Christ, the Savior
The following is a summary of my sermon preached on December 25, 2016:
CHRIST, THE SAVIOR
Part 4 of WHO IS THE CHRIST? Luke 2:8-21
December 25, 2016. The Cornerstone Church.
Last December, Kalie’s school flew her to Tampa, Florida, for a conference on diversity. A thousand students from all over the USA. Every color, creed, culture. They spent three days in small and large groups discussing what it’s like to live in our world with so much diversity. The point was this: even though we’re all different, we can all be INCLUDED.
Know what? Inclusion is actually an important part of the message of Christmas. Let’s read in Luke 2 and discover what “inclusion” has to do with it.
Christmas is a message of INCLUSION - God’s message is to the whole world, not a privileged part only. This is made so clear by Luke’s account of angels and shepherds. Shepherds were usually EXCLUDED. Scholar, Philip Ryken, wrote:
“Shepherds were outcasts … They did not enjoy a very good reputation in their day. Because they lived in the fields, they were unable to keep the ceremonial law, and thus they were treated as unclean. They were also regarded as liars and thieves, which is why their testimony was inadmissible in a court of law. Shepherds were despised. With the exception of lepers, they were the lowest class of men in Israel.” - Reformed Expository Commentary - Luke, Vol. 1, p 77.
God was sending a message: The good news is for everyone. Jesus said:
“Come to me, ALL OF YOU who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” - Matthew 11:28
Jesus was saying, If you want in, you’re in. No matter who you are.
GOD, THE SAVIOR
The angel did not announce the birth of a Judge, jury, or executioner. He announced the birth of a Savior. What does it means that this baby is a Savior? The passage tells us: He is Jesus - Luke 2:21. His name in the Hebrew language means “Yahweh saves.”
“ … you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” - Matthew 1:21
This is a glorious thought: God wants to be known by us as SAVIOR:
“For there is no other God but me, a righteous God and Savior. There is none but me. 22 Let all the world look to me for salvation!” - Isaiah 45:21-22
God comes to us in Jesus as the Savior of ALL who will “look to him.”
In what ways does Jesus save us from our sins? The context of this passage means that we must not only look at the personal impact of sin, but also beyond that to two others spheres in which sin has a destructive impact:
1. In the covenant community of Israel: When, because of sin, the nation abandoned the covenant Law of God, the people came under the curses of the Law - see Deuteronomy 28:15-68. Israel needed a savior to remove the curse and restore the blessings.
“Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing.” - Galatians 3:13.
2. In the universe and the world-wide community: Sin devastated the universe, including this planet and its people. The curses pronounced in Genesis 3 were more than idle threats; they subjected the world to futility (Romans 8:20-21). We all need a savior who will restore the universe to wholeness. We wait for the day:
“I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”” - Revelation 21:3-4
3. In every aspect of our lives: We are all sinners, but we may not know it or we may be in denial. Sin is a silent killer. We don’t realize what it’s doing to us until it’s too late. It ruins us. It messes up our thinking. It hurts our relationships. But the worst thing it does is to EXCLUDE us from God - it keeps us apart.
Our greatest need is to be restored to God; that is, INCLUSION. But we can’t do it. You can’t cure a cold (you can only cover it up) and you can’t cure sin. That’s why we need a Savior. And that’s why God came to us in Jesus. Here’s how Jesus rescues us from our sin and restores us to God:
“Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God.” - 1 Peter 3:18
This is good news - good news for ALL of us. We cannot cure our sin, but Jesus does it for us and he brings us home to God. It’s good news of INCLUSION - for the outcasts, the outlaws, the outsiders. Jesus said:
“I came to seek and save those who are LOST.” - Luke 19:10
Listen: no matter how lost you are, Jesus is looking for you.
WHY WE CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS
This is why we celebrate Christmas with so much energy this morning: If we want in, we’re in. We’re included. And we’ll ALWAYS be included - even when we falter and fail from time to time. Consider: Since Jesus is a mighty Savior, the only thing keeping you from God is you. Make Jesus good news of great joy for you personally - and you’ll be able to declare with us ALL:
“All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord.” - Jude 1:25