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Sometimes the Christmas season can be the toughest for a preacher. Why? Because while the incarnation of Jesus Christ is amazing, communicating it afresh year after year can be trying.

Recently on our online social networking site The City, some of my brothers in the Acts 29 Church Planting Network were sharing some sermon ideas, and I thought posting some of their suggestions along with my own may be of some help to those graced by God to preach and teach this holiday season. I also want to sincerely thank all the Christian leaders who let me speak into their life and ministry, as it’s a great honor to serve those who serve others.

Sermon Ideas

1. A series based on the women associated with Jesus’ birth, such as Elizabeth and Mary.

2. An expositional series on all or part of Matthew 1–2 or Luke 1–2.

3. A comparison between how John, Matthew and Luke each explain the incarnation of Jesus Christ in the opening chapters of their gospels.

4. A study of either Matthew or Luke’s genealogy, or a comparison and contrast of the two.

5. A series on the songs sung around the birth of Jesus, such as the one by Mary and the one by the angels.

6. A study of the “I am the light of the world” statements of Jesus in John’s gospel.

Examine Old Testament Prophecies About Jesus

Another idea is to do an examination of the Old Testament prophecies that foretold Jesus’ birth, such as:

1. 4000 BC: Adam and Eve receive the prophecy that the Messiah (Jesus) would be born of a woman.

Promise: Genesis 3:15 – “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Fulfillment: Galatians 4:4 – “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law ...”

2. 700 BC: Isaiah prophesies that Jesus’ mother would be a virgin who conceived by a miracle and that Jesus would be God who became a man.

Promise: Isaiah 7:14 – “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

Fulfillment: Matthew 1:18–23 – “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).”

3. 700 BC: Micah prophesies that Jesus would be born in the town of Bethlehem.

Promise: Micah 5:2 – “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days [eternity].”

Fulfillment: Luke 2:1–7 – “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria... . And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”

4. 400 BC: Malachi prophesies that Jesus would enter the temple, which was destroyed in 70 AD, meaning the Messiah had to come before then.

Promise: Malachi 3:1 – “Behold, I send my messenger and he will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord whom you seek will come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.”

Fulfillment: Luke 2:25–27 – “Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law ...”

Helpful Resources

The following resources may also be helpful in your studies.

1. The Miracle of Christmas: God With Us by John MacArthur is an older book that has some good examples of how to explain the birth of Jesus. It also includes some good historical information on how we got Christmas cards, Christmas trees and more.

2. The Purpose of Christmas by Rick Warren is a good and simple devotional book looking at the implications of Jesus’ humility in coming among us.

3. Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Christmas Sermons by Edwin H. Robertson is a good collection of sermons from a great Christian leader.

4. Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas by Nancy Guthrie includes chapters from John Piper, Randy Alcorn, John MacArthur, Francis A. Schaeffer, R. C. Sproul, Joni Eareckson Tada, George Whitefield, Martin Luther, J. Ligon Duncan, Timothy J. Keller, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Jonathan Edwards, Charles H. Spurgeon and Augustine.

5. Incarnation (Truth and the Christian Imagination Series) by Alister E. McGrath is a devotional-type book that includes beautiful holiday art and great insights.

6. The Virgin Birth of Christ by J. Gresham Machen remains the best book outside of Scripture defending the virgin conception of Jesus Christ and is helpful for any teacher/preacher needing to shore up this aspect of their theology.

7. Also, in our book Vintage Jesus, Gerry Breshears and I answer the following questions, with chapters 1–5 and 11 being obvious fits for the holiday season:

Chapter 1 – Is Jesus the Only God?

Chapter 2 – How Human Was Jesus?

Chapter 3 – How Did People Know Jesus Was Coming?

Chapter 4 – Why Did Jesus Come to Earth?

Chapter 5 – Why Did Jesus’ Mom Need to Be a Virgin?

Chapter 6 – What Did Jesus Accomplish on the Cross?

Chapter 7 – Did Jesus Rise from Death?

Chapter 8 – Where Is Jesus Today?

Chapter 9 – Why Should We Worship Jesus?

Chapter 10 – What Makes Jesus Superior to Other Saviors?

Chapter 11 – What Difference Has Jesus Made in History?

Chapter 12 – What Will Jesus Do upon His Return?

Christmas Sermons for Study

Lastly, some transcripts of good Christmas sermons may be helpful.

Luther: Sermon for Christmas DaySermon for Christmas Eve

Spurgeon: Joy Born at BethlehemA Christmas QuestionThe First Christmas Carol

Piper: Why the Son of God Came into the WorldThe Word Became Flesh

Keller (audio form): The Courage of ChristmasChristmas WarThe BegatsChristmas Wisdom

Pastor Mark Driscoll is the Preaching and Speaking pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. He is one of the world’s most downloaded and quoted pastors. His audience—fans and critics alike—spans the theological and cultural left and right. Follow his updates at twitter.com/pastorMark.

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Talk about it...

Keith B

commented on Dec 21, 2013

Interesting article. Marks ghost-writer did well on this one.

Stephen Kliewer

commented on Dec 21, 2013

I have trouble taking "advice" from someone whom, as an academic, i consider a plagiarist. I also notice his list of resources is old. Narrow in its base. Not particularly challenging. And I notice he plugs his own book. I can do without any articles by this person

Steven Farless

commented on Dec 21, 2013

Well, I appreciate the article, and, I know nothing of ghost writers or plagiarisms, but I think that pretty much everyone who preaches has already done or considered such obvious themes. To be honest, when I read it, I felt like someone was talking to me as if I were stupid. Again, I'm not slapping a hand that wants to feed me, but a greater appreciation for the reader would improve the offering next time.

Kent Kyle

commented on Dec 21, 2013

I'm looking at the "Be excellent to each other" comment next to this text box. Hey, it takes no talent to be a critic, right? If someone has a point to make, they can write their own article. May we all take time examine our hearts. Mark, thanks for the helpful article! Merry Christmas and God bless us all.

Keith B

commented on Dec 21, 2013

It's been shown that Driscoll doesn't write his own books....so why should authorship be a prerequisite to criticism?

Steven Farless

commented on Dec 22, 2013

true dat

Elizabeth King

commented on Dec 22, 2013

You people are brutal......thanks, Mark for the article.

Neil Uebergang

commented on Dec 23, 2013

Prideful people have their ears closed and this is exactly what the Disciples asked Jesus: "Master, why do you talk in parables?" I see comments written by others who need to listen to why messages like Mark's was written and why he wanted to share with others, to give ideas that are fresh to some but perhaps not so fresh to others. Some of us ahve preached for 40 plus years and still enjoy ideas that perhaps may have been lost or forgotten about and these of Mark's are good reminders. Let us all share in the works of others to be more blessed and grow in maturity. Mark I give you thanks for sharing and I pray that all will gain atleast some wisdom from your God given talents.

Keith B

commented on Dec 23, 2013

You don't get it. We don't have a problem with the article as much as we do with the fact that the supposed author has been demonstrated to, at best, use "ghost-writers" to produce his books, and at worst, is a flat out plagiarist. Does that not mean ANYTHING?

Steven Farless

commented on Dec 23, 2013

rebuke received, but yet my response was honest.

James Crawford

commented on Dec 24, 2013

Mark I appreciate your helping your fellow pastors. You post this to assist other pastors with a servanthood attitude. Unfortunately, there are modern day Pharisees that have never made mistakes that are tearing you and your article apart. If they didn't want to read it, why are they so compelled to tear you and your article down? Simply don't click on the link. Instead of lamenting the fact that Mark made a mistake and enjoying how everyone is following your lead by heaping more and more insults at him, let the one of us who hasn't sinned throw the first stone. You are acting like a brood of vipers. Where is your Christian love?

Steven Farless

commented on Dec 24, 2013

ouch; that's cold......man, dats jis cold :-) I know nothing of Mark's mistakes, I don't even know if having a ghost writer is a mistake or even unethical. personally, I thought the article would be better suited for a first year Bible collage preaching class than for pastors, but then, I have no idea what the experience level is of other pastors...so.....

James Beckley

commented on Dec 24, 2013

a hearty thanks to Mark, his staff, his writers, his publicist and his wife for some great ideas.

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