Summary: A Christmas sermon reminding us of how Jesus became poor that we might become rich.
AM Sermon preached at Syria Christian Church December 14, 2003
“Riches to Rags to Riches: the story of Christmas”
[SERMON TITLE SLIDE]
According to the Atlanta Journal "The Ten Commandments contain 297 words. The Bill of Rights is stated in 463 words. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address contains 266 words. A recent federal directive to regulate the price of cabbage contains 26,911 words." Just think how lengthy that directive would have been if the government had not passed “The Paperwork Reduction Act”!
John 1:1 and John 1:14 together contain only 49 words in the NIV translation. Yet what we find in them according to one commentary is the “most compact and pulsating theological statement in all of Scripture.” Another writer comments, “the force of what he says here is so staggering that the words almost seem to bend under the weight they are made to bear…” These two verses serve as the Springboard from which we’ll dive into this morning’s message “Riches to Rags to Riches: the story of Christmas.” We read them in the opening responsive reading. I‘d like to reread them now… [SCRIPTURE SLIDES FOR JOHN 1:1 & 1:14]
[SLIDE WITH 1ST SERMON POINT: the riches He gave up]
The Word was God. The Word became flesh. Christmas friends is about the Word God becoming one of us. So that when the shepherds decided to go to Bethlehem to see the baby what they saw was…The Creator in a cradle. Man’s Maker in a manger. God in a box. No matter how you say it…there’s an awe attached to it, isn’t there?
The Word was God. It had always been that way…even before time began…that’s the idea carried in that phrase “In the beginning.” Contrary to what some Jehovah Witnesses or Mormans might say about Jesus, this verse makes it clear that Jesus, the Word, had always been God. And this verse lets us in on the fact that the sacrifice of Jesus entailed much more than His death on the cross. The sacrifice of Jesus included every moment the Word dwelt among us in the trappings of humanity.
In an article titled “Gift Wrapping God” that appeared in Christianity Today (12-8-97, p. 32-33.), Mary Ellen Ashcroft wrote: “To get ready for Christmas, God undressed. God stripped off his finery and appeared – how embarrassing – naked on the day he was born ….What many don’t know about Christianity is that God has chosen to identify with their pain, their humanness, their flesh.”
Philippians 2 and Hebrews bear this out. [SCRIPTURE SLIDES] “Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” --Phil 2:5-7 “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin.” --Hebrews 4:15
Whenever we approach that ancient scene of Christ’s birth in our minds and hearts, we should do it with a sense of astonishment, wonder, love and joy as we recall not only the riches Jesus gave up to be able to live among us but also the life He chose to live in human form. [SLIDE WITH SECOND SERMON POINT: The rags He put on.]