Jesus Is Better Than Christmas Trees (Or: How Jesus Reveals God’s Glory) (sermon notes)

This morning I had the honor of preaching to the saints at Park Edgebrook. Here are the notes I took on stage with me. 

Luke 2:8-20

(3 mins) Introduction:

  • Christmas trees make memories, but why have them?
  • Real or plastic pines don’t belong in homes!
  • Martin Luther’s first one emulated pines and stars.
  • 25-30 million real trees sold annually in U.S.
  • Trees symbolize memories, togetherness, family, and sentimentality.
  • Christmastime also involves depression, anxiety, and bad memories.
  • Today’s passage reveals the glory of Christmas.
  • Similarly out of place, but far greater than!

Read Luke 2:8-20. Page 857.


  • Need: Miss the glory and miss the point.


  • Big idea: Jesus brings God’s glory to life.


  • Jesus reveals the glory of God’s goodness.
  • Jesus reveals the glory of God’s relevance.
  • Jesus reveals the glory of God’s grace.

(10 mins) Tell the Story:

Rising Action:


  • Shepherds: bottom social rung. Everyone’s within God’s reach.
  • Angel appears! Glory!
  • Shepherds fear. Was angel there to punish?
  • “Shekinah” “dwelling” glory from OT.
  • Humbles, prepares shepherds, attests to the announcement’s truth.


  • “Do not fear.” Lit. “I am evangelizing you!”
  • God’s glory revealed will result in their joy.
  • “Good News” “for all the people.” Offered freely!
  • Do we remember it’s Good News for all?
  • Who in your life needs to hear it?
  • Savior for you! God’s glory to your life.
  • David’s city–Micah 5:2. Page 779. “  
    [Slide] “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,    who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me  one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”
  • Messiah: “anointed one” Israel had been waiting for.
  • Lord: Septuagint translation of YHWH. God made flesh.



  • The sign–there would be only one.
  • God revealing glory humbly: baptism water (new life); communion bread & cup (atonement).
  • In a trough, helpless, weak, God meets humanity.



  • The angelic multitude provide many witnesses.
  • They call the church to unify in worship.
  • Glory to God: the Father sent His Son!
  • Peace on earth: the Son of God reigns!
  • Men of God’s favor: Applied by the Spirit.
  • The Triune Gospel, Triune God revealed by Jesus.


  • Shepherds believe. Not going to verify but witness.
  • “Believe–>understand.” Augustine. Faith precedes knowledge.

  • Faith also produces action.
  • How often have we heard, not gone to Jesus?
  • We must repent for our prayerlessness, inaction (faithlessness).
  • We must encourage each other, like the shepherds

Falling Action:

  • They who heard, marveled.
  • We love to marvel. Facebook feeds. Marvel superhero movies.
  • Usually, it stops quick as it starts.
  • Even Christmas sentimentality ends. January, lights, carols!
  • Sinful sentimentality replaces God’s glory with lesser glory.
  • Sentimentality is about self. Life lived for self–>death.
  • God’s glory, Jesus reveals, gives life forever!

  • Mary treasured these things. Take time to do that.
  • Shepherds returned. Transformed.
  • Meeting Jesus–you go back transformed. Meaning. Cut some things out. Life looks different.

(14 mins) Application: The Three-Fold, Thrice-Told Gospel


Jesus reveals the glory of God’s goodness.

  • God’s work is Good news (10)! He is the standard for good.
  • God has come to His people (Jesus is Lord) (11).
  • God is worthy of praise (14).

Jesus reveals God’s relevance.

  • God is faithful to “all the people”–Jew and Gentile (10).
  • God is faithful to meet our needs: God’s truth, forgiveness, and justice (11).
  • God is faithful to bring peace–with God, one another, ourselves (14).

Jesus reveals God’s grace.


  • Jesus replaces sinful sentimentality and fills me with real joy (10).
  • (as Savior) Jesus sets me free me from God’s wrath and my slavery to sin (11).
  • Jesus earns me God’s favor by taking my sin upon Himself, atoning for it and sending the Holy Spirit (14).


  • All completely unearned. Free. Gift of love.

(2 mins) Conclusion/application:

  • Why this matters: need something more. Sentimentality=trap.
    • Jesus reveals God’s majesty, faithfulness and grace.
    • He alone deserves our undivided attention
    • If we miss this, we miss God’s glory.
    • And opportunities to glorify God.
  • Because you see, we’re like the shepherds
    • Jesus has revealed God’s glory to us.
    • We in turn are expected to glorify God. by making Him known.
    • This makes us depend less on lesser glories–like sentimentality.
    • Puts our hearts where they belong: on Jesus Christ and on His Gospel.
  • This advent, ask: where’s my focus right now… on God’s glory, or something else?
  • Because if you miss Jesus, who alone brings God’s glory to life, then you’ve missed the point.

  • Unbeliever? Glad you’re here.
  • Christmastime: magical. Depressing. Routine. Don’t miss it.

  • Opportunity (maybe last?). Trust in Jesus today. Angels still celebrate when Christ is born anew in a sinner’s heart.

  • The Gospel is good news that changes everything.
  • Jesus reveals God’s glory (goodness, relevance, grace); we respond by glorifying Him.
  • I challenge you this Christmas to ask God to take your mind off of sentimentality and onto Gods glory. That you would seek and find opportunities to announce the good news to the people who don’t yet know it.
  • [SLIDE] Jesus has brought Gods glory to life.That’s good news. We glorify God by making His good news known. Let’s pass it on.

(1 minute) Prayer


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