Sermons

Summary: At Christmas God showed He was willing to reach us by any means necessary. This is about God’s Extreme Christmas.

I Would Do Anything (By Any Means Necessary, part 1) - December 24, 2000

{Using the song "Love Song" by Third Day is an excellent lead in to this sermon}

Introduction

At Christmas there is a lot of talk about the Incarnation, which has been described in many ways. J. Robert Oppenheimer, inventor of the atomic bomb said, "The best way to send an idea is to wrap it up in a person." Ignatius, an early church father, wrote, "by the Incarnation God broke His silence." I read about a little girl who summed up the Incarnation by saying, "Some people couldn’t hear God’s inside whisper and so He sent Jesus to tell them out loud." The Gospel of John puts it this way, "The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood (The Message)." All of these are great, but I think Malcolm X, unintentionally, said it best with, "By any means necessary." You see, brothers and sisters, the Incarnation is the point at which God said, "I’ve tried everything else. They’re just not getting it. I’ll do whatever it takes to reach my children, including becoming one of them." Though Philippians 2 is generally not regarded as a "Christmas scripture," due to the fact that it is not in the Gospels, I think it perfectly states how at Christmas God lived out, "By any means necessary." Let’s look together at Philippians 2:5-11.

This passage makes it pretty clear that God went to some pretty extreme measures to show us His love. Our culture is all about extremes. This is why ESPN’s X-Games are among their most popular shows. MTV has a wildly popular new show (I won’t mention the name since there are children present) which is only about guys doing crazy, extreme stunts such as shooting themselves with tazer guns, running through a car wash, and crashing shopping carts while they are riding in them. Malcolm X has seen a huge resurgence of popularity because of his famous statement. Everyone wants to be the most extreme, but no one has even dreamed of extreme like we see from God at Christmas. I want to explore God’s Extreme Christmas by looking at three questions which have often crossed my mind at Christmas: Was this planned or just a reaction? Did He really go through all of this? Why did He do it?

1.) It Was Pre-Meditated

Often we hear in trials about "pre-meditated" actions. Was this a crime of passion, circumstance, or did the criminal take the time and energy to plot out the crime well in advance. I’ve often wondered the same thing about God. Was the Incarnation a pre-meditated action or did God just get so tired of the suffering and injustice in the world that He decided to do something about it? I think it had to be extremely difficult for God to sit in heaven and watch the way His children treated each other, as well as the way in which He was consistently ignored by His chosen people. It’s easy for me to picture God sitting in heaven and declaring, "I’ve had enough! I’m going down there to do something about this." It is less easy for me to imagine God knowing of our sin, still deciding to create us, and having the plan all along that he would one day come to earth as a human and die for those who have treated Him so badly. Yet, that’s exactly how Scripture describes it.

Most scholars agree that Genesis 3:15 is the first reference to the Messiah when God says to the snake, just moments after the first sin, that, "He {the woman’s offspring} will crush your head and you will strike his heel." John declares in Revelation 13:8 that Jesus is, "the Lamb who was killed before the world was made." If you explore the Old Testament you will find, depending on who you talk to, as many as 400 prophesies of the coming Messiah. The Jewish people were certainly on the look out for Messiah. He just didn’t come quite as they expected.

But isn’t that the way it usually is? God never comes quite as we expect. Reading Philippians 2 is no big deal for Christians because we’ve heard the story so many times that it’s become old news. We don’t realize just what an extreme thing God did. Paul calls the Incarnation "a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks. (1 Cor. 1:23)" Neither could fathom God doing what is described in Philippians. God can’t die! And God doesn’t care enough about people to share in their experience! Even if He did, He would come as a King, getting what He deserves, rather than as an itinerant preacher who was so poor he had to borrow a food trough to be born in, a boat to preach in, food to do a miracle, and pretty much everything else in his life. This isn’t what God does, is it?

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