Summary: Why was it important for God to become human? And why become a human baby?
WE OPENED WITH VIDEO “O, What A Gift” (https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=562729207881472)
“I read the story of a woman who saw her friend at church and then, without thinking, said: “Happy Christmas!” The problem was… it was Easter. So, she quickly corrected herself and said, “I’m sorry. I meant to say, Happy Easter.” Her friend smiled back and said: “Well, you can’t have one without the other.” (Cindy Hess Kasper, Our Daily Bread, 4/8/07)
The video we started out with said it this way: “Humbly He came… in a manger, born to die. Just a babe… fully human; fully God. The Word made flesh, God’s only Son. Sent to save us… Died on a cross, rose from the grave. All because He loved us.”
That phrase: BORN TO DIE caught my attention. You can’t have Easter without Christmas, and you can’t have Christmas without Easter. There’re kinda like a matched set. When Jesus was born in the manger, He was literally “born to die.” That’s why He came.
Now, when preachers do “Christmas Sermons” they rarely use John 1 as their text. I mean, there’s nothing in the Gospel of John about shepherds, or wisemen, or angels. And there’s no mention of Mary and Joseph and the manger. There’s no Nativity Scene at all!!!
But the first chapter of John explains WHY we have Christmas. It explains why the birth of Christ matters: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the WORD WAS GOD.” (John 1:1) The entire Gospel of John is dedicated to helping us understand that one concept: Jesus IS God.
Now the other Gospels point to that too. For example, the Gospel of Matthew 1:23 tells us that the angel declared: “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which means, GOD WITH US.”
But John comes out - right out of the box – saying “The Word (Jesus) was God.” John was telling us that –
THIS IS IMPORTANT… PAY ATTENTION!!!!
But WHY is it important?? Well, there’s a couple of reasons that comes to mind. The first is that the idea of God is an abstract concept. When people think of God, they have this fuzzy image of what God is like.
ILLUS: A Sunday School teacher shared of the time she asked her students what God looked like: One child said “He’s a human being with heart, feet, eyes like fire, and He shampoos his hair everyday.” A boy stated “He looks like my daddy. He wears a jumpsuit on weekends and has a bald head.” One of the girls said “I think God has nice eyes. He wears a very pretty robe, and He has white hair.” Another child said “I think He’s an old man with a long, gray beard. And He sits on a throne like a king, and drinks all the Dr. Pepper He wants.” And still another child thought “He looks like whatever you want Him to look like.” (Calvary Temple in Compton, CA)
Just like those children, lots of folks have a hard time grasping WHAT God is really like. But with Jesus it’s different, because… well… Jesus was God in the flesh. Everything about Jesus tells us what God is like. Everything Jesus said, every healing He did, every kindness He showed… all of that tells us what God is like.
ILLUS: There was a famous scientist in 1960s named Oppenheimer who once said "The best way to send an idea is to wrap it up in a person." In other words: Ideas are abstract… but people aren’t. Ideas can be hard to understand, but you can talk to people and see how they live out the concepts they believe in.
In Jesus we see THE IDEA of God wrapped up in a child. Jesus was (literally) God in the flesh. And even when Jesus was born - as a baby in a manger – that part of His story tells us a couple things about God. In fact it tells us two crucial aspects of Jesus ministry we might miss if we didn’t have the story of Jesus in the manger.
The 1st thing Jesus birth teaches us was: He was willing to be approachable. Have you ever noticed what happens when a mother brings her baby into church? Everybody wants to touch that child and maybe hold it in their arms. They’ll make strange faces at it and make noises they wouldn’t think of making around grown adults. Why do thy do that? Because the child doesn’t turn them away or make fun of them. Babies are “approachable.”
And during His ministry, Jesus was like that… he was approachable. And that’s the way His ministry was. Jesus wanted to be approachable. At one point He said “Come to me (come to me) all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28