BORN TO DIE
INTRODUCTION: On Christmas Day we celebrate the coming of Jesus into the world. However, when we think of the manger, we also need to be thinking about the cross. Why? Because Jesus was born to die.
1) Why did Jesus come to earth? The bible lists various reasons Jesus came to earth. But there are two main reasons that I want to focus on.
• He came to be Immanuel. Matt. 1:21-23. What is the significance of God becoming one of us? It shows his humility, willingness and love. Phil. 2:5-11. Jesus was in heaven. He was surrounded by all its brilliance, love and holiness. He was the Creator, the Master, the Almighty King. But he became willing to put that royal position aside and leave the pristine palace of heaven to come and subject himself to a new beginning in a messy, stinky, filthy stable. He was born not as a king, not into money, not with fanfare, but in meagerness and humility. The contrast is really beyond our understanding. It’s like if someone was the king of the world and the richest person alive being willing to put all that aside and become a maggot. And then die a cruel death as a hated maggot at that. And I’m sure even that isn’t an accurate portrayal. Also, Jesus’ willingness to be with us was an opportunity to alleviate the thought that there was always this inseparable chasm between God and us. He was holy and up in heaven and we were sinners down on earth and there was always going to be this distance between us and him. God, out of his great love for us, bridged the gap and dwelt among us. He sought to establish a unity, a connection by taking on flesh and blood. It gives us hope. Heb. 2:14-18. In order for death to be conquered, in order for our lives to be free from slavery, we needed Jesus to come in the flesh. There was no way our sins could have been paid for apart from God becoming one of us. And what is so awesome is that God putting on humanity allows us to have courage, strength and hope. When Jesus took on human form he subjected himself to human frailty. He would now feel pain, bleed when he was cut, get tired after a hard day’s work and he would now have to suffer temptation. What makes verse 18 so valid is no one knows temptation better than Jesus. Typically, there is at least one thing we are tempted with that eventually we find ourselves giving in. The more we resist the stronger it gets until we become overwhelmed and give in. but Jesus never sinned, he never gave in. Therefore, the intensity of his temptations just became, over time, more and more intense. But, since he never gave in, he is the only one who knows the full extent of how strong temptation can be. Therefore, no matter how strong our temptations are, they will never be stronger than what Jesus had to endure. And knowing this, we can draw strength in that since Jesus resisted, through his power, we can too. Therefore, that means we have no excuse. Not that we really did have one but I could picture the complaint of the Jews, “How can you judge us? You don’t know what it’s like to be one of us. You aren’t tempted to sin. It’s unfair!” God put an end to that by becoming one of us and dealing with the same trials and temptations that mankind had been dealing with. And he endured it all. Jesus came to earth to be one of us. Immanuel-God with us.
• He came to die. John 12:23-28. Jesus knew he was entering into his final week of life before he was to be crucified. He talks to his disciples about what was to come for him. He signifies that his heart is troubled about what he was going to endure but he makes it clear that he knew that this was the reason for his coming. What’s wonderful is that Jesus knew that his purpose in coming to earth was to die and yet in knowing this he didn’t reject it, he didn’t shy away from this responsibility; instead he fulfilled it. Jesus also stated this purpose in Matt. 20:28, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus knew his purpose in coming was not to be served, which he had every right to demand, but instead, out of his great humility, he states that his purpose was to serve others. The purpose of Jesus’ whole life was about serving others and the culmination of that servitude was expressed in him giving his life as a ransom for us; in going to the cross and paying the penalty for our sins. As wonderful as the birth of Jesus was it should serve to remind us of the purpose of the event and where it would lead from there-straight to the cross.
2) Why think about his death when we’re celebrating his birth?
• To truly appreciate Christmas. At Christmas we enjoy thinking about the preciousness of the cute, cuddly baby Jesus lying in the manger. We like thinking about the moonlight shining down, illuminating his soft skin. What we don’t like to think about is how one day this sweet, innocent bundle of joy would grow up to be whipped and beaten. We don’t like to think that someday those little pudgy hands would have nails driven through them. We don’t like to think about that. We think that would ruin the joy. We conclude that the cross is too gruesome to think about at a time like this-save that for Easter. But, if we’re going to really appreciate Christmas, if we’re going to be in awe of the miracle from above, we need to think about it. We need to think about the fact that the cradle led to the cross. Mary and Joseph were put in the position to think about this reality when they presented Jesus at the temple. Luke 2:25-35. Jesus was only a little over a month old. Mary was still basking in the glow of being a new mom when she hears this news. Yet God allowed her to hear the reality of what was to come for this beautiful baby. Simeon reveals when he says that he will be a sign that will be spoken against that there would be many that would be opposed to Jesus. And he finishes by stating that a sword would pierce her soul too. This indicates that not only would her son suffer anguish but as his mother, her soul would be in anguish over what Jesus was suffering. I’m sure it’s not what Mary wanted to think about at a time like that. But God wanted her to hear it. And as much as we might not want to think about such things at a time like this we need to. The beauty of the manger needs to be coupled with the ugliness of the crucifixion in order for us to truly appreciate the meaning of Christmas.
• Because God wants us to. We are supposed to focus more on the purpose of his coming than his coming itself. Timothy Smith writes in his sermon on Jesus being born to die, “I was watching “48 Hours Mystery” last Tuesday night on CBS. Their show that night was called “The Mystery of Christmas.” It was all about finding and looking at historical evidence for the birth of Christ. Early in the show Maureen Mauer, the host, gave this disclaimer. “While there is much documented historical evidence that Jesus Christ lived and that he died on a cross, there is little historical documented evidence for His birth.” That’s a true statement. We don’t have any birth records from Bethlehem; we don’t have any first person accounts from the shepherds or wise men. None of them wrote anything down, that we know of. But more than leading us to question Jesus’ birth I think that it speaks to God’s emphasis. He wanted us to focus more on the purpose for Jesus’ coming then He did on the entry.” I think what Mr. Smith said makes sense. When you look at Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, all four gospels have accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection but only two, Matthew and Luke have accounts of his birth. I think that’s telling. God wants us to know and appreciate the miraculous birth but what he wants us to know and appreciate more is the ultimate purpose behind this wondrous birth. There is no salvation in Jesus’ birth. There could only be salvation in his death. This was to be the greatest achievement he could do for us; the event that would mean the most. This is why Jesus was born to die.
3) Why did Jesus need to die?
• So we could be saved. Paul said in 1st Tim. 1:15, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-of whom I am the worst.” The reason Jesus was here was because we are sinners. And what’s the problem with being a sinner? Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Spiritual death, hell, is what we have to look forward to as a sinner. And everyone is a sinner. Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Therefore, we are all in the same boat; and it’s sinking, and we’re all drowning. We need a savior. We needed Jesus to come into the world so we could be saved and have the gift of eternal life through his death on the cross.
• So we could have peace with God. Col. 1:19-21. Jesus came and died on the cross to bring peace between us and God. Through sin, there was no peace. We were God’s enemies because of our sin. We were against him. Therefore, we had no peace. But because Jesus was willing to pay the penalty for our sin, God’s wrath toward sin was appeased so now there could be peace between us and God. 1st John 3:8b, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” The devil’s work brought sin. The devil’s work brought enmity between us and God. The devil’s work is to steal, kill and destroy. But Jesus came to destroy the destroyer! He came to destroy the death grip that Satan had on us. Jesus came that we would be free and there could be peace between us and God.
• So we could live for God. 1st Peter 2:24-25, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” Jesus bore our sins at the cross so that as Jesus died for sin, we would in turn die to sin and therefore live for God; doing the things of God. Titus 2:11-14. Jesus died so we would respond to that gift of grace by turning away from our ungodliness and live a godly life. Jesus gave himself up for us, died in our place, not only to redeem us, but also to purify us [make us like him] and that we would actually be eager to do good and live for God as a proper response to the death of Jesus.
CONCLUSION: At Christmastime we sing “What Child is This”. Within this song about the baby Jesus we see attention given to what would become of the Babe, the Son of Mary. Verse three goes, “Nails, spear, shall pierce Him through; The Cross be borne, for me, for you: Hail, hail, the Word made flesh, The Babe, the Son of Mary! This, this is Christ the King, Whom shepherds guard and angels sing. Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.” The author understood that in reflecting on the birth of Christ there also needed to be lyrics that brought attention to the ultimate purpose for his arrival. Therefore, as you celebrate the birth of Christ, don’t forget the purpose for his birth was revealed in his death. Jesus was born to die.