Summary: By God’s grace Christmas came to set you free from sin. Christmas came to set you free from the penalty of sin, from the power of sin, and from the presence of sin.
We should have a pretty good idea of what happened on that first Christmas morning. We know that Mary conceived of the Holy Spirit. We know that Jesus was born of a virgin, in a stable in Bethlehem. We’ve heard and read Matthew 1 and Luke 2 enough to know what happened that night. We know what happened, but do we know why it happened? It happened because God is a God of grace. That’s what verse 11 says, doesn’t it? So what exactly is grace? If you’ve been in church for a while, you can give the typical Sunday School answer. You can say that grace is “unmerited favor.” You can even say that grace is not getting what you deserve and getting what you don’t deserve. Those are great definitions, but do they mean anything to you? If that’s what grace is, then how does it play out in your life? All too often, we think of grace like the man who went to Vegas for the weekend. He got there on a Friday afternoon and was flying back out on Sunday afternoon. Well, after he got checked into his hotel, he picked up the phonebook and found a listing for a local church. He picked up the phone and called the number. When the pastor answered the phone, he told him that he was in town for the weekend and wanted to know what time the service started on Sunday morning. The preacher was stunned. He said, “I’m impressed—most people don’t come to Vegas to go to church.” The man said, “Preacher, I didn’t come to town for the church. I came for the gambling and parties and wild women. And I figure that if my weekend is half of what I’m hoping for, I’m going to need a church on Sunday.” Is that what grace is? I think Paul answered that question pretty well in Romans 6:1-2. He wrote, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid!” Compromising tonight with the intention of confessing tomorrow isn’t grace—it’s presumption. It’s abuse. It’s blasphemy. No, that’s not what grace is. Grace is what happened on that first Christmas night. Grace came upon Mary as the power of the Most High overshadowed her and she conceived as a virgin. Grace came upon Joseph as he took Mary as his wife and kept her as a virgin until Jesus was born. Grace came upon the shepherds in the field as they received the birth announcement directly from heaven. Grace came upon the magi as they saw the Baby with His mother and fell down and worshipped Him. You see, grace isn’t a feeling. Grace isn’t an emotion. Grace isn’t a mood. Grace isn’t even an act. Grace is a Person. And on that first Christmas night, that Person appeared. He appeared as a tender plant. He appeared as a root out of dry ground. He appeared without any extraordinary physical distinctions that would make Him appear to be exceptional. The grace of God appeared as a baby on that first Christmas night. Why is the birth of Jesus grace? Because Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. Jesus came to redeem His people. Jesus came to set the captives free. By the grace of God, He sent His Son. Grace became personified in the flesh of Jesus. And by that grace, through the person and work of Jesus, God has given us freedom from sin. Think of it this way, by God’s grace Christmas came to set you free from sin. Christmas came to set you free from the penalty of sin, from the power of sin, and from the presence of sin. First, Christmas came to set you free from the penalty of sin. Look back to verse 11