Summary: Series of 9 sermons for advent on the fruits of the spirit. Sermon 8 of 9
Christmas Eve Service December 24, 2002
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Let Us Celebrate Our Savior’s Coming with Gentleness
I. Christ came as our gentle Savior
II. Let us live as gentle Christians
Fellow worshipers of the Christ child
If somebody called you a wimp, would you like it? Chances are that you would feel insulted. The term "wimp" is understood by most as a sign of weakness. Christmas commercials or advertisements don’t tell us to buy a product because it’s wimpy, or because it would make us look like a wimp. Instead the emphasis is usually placed upon strength and good looks.
Tonight we are here to celebrate the birth of our Savior. Madison Avenue wouldn’t have planned the Savior’s birth and life to take place the way it did. Being born in an animal shelter to poor parents is hardly a picture of strength. Leading a life of submission to the law and of suffering at the hands of unbelievers is not something that could be called new and improved. Dying an agonizing death on the cross is not an act that anyone would want to imitate. By today’s standards Jesus might be thought of as a wimp for having allowed these things to happen to him.
Instead of being disgusted by this image, we are thankful—thankful that Jesus humbly did what he did for our sake. Nobody can call Jesus a wimp because a wimp doesn’t have the strength to do anything other than submit. As God’s Son, Jesus had and has all power and authority. When he came to earth he willingly set aside the use of his divine power so that he could do what was needed for our salvation.
It is this gentle, meek, humble picture of Jesus that we are going to concentrate on tonight as we look at the next fruit of the Spirit, the fruit of gentleness. LET US CELEBRATE OUR SAVIOR’S COMING TO EARTH WITH GENTLENESS—the same gentleness that he displayed when he came and while he was here.
1. Christ came as our gentle Savior.
The whole image that we have of Christmas is one of gentleness. Mary humbly submitted to her role as mother of the Savior. One of the hymn writers calls her “A virgin meek and pure.” And even before Joseph knew that Mary was pregnant with the Savior, he showed that he was a gentleman by deciding to quietly break off his engagement with Mary and not put her up to public ridicule. Then, after the angel told him how Mary had become pregnant, Joseph humbly submitted to his role in the Savior’s birth.
To add to the picture of gentleness, the night of Jesus’ birth is called a “Silent Night, Holy Night.” Midnight is pictured as “calm and still.” Another hymn writer says that the little town of Bethlehem was still and under silent stars. It’s appropriate to think of gentleness on the night that we celebrate our Savior’s birth. He entered the world meekly, humbly, gently.
And his gentleness didn’t end with his birth. Scripture tells us "He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth" (Isaiah 53:7).
As a gentle lamb led to the slaughter, so Jesus did not open his mouth as he faced the law’s demands of perfection, as he faced the pain of ridicule and suffering, as he faced the terrible death of crucifixion. On Palm Sunday we are told that he appeared gentle as he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. He told his followers to cast their cares on him because he was “gentle and humble in heart” and they would find rest for their souls (Matthew 11:29).
Probably the greatest display of gentleness came when he was placed on the cross, and, instead of condemning those who put him there, he gently said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). The gentleness of Christmas night started our Savior on a thirty-three-year mission of gentleness for the salvation of the world.
And haven’t you and I also experienced first-hand the same gentleness from our Savior? We most certainly have. We can all say with David in Psalm 103:10: “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” Instead of condemning us to eternal death in hell for our sins, he pardons our sins fully and gives us eternal life in heaven freely. Most certainly each and everyone of us must say, “Christ has dealt with me as my gentle Savior.”
2. Let us live as gentle Christians.