Summary: A sermon about how much it cost Jesus to be in a redemptive relationship with us and how we should pay the same costs to be in quality relationships with others.
Each year PNC Wealth Management calculates the cost of buying all 364 items repeated in the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” The financial services company tracks the items - including gold rings (up big), swans (more expensive than you think) and maids a-milking (at minimum wage) as part of its Christmas price index. And the new retail cost of $107,300 (before sales taxes.) It has gone up 6.1 percent since last year, when the cost was estimated at $101,000.
But how much does Christmas cost you? Exchanging of gifts is a relatively new Christmas tradition. But it is one we have embraced with enthusiasm. Presents for the kids? Check. A few thoughtful gifts for your spouse. Check. A little something for your parents? Check.Your siblings? Check. Gifts for your coworker? Check. Your neighbor? You end up writing a lot of cheques.
On November 11, 2012 American Research Group reported survey results indicating the Average American would spend $854 on Christmas gifts. (Up 32% from the previous year) Throw in the cost of travel, food, parties, etc and you probably find the result to be a tidy sum. Almost any way you wrap it, Christmas can break the bank as a costly holiday.
But the true cost of Christmas is not measured in what it requires of us financially. The true cost of Christmas is measured in what it required of Jesus to be in relationship with us. A good description of that cost is in the opening verses of the gospel of John.
As we look at these costs, note that we must be willing to pay them as well in order to establish and maintain healthy relationships with others.
THE COST OF TRAVEL
Travel is a lot of trouble: Packing, loading, the time, and the expense. Why do we do it? In order to be some place we want to be. John 1 begins with a description of where Jesus was before he traveled to earth.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. John 1:1-2 NIV
Jesus went from being with God to being with Us. That is why we embrace the word Immanuel during the Christmas season because it celebrates that distinct season in which God came to be with us.
Some of you are not traveling anywhere for Christmas. Some of you are going some shorter distances. Some may travel across many miles. But no one will make a Christmas Trip further than Jesus did.
About twenty years ago a Children’s choir musical named “The Great Late Potentate” by Karen Dean featured a song about the distance Jesus traveled to come to earth. The lyrics included these phrases:
He stepped right out of eternity, He walked down through history
He traveled down through infinity and past every galaxy
He must have sped past a million stars, past Jupiter, Pluto, Mars
Up over, out beyond outer space, from some grand forever place
Now ask yourself: is there a journey I need to take? Do I need to cover the distance to someone I am avoiding? Do I need to make a trip to mend a relationship that is broken or strained? It may cost you some pride and some courage to make that trip. Make it anyway.
A friend of mine recently posted the reminder of what it means that Jesus traveled to earth.
It’s not enough to say God is in heaven and all is right with the world:
The rumor is that God has left heaven to set the world right.
THE COST OF SHARING SPACE
When you go somewhere you probably look for accommodations that are clean and comfortable and probably private. But Christmas may mean lots of individual congregating in an individual home, sleeping on a couch or an air mattress. It may mean the challenge of many people, few bathrooms, and a limited supply of hot water.
John closes his prologue with The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. John 1:14a NIV If you take that word for "dwelling" and pull it apart, it literally means "to set up camp." Have you ever been camping? We're talking real camping, not "motor-home, microwave and full-size shower" camping. Real camping involves sleeping bags, tents and making your own outhouse. If you are going to camp with someone, you are going to get close to them.
Jesus did not simple come into our world and live on in a deserted or isolated place. He chose not a luxurious palace with all the amenities, isolated people and their problems. He could have lived in an “ivory tower” apart from the brokenness of humanity. But He didn’t. He came into a common family among common people.
It was not enough just for Jesus to come to earth. He came to where we are and lived among us. It meant doing the messy work of entering our world so that he could live the perfect life we couldn't live, and die the death that we deserve. Real relating begins by sharing space.