Songs of the Nativity
Selected Sermons on Luke 1 and 2
All four Gospels bear witness to the supernatural person and work of Jesus Christ. But only Matthew and Luke testify explicitly to his supernatural conception and birth. The accounts given in those two gospels are clearly independent of each other, but both unambiguously affirm that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, through the direct action of the Holy Spirit and without the intervention of a human father.
Luke’s Gospel is notable for its distinctive songs, strikingly reminiscent of the Psalms. Chief among these are Mary’s song, the Magnificat, Zechariah’s song, the Benedictus, the Angels’ song, the Gloria in excelsis, and Simeon’s song. Together, they have nourished the prayer and meditation of countless Christians and enriched the church’s worship. They are full of prophetic hope, eager expectation, and joyful thanksgiving. God’s great redemptive work is moving to its climax with the birth of the Savior, Jesus, Son of the Most High. Luke’s “gospel of the incarnation” was good news to all who, like the representatives of the old Israel, looked for Messiah’s first advent; it is good news to all who, today, look for his second.
Preached in Geneva between October 1559 and March 1560, Calvin’s sermons on the nativity story are the fruit of almost 25 years of gospel ministry. Here we see Calvin the faithful pastor – expounding the text and applying it with passion and vigor to his congregation by means of persuasion, exhortation, admonition and rebuke. Robert White’s excellent translation transports the reader back to St. Peter’s Cathedral, Geneva, where Calvin can again be heard preaching on issues of perennial importance to all Christians.
About John Calvin
John Calvin (1509–1564) was a French theologian who was instrumental in the Protestant Reformation. Calvin hold wide influence today in theology, education, and even politics to this day. Anglican author J. I. Packer wrote about Calvin, “It is doubtful whether any other theologian has ever played so significant a part in world history”, and English Baptist pastor Charles H. Spurgeon said, “The longer I live, the clearer does it appear that John Calvin’s system of theology is the nearest to perfection.”
American historian John Fiske wrote, “It would be hard to overrate the debt which mankind owes to Calvin. The spiritual father of Coligny, of William the Silent, and of Cromwell, must occupy a foremost rank among the champions of modern democracy. The promulgation of this theology was one of the longest steps that mankind has ever taken toward personal freedom.” Calvin served as a pastor in Geneva, Switzerland for many years. He is best known for his monumental volumes, The Institutes of the Christian Religion.
Prayer Before the Sermon
The Collected Sermons:
- Works of Grace (Luke 1:39-44)
- The Servant of the Lord (Luke 1:45-48)
- God’s Might, God’s Mercy (Luke 1:49-51)
- The Judge of All the World (Luke 1:52-55)
- The Day of Visitation (Luke 1:65-68)
- God’s Promise to the Fathers (Luke 1:69-74)
- Sealed for Service (Luke 1:74-76)
- When Sins are Forgiven (Luke 1:77)
- The Dawn from Above (Luke 1:78-80)
- Glory to God on High (Luke 2:9-14)
- Christ our Consolation (Luke 2:25-28)
- The Light of the Nations (Luke 2:28-33)
- Ruin and Resurrection (Luke 2:34)
- Every Thought Laid (Luke 2:34-35)
Prayer After the Sermon