Theme: The Saviour is born for us
Text: Is. 62:6-12; Titus 3:4-7; Luke. 2:8-20
On this very important evening we have gathered here to join many other people all over the world to remember and celebrate God’s most important and greatest gift to us. On this special evening our hearts should be filled with unspeakable joy and thanksgiving. If the angels could rejoice singing “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favour rests” how about us? We are the ones whom God has favoured; we are the beneficiaries of this great indescribable gift. It is an indescribable gift as it embraces and meets every human need. It is God’s gift of His Son Jesus Christ; a gift too wonderful for words. It is God’s gift of salvation for the whole world. Jesus Christ was born to save us, to reconcile us to the Father, and to deliver us from the kingdom of darkness and bring us into the kingdom of light. He was born to deal with all the consequences of sin, heal us and make us whole to restore our fellowship with God and with one another. For Jesus Christ to be our Saviour meant that He had to leave His throne in glory and come to earth as a man. He was ready to give up all the splendour of His heavenly dwelling place for a place here on earth. He as God was ready to do for us what we are not ready to do for our fellow human beings. Just think about moving and almost all of us have moved during our life. Some people move when they get married and others move because of their jobs or when they find better houses even if it is in the same neighbourhood. But most frequently people move when they build their own houses. Sometimes people also move because they can no longer afford the cost and need a cheaper place. Unfortunately there are many people today without homes. We pass by them everyday on the streets and it has become such a common sight that we are no longer concerned about their plight. Would you give up your home to live under the conditions these people live under just to help them? This was what God did. God left His home and came to live among us. He took on flesh and became one of us.
God had to become one of us because we needed a Saviour. When God created man he was a perfect being and it was God’s intention for him to stay that way. But God gave man, created in His own image, a free will to make his own decisions. He was placed in a perfect environment called the Garden of Eden and given only one commandment to obey - not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam, the father of us all, chose to disobey that one commandment and through Eve, he rebelled and sinned against God. By choosing to depend on themselves was to reject the sovereignty and authority of God and God gave them the independence they wanted; an independence that separated them from their source of life. They, not God, were the cause of the separation. Their sin not only affected themselves, but it affected the world and even the whole Universe. Yet God promised salvation, deliverance and the restoration of true peace. God in the moment of man’s failure, promised a Saviour. He promised one who would undo the effects of sin and restore peace with God.
Christ came into the world for the salvation of all mankind. How amazed the angels must have been when they saw the Creator born as a creature, the Word coming as a speechless baby, completely dependent on others so that man could be reconciled to God? As the Lamb of God He was born in a stable and the first ones to hear the news were shepherds in the field. Perhaps these shepherds were caring for the flocks that would provide the sacrifices for the temple services and it was their duty to inspect the sacrificial lambs and make sure they were without blemish. The Lamb of God, born of the Virgin Mary, was without blemish, the perfect sacrifice for the salvation of the world. Our reconciliation with God is the basis of our peace. The Jewish word for peace, shalom, means well-being, health, prosperity, security, soundness and completeness. Shalom was what the people needed as life was difficult at that time just as it is today. Taxes and unemployment were high, morals were deteriorating and they were under foreign occupation. Roman law, Greek philosophy and even Jewish religion could not meet the needs of men’s hearts. So God sent His Son, the only one who could meet that need. Jesus gave up eternity to come to a hostile earth so that we could be reconciled to God and experience peace. As we celebrate Christmas have we been reconciled to God? Have we invited Christ into our hearts? Today is a day of great joy. Let us welcome Jesus Christ, our Saviour, into our hearts and into our lives.
When God gave us His greatest gift, the news did not even make the headlines. Rather it was the news that Augustus Caesar had ordered a census and everyone had to return to their hometown. But who would have thought that Augustus Caesar was merely God’s errand boy being used to fulfil OT prophecy. Although everything was focused on Caesar and Rome, and no one noticed Joseph and Mary travelling from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the most important news event that night was the birth of Christ. Although no one apart from the parents noticed the first cries of the newborn child, Jesus Christ, the most important news event was what had taken place in Bethlehem. The world failed to notice the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Within Jesus’ fragile frame, undiminished deity and true humanity existed together as God’s supreme gift of grace to man, a gift too wonderful for words. Just as the news of the birth of Jesus Christ did not make the headlines in those days so the birthday of Christ and the significance of the good news that was proclaimed by the angel does not make the headlines today. Rather it is the news of the parties that are being held the sales that are being made, the clothes that are being worn, and the places that are being patronised.
All eyes may be focused on new clothes, food and drink, but the most significant event today is the birth of Christ. Great care was taken so that when the Word was made flesh He would be recognised and prophecies concerning Him were fulfilled to the smallest detail. The infinite unlimited God took on the limitations of humanity and was born in a manger by a virgin. This was something the world could not understand. They were used to royalty being born in palaces, the birth announced with parades and celebrations that everyone would notice. The baby would be clothed and laid on the most expensive materials and the best servants would attend to him. However, only bleating sheep and braying donkeys welcomed God’s Son, who lay wrapped in strips of cloth, rags used to wipe down animals, on a pile of hay in a feeding trough for animals. A dark and dirty stable with a disgusting stench is a far cry from what the Christmas cards portray. The only ones who celebrated were the angels who announced His birth and the only ones who took any notice were some shepherds and wise men. Why would the Son of God want to become human? Why would He leave His celestial home to enter our world of pain and sorrow? Why in heaven would God come down and be born in a manger? A Danish theologian told this story about a prince who wanted to find a maiden suitable to be his queen. One day while running an errand in the local village for his father he passed through a poor section. As he glanced out the windows of the carriage his eyes fell upon a beautiful peasant maiden. During the ensuing days he often passed by the young lady and soon fell in love. But he had a problem. How would he seek her hand? He could order her to marry him. But even a prince wants his bride to marry him freely and voluntarily and not through coercion. He could put on his most splendid uniform and drive up to her front door in a carriage drawn by six horses. But if he did this he would never be certain that the woman loved him or was simply overwhelmed with the entire splendour. The prince came up with another solution. He would give up his kingly robe. He moved, into the village, entering not with a crown but in the garb of a peasant. He lived among the people, shared their interests and concerns, and talked their language. In time the woman grew to love him for who he was because he had first loved her. This very simple story portrays what God did for us. He came and lived among us. He had to reveal Himself to us in a way we could understand, and this is precisely what Jesus did - became flesh just like you and me. He made Himself understandable. A great event in history happened when the Messiah was born but there was no room for Him in the inn. Today, 2000 years later, millions of people have no room in their hearts for Jesus. Although they participate enthusiastically in the festivities of the Christmas season, they keep Him out of their lives. Is there room in your life for Christ?
To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. To receive Christ is “to welcome” or “to accept” Him. It is to welcome Christ into every area of our life and believe in Him. To believe in the name of Jesus means to put faith in Him as a person and in what he represents. This simple act is life changing and transforming because we become children of God - we become a part of eternity. One of the greatest joys of Christmas is found in giving. It is indeed better to give than to receive. It is a great joy when you give a gift to Christ. But what is it that Christ want from you? The greatest gift you can give to Christ is yourself. Today as we celebrate the birth of Christ let us allow Him to lift the burdens we are carrying from off our shoulders - the burden of unforgiveness, the burden of despair, the burden of anxiety and the burden of guilt. Come to the manger this evening. Come to Christ. Let the Prince of Peace finally give you the peace you long for.
Without Jesus in the manger, there is no Christianity. Apart from Christ, Christianity is an empty feeding trough with only wood and straw. For Jesus Christ and Christianity are really one and the same, and Christians, those called by Christ’s name, are people who are personally and individually related to Him. The baby Jesus is the central focus not only in our nativity scenes but also in our lives. However, just as it is easy to lose sight of Christ amid the presents and celebrations of the holidays, so it is easy to lose our devotion to Christ amid the attractions and pleasures of life. Today as we celebrate the birth of Christ, we need to ask ourselves whether He is our Saviour. Do we believe that God came in human form when Jesus was born in Bethlehem? Have we invited Him into our hearts or are we behaving like the innkeeper who had no room for Him in the inn? Jesus gave up eternity to come to a hostile earth so that we could be reconciled to God and experience peace. As we celebrate Christmas are we promoting peace and reconciliation in our lives? Let us who have been reconciled to God also be reconciled to one another and experience peace in our lives. Today is a day of great joy. Let us welcome Jesus Christ, our Saviour, into our hearts. The Saviour is born for us. Amen!