S-1157 12/25/05 CD/3C Hymns (O)87; (S) #370 LSB; L.S. #647; #310; (C) #94
Texts: Isaiah 52:7-10; Hebrews 1:1-9; John 1:1-14
Theme: “The Blessings of Knowing Him” (John 1:10).
Question: “Do You Know the Lord?”
SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Christmas Day is from the Gospel Lesson: “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him” (John 1:10).
Introduction: In Nomine Iesu
Merry Christmas People of God, Beloved of the Lord. I know a lot of people. A lot people know me. Some I know about, others I know very well. And so do you. Some of the people you know or heard about, and others you know extremely well. Many of us know Bret Favre the Quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings. We know him as a great football player, has had a long career and made amazing plays; but we really don’t know Him. Sure we know things about him because we followed his career. But honestly, how well do we know Bret Farve?
Today, John speaks to us about the sad commentary in his gospel about the GIFT of heaven. That when Jesus came to the world the world didn’t know Him, recognize Him, worship or adore Him. Oh, yes, they heard of Jesus the Nazarene. They heard of the Man from Galilee who could do many wonders. They heard of the Galilean Prophet, but they really didn’t know Him because their eyes were closed by the darkness of sins and the filth in their hearts.
But today, dear Christian friends, we will dig deeper, climb higher, and scan wider to know the One who came as the Gift of heaven to the manger bed so that we may know Him as the Eternal One who came from the Father. The Apostle Paul put it this way: “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better” (Eph. 1:17). And again, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death.” (Phil. 3:10). Paul is asking us not only to know about Jesus, but know Him intimately, joyfully, faithfully and completely as the GIFT of heaven—that He would come from Eternity unto eternity to save us.
How well do you know Jesus? Are your prayers like Paul “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection?” This is the ultimate—that we would know Him as the Savior who came to earth and closed Himself with human flesh. PAUSE.
“To know Him [Jesus] is to love Him.” This is an old saying. But you know what? It is not that we know Him, but rather that He knows us. And for us who are clothed by sin flesh and death, it is impossible to know Him. He reveals Himself to us in His Life-Giving Word. For everything that we know, everything that we have, everything that we own and possess will grow older, grayer, break down and fade away. Correct? Remember when I came 16 years ago? What was the color of my hair? Pure black. I am getting older; I am getting grayer and feel the aches and pains of age (just like you). There is nothing in this world that we know and have that is not going to fade away or break down.
But the GIFT of heaven is from Eternity to Eternity. For the Babe of Bethlehem, in that magnificent prayer taught us saying: For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen. PAUSE.
HE KNOWS US. He knows us intimately. Even as we confessed in the confession this morning; do you remember what you read? He is not repelled by our sin, yet comes among us from Eternity, and clothes Himself with humanity so that He might make of us—the dust of the earth eternal dwelling places for Him in Paradise.
How well do you know the Savior? Sure you might know things about Him. You may know the miracles. But how intimately do you really know Him? Do you know Him fully, completely, intimately as your personal Savior? Do you know Him as the Lord of heaven and earth who reveals Himself from Eternity unto eternity?
You and I might know a lot of information. We might have statistics about football players, BB players, and Baseball players even about the Presidents. We might know all of these things, but they count for naught unless you know Him intimately, completely and joyfully. That is the great blessing that you and I have as the Redeemed people of God who have been called out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Sometimes we boast, “Oh, yes, I know the Lord! Oh, yes, I worship Him and adore Him!” But how many times do we deny that we really know Him? Consider Peter—the Great Apostle—that “rock.” What did he do in the moment of need? Remember what he said in John 18? “I DON’T KNOW THE MAN!!!” Peter, the Great Apostle denied that he knew the Savior. Don’t we act just like Peter at times? How many times do we act and think that we really know about the Lord, but we really don’t.
Last October, my wife and I were part of the SD District Pastors Conference in Rapid City. For our entertainment night, we had a cowboy poet who shared with us some of his writings. I would like to share with you part of a poem that he wrote titled the “Sortin Gate” Listen carefully to what I am about to read as we connect this together:
On the ranch it’s where decisions are made
Of a life been lived and dues been paid.
Where every an animal is judged to determine its fate
By the hand that swings the sortin’ gate.
Now boys, I’m no sky pilot”—
I punch cows to draw my pay.
Yet I believe there’s a reason
the Lord has allowed our trails to cross today.
I don’t understand life’s mysteries,
but one thing I can state
When we go to that last roundup,
There will be a sortin’ gate.
We are created by a perfect God
who can tolerate no sin
Only those who ride for Jesus’ brand,
heaven’s gate will enter in.
Because God made Him who had no sin
to be the sin for us
So that through Him we might become
God’s own righteousness.
The price was paid upon the cross
for our victory in the end.
No greater love has any man
than to give his life for a friend.
And Jesus said, “I Am the Way, the Truth, and The life.
No one comes to the Father but through Me.”
The devil and his legions are spreading pain and strife
and they’re saying, “It’s all a lie, Boys, wait and see.’
We prepare a horse for battle
but victory is for the Lord.
Open up His book and study His word
and it will be your sword.
Not all who are crying out Lord, Lord
are living by His ways,
and their hearts are just as black
as the mavericks, slicks and strays.
The herds will all be gathered—
They’ll be there from ever land—
With the purpose of determining
Ownership by brand.
For some, the trail is long and winding;
For some, it’s short and strait—
But it’s “who” you know, not “what” you know,
When you reach that sortin’ gate.
Printed by permission from R.P. Smith, A Ride Through Rhyme And other Cowboy Poems (Field Mouse Productions Grand Island, ne pp. 23-24).
Did you get it? PAUSE. Did you get it? It’s “Who” you know that matters. It’s not what you know. Today, beloved in Christ we unpack the GIFT of Christmas. That God loved us for who we are NOT because of what we do. He came in flesh from Eternity to Eternity so that we might be with Him forever and ever. Today, we unpack, unwrap, and unravel the mystery of the Incarnation that God would become man, lay in a manger, grow up and go to the Cross so that we might know Him intimately.
How well do you know the Lord? “Open the Book” R. P. Smith said, study it. For in that Book you will learn not only the miracles of Jesus, but of the Mystery that God would come to us (a miracle in itself). He comes to us so that we might know Him intimately, because He wants to be known. That is why Christmas is so special. That is why we celebrate it. That is why we gather together as family. If you listen to the advertisements on the Radio and TV, people talk about what makes Christmas so special. (What do you think? My people respond out loud because I motion for them to do so).
Here are some of the comments. You may add your own answers to the list. Families getting together. It’s all of the preparations of cooking and making goodies. It’s the powdery stuff (we have 20 inches of it outside). It’s the ringing in the cash registers. Is that really what Christmas is all about? If that is all, we are poor people pitted more than any human beings.
You see it is indeed wonderful to have family getting together. It is wonderful to have my grandchild (trying to outdo me during the sermon). It is wonderful to be together over the holidays. But some of you who have had families can’t wait for them to leave. It’s not about families getting together; it’s not baking the cookies and decorating the house that makes Christmas or opening the gifts, you have the wrong idea because you don’t know Him.
But to know Him intimately, is to realize that He is YOUR SAVIOR and LORD. As the prophet Isaiah told us: “God comforted us by giving us a double portion of His grace for our sins.” Do you know Him? Yes, you do!! That is why you are here today in spite of the snow. You know Him. You come to this place to be comforted. Because the trail for us is sometimes long and tedious, sometimes is hard and sometimes it’s painful.
Yes, everything that we have; everything precious that we have someday will wear out like a garment; like a tie that goes out of style; like a car that breaks down. Even loved one that we have someday will put into the ground.
From Eternity to Eternity God knows us by name, claims us as His very own and shares with us the Hope of Eternal Life. What a joy and what a blessing to know Him intimately, but of greater blessing that He KNOWS US; AND LOVES US JUST THE SAME. PAUSE.
Isn’t wonderful to have Christmas? Isn’t wonderful that from Eternity God comes to us to love us, and to share with us the Greatest GIFT—His Only Begotten Son? We are indeed blessed. Why? Because we know Him and because HE KNOWS US! Amen.
Now the peace…