Preached @ Anchor Community Church On December 21st 2014
“Always after defeat and a respite, the shadow (Evil) takes another shape and grows again.”
Will we ever have Peace? Is that a possibility in a fallen world? Didn’t Jesus come to bring us peace? If so, why don’t we experience that peace? Many of movies and books have speculated notions of future utopian societies where after years of enlightenment and technological advance, a real peace would spring into action. Some films, like Joss Whedon’s Serenity, are not as optimistic of a utopian future, imagine a dystopian future that gains peace by drugging their people.
It seems as though just after peace appears on the horizon, it disappears again into another strand of evil. Lord of the Rings author Jr Tolkien said, “Always after defeat and a respite, the shadow (Evil) takes another shape and grows again.” Technology and “Progress” are great, but it hasn’t defeated evil. We still have fears of Nuclear Winters, Cyber Terrorism (Sony), Evil Despots and Future Dystopian societies.
What’s the problem?
If technology hasn’t given us release from evil, what is the problem? The biblical answer is, we are the problem. Might not be what you want to hear on Christmas, but it’s true. Our hearts remain the problem, hampering forced solutions from “Enlightened” people, and concerned governments.
Christ didn’t come the first time to rid the world of evil and judge it, because if He did, He’d have to kill us. If Christ came the 1st time to rid the world of all evil. He came the 1st time to “Seek and save the lost” He came with a solution for hope! The Christmas Story is God’s Gift of Hope for the World
Big Picture: The Christmas Story is a presentation of God’s “Peace” to a world of ordinary, broken people
From the Head…
Christmas Displays God’s Sovereignty In History (Luke 2:1-5)
The Christmas Story is rooted in history with real people, places and events. The fact is there is a real Caesar Augustus and a real Roman governor named Quirinius. There was a real census taken in the region at that time. There was no “Once upon a time” in this story, because it was rooted in history, and more than that, it was sovereignly governed by God. The timing isn’t coincidental like we like to think. In order to see the prophecies of Jesus come true (The Messiah being born in Bethlehem, the city of David), Mary would have had to Marry Joseph, who was a descendent of David, and also from Bethlehem, and Caesar Augustus would have had to order a census forcing all families to travel to the place of the patriarchs birth, to get Joseph to move his family to Bethlehem in time for Mary to have her child. Coincidence, I don’t think so. God truly governs His creation and the history in complete sovereignty. Of course Caesar made his decision freely, but as only God can, He used man’s decision for His own purposes and timing.
Christmas Demonstrates God’s Plan (Luke 2:6-7)
Why did He go to Shepherds? Shepherds by the time of Jesus were pretty low people on the social economic ladder. Why not make a splash? Why not visit the religious leaders? Why go to such a low group? And why 2000 years ago? Why not in an age of TV, Youtube and CNN?
This is quite the contrast to his visit to Mary (Luke 1:32-33), where, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High,” or to Zechariah (Luke 1:78b-79) “Whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Sounds pretty lofty, yet He chose to come in the 1st century and visit those that were considered losers.
This fits God’s plan well. He came 1st Time as a servant to be broken for us (Isaiah 53:2-5, Philippians 6-7, 2 Corinthians 8:9). He emptied Himself, became poor so we could become rich. And those that come to Him do so in the same way, humble repentance, recognizing their need for salvation.
He will come 2nd time however as King to Judge (Revelation 19:11-16).
Christmas Expresses God’s Glory to the World (Luke 2:8-9)
He expresses His glory to the Ordinary. God’s true glory brings immediate fear, but that fear is relieved because of the “Good News” of the gospel.
Christmas Reveals God’s Hope to the World (Luke 2:10-14)
God’s Gospel story eliminates fear to those who trust in Christ. John Newton’s Amazing Grace says it well,
Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed
The Hope of Christmas is found in Jesus! When we understand His grace and mercy in forgiving us our debts to Him, it can only end in love and gratitude. The Peace God offers come to the ordinary who Bow in Awe, Respect and Admiration. Those that see their lowliness as no different that the shepherds, are brought to a great hope that destroys fear!
Christmas Establishes Our Precedent For Praise (Luke 2:15-20)
The proper response to this story is to first retell the story (v. 17), since we talk about what we love, and then glorify God (v. 20), because we also praise what we love, since we are created for this purpose; “Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:7)
…to the Heart
This Miracle is important. In Buddhism, salvation comes from being enlightened and has practically nothing to do with god(s). It is a self-discovery. In Islam, salvation comes from submitting to Allah, a self-meritorious salvation, again not really needing miracles and virgin births, the cross, etc. but Christian salvation rests solely on the historical Jesus doing a real historical work on the cross and miraculously being raised from the dead. His birth is important, because its nature is important to the overall story. If Jesus isn’t God, then our sins weren’t paid by a perfect person (God)!
God’s Peace comes as a result of a great sacrifice, Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf, for our forgiveness and a peace that surpasses understanding (Colossians 1:20).
- Is peace possible?
- What is peace?
- In what way does the Christmas story give you any hope for peace?
- If Jesus came to bring “peace” why don’t we have it after 2000 years?