Christmas Eve 2015 – What Child is This?

Recognizing the Biblical Connection between Jesus’ Birth and Our Sin

AUDIO (20 minutes):

Pastor Dan – (Transcription)
Well it’s Christmas Eve… and I’ve been thinking all week long about the reality that the majority of the people here tonight will have heard all of the passages of Scripture that pertain to Jesus being born…

And I started thinking to myself you know, I don’t think I’m going to be able to say anything new about Jesus’s birth.

And so I hope you don’t mind I’ve taken the liberty to do something a little bit different.  We’re going to go to the Book of Exodus and we’re going to talk about Moses’s birth tonight… is that going to be all right with you guys? (LAUGHTER)

Well… by  a show of hands how many of you would like to hear a sermon about Jesus’ birth?

OK.  Yikes.  OK.  It’s going to… how many of you are awake enough to rate… ?

How many of you would like to hear a sermon about Moses birth?  OK.. alright there’s a few actually.

That means that what we’re gonna have to do… I just want you to realize that if we do a sermon about Jesus’ birth, the sermon notes that I have are about Moses birth and so we’re down to no sermon notes so that might mean a short sermon tonight.

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Now in all seriousness to take a look at Jesus’s birth tonight, I want to go back to the passage which we read earlier in our service, and first thank our praise team for for setting up our time together so well by ending with a song, What Child Is This? … because it really raises a good question doesn’t it … who is this?  That’s the the focus of our of our time together tonight… what child is this?

And I know that many of you have heard messages after message about this topic and I hope to be able to say something tonight that might be new.

Actually I mean maybe really it’s not about me saying anything that’s new.  Maybe it’s far more about God deciding.  Maybe it’s far more about God deciding that tonight is going to be the night that you hear it afresh, in a new way.

To take us to a passage in the book of Matthew… let’s look at these first couple verses starting verse eighteen.  The Scripture tells us this, it’s what we read earlier.

Matthew 1:18-20
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.
19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.

Let’s pause there.

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You know, when it comes to the chaos and the craziness of Christmas season, every household needs you know  “The Organizer”.  And I found that when it comes to knowing where we’re supposed to be as a family; when we’re supposed to be there; what we’re supposed to bring and how we’re supposed to be dressed, us men are… what do they say “a little late to the party“.

I mean, my wife literally helps us to survive through the Christmas season.  Men if you have a someone in your life–a wife in your life who helps you to get through the Christmas season, will join me, just taking the time right now on the count of three let’s just say thank you together.  One two three…

“Thank you!

We have one wife who didn’t hear anything from her husband and she’s walking out right now… it seems (LAUGHTER).

And the reason I bring this up is because when it comes to the Biblical story about Joseph, I think you might say the same thing about Joseph… you might suggest that Joseph was sort of a little bit late to the party.  If you will.

I mean here he is being introduced as someone who really is kind of clueless as to what’s happening.  He doesn’t know where this child is coming from.  He doesn’t know who this child is, or where this child is going; he doesn’t know anything about this.

In fact, this passage tells us that he is about to divorce the woman whom God chose to have Jesus be born through.

He is late to the party. 

He’s got no idea what’s going on… and then the Scripture tells us an angel shows up and tells him, “Hey, this is OK, what Mary told you…”, Mary must of obviously had a conversation with him earlier, “What Mary told you is absolutely true.”

You know this sort of raises this question about God’s timing doesn’t?

When I when I looked at this passage and was thinking about this, I couldn’t help but think that Joseph had to be wondering,

“You know thank you for that information, but that would have been really helpful, like several days ago before Mary had this conversation with me. “

And you could suggest the same thing for Mary as well… Mary might have been saying,

“You know,  I appreciate the fact that you told Joseph, but it would have been really nice had you told him before I had to tell him.”

Why couldn’t God have just told him at the same time the same night?  

I thought about preaching the whole message tonight on God’s timing, but I don’t think that that really gets to the heart of of the Christmas story.

But I did share that because I was thinking there might be someone here tonight who needs to hear that… who needs to be reminded this Christmas season, that God’s timing may not always be what you want it to be, but it is always right, and it is always good.

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I think the real heart of the Christmas passage though is found in the very next verse where the Scripture tells this,

Matthew 1:21
She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, …”

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Now if you have one of those fancy Bibles that tells you extra things besides what the actual Scripture says, your fancy Bible will tell you that Jesus… Jesus was a Jewish man.

Jesus is a Jewish, a Hebrew name… and it has a Greek equivalent to it–Joshua–and Joshua means, “The Lord Saves”.

So the Scripture says this,

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, (the Lord Saves) because he will save his people from their (what Church? )… sins.”

You see, if we’re going to have any hope of grasping in our hearts and in our minds the true significance of Christmas and Jesus’ birth…  we’re going to have to recognize the Biblical connection between Jesus’s birth, and our sin.

The Biblical connection between Jesus’s birth and our sin… because that’s after all why exactly He came. 

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You know there is perhaps nothing more hypocritical than a group of people gathering together for church on Christmas Eve, and celebrating … and worshiping, while forgetting their sin. 

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There’s perhaps nothing more hypocritical than a group of people getting all dressed up and fancy for Christmas Eve … now I’m not I’m not mocking you for getting dressed up… I went to Kohls and I bought a new shirt and a new pair of shoes today.

(pause)

I’m sorry, I left a “pause” because I was anticipating someone complimenting me at this point and time (LAUGHTER). No? …OK.

But on a more serious note, there perhaps nothing more hypocritical than a church gathering together, worshiping God, and celebrating Jesus’s birth and getting all dressed up, and pretending to be all high and mighty, pretending as if it’s not a group of people that it has done things this year that it’s ashamed of … pretending as if it’s not a group of people who have done things this month, this week, today that they are ashamed of… pretending to be a group of people that have all of their relationships, all of their finances in complete order and they aren’t addicted to anything.

 

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There’s nothing more hypocritical than a church gathering together to worship Jesus on Christmas Eve and all of that celebrating his birth and pretending as if we don’t have real sin in our life because Jesus’s birth is Biblically connected to our sin.

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Now if you here tonight and you’re on the peripheral of church maybe a skeptic of the whole idea of Christianity.  You might appreciate the fact that I just took the time to call out the hypocrisy of the church.

But you may also find yourself a little bit troubled by the reality that, here we go, I knew it… if I accepted an invitation to go to church, all they were going to talk to me about is how much of a sinner I am.

Let me tell you… I’m not interested in focusing on you and me being sinners… I’m interested in getting to the idea that Jesus was born to be the one who rescued us from our sins. 

But the latter really doesn’t make a lot of sense until we embrace the former… right?

 

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I went to a church once, it was an Easter service, a big Church, mega church, like ten thousand people who gathered there.  And they had this wonderful production, and great music, and the pastor got up and he was speaking… and he was just he was an incredibly gifted speaker; I mean the kind of person that I can’t even look at and aspire to be as good as him.

He had the church laughing, and had them engaged, he had them crying, and over and over again he repeatedly told them about how Jesus had died for them, and how He loved them and how He wanted to have a relationship with them, and he said that over and over again… and the whole service came and went and not a single person in the whole service ever said the word sin”.

Apparently it’s not like a cool word to say at large churches.

But you know what… I wanted to get up and say.  Is there not anyone smart enough to ask the question…

“Why did Jesus die for me?”

What’s that have to do with me?  Why do you want me to get excited about that?  What’s the big deal about Jesus dying for me??  I didn’t ask him to do that.  I don’t need him to do that.

And I was thinking, maybe there was someone here on Christmas Eve who might have been thinking a similar thing.  Why do you want me to get all excited about Jesus being born? …coming and rescuing me from my sin… I didn’t ask for that.  I don’t want that.  I don’t need someone to rescue me from my sin. 

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Well let me let me tell you if that’s you this evening… you need to know that I’ve been praying today… that God, and our gathering tonight… that God will whisper LOUDLY to you, in a way that only He can…

“Yes_you_do.”

I’m going to pull up a verse of Scripture, it’s from the Book of Romans, Chapter six, verse twenty three.

This passage of Scripture is one that we looked at briefly in our Sunday morning gathering service this past weekend.  And the beginning of the Scripture says,

Romans 6:23
“for the wages of sin is death.”

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For the wages of sin is death… you know there’s some interesting observations about this passage because it doesn’t get any more specific… it’s just incredibly generic, and all-encompassing.

It doesn’t take the time to try to distinguish between people and how much sin they commit and what sins they commit.  It doesn’t say,

“Well if you’ve sinned this many times, you have less than ten percent of a chance of getting to heaven.”

(Transcriber is laughing)

You know it doesn’t say.

  • “If you’ve sinned this many times, then you’re probably 50/50.
  • You know, “if you’ve sinned this few of times then you probably have an 80% chance of getting into heaven”… it doesn’t say that.
  • It doesn’t say, “Do you know that if you’ve committed murder you have a less than 10% chance of getting into heaven”.
  • It doesn’t say that “if you’ve committed adultery, then you have a 50/50 chance of getting into heaven depending on how your spouse was treating you”
  • It doesn’t say that“if you were lying you have a 70-90% chance of getting into heaven depending on whether you are lying for your own good or someone else’s good.”  

It doesn’t get into all those details it just says”. 

“For the wages of sin is death.”

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And I think what God is trying to communicate to you and I loudly and clearly is this:

If you can comprehend that a god exists… can you not also comprehend the fact that you have at some point in time in your life, in some way, “Committed Sin”… and the wages of that, the consequences of that is death.

And not just the fact that we experience death here in this life… but it talks about where we will and where we won’t spend all of eternity as well.

You see that the stakes are incredibly high when it comes to someone coming and rescuing us from_our_sin.

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And I think the beauty then in this passage is really found in the next couple verses.  It says this in verse 22-23

 Matthew 1:22-23
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”(which means “God with us”).

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Do you see what the Scripture’s trying to say, is “not that just some man named Jesus came to die on the Cross for our sins to rescue us from our sins… but that it was a God himself who came to rescue us, to deliver us to take our sins away from us.”

Now if you think about that concept… that is one that is very contrary to many of our understandings of who God is.  I mean do we naturally associate God as being someone who decreases our sin, our guilt?

Or do not most of us naturally think of God as being someone who increases our sinincreases our guiltputs a heavier burden on us.

I don’t know if that’s because of maybe the church that you grew up in, or the Christian family you grew up in, or the Christian friends that you’ve encountered, or the media you’ve been exposed to… or maybe you just need to own the fact that you’ve placed that label on God.

But many people think that God is someone who doesn’t take away, who doesn’t decrease, but he’s someone who increases guilt, who increases sin, who increases burden.

And the scripture saying no, Christmas is about God coming to deal with our sins, to take our sins away, to rescue us from our sins

That’s what this thing’s all about. 

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And maybe there’s someone here tonight who… you don’t need to be convinced that you need a savior of your sinMaybe there’s someone here tonight who needs to be convinced that what Jesus did is actually sufficient for what you’ve done.

Because quite frankly you’ve done things that you can’t tell anyone about.  You’ve done things that other people maybe have found out and have been unwilling to forgive you for.  You’ve done things that you haven’t been able to forgive yourself for.  And you cannot imagine how God has forgiven you. 

Let me ask you something.

If God is the one who set out to forgive us, to rescue us from our sinshow many times out of TEN would you bet on God when he sets out to do something that he would accomplish it?

I don’t know about you, but me… TEN out of TEN .. every time.  When the profound part of this passage of the Emanuel is the fact that this is the Scripture telling us that God is the one who set out to rescue us from our sins and He always accomplishes what he sets out to do.

So I can say with 100% confidence this evening, that if you have trusted, not in yourself, but would trust in Jesus Christ: His birth and his life and his death… then your sins are forgiven.

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Now that might make some of you angry or upset…  and you’re thinking, “How can you say that, you don’t know what I’ve done.  You don’t know what I did this year.  You don’t know what I’ve done this month.  You don’t know what I did today.  You don’t know the things that I thought and the things that I’ve wanted to do.  You don’t know any of that how can you say that?”

“How can you possibly say that when you don’t know any of those things that I’ve done?  I don’t believe for a second that God can forgive me… I don’t believe for a second that what Jesus has done is actually capable of forgiving all that I’ve done.  I don’t think that that’s true.”

Let me tell you if that’s you… then you need know …

…my prayer tonight is that God would whisper loudly as only he can do.  “Yes it is… yes I can!”

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There’s a wonderful opportunity tonight to celebrate communion together.  This is intended to be of Jesus himself, a visible reminder of the fact that the Emmanuel accomplished what he set out to do… that indeed there is the forgiveness of sins found through the birth in the life, and the death of Jesus Christ.

It’s real privilege of mine to be able to invite you to participate in the Table with us together tonight.

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This time I want to ask our elders who are going to be helping to serve, to come up as we prepare together.

We’re going to do things maybe a little bit different than we would on the typical Sunday morning.  As music plays we’re going to just invite you to come forward and rip a piece of bread that we’ll have it available for you… dip it in the cup, take it right whenever you would feel like you’d like to.  And then go back to your seats.

We invite people to come down to the center and form two lines and come back out this way.

We want to let you know that this is not Kirkmont’s Table … it’s not a Presbyterian table… I’m certainly not the host of the table.

We believe that Jesus Christ is the host of this table.  And therefore we invite all those people who have placed their trust in Jesus Christ as the one who came to rescue them from their sins.

Maybe that’s you.

And I don’t know… and I don’t want to be presumptuous, but maybe that’s you tonight for the first time… you’re welcome to come to the table.  We’re inviting you to come and to participate with us this evening in this visible reminder of what Christ has done for us.

And so the Scripture tells us that on the night that Jesus was betrayed he dined with his disciples and He had given thanks for the bread.

Broke it then… in plain view of his disciples saying to them,

“This bread it represents my body which is broken for you.”

And then invited them…. commanded them to do this and remembrance of him.

And the Scripture tells us that is likewise in a similar manner.  as the supper came near to an end… having given thanks for the Cup as well…

Jesus then held it in plain view of the disciples saying to them,

“Drink from this cup all of you.  This cup it represents a new covenant which is my blood shed for many, for the forgiveness of sin.”

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  Link to Kirkmont Presbyterian Church Website
http://www.kirkmont.org/

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