Summary: Expounding on 1 Peter 3:15-16, speaking about the urgent need to give the greatest gift of all — the good news of salvation — to the world.
The message that we’ve heard, “A Strange Way to Save the World,” it really, really is. When you think of the manger, when you think of what God did, in John 3:16, that He loved the world so much that He sent His only begotten Son, that He came literally to die on the cross so that we, by believing, can have life in His name, that we could spend eternity with Him, that is a pretty amazing thought. It’s a pretty amazing thing to realize and understand that God, in all of His power—and we know that God is all-powerful, we know that He is all-knowing, we know that He is all-loving—is capable of anything. And it’s amazing that God chose this way, through a little baby being born in a manger, to save the world.
Think about it. God, you are the God of all the universe, everything that is, is in your hands, you own everything—the cattle on a thousand hills—and really? You send your Son Jesus to be born in a manger? To be born not even in a room but out in the field? God, really, you think that the way to save the world is by sending your Son, and then not only to be born in that manger, but then 33 years later to be cruelly nailed to a tree, to suffer like that, to die like that, to be placed in a borrowed tomb, that the world would condemn Him, that the world would make fun of Him, that the world would ridicule Him, God, really? That’s your plan? God, couldn’t you have come up with a better way?
But you know God chose that way because He did something through those acts that goes beyond anything that we can imagine to give us a gift that we never could have figured out on our own. We live in a world today where we talk about salvation, we talk about forgiveness, we talk about hope, and man, we come up with all kinds of plans. We want to have hope, so we’ve got to have money in the bank. We want to have forgiveness, so we have to be nice to other people. We want to live in joy, so we’ve got to have all the stuff that this world has to offer. You see, if it was left up to man, in our plan, we never could have come up with a plan like His.
Oh, but God knew so much more and so much better than we do, because God knew that the only hope, the only way to truly change the world is through a baby that was born in a manger; an act that started in the manger, but ended with the cross, and oh thank God it ended with the empty tomb. The fact that today that tomb is still empty and that we celebrate the season, the season of giving, the season of receiving gifts, the season that we talk about and listen to the music and we see the lights and we celebrate this joyous time of year.
And we as Christians have a lot to celebrate. We have a lot to rejoice in. Have you ever thought about this: Literally pretty much the entire world celebrates the same holiday that we do. Literally the world celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, even if they don’t know it. Now certainly there are some groups out there that don’t, and there are groups that have come up with other holidays that fall in the same line with Christmas and use those instead of Christmas, but by and large, as evidenced by, as you walk through the stores, the decorations; as evidenced by the commercials and evidenced by the songs that we hear on all of the radio stations, literally most of the world celebrates the exact same holiday. They celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in Christmas. Isn’t that something to be excited about? It’s a joy. It’s something to celebrate.
But with that good news there is also bad news. You see, there’s always bad news that comes along with the good news. The bad news is that even though they celebrate the same holiday, even though they celebrate the birth of Christ like we do, they celebrate it for a totally different reason. They don’t celebrate the hope that it gives; they don’t celebrate the salvation that it brings; they don’t celebrate the redemption that is found in it; they don’t celebrate what Jesus did. They celebrate it because of what it does for them. Because everybody likes getting gifts, don’t we? We all enjoy that.
As a kid, man, I’m telling you, Christmas was the only day of the year that no one had to wake me up. I went to school 180 days a year and I can tell you that my mom, to get me out of bed in the morning to go to school usually required a loud sound and a baseball bat. My kids, it’s the exact same thing except I’m getting ready to move from a baseball bat to a shotgun because of how difficult it is to wake them up in the morning for school—some of them, anyway. That is the truth of it.