This is the transcript of the Sermon I am about to preach on Christmas eve. There are more then a few spelling and formating errors you will have to forgive me for those I will fix them later. I hope it will be a blessing to you.
What is the Christmas Message?
So often we just dwell on the fact that when Jesus was born that he was coming to die for us. But when Jesus came to this earth the first time He was coming not just to die for us but also to correct some misconceptions about who God was and the relationship He desired to have with us.
The people view of God had become distorted by the time of Jesus. The viewed God as an exacting God. One who demanded obiediance and anything short of that was unacceptable. They were looking for a Messiah not to come and be among them but one to come and rule over them.
The Circumsatances surrounding the birth of Christ give us a wonderful picture of who God really is and the type of relationship he desires to have with us. It is a picture that we need to see today as Christians and it is also a picture that the world needs to see.
Today like in time past people misunderstand and doubt who God is because of misconceptions propigated by Christians who also misunderstand the mission of Jesus and how God desires to relate to those who follow him.
In Luke 2:8-20 we find the story of the angels declaring the birth of Jesus to the shepards. in the middle of this passage the angels grandly declare to the shepards "Glory to God in the Highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men." When you contrast the angels reactions to Gethsemene and Clavary with their reaction to Jesus's birth it makes me wonder if the angels even really understood what Jesus was coming to earth to do. Never the less the message was brought to those shepards and as much as they couls they tried to bring that message to others they came in contact with.
"Glory to God in the highest." I don't want to dwell on this statement to much because it is so broad. And I think it is pretty self explainitory. The angels live to glorify God it is the ever present desire of their heart. As it should and will be for us some day. But on this day their was much to glorify God with, The plan of salvation was about to explicitly unfolded before the world..
Today however I want to dwell on the "on earth" part. "peace and good will towards men." Where men often run astray in their understanding of God is forgeting these 4 words "peace goodwill toward men" even as Christians when God is in the process of molding us into his image, fitting us to live in heaven we are quick to doubt when the process gets hard and starts to hurt a little bit. We need to always remember that God has plan of peace, to prosper us and not to harm us, to provide us a future and a hope.
There are 3 things that stand out to me in the story of Christ's birth that help us to gain a clear understanding of the peace and goodwill that God has towards us and how wishes to relate to us everyday and reveal to us why he chose to save us in the way that he did.
In Matthew 1:23 we find a reference to a prophecy from Isaiah. His name shall be Immanuel which is translated "God with us". Here we find the first thing that should help us understand Gods good will for us. God has always desired to be with us. From the very beginning he sought us out for this purpose, in fact I would go so far as to say that we were created for this purpose. God wants to be with you! Ultimately that is why you are here, to be with God. Every child that is born is born becaus eGod wants to know and be known by that child.
After the garden as man has perpetually wandered farther and farther from God he has likewise pursued us more and more. Throughout the Bible we see this theme. Perhaps the most discriptive story is the story of the Children of Israel in the wilderness. God instructed them to build the tabernacle and while it served many purposes there is one statement from God that reveals His main motive behind that building. He said "Build me a tabernacle that I may dwell among you"
So far from the deists assertions that God created us and has deserted us the bible shows through out and the story of Christmas specifically tell us of a God who desires nothing more then to be with us. To dwell among us. To be our God and for us to be his people.
When we recognize this it should give us a clearer picture of our relationship to God. He is desiring to be with us even when we are not desiring to be with him. Even after 4000 or so years of rejection God was still willing to risk everything to come and be with us. Which leads me to my next point.
God literally risked everything in coming to this planet. in John1:1-5 The apostle draws our attention to Jesus in a way that the other 3 gospels do not. John emphasises from the very beginning that Jesus is God and our creator. That he made all things and that without him nothing was made. if we take one other verse and stick it with this passage from John we get an amazing picture of what was at stake for everything and everyone by God's plan of redemption. Colossians 1:16-17, HE created all things and in Him all things consist. Consist means to exist or to be capable of existing. So in Christ everything finds it's ability to exist. You cannot exist with out Christ, I cannot exist with out Christ, the universe cannot exist with out Christ. In fact the only things that can exist with out Christ is the Father and the Holy Spirit. Christs mission was a desperate one. And the risk that was taken was unfathomably great.
Men today accuse God of being unfair, of not allowing free will, of being unjust because the Bible teaches us to live contrary to the desires of our sinful flesh. But what is not understood by many is that this world as it exists is a cancer on the rest of the universe. That sin is a plauge on all of creation. No one goes to the Doctor with cancer and determines to leave it in cause that cancer shold be allowed to continue to exist as it wants. We understand that Cancer in its very nature is contrary to us that it will destroy us and so if possible we have it removed or killed.
Is it really wrong of God to want to remove this cancer from the universe he created? Absolutly not. And when we consider the risk God took to earn the right to expunge this cancer. And make no mistake he condesnded to earn the right to detroy sin and recreate this earth, by risking the existance of everything. This shows us a God who prizes you and me, There are no words to describe this love He has for you and for me.
MAny people wander this earth in despair because they feel that they have no value. That no one loves them, no one cares for them. If they could only be shown and led to believe the truth that has been stolen form them by the atheists and deists, by the pagans and the secularists. That God risked the entire universe to have the oppertunity to be their Immanuel. They would find that their value is greater then they have every dreamed. The value of an item is determined by the price that someone is willing to pay for it. Not by the price someone else places on it. And God came so that if only one could be redeemed it would be possible so His estimation of just one persons value is everything he has ever created. Thats what he was willing to risk to save just one.
The story of Christmas is the beginning of 33 years of peril for the universe because for there to be true success there must be the possibility of true failure. Which makes this final point so amazing to me.
In Luke 1:26-37 Gabriel apears to Mary to inform her that she is about to be a mom. "Do not be afraid Mary you have found favor with God!" If there was someone somewhere taking bets on whether this plan would work the odds just tilted strongly in favor of the house. Jesus set aside his diety to become a human after 4000 years of degredation and he is going to start life as a baby and be raised by a sinful erring human family? It seems to me that God being God could have started jesus off an adult and just kind of programed him with knowledge and character and still been able to justly serve as our sacrifice. But God chose to place the destiny of the universe in the hands of Mary and Joeseph.
Many movies and stories these days paint a picture of a supreme being who thinks little of humanity, that doesn't believe that humans are capable of great things. They often look upon humans condecindingly and the humans in turn try to accomplish great feats to show that they can be indipendant of this controling being. But the Christmas message is that God looked down on earth, on humans and decided that Mary and Joseph were quite capable of playing a major role in His plan to save this world. I would say possibly the most important role. The values and principles they instilled in Jesus as a child are what made him the man capable of layign down his life for a people that were torturing and killing him.
God has faith in humanity. He believes that we can become more then we are that we can accomplish great things for Him. He still believes today as He did back then that Humans can raise their children to honor God and to be a witness in this world of the great and mighty things that God has done for us. That is our charge to occupy this place until our savior returns. God could have used angels to tell the world of the love of God towards them but He still chooses humans to bear that responsibility.
So much time is spent preaching about how the life of Christ or the death of Christ should impact our lives and often it feels that at Christmas time we talk about his birth almost as obligitory but the Christmas message is an important piece of the life that saved the world. It is a story that shows us in a unique way the character of God and reveals to us the special place we have in the heart of God.
The Christmas message is that God was willing to risk everything to be with us.
Are we willing to risk everything to be with Him?