Bringing Christmas Into Focus
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
Sermon Delivered 12/25/03
Last week when I was walking down the hall to my office, a brother handed me an article written by Cal Thomas titled There’s more to Christmas than the almighty dollar. In part, here’s what the article said…
I’m not sure it’s worth keeping Christmas anymore. Oh, it is fine for those apparently dwindling numbers of us who still believe in the "original cast" of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the Wise Men and the animals. They, as any post-Thanksgiving shopper (not to mention postmodern) shopper knows, have been replaced by the road show of reindeer, winter scenes, elves and the God substitute, Santa Claus, who serves as a front for merchants seeking to profit from the guilt some parents bear for ignoring their kids the rest of the year…
Some stores continue to sell nativity scenes, most of which are made in China, a nation that officially does not keep Christmas, either. Those nativities are often kept out of sight – they way dirty magazines used to be – so that hurried and harried shoppers who don’t keep the real Christmas might not be offended in their pursuit of holiday gifts.
The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups performing their annual ritual of keeping the public square (including the public school) clear of any mention of Jesus Christ, unless that mention is intended as a curse word. In such case, the ACLU will leap to the defense.
Why participate any longer in this charade, whose focal point of worship has shifted from a babe in the manger to a babe in the Victoria’s Secret window? From Gold, frankincense and myrrh to Bailey Banks and Biddle? No room in the inn has been replaced by no room in the mall parking lot. If God would get a lawyer out of hell, he might be justified in suing for copyright infringement: God’s great story has been hijacked and transformed into its opposite. People who celebrate the authentic Christmas might want to reconsider whether they wish to engage in the other thing that captures so much attention and costs so much money."
Mr. Thomas goes on to say that Christians should move from an emphasis on material things to an emphasis on spiritual things. He concludes by saying "I love the original Christmas. I have come to detest the masquerade that does not even pretend to be what it was when I was growing up. That other Christmas (the original Christmas) I intend to keep. This monstrosity I will try with increasing difficulty to ignore."
I am not here today to advance the road show of reindeer, winter scenes, elves and the God substitute, Santa Claus. To be sure, the secular celebration of Christmas has become a monstrosity of materialism and secularism. The purpose of this message is to concentrate on the authentic Christmas and bring it into focus. The place I will begin is to pose this question.
Turn with me to Luke 2:10-12 "And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." God’s historic act at Bethlehem is of critical importance to all mankind! It was at Bethlehem that the incarnation took place. So, what is the incarnation? The word incarnation refers to the act of assuming flesh, or of taking a human body, and the nature of man. This is the term commonly used to describe Christ's birth through the Virgin Mary. God was incarnated in human form, that is, God became man.
Turn with me to…
John 1:1 & 14 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."
1 Timothy 3:16 "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory."
Now, I take you back to my question: What was the purpose of Christmas? The purpose of Christmas was for God to become flesh! We call that the incarnation. But that brings me to the next question…
The divine purpose of the incarnation is clearly articulated in the Scriptures. God became flesh so that He could die for our sins and thus save us from eternal damnation. I remind you that the eternal God is spirit (John 4:24; 2 Corinthians 3:17) and because He is spirit he cannot die! Therefore, in order that God might pay for our sins He must become incarnate, clothe himself in a human body of flesh and blood that He might die for our sins. Only an incarnate God could be the Savior. The Apostle Paul writes of this in Galatians 4:4-5 "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons."
Have you ever thought of what it cost Christ to become man? All you have to do is read the first chapter of the book of Hebrews. The second person of the Trinity (Christ), the creator, the heir of all things, and worshipped by angels left it all behind to take on a human body. Read Hebrews 2. He was "made a little lower than the angels" v.9
Why would the eternal Son, who was above the angels, choose to be made lower than the angels? For the answer, we need to read the entire verse -- Hebrews 2:9 "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man." Turn to Hebrews 2:14 "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;"
We must remember that the purpose of the birth of Christ was to provide God the Son with a body that he would sacrifice to pay for our sins (see Hebrews 10:5 & 10). In many churches over the next couple of weeks they will hear messages about the baby in the manger. But, I agree with what one Bible college professor wrote way back in 1937 --
"We have no right to gather people into our churches merely to sing carols and talk about the birth of Jesus. The birth of Jesus cannot save the souls of men. It is not the preaching of the manger, but the preaching of the Cross, which is the power of God unto salvation. Oh, let us not cease to preach the glorious goon news that the Son of God is come into the world, made of a woman, in the likeness of men. But let us not forget to tell men why He came—to save sinners from their sins by His death upon the Cross."
It is my prayer that this message will help you to better understand Matthew 1:18-25 "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS."
I agree with the Apostle Paul "Thanks be unto
God for his unspeakable gift." 2 Corinthians 9:15