THE CHRISMTAS CONTINUUM
How Christmas Lives On
Pastor Dan Little
The Christmas Continuum
There are two passages among the many verses we have read from Luke’s narrative of the birth of Jesus that I want to highlight on this Christmas morning.
First verses 10 & 11
Here the angel is announcing the birth of Christ to the shepherds. Luke 2:10 "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. ESV
UNTO YOU A SAVIOR HAS BEEN BORN.
Which is to say this child is will be every bit human, but He will not born from your human efforts. He is born unto you entirely by the will and plan of God.
Second passage is found in verses 29-32
The old priest and prophet Simeon took one look at Jesus and said;; Luke 2:29 "Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel." ESV
I HAVE SEEN YOUR SALVATION.
Christ is God, and as King and Lord God has mightily manifested his intolerance of sin. Not by destroying sinners, but in a way we would have predicted—in a way that Paul describes as
The mystery of God’s will Ephesians 1:9 ESV.
God in the human Jesus has assumed our dishonor and empty headed pride in himself in order to destroy its false claim on humankind.
What does that mean? It means that God in His mercy has embraced us at our worst. The immortal has become mortal in order to give us his immortality.
Perfectly Holy Jesus has taken our sinful life to its embarrassing and ignoble end and given us a new beginning—eternal life with the Father.
• We are not suffocating under God’s angry foot trying to appease Him.
• We are not trying to rise above our need of God by means of technology, or even by means of just using godly principles while ignoring any relationship with God.
• We are not seeing God as a means to get everything we want.
• We are not seeing ourselves as people who have to give God everything He wants as to earn a high place in heaven.
• We are in Christ who was raised from the death of sin to become our salvation. We are living in a flood of filth and sin and brokenness, a cesspool of decay, but we are in Christ as surely as Noah and his family was in the ark which bore them safely through the flood.
We are raised with Christ healed and whole, and God is sharing his glorious life with us!
Simeon said, Lord, I have seen YOUR SALVATION
Jesus was not one of many candidates of whom a committee of men finally said “This one will do. Let’s groom him for the Messiah job.”
He was not someone’s idea about a new religion. If your eyes have been opened to see Jesus you are looking directly into the face of God, directly into His love and provision—into the very source of your salvation.
Jesus is God’s salvation come from heaven, God’s plan A there is no plan B.
Jesus was born with work that was his to do.
• Jesus’ first work was to be an obedient and loving son to Mary and Joseph. (see Luke 2:51)
• Then it was to learn from Joseph the carpentry trade.
• Then there came a moment in time when the greatest prophet ever to live pointed Jesus out in a crowd and said; This is God’s Lamb, he said. He will to remove take away sin.
At Jesus’ request John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the same water where people were seremonially washing away their sinful practices. Jesus waded fright into that water, and as He was immersed in the broken lives of repenting men and women He was also immersed in the Holy Spirit who came down upon Jesus in a visible form in order to empower and equip Him for the work He was to do for the rest of His life—work that would finally take Him to the cross, the grave, the resurrection and His ascension.
To Jesus God spoke from the heavens saying YOU are my beloved Son
To the people who saw His baptims God spoke from the heavens saying THIS is my beloved Son
It is not enough that Jesus be assured of His true identity. We also must be assured of His identity if we are to follow Him.
Shortly before going to the cross Jesus made a remarkable claim. He said to His Heavenly Father; John 17:4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. ESV
What work was He talking about?
It was to find people who would follow Him, and make of them fishers of men. Matthew 4:18-22 Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.
The call “FOLLOW ME” came with two promises.
1. I will make you, change you, guide you, direct you
2. And because you will become what I am you will do what you have seen me doing; fishing for men, making disciples by teaching them what I have taught you.
The primary need is not on the DOING END, but on the BECOMING END. If Jesus remakes me into His likeness and image I will do what He did. I will make disciples.
It is a huge problem for us if we look upon Jesus in the manger and it stops there. He came to do the work the Father gave Him to do, and teach us how to keep moving His work forward by teaching others to follow Him.
Hebrews 2:3 …how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. ESV
That fits exactly with our purpose statement which is;
To bring the people of our communities into a life of joyful devotion to Jesus Christ equipping them to do the same for others.
And do you know what, if Jesus had failed to make disciples who were able to make disciples of others, then we would not be celebrating Christmas at all. Everything would have stopped with His ascension back into the heavens.
Paul understood the importance of Jesus’ work, which was the same work that Jesus gave Paul (and us). Paul wrote to one of his young disciples saying; 2 Timothy 2:1 You then, my child Timothy, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
If we actually mean to do the work God has given us to do there remains one very large question. HOW?
And the answer is through relationships. We bring Jesus to the world one person at a time. We meet them and ask them to follow us, and then we build a context in which relationships can grow.
What does any of this have to do with Christmas?
Let me say it again; if the apostles and disciples who Jesus trained has failed at the work given them, none of us would know the first thing about Jesus. There would be no Christmas Season.
So when we see a Nativity scene, or when we come to the candlelight service and in our hearts and minds go back to be with Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, Simeon and Anna, we must understand that Jesus did not come to come to remain alone.
He came to be planted like a kernel of wheat, which after it has fallen to the ground and dies re-produces itself many times over.
John 12:24 I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. ESV
Great work lies ahead in 2012. The Christmas Continuum flows on through you and me.
When we approach the end of our lives wouldn’t it be good if we could say "I completed the work you gave me to do?" And wouldn’t it be good to hear the words, "Well done good and faithful servant."?