• peterfoxwell

Christ, the Baby



The following is a summary of my December 18 sermon.

CHRIST, THE BABY

Part 3 of WHO IS THE CHRIST? Luke 2:1-7

December 18, 2016. The Cornerstone Church.

INTRODUCTION

In just a moment, we’re going to read Luke 2:1-7. We could call the scene: “Clash of Kingdoms”

Three kingdoms were on a collision course:

  • The Roman Empire under the absolute dominion of Julius Caesar’s grand-nephew (Octavius), the founder of the Roman Empire, given the title: “Divine Augustus Caesar, son of god, imperator of land and sea, the benefactor and savior of the whole world.” (Myrian inscription)

  • The Kingdom of Judah, once mighty under King David, but now the dusty Roman province of Judea. What they lacked in political power, they made up for in zealous hope - always longing for God to restore Jerusalem and David’s dynasty.

  • The Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God wasn’t looking very strong. It’s king was born in a cattle shed, attached to the side of a peasant farmer’s house in a little village called Bethlehem. True, he had royal blood. He was descended from King David, but his parents were peasants and poor. And they placed him in a feeding trough for a crib.

But … as so often happens when God is at work, there was much more to the story. This baby was a king. And no ordinary king:

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf.” - Micah 5:2

The shocking truth the Bible teaches us is this: that day in Bethlehem, God was born.

We’re going to read Luke 2, then I’m going to answer two questions:

  • Was God born?

  • Why was God born?

A. QUESTION 1: WAS GOD BORN?

The answer is both yes and no. God can’t be born. On the other hand … The Bible tell us that God joined himself to humanity in the womb of Mary:

“The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.”” - Luke 1:35

“When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my LORD should come to me?”” - Luke 1:41-43

What can we say? Jesus is the God-man - fully God (LORD) and fully human in one person. So … YES, God was born! This is both a mystery and a paradox.

This is the same mystery revealed by the angel to the shepherds:

“The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!” - Luke 2:10-11

Charles Wesley wrote about it in his hymn Hark the Herald Angels Sing: “veiled in flesh the Godhead see, hail the incarnate deity; pleased as man with man to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel.”

So think about this: While he was being born in a cattle shed, Jesus in his divine nature was also sustaining the universe (Colossians 1:17 - he holds all creation together).

Isaiah 9 helps us put it into words:

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” - Isaiah 9:6-7

English songwriter Graham Kendrick wrote, “Meekness and majesty, manhood and deity, in perfect harmony, the Man who is God. Lord of eternity dwells in humanity, kneels in humility and washes our feet. O what a mystery, meekness and majesty. Bow down and worship for this is your God.”

B. QUESTION 2: WHY WAS GOD BORN?

Why was God born? Many reasons. See the appendix for four reasons. I’d like us to focus on just one:

GOD WAS BORN IN ORDER TO SHARE IN OUR SUFFERING AND WEAKNESS.

Father God appointed his Son to be our high priest so that he could represent us to God and restore us to God through his sacrifice on the cross. In order to become our high priest, he had to leave heaven. In order to truly represent us, he had to become one of us.

“Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood.” - Hebrews 2:14

“… it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people.” - Hebrews 2:17

When the Lord became like us in every respect he also entered into the whole range of our experience of the world. He did not hide in a bubble. His identification with us was total. He inhabited our humanity and our humanity inhabited him.

“He was despised and rejected - a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. … 4 … it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down.” - Hebrews 53:3-4

“This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.” - Hebrews 4:15

God now knows our pain, our struggles, our weakness first hand. CS Lewis wrote that he knows it all “from within.”

Think about this: although God cannot die, the divine and human natures were joined so completely in Jesus that when he died, God experienced that death in some way that we cannot describe fully and the Bible does not explain.

David Clarkson was a well known English preacher in the mid 1600s. The following passage, excerpted from his writings reflects on how deeply God identified with us in Jesus (David Clarkson, Works III: 81-85. Found in Voices from the Past, Banner of Truth, page361):


CONCLUSION

Take a moment to contemplate that little baby in Bethlehem. As you ponder his humble surroundings, remember this: this is God come to earth, come to us, come for us.

This is our God! Meekness and majesty. Love and mercy. Deep humility. We owe him everything. All love. All thanks. All praise. All we are and have.

Here’s why we celebrate the birth of Christ: Because it is the birth of hope. The hope that God understands us and sympathizes with us in all our struggles. The hope that he hears us when we cry out for help.

God’s message to all of us at Christmas is this: Come to back to me through faith in Jesus. You’ll find grace to cleanse and forgive your sins. You’ll find mercy and help for every situation.

“Let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” - Hebrews 4:16

APPENDIX: WHY WAS GOD BORN?

1. TO SHOW US WHAT GOD IS LIKE.

When we “see Jesus” we see God. Jesus told his friend Philip:

“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!” - John 14:9

What Jesus did, God was doing. Jesus told a hostile crowd:

“Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.” - John 5:19

Jesus was demonstrating God. To fill us with worship and wonder. Just for example:

  • When he touched a leper. .

  • When he taught such wisdom.

  • When he cast out demons

  • When he died on the cross.

2. TO SHARE IN OUR SUFFERING AND WEAKNESS.

“He was despised and rejected - a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. … 4 … it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down.” - Hebrews 53:3-4

“This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.” - Hebrews 4:15

God now knows our pain, our struggles, our weakness first hand. CS Lewis wrote that he knows it all “from within.” That means that the Lord Jesus sympathizes with us when we come to him in prayer:

“Let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” - Hebrews 4:16

3. TO MAKE A STATEMENT: SALVATION IS OF THE LORD.

The old hymn, Rock of Ages, stanza 2 describes the human dilemma: “Not the labors of my hands can fulfill thy law's commands; could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow, all for sin could not atone; thou must save, and thou alone.”

Psalm 49 says it brilliantly:

“They trust in their wealth and boast of great riches. 7 Yet they cannot redeem themselves from death by paying a ransom to God. 8 Redemption does not come so easily, for no one can ever pay enough 9 to live forever and never see the grave.” - Psalm 49:6-9

Salvation comes from God or not at all. The birth of God is a statement: “I have come to rescue you because you cannot rescue yourself.”

4. TO SAVE US FROM OUR SINS.

When people ask me to define Christianity, this is what I say: I quote 2 Corinthians 5:19:

“God was in Jesus reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.” - 2 Corinthians 5:19

When God came down at Christmas he was on a rescue mission.

“This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”” - 1 Timothy 1:15

God was born to die. Jesus was always headed to the cross where he would die for our sins, to satisfy God’s holy justice in our place.

Wayne Grudem explains: “Even though Jesus’ divine nature did not actually die, Jesus went through the experience of death as a whole person, and both human and divine natures somehow shared in that experience. Beyond that, Scripture does not enable us to say more.” Grudem, page 560.

ALTERNATIVE ENDING

I was raised in church. Every Christmas, I’d put on my bathrobe, and a dish towel on my head, and act in the Christmas play. I have very happy memories of my mom helping me memorize my lines from the old KJV:

“The angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” - Luke 2:10-11

Unfortunately, I didn’t understand the words. I didn't know what a Savior was. I didn’t know I was a sinner in need of rescue. Sadly, no one in the church ever explained it to me. Sadder still, it was because they didn’t understand the words either.

It was not until my second year in college - November 22, 1977 - that someone told me what I needed to know. And finally the Bible made sense. God made sense. Jesus made sense. And as I prayed to him that evening in my dorm, my life made sense.

Jesus was born once in a stable in Bethlehem. But he wants to be born again in your life. Don’t wait. Don’t turn over a new leaf. Don’t try to clean yourself up. Remember: salvation is of the Lord. You cannot save yourself. Come to Jesus as a sinner who needs to be rescued.

Pray to him today, “Lord Jesus, I finally understand that I am a sinner who needs to be restored to you. I now know that you are the God-man. You are God come into the world as one of us to rescue us. Please rescue me. I leave behind my old life. Please give a new life.”


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