What If It Was Always Winter And Never Christmas?
(What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?)
Part #3 – December 25 – “A world without Jesus would be a hopeless world”
What would the world be like without Christmas?”
Without Christmas . . .
1. The fruitcake market would completely collapse.
2. Our boring uneventful lives would have no stress at all – ha!
3. Eggnog would just be a slimy, high cholesterol beverage.
4. Santa would be a strange fat man with poor fashion sense.
5. Three words . . . “No Christmas bonus.”
6. You would have to spend your own money on stuff that doesn’t fit.
7. Your cat would never know the joy of coughing up tinsel.
8. But really what matters is this – without Christmas there would be no Easter.
I said two weeks ago that one of the people who thought the world would have been a better place if Jesus had never been born was Freiderich Nietzsche. Well, if Jesus had never been born, we would be living in
Nietzsche’s world. What would that be like? He praised the virtue of raw power. “Might makes right” he wrote. It would be a world of people doing whatever they could do – whatever they could get away with. Love, mercy, gratitude and other virtues we uphold would be relegated to the bin of weakness. It would be a cruel world, a dark world. But thankfully, that is not the world we live in. Nietzsche’s world exists in some places and in some people. But it has not won the day. Jesus has.
In a December 2002 article by English columnist Brendan O’Neill called “Eat Drink, Be Merry,” he wrote this: (Show Picture) “Guess who’s plastering posters around the UK this Christmas with the words ’I wish the baby Jesus had never been born’ on them? A Satanic group dreading another celebration of the Christ child’s birth? Radical atheists who want to open our eyes to the futility of religion? In fact it’s The Samaritans, Britain’s trendy ’listening charity’, which is keen to flag up just how ’excruciating’ the season of goodwill can be. The cheery charity says the anti-baby Jesus slogan is ’an attempt to illustrate the dread with which some people view the festive period,’ when ’increased expectations of "high spirits" among family or friends can lead to a deflating sense of anti-climax if they fail to materialize.”
The Samaritans, who offer emotional support to the vulnerable, say the slogan is an attempt to illustrate the dread with which some people view the festive period.
The real problem is that some people focus on the wrong things at Christmas. Christmas can be a time of incredible hope if we focus on Jesus’ incarnation and the cross and empty tomb that followed.
Jesus bought genuine hope to a hurting world by . . .
1) Showing us the heart of God the Father
The heart of God is a heart that is close to the hurting.
Psalm 34:18 – “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit.”
A. We can know God is close to us.
Matthew 1:23 – “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and he will be called Immanuel (meaning, God is with us).”
This was prophesied about 700 years before Jesus was born by the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 7:14. God the Son became flesh, became human so He could be with us in a way that was easier for us to understand.
B. We can know Him as our heavenly Father.
Romans 8:14-15 – “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you should not be like cowering, fearful slaves. You should behave instead like God’s very own children, adopted into his family--calling him ‘Father, dear Father.’”
Don’t pass over this casually. Think about it. We are God’s children when we accept Christ. Perhaps you had a less than perfect childhood. Perhaps you were abused by your parents or neglected. But chances are you still feel a connection of the heart to them. But listen to this. The perfect parent who loves perfectly calls you His child. Listen to how John puts it.
1 John 3:1 – “See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for he allows us to be called his children, and we really are! But the people who belong to this world don’t know God, so they don’t understand that we are his children.”
He can’t just say that God calls us His children. He has to put that exclamatory sentence after it that says “And we really are!” It is as if even John, who walked with Jesus and was his closest friend had a hard time believing it was true.
Remember the time that Jesus’ disciple Philip boldly asked Jesus to show him and the other disciples that Father? John 14:8-9 – “Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and we will be satisfied.’ Jesus replied, ‘Philip, don’t you even yet know who I am, even after all the time I have been with you? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking to see him?’”
So John’s version of the Christmas story focuses on this very truth.
John 1:1 – “In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God.”
John 1:14 – “So the Word became human and lived here on earth among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father.”
C. We can know that God understands our hurts and disappointments.
Why? Because He became one of us – and experienced life as we do. He can sympathize with our hurts and weaknesses. For God to become flesh and dwell among us tells us that God wanted to identify with us.
Joseph Damien was a missionary in the nineteenth century who ministered to people with leprosy on the island of Molokai, Hawaii. Those suffering grew to love him and revered the sacrificial life he lived out before the. One morning before Joseph was to lead them in their daily worship, he was pouring some hot water into a cup when the water swirled out and fell onto his bare foot. It took him a moment to realize that he had not felt and sensation. Gripped by the sudden fear of what this could mean, he poured more hot water on the same spot. No feeling whatsoever.
Damien immediately knew what had happened. As he walked tearfully to deliver his sermon, no one at first noticed the difference in his opening line. He normally began every sermon with “My fellow believers.” This morning, however, he began with “My fellow lepers.”
In a greater measure, Jesus came into this world knowing what it would cost Him. He bore in His pure being the marks of sin, that we might be made pure.
Hebrews 4:14-16 – “That is why we have a great High Priest who has gone to heaven, Jesus the Son of God. Let us cling to him and never stop trusting him. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.”
Jesus also brought hope to a hurting world by . . .
2) Making a path to God possible and free
Galatians 4:4-5 – “But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.”
Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Without Jesus, there is no way for God to remain true to Himself, to remain righteous, to remain holy and just and still forgive us of our sin and make us right with Him. Jesus was God’s solution to our sin problem.
And Jesus brought hope to a hurting world by . . .
3) Inviting Everyone To This Salvation.
- Inclusiveness –
John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
Video Clip #6 – “Why are you doing this to me? . . . There is no hope for me . . ..”
Acts 2:21 – “Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
- Exclusivity –
John 14:6 – “Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.’”
What about other religions? None of them offer a sin bearer. None of them offer a resurrected Savior. None of them offer us historical evidence to give us confident expectation in our faith for a future in heaven and therefore a reason to live differently on earth. Only Jesus gives us the reason and ability to live a selfless life, to love our enemies, to hope in a perfect heaven. And really, it is that hope that changes us and brings change to the world. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:19-20 – “And if we have hope in Christ only for this life, we are the most miserable people in the world. But the fact is that Christ has been raised from the dead. He has become the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again.”
Acts 4:12 – “There is salvation in no one else! There is no other name in all of heaven for people to call on to save them.”
The exclusivity of the Christian faith is not a popular claim in our culture. We are told we should consider all religions equally valid. Barbara Walters had a special on television this past Tuesday about heaven. In it she interviewed several “religious experts.” But the ones she is drawn to are those who say that people from all faiths are going to heaven.
But the question should not be whether Jesus’ claims are tolerant or exclusive, but if they are true. If Jesus’ claims are true, then they are the most hopeful words ever spoken and the most inclusive. They provide us an opportunity to be saved and they are for everyone.
C.S. Lewis – "Christianity is a statement, which, if false is on no importance, and if true is of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is just moderately important."
Jesus brings hope to a hurting world . . .
4. By changing lives.
Video Clip #7 – “Scrooge’s changed life”
For two thousand years, Jesus has been changing the lives of the brokenhearted, the oppressed, the repentant sinner and anyone who places their trust in Him. And because millions of lives are changed each year around the world, the world is a better place. But more importantly, heaven is the eternal home of those who trust in Jesus.
A popular Christmas slogan is “Jesus is the reason for the season.” I like it. But really, it’s not fully accurate. You see, you and I are the reason for the season. Sinners in need of salvation are the reason for the birth of Jesus. That is why Jesus came – to give us life and hope. You are the reason for the season.
Corrie Ten Boom once wrote (Each New Day), “If Jesus were born one thousand times in Bethlehem and not in me, then I would still be lost.”