Summary: Some may lament Jesus’ death as a great tragedy. But Jesus’ death was not a tragedy. This sermon notes five reasons why Jesus’ death was not a tragedy.
If you were here last week, you may recall me saying that the word advent means “coming.” Advent signifies the period preceding the birth of Jesus when the Church anticipates the coming of the promised Messiah. The purpose of Advent is to help worshipers understand the events preceding the birth of Jesus. Historically, Advent spans a four-week season before Christmas.
Today is the second Sunday of Advent. This is the second in a series of Advent messages on “The Marvel of Christmas.” The word marvel means “something that causes wonder or astonishment.” The birth of Jesus is something that should indeed cause wonder and astonishment among us. But Christmas should cause wonder and astonishment among us supremely because of the reason Jesus came to earth, and that is because he was born to die.
Today’s sermon is titled “Born to Die,” and much of the material for this message is from John MacArthur’s book, God with Us: The Miracle of Christmas.
My text for today can be found in Hebrews 2:9-18:
"9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
"10 In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. 12 He says,
“I will declare your name to my brothers;
in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.”
"13 And again,
“I will put my trust in him.”
"And again he says,
“Here am I, and the children God has given
"14 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." (Hebrews 2:9-18)
Do you remember Thanksgiving Day last year? On Thursday, November 27, 2003—with extraordinary secrecy—President George W. Bush paid a surprise visit to Iraq. His purpose was to thank U.S. troops for “defending the American people from danger.” While there, the President served up Thanksgiving Dinner to 600 stunned soldiers in a mess hall at Baghdad’s airport.
The soldiers had gathered for what they thought would be a speech by Chief U.S. Administrator, Paul Bremer. Bremer told the troops he would read a Thanksgiving proclamation from the President, then paused and noted that it was customary for the most senior official present to read the President’s proclamation. “Is there anybody back there who’s more senior?” he asked.
The President himself then emerged from behind a curtain as cheering soldiers climbed on chairs and tables to shout and roar their approval.
With regard to this Thanksgiving visit to the soldiers far from home, President Bush said, “It’s got to be lonely for them. I thought it was important to send the message that we care for them.”
The unannounced visit not only brought wild cheers from battle-worn soldiers, but also stunned the nation and even surprised the President’s parents, who had been expecting him at the Thanksgiving table at his Crawford, TX ranch.
Similarly, God, who had formerly delivered his message through others (Hebrews 1:1-2), made a surprise personal visit to the world on that first Christmas—and “the Word became flesh and lived among us.” When God wanted to show a sinful world that he cared, he came into this world in the person of Jesus.
But the important truth to note about Christmas, however, is not so much that Jesus came, but why he came. Jesus came primarily to die.
John MacArthur notes:
"There was no salvation in his birth. Nor did the sinless way he lived his life have any redemptive force of its own. His example, as flawless as it was, could not rescue men from their sins. Even his teaching, the greatest truth revealed to man, could not save us from our sins. There was a price to be paid for our sins. Someone had to die. Only Jesus could do it."