Question #6, then go to Question #5 and if you have time come back to Question #4.
4. Focusing in on Luke 2:11, if there is one word that encapsulates all that Christmas is about, what is that word?
The word is “Savior.” This, after all, is the reason Jesus became a man and lived a sinless life, died on the cross, was buried, and rose again. He is the Savior of the world.
5. How do you think the shepherds understood the word “savior”?
The shepherds would have understood perfectly what the angel meant when he declared that a Savior had been born.
We often reference back to the prophet Isaiah when we read the Christmas story in Luke 2 because Isaiah had so much to say about God our Savior. In fact, the very words the angel spoke in Luke 2:11 ring in tune with the words of Isaiah 9:6:
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
But another passage from Isaiah that the shepherds would have been very familiar with declares,
I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord And the praises of the Lord, According to all that the Lord has bestowed on us, And the great goodness toward the house of Israel, Which He has bestowed on them according to His mercies, According to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses.
For He said, “Surely they are My people, Children who will not lie.” So He became their Savior.
In all their affliction He was afflicted, And the Angel of His Presence saved them; In His love and in His pity He redeemed them; And He bore them and carried them All the days of old.
So He became their Savior. What does that mean? Verse 9 tells us, “In all their affliction He (Jesus) was afflicted, And the Angel of His Presence saved them; In His love and in His pity He redeemed them; And He bore them and carried them All the days of old.
Consider Mary and the young girl who is told by the angel Gabriel she will become the mother of the long-promised Messiah, the mother of Son of the Most High, and her heart sings with praise:
And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
Even as a young girl, Mary understood the significance of Gabriel’s words, that she was giving birth to God her savior.
Zacharias, the godly priest whom the Lord chose to be the father of John the Baptist exclaims when he realizes the Messiah is to be born, and his son will serve as the forerunner of the Messiah:
Luke 1:69 “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people, And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of His servant David,
Luke 1:76–79 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, To give knowledge of salvation to His people By the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God, With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Israel was looking for their Messiah, their Savior. So when the angel announced to the shepherds that a Savior had been born, they understood perfectly what was meant by the word Savior.
6. Does this give us insight into how Old Testament saints were saved?
It’s important to remember that even though the gospels are a part of the New Testament, the people living at the time of Christ were Old Testament people. The promises the shepherds, Mary, and Zacharias believed are the promises Israel had believed for hundreds of years.
Consider the example of Simeon further down in Luke 2. The Bible draws a picture of Simeon as an old saint who has waited all his life for the Messiah. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Lord revealed to Simeon that he would not see death until his eyes had seen the Promised One. And when he saw the Lord Jesus Christ, he took Him in his arms and declared:
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” — Luke 2:29–32
Simeon, a man of the Old Testament, clearly understood that salvation comes from the Lord through the person of Jesus Christ. He knew what he was looking for…he was looking for the perfect Lamb of God, the Savior of Israel and a gospel light to the Gentiles.
God saved the Old Testament saints like Simeon the same way He saves you and me. God forgave the Old Testament saints and placed their sins upon Jesus at the Cross just as you and I are forgiven today because He has placed our sin upon Jesus.
Jesus Christ bears the sins of all who believed in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.
7. What does the birth of the Savior mean to us today?
Most of us would probably answer this question with a simple response, “A lot!” But sometimes our actions show differently. While the Christmas story of Luke 2 is one of the most beloved and well-known stories of the Bible, it is also familiar. By our nature, we grew indifferent to things when they become familiar. They soon “fit us like an old shoe” and we no longer appreciate the specialness or the significance of something.
The story is told of a couple who were celebrating 50 years of marriage. The husband wanted to honor his wife, and invitations were sent and all of the family and friends were gathered together for a big celebration.
With tears in his eyes, the husband stood up in front of everyone and said, “My dear wife. After 50 years I have found you tried and true.”
The wife was a little hard of hearing, and she said, “What?”
The husband repeated, “My dear wife. After 50 years I have found you tried and true.”
A shocked look came over the wife’s face and she shot back, “Well after 50 years I am tired of you too!”
Take some time as a group and discuss ways you can keep the emphasis upon the simple yet profound fact that Jesus was born at Christmas as the Savior of the World.
These questions are given to prompt both reflection and learning on a personal level, and should likely be completed individually and apart from your regular group time.
8. Looking back at this week’s teaching and study, what’s the most important thing to remember?
9. How can you keep your focus and emphasis upon Jesus as our Savior this Christmas Season?
10. Is there someone in your circle of influence who doesn’t know Jesus is the Savior? Pray now that God will open a door for you to share this wonderful gift of the gospel this Christmas season.
This Is the Savior of the World
Helen Steiner Rice
All the world has heard the story of the little Christ child’s birth,
But too few have felt the meaning of His mission here on earth.
Some regard the Christmas story as something beautiful to hear,
A lovely Christmas custom that we celebrate each year,
But it is more than just a story told to make our hearts rejoice—
It’s our Father up in heaven speaking through the Christ child’s voice,
Telling us of heavenly kingdoms that He has prepared above
For all who trust His mercy and live only for His love…
And only through the Christ child can man be born again,
for God sent the baby Jesus as the Savior of all men.