For the first two weeks of Advent, we have looked at the significance of Jesus’ coming to earth. We first considered Jesus in eternity before He came to earth. Then, last week we looked at the lineage of Jesus and how Jesus fits into the lineage and into His role as our savior. Both of these messages looked at Jesus from a distant and theological perspective.
This week, we will bring the birth of Jesus into an individual and personal perspective. What does the birth of Jesus mean to us today. Can His birth resonate in my life? Let’s that a few minutes this morning to look at three areas of our life where the birth of Jesus has an impact.
First, the birth of Jesus truly represents God is in my world. This simple narrative about a child born to Mary is only recorded in two places in the Bible. Matthew’s account starts with Mary, who is engaged to be married to Joseph, speaking with an angel. The angel tells her that, even though she is a virgin, she will become pregnant through the Holy Spirit and the child would be the Messiah.
Joseph reacts like most men would. He learns of Mary’s pregnancy and he is ready to back out of the planned marriage. Joseph was not planning to create a scandal but to quietly sent her away. An angel appears to Joseph in a dream and Matthew tells us the rest of the story.
But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:20-23 NASB)
The angel was quoting the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14). The sign of a virgin giving birth to a child and the child’s name means God with us. This is a God thing.
God coming into this world means that God is no longer a distant and remote god. God has come into our world. Why should God come into our world? What reason or cause would prompt God to actually come into our world? It is not just that God came into our world but He came in the same manner that Isaiah prophesied. God came into our world in through the birth of a child to a virgin.
Jesus answers these questions when He talked with Nicodemus. In one of the most quoted scriptures, John 3:16. (I was challenged once by an 89-year-old lady who interrupted me and reminded me to include verse 17. So, Mrs. Eleanor, I will read both verses.)
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. (John 3:16-17 NASB)
Why did God come into our world? Because God loved us and sent His son so that through Him we could have eternal life. He came to offer salvation and not condemnation to those who have rebelled against God.
We sit here this morning wearing the name Christian and we walk around in our community and we like to be known as Christians. As we walk through our world, is our walk like that of Jesus? God looked at our sin filled world and sent salvation wrapped in cloth and placed in a feeding trough. Jesus came for the purpose of bringing salvation and not condemnation. The problem most of the world has with Christians is that many of us believe our job, as Christian, is to point fingers and accuse. God does not operate in this manner and we certainly should not either.
When God looks at sin, His first thought is not of condemnation, but one of fulfilling the sinners need for forgiveness, wholeness, and being loved. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son. The birth of Jesus is direct evidence of God’s love entering our world. Jesus entered our world on that first Christmas day. God gave His son 33 years later when Jesus died on the cross. Jesus is God’s gift to our world, not because we deserve Him, but because we need Him.
Second, the birth of Jesus has an impact on our church. Some of us may know the name of David Huxley. He holds the world record for pulling a 747 jetliner 100 yards in 1 minute and 21 seconds. He wore a harness that had a steel cable attached to it and the front wheel strut of the aircraft. The weight of the aircraft is 187 tons. There are times when the church resembles that aircraft. It takes extraordinary strength of a few to pull the church just a few feet.
In our illustration, moving the plane through extreme human effort achieved a speed of 0.0225 miles per hour but it can only move it 100 yards. By way of comparison, the same aircraft normally cruises around 564 mile per hours and can travel over 8000 miles. If we could get God to start up the engines of our church, how fast and how far could we go?
You may be sitting there and wondering what all this talk about aircraft and speed and distance have to do with shepherds, angels, magi, and a star in the East. It has everything to do with Christmas. God has invested power, the message, and the mission of the incarnation of Jesus. On that very first Christmas, God entered our world in the person of Jesus. Jesus came for the expressed purpose of saving the world, and Jesus gave the church the mission of carrying out His purpose until He returns. In the church, the entrance of Jesus into our world continues. Our church is God’s agent for retelling the story of the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:22-23 NASB)
This scripture tells us that Jesus is the head of the church. He is not a figurehead, He is really, expressly, completely, utterly, and absolutely in the church. It is the church of Jesus Christ and it is filled with His presence. The presence of Jesus is calling His church to continue the work of ministry for which he was born more than 2000 years ago.
The power that enabled Mary, a virgin, to give birth, the power that performed miracles of healing and giving life to the crucified Jesus, the power that moved through the church in the early days is the same power that manifest itself in the church today when the church allows the presence of Jesus to enter the church.
When we strip away all of the traditions, the glitter and glamor that have become attached to the Christmas story, what we find is God born to a human (Mary) so that He can save humanity. That mission has been entrusted in the church-His church.
Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit to indwell us. This is the same spirit that impregnated Mary, healed the sick, and raised Jesus from the dead. The early church was filled with this spirit and shared the gospel with the entire known world without internet, television, or any modern communication. Isn’t it time to allow the Holy Spirit to move within His church here in Bath and have an impact on our church?
Third and finally, the birth of Jesus has an impact on me. There are others here today that, like me, learned to work with and through people to get tasks performed. One of the techniques was called “management by walking around.” While some sit in isolate offices and pour over computer print-outs and issue directives via email or memoranda, the most effective method of achieving results is to be in the middle of where things are done. God chose to become human and to live with us. He is still with us in spirit. He knows our desires, our weaknesses, and our aspirations. He knows because He has been with us in the trenches. God is not a god who is so lofty that He cannot identify with me. He came to rescue me from my sins.
There is a real-life situation that happened several years ago in California. A car was stolen and in the front seat of that car was a box of poison laced crackers. The crackers were to be used as rat-bait. The owner of the car and the police wanted to find the car and save the life of the thief. The life of the thief was of primary concern. In similar manner, Jesus was born to save my life.
Jesus tells us; Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. (Revelation 3:20 NASB)
If we answer that invitation, Jesus will come into our life and change us from the inside out. God is here with us and is ready to help us in every area of our life. He is actively, personally, and passionately here in our lives. Are we ready to release our will and allow His power to change our life?
In a few days, most of us will sit around a Christmas Tree with our families and exchange gifts. It is a tradition we have observed and known for our entire life. Yes, some may over-do with extreme presents, this tradition reflects the Christmas story.
Our presents are saying to the receiver; “I love you and I want give you a token of my love.” God goes much further than that. God says, “I love you and I’m giving you the gift of Myself this Christmas.”
That is exactly what He did in sending Jesus to us. God gave Himself to our world, our church, and to us individually. And for that we offer Him praise this Christmas season and always.