December 24, 2020
As I was thinking about tonight’s worship, I was thinking about what do I say on a Christmas Eve when you are at home . . . and we are not together celebrating, hugging, shaking hands as we announce the birth of Jesus.
In a normal year, there is still the tension about what to say on Christmas and Easter. What do you say that hasn’t already been said?
My first thought was to look a little more unique or festive.
How do you tell the story, the same story over and over and over? Yet, when you stop and think about it, that’s what I do just about every week. It’s my joy and privilege to share the message of Jesus with you on a weekly basis.
That’s really one of the great, yet scary aspects of preaching. I get to share Jesus with you every week. Sometimes it’s the same story, sometimes it comes with a different slant. A little different way of seeing who Jesus is and what the call of God is in our lives.
So, what’s the hook tonight?! Well, of course, it’s Jesus. What I want to share with you is really pretty fascinating. We’ve already read the Christmas story from the gospel of Luke.
Now I want to share with you something I read as I was preparing for tonight. I read an article and then read and reread Romans 5. It’s an amazing chapter from Paul about what Jesus’s death does for us. Then you get to Romans 5:10. And it’s striking. We might not catch it up front. It’s actually really easy to miss. I had to reread this passage slowly again and again. Listen to what Paul tells us about Jesus --
10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
This is one of those passages in which it wounds good, but let’s slow down for a moment, because this is why God sent His Son into the world!!
On this Christmas Eve, I want to focus just for a moment on the death of Jesus. In verse 10, Paul tells us the death of Jesus has now reconciled us to God, we’ve been saved by the life and death of Jesus. OK, that’s pretty clear. But now I want you to see something. . .
Paul adds these words . . .
Most of us would say, we’ve been taught that the Cross was the greatest demonstration of God’s love ever. Sending His only Son to the cross for you and I. It’s huge!! It’s really beyond huge, because without the cross we have nothing.
You know what it’s like when you hear a story from the National Enquirer about how someone was taken to Mars and they came back to talk about. We don’t believe it. Sometimes it can be that way when we think about the birth of Jesus, about the Cross and resurrection. It seems so beyond our comprehension, yet, we believe - - - because we trust and believe in God.
Then, we add to that the Empty Tomb. I mean - - come on - - how does that happen? That’s the greatest power illustration from God. Now, let me add to that . . . Paul is now telling us - - it’s not a suggestion – – it’s a statement of fact by Paul. That those events are small, they’re actually minuscule in comparison to what is in store for us.
How do you describe what is bigger and better than the cross and empty tomb? How far does your imagination go? How do you describe heaven as being paved in streets of gold, of having pearls for door handles, for colors that we can’t yet imagine and see?
My imagination seems to have limits, but this is what God is telling us about our hope and faith. Here is a truth for us that might be really difficult to comprehend. God has more in store for us.
The cross leads us to believe what is beyond our imagination. There is in store for me . . . much more. WOW!!
Imagine really believing God has more in store for you and I than what we can really imagine. It’s beyond the cross and empty tomb.
Maybe this is a better Easter message, but let’s pause for a moment . . . With the year we’ve endured, we need to hear this amazing news from God!
I’m talking about the ending, but there’s a beginning. And that beginning is the birth. It’s God saying, I love you people so much, that I am going to send my Son into this world, a world that is not always nice, into a world which is really messed up in sin . . . but you know, I love you, and that’s what love does, love sacrifices, so I’m going to do it anyways.
WHY? For one simple, yet so profound reason . . . I LOVE YOU! I want to adopt you into my family. So, I’m going to send my child, my child who is without sin into the world. His start will be loud and triumphant, yet totally unrecognized.
He will be the One
Do you remember the story about Zaccheus? After visiting with Jesus, Jesus said this about Himself - - - from Luke 19:10 --
10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.
It’s really a simple statement, yet it’s so rich and deep and profound. Think about it - - The Son of Man - that’s Jesus - came to seek and to save what was lost!
That’s it!! That’s the Gospel message, that’s the reason Jesus came.
Jesus has come! The Almighty entered our world, the infinite became finite! The eternal invaded time. It’s the Incarnation – God in human flesh. Immanuel – God with us. He is Jesus - the One who saves.
At the heart of our faith is this truth -- God came to us in the person of Jesus.
The Son of Man came to seek and to save.
Jesus came looking for someone. What is our Lord like? He’s like the woman who lost a coin and searched her house until she found it. He’s like the man who lost one sheep and went out into the wilderness to find it. He’s the like the Father who welcomed his Prodigal Son home again. Jesus came looking for someone.
He came seeking sinners in a tree, at midnight, and the woman at the well.
Jesus came seeking those caught in adultery, blind beggars, lepers, and wild men living in the tombs.
He came seeking the self-righteous, the arrogant, the rich, the poor, black, white, yellow, and all other colors.
He came seeking fishermen, politicians, radicals, physicians, tax collectors, rich men at the top of the heap, and poor folks no one would touch.
He sought prostitutes and those struggling with addictions. He sought sinners of all varieties . . .
He came seeking the sinners . . . . Yup, that’s you and me.
Jesus came as the seeking Savior!
Jesus came seeking . . . what was lost.
People don’t like to admit it, we don’t like to admit when we’re lost, but even more, we are so totally lost without God.
What does it mean to be lost? Isaiah 53:6 reminds us “we have all strayed like sheep. Each one of us has turned to go his own way.” We all by nature go our own way. No one has to teach us to run from God. If Christ did not come to us, we would never come to Him.
It’s kind of funny in a way, but we didn’t even know we were lost until someone came from heaven seeking us, wanting to save us. If Christ didn’t come for us, we would never come to Him. In a sense . . . we run from God and God runs after us, seeking us — — to save us.
So, what does this mean for us?
Jesus left heaven to make His home among us, to reveal God to us, to show us the true nature of the Father.
In Jesus we see and experience God’s love.
- - - - MERCY
- - - - POWER
- - - - LOVE
- - - - HOLINESS
- - - - GRACE
- - - - COURAGE
Christ came to save that which is lost.
What excuse could you give that would satisfy God if you don’t say yes to Jesus? How would you explain your rejection of Jesus? What sufficient reason would you have for saying “no” to God’s Son? Jesus said it in John 3:16-17 ---
16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.
On this Christmas Eve, that’s a great truth we need to hold onto. God sent His Son into the world - not to condemn us, but to save us – so we might have life, life today and life eternally.
When we believe in Jesus, at the very moment we say YES to Him, our sins are forgiven. We are pardoned, freed. Grafted onto the tree of life as part of God’s family. Chosen, dearly loved, children of God Almighty. Sometimes it’s hard to believe.
But, that’s the Gospel that no matter how bad your sins may be, you can be saved right now. Your past does not determine your future when Jesus enters the picture.
If you qualify as lost — — and that’s all of us . . . then you are an excellent candidate to be saved. Christ came seeking you.
If you don’t know Jesus . . . Won’t you come? Won’t you come to Jesus? He came for you!
Christ came to seek and save the lost. Jesus offers us that MUCH MORE to life.