For to us a child is born,to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

[NOTE: The text below was the text as prepared. The final preached version differs slightly.]

God’s grace and peace are indeed yours tonight as we celebrate the birth of this child. In the NAME of JESUS. Amen.

With angelic messengers and all the pomp and circumstance of heaven, all creation cried out at the birth of it’s Lord and King. Indeed, only humanity was in the dark – unaware of the great and glorious works of God being accomplished that night. It was necessary that God sent the angelic messengers to declare these things, because God’s unending zeal for the salvation of mankind was at work.

There is no miracle in the Bible or that could be accomplished among men than the humble birth of this most glorious child.

And we are right to ask – what would cause the almighty God of the universe to abase himself to the point of being born a helpless baby in a manger. Not a great and grand palace fit for a king. Not even a warm cozy inn. But a feeding trough for animals – wrapped in swaddling cloths – to poor pious parents seeking to live according to the good and gracious will of God.

Certainly, if this child is who the Scriptures declare, it would be fitting and right for this accomodations to be much better.

But tonight isn’t about the accomodations. Tonight isn’t about the pomp and circumstance. Tonight isn’t about angels and shepherds. Nor is it about anything that we in our day associate with this most holy and blessed event.

Whether we have a grand celebration and point to God’s gift to mankind through gift giving and evergreen trees or not. God has still accomplished these things in the world – in a specific place in a specific time.

So it wasn’t to institute Christmas that God was born in a manger. It wasn’t so we would give gifts to one another. It wasn’t so that we would have a couple days of “family time” off work. In fact – while Christmas is the celebration of the birth of the Christchild in Bethlehem and Jesus can, indeed, be pointed to as the reason for our celebration this season, we have to ask the question, what is the reason for Jesus? What is the reason for the manger and the Angels and the virgin giving birth? Why did these things happen?

The prophet Isaiah in our text answers this question – telling us, “The Zeal of the Lord of hosts will do it.”

The whole reason for the coming of God in the flesh is God’s zeal. God is a zealot, says the prophet. There is one thing that consumed his efforts – his plans – his purposes. For millenia God had been planning and bringing about the events of this day. He left no detail unconsidered. Where necessary, God himself intervened in the things of this world so that this event that we celebrate would be accomplished.

But for what was God so zealous? What would cause God to move heaven and earth to bring about all that we celebrate this night?

The answer is, you. You are the object of His zeal. Not just in a general way all mankind – though what God did that night is Good News for ALL people. It is most especially GOOD NEWS for you.

For unto YOU, personally, individually, for YOU, Your own very self was born that day in the city of David a Savior – Christ the Lord.

YOU were born in darkness, blind to the true reality that God loved you. You were born in a darkness so deep that you were born God’s enemy – even though He loved you.
But we celebrate on this most holy of nights what was only dream and legend and hopes until that moment.

Throughout history God had proclaimed His love for creation – from the very first when Adam plunged all of mankind into that darkness by choosing to disobey and rebel. From that point onward, humanity was born in darkness – seeing only futility, pain and loss in the world.

Many times God had proclaimed that He would remedy the situation. He told how the seed of the woman would crush the head of the forked tongue serpent whose voice had introduced doubt into the mind of Eve. God foretold how He would raise up one specific descendant of Abraham, Isaac of Jacob – how in the line of Judah – God would raise up a King that would take up the scepter of rule and reign over the world for eternity. God promised David that there would be one seated on His throne forever.

And tonight we celebrate this truth, “to US a child is born – to US a Son is given.”

Given so that He may establish His rule and reign in this world of darkness and establish and uphold all things with justic and righteousness from this time forth – and forevermore.

Having been crucified for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, Having had the chastizement that has brought us peace laid upon His shoulders – He has risen from the dead and He has ascended to the throne of His Father David.

And now, He rules and reigns over all things – continuing to send His Word into your ears – proclaiming YOUR salvation from sin. Coming to you in His body and and His blood to strengthen and preserve us as His chosen and holy people even as we are surrounded by those who continue to sit in darkness and the shadow of death.

The zeal of the Lord has accomplished this – your salvation. And of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end – as He continues to come to gather us to himself – to strengthens our faith and as by His power and might, He continues to lead ever more into the love of His marvellous light.

As the bright angellic messengers announced to those shepherds, glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace, good will to men on whom His favor rests.

Peace – because God was zealous to rescue and save you. And the Zeal of the Lord of hosts has done it. He has made the way of peace between you and him – through this baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and laying in a manger.

May the Holy Child of Bethlehem find room in your heart this night, so that God’s zeal for you, God’s love for you, God’s mercy and grace toward you may find it’s fulfillment. For the zeal of the Lord has accomplished your salvation.

In the Name and for the sake of Jesus. AMEN.

And may the peace of God that surpasses all understanding guard your heart and keep your mind in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.