Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 2
Thesis: The anomaly of "joy" is that it typically follows "fear".
Introduction: When we began the study of this paragraph, I told you that we would be looking at the issue of "joy" for as long as we are in this paragraph -- because that is the central thesis of Luke's words in this place. In a way, I misled you...because it seems that it is a central theme in the entire Gospel of Luke (if we take his "parting shot" as a restatement of his "point" -- see Luke 24:52).
In our study this morning we are going to look into the backdrop of "the message of great joy" which the angel announced to the shepherds and ask ourselves, "So, where's the joy?" Have you missed the huge contradiction in our recent news? A boy who killed his grandparents is mounting his defense on the claim that the anti-depressant drug that he was taking was really the culprit..."the pills made me do it". Increasingly we hear that "anti-depressant" drugs often lead to suicide. How absolutely goofy is that? I could understand it if it meant that people on those drugs often laughed themselves to death, but how does an anti-depressant lead to suicide? Paul's claim that those who reject God "profess themselves to be wise" while being incredibly "foolish" is certainly illustrated by this aspect of our drug-crazed culture.
But, in a way, the Bible says something that seems to be just as "nutty", for it seems to be saying in Luke's record that "the greater the fear, the greater the joy". So, let's look into this.
February 13, 2005
- I. The Stage for This Thesis.
- A. Luke 1:12 compared with 1:14.
- B. Luke 2:9 compared with 2:10.
- C. Luke 24:37 compared with 24:52.
- II. The "Connection" in This Thesis.
- A. "Fear", John says (1 John 4:18), "hath torment".
- 1. This signals a fairly high level of "negative" experience (see the only other use of "torment" in the New Testament: Matthew 25:46).
- 2. This "negative" experience is nothing more, nor less, than being subjected to the very thing(s) from which one does everything he/she can to escape.
- 3. Hebrews 2:15 says that unresolved "fear" produces life-long "bondage".
- 4. The heart of the matter: "fear" exists whenever one's experience, or anticipation of experience, is the very opposite of what one wishes reality to be.
- B. "Joy", on the other hand, is the essence of the promises.
- 1. "Eternal Life" is the summation of the designed divine impact of every word that has proceeded out of the mouth of God.
- 2. "Joy" is the summation of the essential makeup of "eternal life".
- C. Those most afraid of what is "likely to happen" are the ones whose joy knows no bounds when what is "likely to happen" turns out to be the exactly the opposite of what was "feared".
- III. Luke's "Delivery" of This Reality.
- A. Begins with the anomaly of the greatest announcement conceivable made to a group of men who were considered to be of one of the lowest forms of laborer (see both Genesis 46:34 and 2 Samuel 7:8).
- 1. Typically, the "lowest" do not expect much "good".
- 2. Typically, the "lowest" are burdened with fears.
- B. Develops with the fact that everything about the appearance of the angel was very intimidating.
- 1. Angels are typically intimidating [Note 1:12 in light of Daniel 8:17, Revelation 1:17, and Galatians 1:8].
- 2. The "glory of the Lord" is presented as "intimidating" [Note Acts 26:13].
- 3. The verb "stood before" is almost always used in contexts where one in "control" is going to insist upon some course of behavior.
- C. Continues with the "expected" reaction of the shepherds: they were "sore afraid".
- D. Culminates with the angel's words...
- 1. Stop being afraid... [Note 1:13 and 1:30 -- the very phrase].
- 2. I bring you good news of great joy.
- a. The "news" is of a "Savior" -- indicating that there is a "problem".
- b. The "problem" was whatever it was that was sitting so tightly upon the shepherd's hearts that they could not face the angelic majesty without quaking in their sandals.
- c. Ultimately, that boils down to the absence of "eternal life".
- IV. The "Point" of the Matter.
- A. "Joy" arises out of the mix of "fears" relieved.
- B. The greater the fears "relieved", the greater the joy.
- C. The current level of joylessness in our culture and in the Church indicates...
- 1. The presence of a significant level of fear.
- 2. The absence of a significant level of faith in the facts.