Bethlehem and Beyond - # 1
Why Did He Come As a Baby?
December 2, 2001
This will not be your typical Christmas message.
Normally during this time of year, we would look at those wonderful passages in Scripture from Luke 2, or Matthew 1, where we find the Christmas stories.
But today we are going to look not at the story of Christmas, but rather what it put into motion, and particularly what His death did for us.
What? This isn’t Palm Sunday or Good Friday, Preacher! Get a grip!
I know, but you need to understand that without Calvary, Bethlehem loses its significance. And vice versa. Without the miracle of Bethlehem, Calvary is stripped of it meaning.
So I want to put our minds into the context of not the event of the birth, but rather what that birth made possible for our eternal salvation.
My purpose this morning is to show you that His life on this earth served two main purposes, and those purposes were to secure our place in heaven, and to relate to us in our journey through life.
And I want to do that by looking at Hebrews 2:14-18. Please turn there with me. If you are using the Bibles in the seats, this can be found on page 847.
By the way, since Christmas is a time of gift-giving, I would like to tell you that if you do not own a Bible you can readily understand, we would like to give you one. Please feel free to take home one of the Bibles in the seats, and you will absolutely thrill our hearts.
When we started to provide Bibles in the seats, the board did so with the understanding that we needed to allow them to go to homes that need them.
And we decided to not only allow that, but to encourage it! We absolutely love to see that one of these Bibles has been taken to a home. So you feel free to do that if you need one, okay? Okay.
Now, to our passage.
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil-- 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
In my attempt to discuss what Christ accomplished during His life on earth, I want to point out three reasons from this passage about why Christ came to earth as a human baby, and the first reason was…
I. To deliver from fear of death.
3 Buddies were discussing death and one asked the group: What would you like people to say about you at your funeral?
"He was a great humanitarian, who cared about his community."
"He was a great husband and father, who was an example for many to follow."
"Look, he’s moving!!"
Darrin Hunt – Sermon Central
Jesus came to eliminate the fear of death.
Please look again at verses 14 & 15:
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil-- 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
Death is a fact of life. That sounds ironic, but it is true. The statistics are amazingly telling. Death claims one out of every one persons. Unless the Rapture comes during our lifetimes, everyone in this room will die.
There is no one alive today who will not die. And if you remember from Genesis, death is the result of sin.
Don’t look at me like that! I told you this wouldn’t be your typical Christmas message!
The power in death lies in not only its sure coming, but also in the uncertainty it brings. For instance, we don’t know for sure what goes on in a person’s mind at the moment of death. Is there a final struggle to hang on, a resignation to your fate, or a joyous anticipation of meeting the Savior?
I hope it’s the last, but who can say for absolute certainty?
This uncertainty is given momentum by certain media personalities who claim to communicate with the loved ones who have departed, making us wonder what happens on “the other side.”
Let me be real frank here. These folks are either majorly deceived, or majorly crooked, or maybe both.
But while death is imminent, it does not have to be scary, and we don’t have to be a slave to the fear of it.
I’d like to read you a list of phobias that are out there today. These are all very real, even if they might seem outlandish to someone who doesn’t have them:
Peladophobia: fear of baldness and bald people (by the way, if any of you here have that fear, we will have a healing service for you immediately following our time here this morning, okay?). Aerophobia: fear of drafts. Porphyrophobia: fear of the color purple. Chaetophobia: fear of hairy people. Levophobia: fear of objects on the left side of the body. Dextrophobia: fear of objects on the right side of the body. Auroraphobia: fear of the northern lights. Calyprophobia: fear of obscure meanings. Thalassophobia: fear of being seated. Stabisbasiphobia: fear of standing and walking. Odontophobia: fear of teeth (better not be a dentist if you have that one!). Graphophobia: fear of writing in public. And the best one of all - Phobophobia: fear of being afraid.
I admit to you that I would like to stay alive as long as possible, so I can tell as many people about Jesus as possible.
But I know that I will spend but a moment of eternity here in this body, and the rest with my Savior.
And because of what Christ did on the cross we can live in this life not with fear, but rather with confidence in the victory won by Christ, and we can shout with the apostle Paul:
"Death has been swallowed up in victory."
"Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?"
In Christ there is no need to fear death, because death does not win! It is merely the doorway to the presence of God Himself for all eternity.
If you are living with the fear of death, may I urge you to turn it over to Him, trusting Him to take care of you in that dark hour, knowing that the almighty Creator is able to take charge of you.
But for that to have been able to happen, Jesus had to come as that tiny baby.
The next reason He had to come as a baby was…
II. To deliver from judgement.
Please look again at verses 16-17:
For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.
One of the most powerful fears of death is wrapped up in the uncertainty of most people about how they will face God.
They are at least somewhat conscious that they will face a judgement, and that there will be a standard to which they must measure up.
The hope is that their good works will outweigh their bad, and that God or St. Peter or somebody will allow them in.
But from the time of Adam and Eve, God’s penalty for sin has been death. And we see later in this book of Hebrews that without blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
God put into place a system by which a person selected from the Hebrew tribe of Levi would enter the most holy place in the temple and offer blood for the sins of the nation, once a year.
And God would accept the offering, and put off punishing Israel for yet another year.
There were two main elements of that offering, and we are going to look at them now. The first one is the…
The high priest was the one who took the offering into the inner sanctuary, and this was only done once a year.
That priest had to go through purification rites, and a host of other things in order to be adequately prepared to offer the sacrifice prescribed by God.
And He would stand in the presence of God in that room to make atonement for the sins of Israel.
The high priest was the representative of Israel to God, and the representative of God to Israel. It was a tremendous responsibility.
And our passage today says that Jesus was and is our faithful high priest, offering the perfect sacrifice for our sins, which leads us to the next element…
This is a fancy theological term that basically means that the sacrifice offered not only brought forgiveness of sin, but also took away God’s wrath toward that sin.
The wording in the NIV here is “make atonement,” but look down at the margin of your Bible, and you will see this little note:
Or and that He might turn aside God’s wrath, taking away (the sins of the people).
The Greek word for atonement in this case is our English word propitiation.
And this is very important, because God did not just forgive, He turned from His wrath at our sin because of the sacrifice.
Is God angry at sin? Absolutely. But when God looks at us through the blood of the sacrifice, He turns from His wrath.
Does this mean God changes His mind about us after we are in Christ? Not at all. He has always been merciful, and He can now show it to the greatest extent through the sacrifice of Christ.
But I have not yet mentioned the main thing I want to mention here. And that is that not only is Christ the High Priest, He is also the sacrifice.
And it was HIS sacrifice that brought that propitiation.
He didn’t offer up the blood of a goat or a bull, He offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice.
Listen as I read a couple Scriptures for you:
1 Peter 1:18-19 says this:
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
Then Hebrews 9:12 says this:
He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.
Folks, I cannot express forcefully enough that it is only through Christ that we can know forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
He bought your redemption with His own blood, and you are a fool to walk away from it.
Pretty blunt, I know, but folks, I can’t get past it. If you haven’t trusted in Christ and what He did for you on that cross that day, you need to take care of that today.
We are going to pray at the end of the message, and you will have the opportunity to do that.
If you aren’t ready to do that today, but would like more information regarding what it means to know eternal life in Jesus, please indicate that on your response card, and I will contact you to see how I can help. I would truly love the chance to visit with you about this all-important topic.
Jesus died to get us to heaven. But before that He had to be born in that cold manger in Bethlehem.
Why did He come as a baby? To put into motion your salvation and mine.
Let’s move on to the last reason I want to discuss today, and that is…
III. To deliver from temptation.
Finally, let’s look a last time at verse 18:
Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
I think this is one of the most important verses in Scripture, because it shows so plainly that God can relate to us on the most personal and intimate level.
We all struggle with temptation, and the apostle Paul makes it clear that our temptations are common among men.
When you and I are tempted, we can look to Him not only for help, but understanding. Because He’s been there. He knows what it’s like.
And I like that. I don’t pray to a God who can’t relate to my earthly issues. I pray to a God who has been through it, has stared it down, and who has won the ultimate victory for me over the power of sin, and it’s result, death.
And so I tell each of you, because each of you is tempted, just like I am, to look to Him for help and support.
And we can learn from His example, given to us in the fourth chapter of Luke, when confronted by the devil in the wilderness. Rather than try to rationalize the temptation (after all, He had been without food for 40 days), He used the Word of God. We should, too. It’s a wonderful tool against the enemy.
Let me share a few things with you regarding temptation:
The first comes from that great theological work, Reader’s Digest, and is written by a husband:
While my wife and I were shopping at a mall kiosk, a shapely young woman in a short, form-fitting dress strolled by. My eyes followed her.
Without looking up from the item she was examining, my wife asked, "Was it worth the trouble you’re in?"
Why is that funny? Because it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see the situation!
My second item is from that great gospel program, "Hee Haw." Doc Campbell is confronted by a patient who says he broke his arm in two places. The doc replies, "Well then, stay out of them places!"
He may have something there. We cannot regularly put ourselves in the face of temptation and not be affected. When faced with the problem of temptation, we need to take the good doctor’s advice and "stay out of them places."
And one other thing: When you flee temptation, be sure you don’t leave a forwarding address.
In our struggle over temptation, and it is a struggle, make no mistake, we can have confidence in the almighty Savior to give us help in our time of need.
We can probably think of a number of reasons why Jesus had to come down to earth as a human.
But the underlying theme of what I have been talking about today is that Christ came as a human so He could relate to us on a human level.
Verse 14 says that He, too shared in our humanity.
He became like us in every way, and was tempted in every way, except for one HUGE thing: He was without sin. He did not succumb to the temptations.
He has suffered as we have suffered, He has laughed as we have laughed, and He died, as we will one day, with one HUGE exception.
And that is that while our deaths bring nothing of eternal worth, other than the witness of a good life on earth, His death provided life.
Debra and I are reading a book entitled, Your God is Too Small. And in the book the author, J.B. Phillips, lays out misconceptions of God, many of which are given out by the church.
And one of the misconceptions is that God is unable to relate to us on our level.
Our passage puts that little lie to rest. Not only is He able to relate, He is able to relate completely.
I want to point out something that might be pretty obvious to most, but it took me while to catch this.
The word “relate” is the root for the word “relationship.” And a relationship with Jesus is the best relationship you can possibly have.
He wants to be your Lord and Master, and He also wants to be your friend and brother.
Jesus said in John 15 that we are His friends if we do what He commands.
So come to Jesus. He’s everything you want in a relationship and more, and He longs to be your best and first love.
Why don’t you make that move right now? Give your life to the Savior who came as a little baby so He could relate, and more importantly, take your place on the cross, paying for not His own sins, but yours.
If you would like to take Christ as your Savior right now, trusting in His perfect sacrifice for your sins, then you pray along with me right now.
I beg you from the bottom of my heart to not let this moment pass without coming to God through Christ. And you will be ready to leave here today knowing that from this moment on you have forgiveness of sin and eternal life in heaven.
Jesus invited all who are weary and burdened to come to Him, and He would give them rest for their souls.
Are you weary in your soul? Jesus is the answer for you. Trust in Him today, won’t you?
Let’s pray. And after we pray, Lowell is going to come and lead us in a closing hymn.