Summary: A sermon exploring the Biblical truth behind a favorite carol of Christmas.
The composing of this Christmas carol had its beginning with a Christmas eve service in 1818, in the village of Oberndorf in Austria. When it was discovered that the organ in St. Nicholas Church would not function and the music planned for the Christmas Eve service could not be used, Father Joseph Mohr, the assistant priest, decided to write a new song to be used instead. He prepared the text and asked the acting organist, Franz Gruber, to compose a tune. The original composition was written for guitar, because no organ was available.
The story of this Christmas carol one of how God provided in an amazing and unusual way to meet a pressing need. It is a beautiful illustration of God’s provision for us through Christ. Surely God has provided in an amazing and unusual way to meet our need of salvation. Just as the meeting of the need of that Christmas eve service resulted in a new song, Christ’s provision for our salvation results in a new song, which the Bible says only the redeemed can sing (Revelation 14:3). Christ’s provision for our salvation came about through His sacrifice, which Paul speaks about in 2 Corinthians 8:9. (Read Text)
The text of "Silent Night, Holy Night" shares three truths about Christ’s sacrifice for our salvation which are found in 2 Corinthians 8:9.
1. His Was A Willing Sacrifice - verse 1
It was with "heavenly peace," that Christ came into this world, for His coming into this world to pay the price for our sins was decision settled long before that day in Bethlehem (Revelation 13:8). The sacrifice of Christ for our salvation was not an accident of history, but a predetermined plan of heaven.
Paul, in speaking of Christ’s sacrifice for us, uses the word "grace" - "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ." The classic definition of "grace," is "unmerited favor or blessing." Certainly, when it comes to Christ’s sacrifice for our sakes to make possible our experience of God’s forgiveness and a personal relationship with the Almighty, such favor, such blessing, was unmerited.
During the Civil War, a young man was brought before Robert E. Lee for an infraction of the rules. Can you imagine being brought before the commander of all the Confederate forces for having broken the rules? The young man was trembling.
"You need not be afraid; you’ll get justice here," said Lee. "I know it," the young man replied. "That’s what I’m scared of."
I will stand one day before the su¬preme General of the universe. I, too, am guilty of having broken the rules. Therefore, I will be eternally grateful that, on that day, because of Jesus’ sacrifice and my acceptance of that sacrifice, I will not receive justice but mercy.
The Bible tells us that we are all sinners (Romans 3:23), and as such, we are under condemnation of eternal death (Romans 6:23a); but through Christ, God has made available the "gift of eternal life" (Romans 6:23b). This provision of eternal life was made through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross for our sakes, which the Bible says He willing chose to make, despite the fact that we were undeserving!
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (NIV)
On a television special that aired on June 6, 1994, observing the D-Day invasion. General Norman Schwarskopf and Dan Rather were walking through the U.S. cemetery at Normandy. As they did, Schwarskopf said that in light of the sacrifice of these men, we should live to make this world worth dying for.
Jesus faced His D-Day, though a far different one and for a far different reason. He came to people who (we might say) were not worth dying for: sinners and rejecters of God. They did not recognize Him and were not interest¬ed in His message. Still, He came. He came not to make this world worth dying for, but to make life worth living.
2. His Was A Wondrous Sacrifice - verse 2
Indeed, at the birth of Christ, "Glories did stream from heaven afar." The glory of God was brought down to man in human form.
And the Word (Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us; and we [actually] saw His glory (His honor, His majesty), such glory as an only begotten son receives from his father, full of grace (favor, loving-kindness) and truth.” - John 1:14 (Amplified)
As Paul puts it here in 2 Corinthians 8:9, "though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor." The thought that the glorious God of the universe would take upon Himself human form is wondrous, indeed! And note why He did this. Paul says it was, "for your sakes." In coming in human form, Christ came to identify with us in our humanity.