Christmas Sermons

  • Beauty and You

    Text: Matthew 2:1-11

    Proposition:We are attracted to beauty in a way that goes beyond our understanding compelling us to look, to wonder, because its very origin is God.

    Introduction:This morning I want to talk with you about one thing, one thing so compelling, so familiar that we often miss its deeper intents. The one thing I want to draw your attention to is ‘Beauty’. It’s an appropriate subject when you think about Christmas. The images of beauty resonate in Christmas, the birth of child, the glory of angels, a star lit night, the purity of worship offered by poor shepherds in a humble stable. No human writer could have constructed a scene as beautiful as the birth of Jesus Christ. If you searched the pages of Scripture you’d see the way beauty is referred to again and again. It describes women like Bathsheba, Abagail, Tamar and Sarah. Beauty describes the infant Moses, beauty describes the sparkle in the eyes of David when he was a shepherd boy. Beautiful are the feet that bring the gospel. Beauty is attached to the Temple and even the entire city of Jerusalem. Things, creatures, places, people and even circumstances are beautiful. What is it that makes them all beautiful, perhaps even more importantly, why do we find ourselves noticing and being attracted to all beauty?  Let me share a beautiful story with you this morning that may begin to answer that for us because beauty is not just in the eye of the beholder, beauty calls you. All beauty beckons you to its origin. Turn to Matthew 2: 1-11 with me.

  • Beauty and You

    Text: Matthew 2:1-11

    Proposition:We are attracted to beauty in a way that goes beyond our understanding compelling us to look, to wonder, because its very origin is God.

    Introduction:This morning I want to talk with you about one thing, one thing so compelling, so familiar that we often miss its deeper intents. The one thing I want to draw your attention to is ‘Beauty’. It’s an appropriate subject when you think about Christmas. The images of beauty resonate in Christmas, the birth of child, the glory of angels, a star lit night, the purity of worship offered by poor shepherds in a humble stable. No human writer could have constructed a scene as beautiful as the birth of Jesus Christ. If you searched the pages of Scripture you’d see the way beauty is referred to again and again. It describes women like Bathsheba, Abagail, Tamar and Sarah. Beauty describes the infant Moses, beauty describes the sparkle in the eyes of David when he was a shepherd boy. Beautiful are the feet that bring the gospel. Beauty is attached to the Temple and even the entire city of Jerusalem. Things, creatures, places, people and even circumstances are beautiful. What is it that makes them all beautiful, perhaps even more importantly, why do we find ourselves noticing and being attracted to all beauty? Let me share a beautiful story with you this morning that may begin to answer that for us because beauty is not just in the eye of the beholder, beauty calls you. All beauty beckons you to its origin. Turn to Matthew 2: 1-11 with me.

  • Believing in the God of the Impossible

    Text: Luke 1:26-47

    Proposition:  God’s promises are outside the realm of human possibility, our only response is a faith that receives and then pursues them.

    Introduction: How many times have you run into the impossible in your life, into situations that were impossible,  relationship impasse,  financial encumbrance,  health endangerment? The scriptures are full of the accounts of  lives that were lived against all odds, lived in the face of the impossible.  Perhaps the Christmas story is the most well known of  all these.  It’s the story of  God entering humanity for the sole purpose of being able to die. Even more impossible is that the life and death of this God man, this Jesus, was for the express purpose of carrying away the most toxic substance known to mankind.  It’s the toxicity of sin and it outlasts the grave.  Jesus came to take away the sin of the world, that’s what John the Baptist declared because he believed in the promises that God had made to us all, no matter how impossible they sounded.  Some of God’s promises we call prophecy as in Genesis 3 and Isaiah7. Some of His promises are more plainly spoken to us like John 10:9, “I am the door, if anyone enters through Me he shall be saved and shall go in and out and find pasture.” We need to recognize that the very details of God’s promises to us are outside the realm of human capability. In and of ourselves we could never make them come to be and in that sense they are impossible, but for God the impossible is impossible. Let’s take a look at that Christmas story again and see these promises that God made to Mary, watch to see what her response was. Read with me Luke 1:26 to 47.

    I. God Promised To Interrupt Mary’s Life… Because of Love.

    Would you call an unplanned pregnancy, an unsettled marriage and a transient lifestyle, interruptions in Mary’s life? Absolutely!  Promises to conceive though yet a virgin; promises that her child would be the Son of God; promises that He would be a King; promises that His kingdom would never end; these are the impossible promises of God made to Mary. Perhaps the most difficult to believe is the promise, “Hail favored one, the Lord is with you.” It’s hard to see how all this interruption, all this crisis and uncertainty could possibly be interpreted as God’s favor and yet there it is.  God interrupted Mary’s life because He ‘favored her’, He loved her and had chosen her specifically to be a key part in the plan of redemption. Mary’s life really was interrupted, changed to never be the same again, and the prime motivation for God choosing Mary in this way was… it pleased Him to do so.  That’s why He favored her.

    It’s really the same greeting that God has said to you and I who are Christians, isn’t it. It’s because we are favored in His sight that we have received His grace, that we have been given a gift of faith to receive and believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior . And it’s just as humanly impossible a work that He does in you and I as He did in Mary. The Holy Spirit has been sent to now take up residence in you, to indwell you!  And He does it for the same reason. Your salvation brings pleasure to the heart of God. Through every person’s life that is transformed by Christ , great joy comes to the heart of God. In Luke 15:10 Jesus said, “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  It is against all odds, against  all probability and yet it brings pleasure to the heart of God to bring faith in Christ alive in you… and it will interrupt your life… gloriously.  So how did Mary respond to such an interruption in her life?

    II. The Right Response to God’s  Impossible Promises:   Go and See;  Go and Receive; Go and Proclaim.

    1. Go and See -  A. W. Tozer once said, “The Bible recognizes no faith that does not lead to obedience, nor does it recognize any obedience that does not spring from faith. The two are opposite sides of the same coin.” We know that when the angel had finished talking with Mary her response was that she believed. In verse 38 she declares, “Behold the bond slave of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word.” That was faith, but look what happens next. She immediately leaves Nazareth and journeys to the hill country of Judea. The route she took was probably exactly the same route Joseph would take with her just nine months later. In fact she would have traveled right through Bethlehem to get to Hebron, the Levite city given to the priestly families such as Zacharias and Elizabeth. This was no small journey, it represented a very rugged walk of about 80 miles. When God makes an impossible promise to us, one that is against all odds, faith will not let you sit still. It’s like suddenly having a realization that you are incredibly thirsty and that you’ve been thirsty all along but just now are aware of it and you need to go and drink. The first response to God’s incredible promise is to go and see.

    2. Go and Receive -  Mary comes to the house of Zacharias and Elizabeth and calls out a greeting. Instantly Elizabeth and her unborn son John are filled with the Holy Spirit as they hear Mary’s voice.  Elizabeth, in the Spirit, proclaims to Mary that she is indeed to be the mother of the Christ. Some commentators believe that it was actually in Hebron, in Elizabeth’s home that the Spirit came upon Mary and she conceived Jesus. It’s entirely possible as this was very sacred place throughout the Old Testament. Abraham and Sarah were buried here as well as Isaac and Rebecca and Jacob and Leah. It was here that David was first anointed king and it was here that circumcision was first instituted as a covenant sign. Perhaps it is here that Mary also conceives and carries the Son of God, Christ the Savior. The response to go and see is always followed by the response to go and receive. Faith will be used to direct Mary as to what is about to occur, but to receive… this was dependent upon her going.  What did Mary receive that day at Elizabeth’s home?  Was it further understanding, confirmation and encouragement?  Was it the very person of Christ? What you and I receive because we go will be more than we expected, it will be the outworking of an impossible promise to us and through us by the Spirit in us.

    3. Go and Proclaim -  Look at the first words that come from Mary in verse 46, 47. “My soul exalts (magnifies) the Lord and my spirit has rejoiced greatly in God my Savior.” When an impossible promise of God has been given to you and faith is awakened in you, you go and see.  It will lead to the next step of  go and receive  what the Holy Spirit at the direction of Jesus Christ intends for you. It’s when you receive that then the desire to go and proclaim manifests itself. Go and proclaim what you might ask? You proclaim that which you hadn’t seen before. You proclaim that which you didn’t have before but now have received as a gift. It’s like any gift that you’ve received that you weren’t expecting and the greatness of the gift was way more than what you could have hoped for, you proclaim to others this gift. When God is the gift, the Son of God given to you for the purpose of taking the most toxic thing to you out of the way, your sin… it’s the gift of eternal life in Christ! And the amazing thing is that the gift isn’t just for you, it can be for any who will stop and bend low to receive it, who will repent and believe.

    When you put something under a microscope you don’t change the size of it, you just become aware of it in greater detail. ‘My soul magnifies the Lord’, Mary said. Her spirit rejoiced greatly in God. Charles Spurgeon put it like this… “Prayer is the stalk of the wheat, but praise is the ear of the wheat: it is the harvest itself. When God is praised, we have come to the ultimate. This is the thing for which all other things are designed.”

    Has God interrupted your life, do you see that He has done so because of His great love for you, because it brings Him great pleasure. Has God made these kind of humanly impossible promises to you, has He said He would come and live in you, has He said He would wash you in the grace of His gift of Christ, has he called you His child? Let your soul magnify the Lord, let your spirit rejoice greatly in the God of your salvation. Let your praise of God magnify the Lord.

  • Discovering Jesus
    Text: Luke 2: 21-38
    Proposition: When we discover Jesus it’s often when and where we would least expect yet when we do, He’s always more than we could ever expect.
    Introduction: Did you get what you expected for Christmas? Were there socks and oranges or E Readers and Blue rays? There’s a new tradition going about many households that is meant to take the crazy busy shopping aspect of Christmas down a notch or two. People give each other lists of what they would like for Christmas. I understand that but it’s the unexpected that makes Christmas gifts even more special to me. Telling someone what exactly you’d like to receive as a gift seems to me to take away the mystery that is so much a part of Christmas. I mean Jesus was not what everybody was expecting. Nobody expected a baby in a manager, nobody expected a virgin to give birth or angels to appear before shepherds or wise men called Magi to suddenly show up in Bethlehem with extravagant gifts for the Christ Child. Nobody expected Herod to try to kill the Child with a mass genocide campaign, certainly nobody expected the Messiah to come as a helpless baby born to young couple so poor they could barely make ends meet. And if you compare the list of what we didn’t expect regarding His birth the list is even greater when you consider what we didn’t expect regarding His death and resurrection. Which really begs the question, what do you expect about Jesus, because the story isn’t over. He’s coming again. As much as people were taken flat footed in the first coming of Christ they will likely be taken by surprise as much and even more at His Second Coming. It’s just six days since Christmas, I’d like to look at an account in Scripture that happened just eight days after Jesus was born and as we do I hope that your expectations of Who Jesus is grow more focused, more defined and more filled with hope. Have a look at Luke 2:21-38 .
    I. When You First Discover Jesus He Doesn’t Look Like What You’d Expect.
    Seven days had passed since that night in the manger, on the eighth day Joseph names the Child, ‘Jesus’, as both he and Mary were instructed to do by the angel Gabriel. In the Law of Moses in Leviticus 12 it said that a woman who gave birth to a male child would be considered unclean for seven days after which the young male child would be circumcised and then named. It was meant to be a way of teaching the people about how they were all born in sin and all born under the Law of Moses. Once the Child was named the woman then had another 33 days to pass through before she would be allowed to go to the Temple, forty days to be considered ceremonially clean. These details are strange to us, if we have a son circumcised it’s because of personal preference. If we name a child it’s when and what we feel is right. The idea of a woman being considered unclean because of having given birth is likely an offensive thought at best, one that speaks more against her dignity than as a symbol of the transmission of a sin nature. Traditions have a different value for us today because we are not like the Jewish people of the first century. Yet all these peculiar traditions of ceremonial uncleanness and circumcision and naming the child and going to the Temple are what Joseph and Mary did because of this Child Jesus. The peculiar part is that these traditions didn’t fit Jesus. There was no sin transmitted to Him by His mother. Though Jesus was circumcised as a sign of being under the Law of Moses yet He was sinless and was above the Law. In all the peculiar traditions that Joseph and Mary faithfully observed what was being communicated to us was that Jesus doesn’t look like what you’d first expect. In fact He looks a lot like us. You could say that Jesus used all the powers in heaven and earth to be just like us. We never expected that Jesus would want to do that. In modern day terms it would be like an All Powerful and All Majestic Jesus choosing to have a mortgage just like us, choosing poverty. It would be like Jesus choosing to be in a place of being laid off because of cut backs, He chose the experience of rejection. In all these ways and at much greater depth, Jesus has become like us, identifying with us, among us so that not only would He know our state but that being in our state since birth He would one day pay out our debt of sin completely. When you first discover Jesus He doesn’t look like what you’d expect because what He came to do wasn’t what we expected. He came to die not to succeed. He came to set free not to acquire. He came to bring life not solve life. Perhaps the very reason they went up to Jerusalem from Bethlehem after those forty days was a hint, there for all to see. It says that, “they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the LORD’…”. The first born child who is a male of every Israelite family was called ‘holy to the Lord’. What this phrase points back to is the times of Moses when all the first born of Egypt died as the final act to convince the Pharaoh to let the nation of Israel be set free. From that night, called the Passover night, all the first born males were to be considered set apart for God’s call upon their lives. Now Joseph and Mary take this infant Jesus to Jerusalem, the first born of God, the One who would set all people free from the penalty of sin and He would do that by His death in our place. When you first meet Jesus He doesn’t look like you thought He would because what He does is much greater than just making our lives better. He came as Savior!
    II. When You First Meet Jesus God Makes Sure You’re In the Right Place.
    It says that Simeon had heard about the Messiah, in fact he had prayed and searched and sought to know who this Messiah was. He is called a just and devout man, one who believed that the Messiah would be the Consolation, the Comforter, the Living Hope for the nation of Israel. In God’s special providence He had made it known to Simeon that soon he would see this Messiah. It was a promise from God to Simeon just like the way God sends His promise from the hand of Jesus to you and I. This is what that promise sounds like, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jer.29:12-14) That’s the promise that Simeon lived for, it’s the same promise that God offers to you here this morning, that if you’ll seek Him with all your heart you will find Him. Perhaps more accurately we could say that God will make sure you are in the right place at the right time to meet Jesus. Simeon was. It was a perfect intersect, he comes walking into the Temple, the Spirit of God prompting him as to place and time and at just that very moment Joseph and Mary with the infant Jesus are coming into the Temple. Simeon had likely imagined the Messiah as a general on a great white horse or a statesman who spoke with grand and wise words but suddenly here in front of him was an infant and it was unmistakably Jesus. God has a way of seeing right through us, past our fears and pretenses, past our own sense of unworthiness right to the heart. If your heart is saying, ‘I just want to see Jesus, to know His consolation, His forgiveness of my sin, to give Him my life to do what He wills…God makes sure that that you are in the right place and at the right time for that to happen. And not only does Simeon get to see the Messiah he actually takes the infant Jesus into his arms, he for a moment, holds the Savior of the world in his arms. These words pour out of his heart, “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of Your people Israel.” Simeon gets it, what God said He would do, He does. God’s salvation is prepared and presented before the face of all peoples. That because all people need Someone to stand between their sin and a holy God in order to take the hit for us. And it’s for all peoples, Gentiles and Jews.  He’s like the light of God shining on a path way in the pitch black night, giving you enough light to see where the rocks are, where the branches that would trip you up are, where the cliff edge is as you walk within feet of it. He is the light that enables you to see the way. Then Simeon says this to Mary and to all of us, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." There will be many who will only know Jesus as a curse word and there will also be many who bow their hearts before Him and are lifted up to Him. The anguish of Christ’s death on the cross will be like a sword going through Mary’s heart and yet this is the way that God has established for us to be reconciled to Him. Where you stand at the cross, as a mocker or as one who receives the gift of Christ’s death and resurrection is a heart that will be revealed. These somber words are like Easter resting against Christmas. It’s the perfect place to be, seeing a Jesus that is more than we ever expected. It’s Discovering Jesus.

  •    

    First Immanuel, Then Jesus

    Text: Matthew 1:18-25

    Proposition: The virgin birth of Jesus Christ brought man and God together in essence and then in relationship, eternally.

    Introduction: There’s a great quote of Matthew Henry that goes like this: “By the light of nature, we see God as a God above us; by the light of the law, we see him as a God against us; but by the light of the gospel, we see him as Immanuel, God with us, in our own nature, and (which is more) in our interest.” When people see sunsets and majestic mountains and the beauty of all kinds on animals, birds, fish and even reptiles… that’s the light of nature and we conclude there is an intelligent designer, there is a great God above. When people consider the 10 commandments, the Law that Scripture reveals, we see how far short of it we are in our everyday lives. The Law is like a dentist’s light, it can’t take away the decay it can only expose it. The light of the Law exposes sin and declares that sin and holiness are at opposite ends and we see God as being against us. Ahhh, but by the light of the gospel we read of a virgin birth, we read of the Holy Spirit bringing about conception in a young woman named Mary. We read about God entering into humanity, we call that Immanuel, With Us, God. In our nature refers to the human nature, the condition of mortality, a place of dependence on water, food and sleep and the needs of hope and community. In our interest refers to the very purpose of God on our behalf. If the virgin birth is too amazing for you, the idea of God being willing to take on death, the consequence or wages of sin, to die on our behalf that in our interest we would be reconciled to Him eternally, that is more amazing than all. Jesus, His name means Jehovah is Salvation, came close in order to take our place. Immanuel, God with us, was so that Jesus, God is our Salvation, could occur... first Immanuel, then Jesus. Turn with me to Matthew 1:18-25.

    I. Immanuel, A Plan That God Wants You To Know About.

    Have you ever had your plans interrupted, maybe a trip you were planning that can’t happen because the car left you a message on the garage floor. Maybe it was a plan for fun and work interrupted it. I’m thinking that Joseph had a plan to love a young woman, to marry her, to have a family and to live a simple life in Nazareth. He’d proposed marriage, she’d accepted. Soon they would formerly wed, but right now, even in the engagement, they were husband and wife. He hadn’t seen Mary for about three months since she was visiting her cousin Elizabeth near a little village called Bethlehem. When he next meets her Mary tells Joseph that she is pregnant. Have you ever had your plans interrupted? Joseph did. Though the penalty for adultery was death by stoning, Joseph seeks to quietly divorce Mary, quietly let her go, quietly explode inside. Though the virgin birth and incarnation of Christ are what causes us Christmas joy, they came about by interrupted plans, interrupted lives. Then, just as Joseph begins to put in place another plan, a painful plan to divorce, God interrupts again. It seems when God interrupts our lives it’s because He has a plan we haven’t heard of, He has a plan that’s greater than we could ever imagine and even in the pain and inconvenience it brings to us, that plan includes us in what He wants to do. Here’s the amazing part, God wants you to know what that plan is. This is true in our account with Joseph but it’s also true in your life here today. Look what He tells Joseph: 1. You are a son of David… that’s the family that you belong to, the Promises I’ve made to this family belong to you; 2. Don’t be afraid… Mary is still your wife, she has not betrayed you, I have not betrayed you, trust Me and take her as your wife; 3. The child she carries is of Me, the Holy Spirit, call His name Jesus; 4. He will save His people from their sins… His people have a problem that they are helpless to overcome, He will save them from their sins.

    It’s here that the gospel writer Matthew inserts an editorial note. Inspired by the Holy Spirit Matthew says that all this happened according to what was prophesied 700 years earlier by the prophet Isaiah, “Behold the virgin shall be with child and bear a Son and they shall call His name Immanuel.” God has interrupted Joseph’s life and He has interrupted your life by telling you His plan, Immanuel, God with us. It’s not God above you, it’s not God against you, it’s God with you! The virgin birth was so that deity, the very reality of Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, the One who was in beginning with God and was God, was now entering into humanity as the incarnated Son of God. Does God know what the warmth of the sun feels like, does He know what it means to sweat, to ache, to be hungry? Does God know how to laugh, how to hold little children, how to touch a lepers face? Does He know what it feels like to be alone, does He know how to pray and is He aware of what it feels like to die? Immanuel…Immanuel... Immanuel!

    The purpose of God with us is that He would be like us, our representative. The purpose of Immanuel is that He would be like us but with one great exception, He would not have a nature to sin and would not have done any sin. The virgin birth broke the cycle of generational transmission of a sin nature by only one half being human while the other half is divine. The God-man is who Immanuel is, like us as our representative head, unlike us as the only sinless man. Hebrews 4:15 puts it like this, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” First Immanuel, first God with us in every way the perfect man, without sin, like Adam, yet now perfectly obedient to God the Father. First Immanuel incarnate God with us, so that first hand we would know what God looks like it terms of character, in personality, in conduct, in command. Jesus said, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.”(Jn. 14:9) Because of Immanuel we know the plan of God and even more we know God in a way we never could have else wise. Because of Immanuel we know He knows us, first Immanuel… then Jesus.

    II. Jesus, A Man In Which You Can Stand.

    Have you ever vouched for another person, that is, have you ever put your name on the line so that they can be excused some error or wrong action? Maybe it was for your kids, they broke your neighbors window, they trampled your neighbors rose bush and you vouched for your kids. You may have even paid the damages for the broken window because, after all, it was a triple pane picture window, eight feet wide and ten feet tall. It would have been impossible for your kids to pay for that, so you did. When the angel told Joseph, “…you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”, he was saying that Jesus would vouch for His people, he was saying it would be impossible for His people to pay, so Jesus would do what His people couldn’t do for themselves. He would save them from their sins. Jesus can do that because He is Immanuel, God with us. Jesus can do that because He is without sin and is a perfect sacrifice that takes away the sin of the world. Jesus in essence says to the Father, “These are My people, the Jews first but also the Gentiles. They know from the evidence of creation that there is a God and that they are under God, under His power, under His purposes and under His plan. They have heard of your Word, they know about the Bible and they have come to know your Law. It has exposed their sin and they know that sin is what puts them at odds with You Almighty and Holy God. They know that because of sin You are against them. Now these have come to know that You have sent Me, Immanuel and that you have made My name known to them, Jesus… God is Salvation. Father I give myself for them, put what is owed you from them because of sin, put that on Me. I will… to take their place. For this reason You sent Me. Father forgive them their sin eternally, draw them to this understanding and help them to take their stand in Me by faith. Cover them with Me.”

    The wonder of the virgin birth is amazing, but the purpose of Immanuel is breath taking and the act of Jesus…well it’s incomparable! We stand amazed. Now we choose by faith to take our stand in the sinless man Jesus, in the Lord God Jesus, in our High Priest Jesus, in our King Jesus. Help us to remember 2 Corinthians 5:20, 21, “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us, we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

  • For Unto Us the Prince of Peace

    Text: Isaiah 9:6

    Proposition: Peace is the aching longing of every soul because it is absent in a sinful world, it is a longing designed to point us to the Prince of Peace, Jesus.

  • God’s Birth Announcement
    Text: Isaiah 7
    Proposition: God’s birth announcement has the facts but it is dressed in hope and filled with the miracle of new life in Christ.
    Introduction: Everyone has seen the pictures of the haggard father who has spent a night in the Operating Room with his wife. Perhaps they went in at 2 in the morning at now at 6am the baby has been born. The haggard father leans against the wall by the pay phone in the lobby of the hospital.  He calls family members to let them know the amazing news, a child has been born, the miracle of birth has happened here. Certainly it is the father’s duty to get the facts out there, boy or girl, how much they weighed, how the mom is and how long the labour went, what their name is. It’s the first hurried birth announcement and it flies from person to person, each eager to tell the others.
    I wonder if that is exactly what God was doing throughout the Old Testament as time and again He gave the details of the birth that would be remembered and celebrated for all time. He gave the place of the birth in Micah 5:2, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for Me One who will be Ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” In the Book of Danial He gave the time when these things would take place. God even told them that Jesus the Messiah would be born out of the tribe of Judah (Micah 5:2) out of the family of Jesse (Isa. 11:1) and out of the house of David (Jer. 23:5,6). In the Psalms (72:9,10) God tells them about shepherds and kings coming to witness the birth of this amazing Child. All these were like the phone call you get from your child saying, “Dad, Mom, we’re expecting!” There are two high points that people still point to as the time when God spoke so clearly about the coming birth of His Son, Jesus Christ. The first  came in a most unexpected setting. Let me give you the context, the back story. After the death of King Solomon the nation of Israel had split into two states. The one in the north was called Ephraim or Israel and the one in the south where the capital city of Jerusalem lay was called Judah. The setting before us is that the king of Ephraim or Israel was creating an alliance with the king of Syria and together they were going to attack the smaller southern state of Judah. The king of Judah was Ahaz, a cowardly, superstitious king, one who had little use for God and even less of a desire to trust in His power. God uses a prophet, a man called Isaiah to tell Ahaz that things are not as they seem. Turn with me to Isaiah 7.
    I. When the Roof Is Caving In, God Gives a Sign That All Is Not Lost.
    When the people of Judah hear that this coalition army is just a few miles to the north they are flooded with fears of chaos and loss. It says that the kings heart and the hearts of his people were “moved as the trees of the woods are moved with the wind.” They were overcome, pushed here and there by an invisible fear. It’s that kind of fear that whispers in your ear, ‘Things are not going to end well.’ We’ve known that fear ourselves and it cripples kings and servants alike. God sends Isaiah to speak against this fear, “Go forth now to meet Ahaz, you, and Shear-jashub your son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field.” The place was by the conduit that channeled water into the city, a life line if there were to be a siege. The conduit was likely falling apart from neglect and Ahaz was there to try to come up with some kind plan to keep things together. It’s into this place that Isaiah comes, not because Ahaz was seeking the Lord, he wasn’t. Not because Ahaz was a good man and deserved the help, he didn’t. God sends Isaiah here because Ahaz was of the line of David, because the people were of the tribe of Judah,  they are still what God will use to bring life. So the Lord tells Isaiah to bring with him his young son, Shear-jashub. As Isaiah stands before Ahaz, likely holding the hand of his son, there is a sign that God intends for Ahaz in this small child. Shear-jashub means, “a remnant shall return”. It was a sign for any who would see it that God will prevail, that they would survive. The roof was caving in, literally, and into this place God sends a sign that all is not lost. It’s a sign that says it won’t be easy, there will be loss, there will be struggle and trial but I will bring you through it. Shear-jashub, a remnant will return.
    II. God Knows Every Plan of Man,  So Listen To God’s Plan For Man.      
    It seems that God’s plans for us are always counter intuitive. If your enemy hits you on one cheek offer him the other, if you’re asked to carry a load one mile, carry it two. Those responses are not typical of us, they go against what we would intuitively do. So look at what Isaiah says to Ahaz as an invasion force amasses on his border. Take heed or guard yourself. In this case guard yourself against your own thinking. Be on guard against your fleshly responses. Be quiet, be still and stop being restless. Do not fear and don’t see yourself as weak, incapable, don’t be faint hearted. It’s a rallying cry that a General would give to the army, settle down, don’t let panic and fear trample on you, they do not have power over you but you have power over them. Let what you feel be determined by what is true and this is what is true. It’s how God sees things, it’s His estimation of them, that is what is true. So how does God see Ephraim and Syria’s alliance? He sees them as two tiny smoldering stubs about to be extinguished. For all their roar and fiery talk, their threat level in God’s eyes is like that of a wick about to fizzle out. He knows the conversations the enemy kings have been having and He wants Ahaz to see what He sees. The invasion will fail. Ephraim, or the northern state called Israel, would soon be a captive people in Assyria. The key challenge here for Ahaz is not how to defeat the enemy, it’s how to believe in what God sees. If you won’t believe you won’t be established. God will still prevent the invasion, He will still do what He chooses to do, but you will not be found faithful, you will miss this opportunity of faith and the eternal promises in it. So God invites Ahaz to ask for a sign. He even says that the sign can be anything, from clouds in the sky to the depths of the earth. God’s plan for man is that faith is the way in which he should walk. His plan for man is that they would believe in what God sees and not in what they see, that His will is sovereign over us and over those who oppose us. The tragic response here is that Ahaz tries to fool God, he tries to appear godly while at the same time not being willing to believe. He refuses to ask for a sign, so God gives him a sign that is meant to rebuke all unbelief. It’s a sign as high as the heavens and it goes to depths of the earth.
    “Behold the virgin shall conceive and shall bear a Son and shall call His name Immanuel.” What’s God’s response to people who won’t believe? It’s a birth announcement. It’s a phone call that says, “Look everyone, we’re going to have a baby.” It’s the impossible becoming fact, that’s why it begins with the word, ‘Behold’. God takes that which is already amazing to us and then makes it incredibly amazing. A virgin will conceive. That surely would be a sign, a sign when God takes an everyday miracle called conception and turns it into a once in an eternity sign called Incarnation. It’s a sign that says ‘Here is the place, here is the Way, here is the One.’ The young mother who will bear this Son through nine months of pregnancy and then through the multiplied pain of child birth, this young mother will name her Son, Immanuel. What this sign asks of us is to see what God sees. What God sees is that before we were ever created we would use our free will to turn against Him. What God sees is that as good as innocent man was in Adam, redeemed man in Christ is what He ultimately seeks. What God sees is the need to give of Himself in the person of His Son if the cost of sin is ever to be paid in full. What God sees is that mankind has the capability to believe and by the gift of faith that capability is awakened. What God sees is that which is counter intuitive to man, He sees that man should live by faith, not by sight. He sees a virgin as the one whom He will use to bring a sinless man and a perfect God into one person. He sees the vulnerability of an embryo as being the way the Omnipotent One should begin His experience of learning obedience in humanity. He sees what we would call weak, foolish and ineffective as being the exact, precise, perfect ones through which He speaks life into being.
    It was in the midst of an attack upon a king who didn’t seek for God nor was willing to trust in God that God pulls back the curtain to reveal the birth announcement of His Son. He used a tiny child standing right in front of the king to say that a remnant would indeed one day return from seventy years of captivity. The sign of Immanuel is one that carries the message, ‘Be on guard against the way of sin within you, don’t be afraid, be quiet before Him. Don’t be fainthearted, that would be to miss the truth of Immanuel, God with us. By faith, trust in Him.” It’s written right there in the birth announcement!

  • God’s Birth Announcement

    Text: Isaiah 7:1-14

    Proposition:God’s birth announcement has the facts but it is dressed in hope and filled with the miracle of new life in Christ.

    Introduction: You’ve seen the pictures of the haggard father who has spent a night in the Operating Room with his wife awaiting the birth of their child. Perhaps they went in at 2 in the morning at now at 6am the baby has been born. The father calls family members to let them know the amazing news, a child has been born, the miracle of birth has happened here. Certainly it is the father’s duty to get the facts out there, boy or girl, how much they weighed, how the mom is and how long the labour went, what their name is. It’s the first hurried birth announcement and it flies from person to person, each eager to tell the others.

    I wonder if that is exactly what God was doing throughout the Old Testament as time and again He gave the details of the birth that would be remembered and celebrated for all time. He gave the place of the birth in Micah 5:2, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for Me One who will be Ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” In the Book of Danial He gave the time when these things would take place. God even told them that Jesus the Messiah would be born out of the tribe of Judah out of the family of Jesse (Isa. 11:1) and out of the house of David (Jer. 23:5,6). All these were like the phone call you get from your child saying, “Dad, Mom, we’re expecting!”                                                               Perhaps one of the most well known announcements came in a most unexpected setting. Let me give you the context, the back story. It was about 900 years before the birth of Christ, King Solomon had just died, the nation of Israel soon experienced civil war and split into two states. The one in the north was called Ephraim or Israel and the one in the south where the capital city of Jerusalem lay was called Judah. Years passed and the then king of the northern state calling themselves Israel created an alliance with the king of Syria. Together they were going to attack the smaller southern state of Judah. The king of Judah was Ahaz, a cowardly, superstitious king, one who had little use for God and even less of a desire to trust in His power. So God uses a prophet, a man called Isaiah, to tell Ahaz that things are not as they seem. Turn with me to Isaiah 7:1-14.

    I. When the Roof Is Caving In, God Gives a Sign That All Is Not Lost.

    When the people of Judah hear that this coalition army is just a few miles to the north they are flooded with fears of chaos and loss. It says that the kings heart and the hearts of his people were “moved as the trees of the woods are moved with the wind.” They were overcome, pushed here and there by an invisible fear. It’s that kind of fear that whispers in your ear, ‘Things are not going to end well.’ We’ve known that fear ourselves and it cripples kings and servants alike. God sends Isaiah to speak against this fear, verse 3, “Go forth now to meet Ahaz, you, and Shear-jashub your son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field.” The place was by the conduit that channeled water into the city, a life line if there were to be a siege. The conduit was likely falling apart from neglect and Ahaz was there to try to come up with some kind plan to keep things together. It’s into this place that Isaiah comes, not because Ahaz was seeking the Lord, he wasn’t. Not because Ahaz was a good man and deserved the help, he didn’t. God sends Isaiah here because Ahaz was of the line of David, because the people were of the tribe of Judah, they are still what God will use to bring life. So the Lord tells Isaiah to bring with him his young son, Shear-jashub. As Isaiah stands before Ahaz, likely holding the hand of his son, there is a sign that God intends for Ahaz in this small child. Shear-jashub means, “a remnant shall return”. It was a sign for any who would see it that God will prevail, that they would survive. The roof was caving in, literally, and into this place God sends a sign that all is not lost. It’s a sign that says it won’t be easy, there will be struggle and trial but I will bring you through. Shear-jashub, a remnant will return.

    II. Since God Knows Our Plans, Listen Now To His Plan For You.    

    It seems that God’s plans for us are always counter intuitive. If your enemy hits you on one cheek offer him the other, if you’re asked to carry a load one mile, carry it two. Those responses are not typical of us, they go against what we would intuitively do. So look at what Isaiah says in verse 4 to Ahaz as an invasion force amasses on his border. Take heed or guard yourself. In this case guard yourself against your own thinking. Be on guard against your fleshly responses. Be quiet, be still and stop being restless. Do not fear and don’t see yourself as weak, incapable, don’t be faint hearted. It’s a rallying cry that a General would give to the army, settle down, don’t let panic, don’t let fear trample you. Let what you feel be determined by what is true and this is what is true. It’s how God sees things, it’s His estimation of them, that is what is true. So how does God see Ephraim and Syria’s alliance? He sees them as two tiny smoldering stubs about to be extinguished. For all their roar and fiery talk, their threat level in God’s eyes is like that of a wick about to fizzle out. He knows the conversations the enemy kings have been having and He wants Ahaz to see what He sees. The invasion will fail. The northern state called Israel would soon be themselves invaded and taken captive by Assyria. The key challenge here for Ahaz is not how to defeat the enemy, it’s how to believe in what God sees because if you won’t believe you can’t see. So God invites Ahaz to ask for a sign. He even says that the sign can be anything, from clouds in the sky to the depths of the earth. God’s plan for man is that faith is the way in which he should walk. The tragic response here is that Ahaz tries to fool God, he tries to appear godly while at the same time not being willing to believe. He refuses to ask for a sign, so God gives him a sign that is meant to rebuke all unbelief. It’s a sign as high as the heavens and it goes to the depths of the earth. Look at verse 14…

    “Behold the virgin shall conceive and shall bear a Son and shall call His name Immanuel.” What’s God’s response to people who won’t believe? It’s a birth announcement. It’s a phone call that says, “Look everyone, we’re going to have a baby.” It’s the impossible becoming fact, that’s why it begins with the word, ‘Behold’. God takes that which is already amazing to us and then makes it incredibly amazing. A virgin will conceive. That surely would be a sign, a sign when God takes an everyday miracle called conception and turns it into a once in an eternity sign called Incarnation. It’s a sign that says ‘Here is the place, here is the Way, here is the One.’ The young mother who will bear this Son through nine months of pregnancy and then through the multiplied pain of child birth, this young mother will name her Son, Immanuel, literally it translates as ‘With Us, God. What this sign asks of us is to see what God sees. What God sees is that before we were ever created we would use our free will to turn against Him. What God sees is that as good as man was in the innocent Adam, redeemed man in Christ is what He ultimately seeks. What God sees is the need to give of Himself in the person of His Son if the cost of sin is ever to be paid in full. What God sees is that mankind has the capability to believe and by the gift of faith that capability is awakened. What God sees is that which is counter intuitive to man, He sees that man should live by faith, not by sight. He sees a virgin as the one whom He will use to bring a sinless man and a perfect God into one person. He sees the vulnerability of an embryo as being the way the Omnipotent One should begin His experience of learning obedience in humanity. He sees what we would call weak, foolish and ineffective as being the exact, precise and perfect Way through which He speaks life into our lives.

    It was in the midst of an attack upon a king who didn’t seek for God nor was willing to trust in Him that God pulls back the curtain to reveal the birth announcement of His Son. He used a tiny child standing right in front of the king to say that a remnant would indeed one day return from seventy years of captivity. The sign of Immanuel is one that carries the message, ‘Be on guard against the way of sin within you, don’t be afraid, be quiet before Him. Don’t be fainthearted, that would be to miss the truth of Immanuel, With us, God. By faith, trust in Him.” It’s written right there in the birth announcement!      

  • In the Fullness of Time

    Text: Galatians 4:4; Luke 1: 31-33

    Proposition: The design of Christ’s First Coming when compared with  His Second Coming, shows the perfect plan of a perfect God.

    Introduction:  There’s an old saying that says , “You can never put your foot into the same river twice.” The water that once was there is gone, new water replaces it, it is never the same twice. The word of God is like that, ever fresh, ever seeking to take the blindfold from your eyes making your steps  sure. Let’s test that, let’s ask if it’s really true that Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Christ, could be full of discovery for us here this morning. Consider one passage of Scripture found far away from the Christmas story in Galatians 4:4 , “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law…”. That phrase, ‘When the fullness of time came’, cues us to the fact that an all powerful, all present, all knowing and never changing God… waited… waited for something and then when it came He moved in ways we still can’t explain. This is what that fullness of time looked like, Luke 1:31-33.

    I. In the Fullness of Time… Christ Is Born.

    The fullness of time referred to the account of Gabriel informing Mary of what was soon to be. The fullness of time would be from the creation of the world right up to the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. Exactly how long was the fullness of time? When you consider King David lived at about 1000 BC, Abraham at about 2000 BC, the Flood took place about 2400 BC and Adam was born about 1600 years before that, then the fullness of time took about 4000 years to come about. But the fullness of time has other aspects to it. It was the fullness of what had been spoken about in prophecy, more than 300 references to when and where Jesus would come, who He would be and what He would do and why. The fullness of time also referred to the preparation of the world to receive Him, to a global government that would pave the way literally for the gospel. Rome would develop roads, create a world peace, establishing an infrastructure that the gospel would travel on. Rome also brought people to a very low place of depravity and slavery and brutality. People were made ready to hear the voice of the Savior. The fullness of time also referred to what would happen afterwards as much as it referred to what led up to the birth of Jesus. Born under the law referred to the Law of Moses, the Law that proclaimed the existence of sin, it locked up all mankind in sin because none was without sin. Christ was born of a woman, but not of a man. It refers to the virgin birth of Jesus when deity entered into humanity, eternal perfection into sinful mortality. It’s like that old game called Limbo that tried everyone to see who could bend over backwards enough to get under the stick, shuffling forward, leaning backward, balancing to try to get under the stick. The Law was like that stick except that instead of being held at a certain height that demanded self efforts to righteousness the Law stick was laid right on the ground. No one could go under it unless they went into the earth and then came back up out of the earth. In the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law and all its demands that He would perfectly satisfy those demands by going under the stick, into the earth, entering death and then rising back to life. In the fullness of time God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law. Why? The next verse is clear, “to redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” In the fullness of time, we were adopted by God through faith in the atoning blood of Christ on the cross of Christ. Christmas is about the fullness of time that points to the birth of Jesus but it doesn’t stop there. Look again at Gabriel said to Mary in Luke 1.

    II. In the Fullness of Time… Christ is Coming Again.

    Listen to what it says again,  “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Verses 31 and 32 describe His First Coming and they were perfectly fulfilled. But verse 33 describes His Second Coming.  The house of Jacob refers to Jacob and his 12 sons from which the nation of Israel begins. The Jewish people right now do not recognize Christ as their King much less their Messiah. Yet at the Second Advent all Israel will be saved. The kingdom of Jesus Christ has begun now. Just after His baptism by John, Jesus says this in Mark 1:15,“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”  In the fullness of time the kingdom of God was at hand, was made near, right in front of them. “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” , is a prayer for the development eternally of the kingdom of God. In the fullness of time, specifically at the second coming of Christ, that reality will occur. The words of Gabriel that foretold the first coming of the Christ and then immediately the second coming of the Christ, will be fulfilled, “and of His kingdom there will be no end.” . Christmas is not a ‘stand alone’ event, it is the beginning that looks to its end, in the fullness of time.

    The Christmas carol, ‘What Child Is This?’ asks the question, “Why lies He here in such mean estate where ox and ass are feeding?”  The answer is:

    1.  His birth in the stable was a picture of the depths of the incarnation. The incarnation of Almighty God into humanity was the rough equivalent of a child being born in a stable.

    2. His birth in a manger underlined that this world was not His home, the  inn was for those who were passing through, this place was not His home.

    3. His birth in this rough shelter made Him accessible to those who were about to find Him. Shepherds and Wisemen could both come to Him.

    4. His birth in such a place was that He would be safe, there is anonymity in poverty. He had been born to bring an end to sin, to destroy the devil and His works. The manger, the lowliest of places in the most royal of cities, was the perfect place for the fragile Christ child to come.

    5. His birth in such a place was a mirror of the same humility that would mark His death. The cradle reflects the cross, its rough wood beneath Him in the cradle would one day hold Him up on the cross for all to see.

    At the second Coming of Christ each of these will be reversed.

    1. Now His coming in the clouds will be with great majesty, not the poverty of a stable,  no longer mounted on a donkeys colt but now a white stallion.

    2. Now He comes to earth as His home to bring about ‘Thy will be done on earth.’

    3. Now those who accompany Him at the Second Advent are sinless as Christ is sinless. The Church, the company of redeemed humanity is with Him.

    4. Then He was born in anonymity, now He comes openly, publicly, in glory, in the same way that lightning is seen as it flashes across the sky from east to west proclaiming it’s power and presence.

    5. Then He came as the Servant, now He comes as King. Then he was wrapped in swaddling cloths, now He is clothed in the white robe of a victorious King. Listen to these words from Revelation 19:11-16:

    “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:
    “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

    This, this is Christ our King!  This is Christmas… this is the fullness of time.

  •        The Miracle of the Ages

    Text: Luke 1; John 1

    Proposition: The miracle of all ages was the incarnation of God, for from this comes all the possibility of redemption. Discovering this miracle leads the discovery of eternal life.

    Introduction: The Christmas decorations are up and one of the most popular of them all is the manger scene. It’s on cards, on lawns, on coffee tables and in church foyers. The scene it depicts is the humble circumstances in the birth of Jesus yet what can escape our notice is that this event is the greatest miracle of all ages. Upon it every major doctrine in the Christian faith hangs. Without the intent and existence of the incarnation there is no justification, redemption, salvation, adoption, sanctification nor even election. In light of this, how strange it is for us that prophecy has been so silent about the incarnation. There is the veiled reference in Genesis 3:15 of how the seed of the woman would crush the head of Satan. There is the difficult reference in Isaiah 7 of a virgin giving birth to son, and the son’s name to be called Immanuel. But even here there was no direct revealing of the idea of God taking on humanity. Then we look at the actual records of the Gospels, the accounts of the birth of Christ, and even here we see a great mystery. Consider the following comparisons in the Gospels:    

                                                                                    Matthew                Mark                      Luke                       John

                   

    Genealogy of Jesus                                             1:1-17                       X                          3:23-38                 X  

    Gabriel announces John's birth                              X                             X                          1: 1-25                  X

    Gabriel visits Mary                                                  X                            X                          1: 26-38                 X

    Mary visits Elizabeth                                               X                            X                          1: 39-56                X

    Birth of John the Baptist                                         X                            X                          1: 57-80                X

    Angel appears to Joseph in a dream                1:18-25                       X                               X                       X

    Birth of Jesus in Bethlehem                              1: 25                            X                          2: 1-7                    X

    Shepherds visit Jesus                                           X                              X                          2: 8-20                 X

    There seems to be a great silence in all the gospel writers except Luke. Mark and John don’t record a single historic event regarding the details of His birth. The greatest miracle of all ages, the incarnation of God, seems to be like the writer of the carol suggests, “Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see”. Let’s take a closer look at the wonder of the incarnation through words that don’t refer to mangers, shepherds or heralding angels. J. .I. Packer in his book, “Knowing God”, spent a whole chapter on this subject, I’m going to borrow from his headings but the content will be my own. Consider now the immensity of the incarnation: Turn with me to John 1: 1- 4, 14.

    I. The Eternity of Christ Is Encapsulated Into Humanity.                                                  

    “In the beginning was the Word…”, the term ‘Word’ refers to Jesus, but why does John use this term? Well let’s think for a moment about how we use it. Do you remember when you had infants in your home, as they became toddlers you eagerly looked to the day when they would say their first word. It would be the first time they were communicating to us in a way we understand. It would be the first time they would be reflecting to us what their thoughts were. William Hendriksen, in his commentary on John, suggests that the term ‘word’ refers to these two distinct purposes: 1. It gives expression to inner thought; 2. It reveals this thought to others. This is what Jesus, The Word, did in giving expression to the inner thoughts of the Father and then revealing those thoughts to mankind. There’s a passage in Proverbs that personifies wisdom, but it’s also a close portrayal of what John 1:1 looked like. Proverbs 8:27-30 says, “When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth, when he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him”. It was this eternity of the Word that created and considered Mary, agreed with the Father’s will, and in the movement of the Holy Spirit upon Mary, encapsulated Jesus Christ into humanity in her womb.

    II. The Personhood of Jesus Is Embodied in Humanity.  

    “In the beginning was the Word… and the Word was with God…”. What does it mean, “the Word was with God”? I like how the American Standard Revised version translates this: “and the Word was face to face with God”. This speaks of the closest possible fellowship that God could ever have with another. The person of Jesus is distinguished from the person of the Father in this verse. It is this person of Christ, pre-existent before creation, Who had a depth of relationship with the Father that exceeds our understanding. Do you remember the words of Jesus in His priestly prayer of John 17:5, 24, “And now glorify Thou Me together with Thyself Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was”…and “…for Thou didst love Me before the foundation of the world”. The Word was with the Father in a depth of relationship that was so close they functioned as One God. And yet, in the miracle of the ages, the Word, the person of Jesus, left this proximity of fellowship to be embodied in humanity.

    III. The Deity of Jesus Entered Into the Limits of Humanity.                                        

    “And the Word was God.” Literally it reads, “And God was the Word”, emphasizing the deity of the Word, Jesus Christ. Jesus existed separate from the Father, had close communion with Him and yet was fully God Himself. This truth is foundational for what is about to be said. Consider verses 3,4. “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. Because Jesus is fully God He has the capability of creation, all things are created by Him and thus are owned by Him. Note that this also infers that Jesus is not created, but exists apart from creation. It is the deity of Jesus, Who He is as God, that enables Him to give life. At least three times in the scriptures Jesus raised people from the dead. And each time it was but a sign that He is the great giver of life, not just physical life but also eternal spiritual life. Previously Jesus painted the truth of Who God is through the panorama of creation and with the broad brushes of prophetic revelation. By the incarnation into humanity He would do the same thing, except now He was the paint. The fullness of all Who God is entered into the limits of humanity.

    IV. The Sonship of Jesus Entered Into Flesh, Bringing Sonship.              

    “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us”, John 1:14. All the images of the baby in the manger are sourced in this statement. But as great a mystery as God entering into humanity is, the purpose of it is even greater. There’s an intriguing title that was given to describe Jesus, it’s become so well known we hardly think of it. The title is ‘The Son of God’, but what does it mean, what does it refer to? It can’t refer to the fact of creation in that the Father created the Son, because Jesus is God and is not created. It can’t refer to the fact of the incarnation, because Jesus was the Son of God before the incarnation (Hebrews 1). Jesus is the Son of God in the way that He shares in the full essence of the Father and then reflects that full essence in  righteousness, love, wisdom and, in the words of John 1:14, “full of grace and truth.” “He isthe image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” (Col. 1: 15)    

    The incarnation was the Triune God sending Himself in the person of His Son to step into the hurtling path of Adam, to be struck down by the curse of death that was upon Adam and to be the new Adam. Romans 5:19; “For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One, the many will be made righteous.” Add this to John 1:12, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” That’s the great wonder of the incarnation, the Sonship which Christ has brought to us and caused to exist in us. “And I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them. (Jn 17:26)

    Let us sum up the wonder of the Incarnation with these words written in about 400AD, the Athanasian Creed : “Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man…perfect God, and perfect man…who although he be God and man ; yet he is not two, but one Christ; one not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh; but by taking of the manhood into God.”    

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