S-1467 CD/3B 12/25/2014 Hymns: (O) #95; (S) 92; L.S. #87; #647; (C) # 97
Texts: Isaiah 7:11-14; Philippians 2:5-11; John 1:1-14
Theme: “The Humbled Son of God!” (Phil. 2:6-8) 5th in sermon series on: “Humility in the Holy Land”
Question: “Why did you come to Bethlehem today?”
Faithful followers of the Savior, Merry Christmas to one and ALL! Alleluia. The text for this blessed celebration of Christmas is from the Epistle Lesson: “Jesus Christ, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross”
Oh, sweet, precious children of God. How rich we are and how blessed we are that God would choose such a lowly birth to be with us. Oh that we would peer deeply into the manger today and behold a marvelous gift—God’s own Son in the flesh. I am so excited about this event that I am getting ahead of myself.
This morning saints in Christ I wish you a very joyous and Merry Christmas. On this day, we are humbled to come to the manger of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Throughout this year’s Advent season we have heard about the Humility in the Holy Land. Through the Spirit’s power and the use of His Word, we first saw the humble prophets, who with longing eyes waited patiently to see the fulfillment of their prophecies of the coming Messiah. Yet, even though they were persecuted and laughed at and even though they never saw the fulfillment in their earthly lives they continued to proclaim the promise of a Savoir who would come to rescue God’s people from sin and death.
We traveled along the road to Bethlehem with the humbled couple who were used by God to be the parents of God’s own Son. This humbled couple trusted the promises of God and believed the words of the angel. In humility they accepted the challenge of being parents in spite of the fact this journey was not going to be an easy one. They knew what others would say about Mary being pregnant out of wedlock and Joseph taken her for a wife. They put their hopes and dreams in the humble baby which they would nurture and care for.
Last week, we visited the lowly and obscure village the HOUSE OF BREAD—Bethlehem. As we learned from Holy Scripture how the Father of all creation would use such a humble village to accomplish great things and bring forth from it a son of David who would sit on the throne of His father David forever.
Last night, we saw a marvelous and magnificent event in the skies above Bethlehem, that God would proclaim through a heavenly visitor the glorious news not to kings or princes who were in palaces and temples; but to lowly and humble shepherds that the Savior of the world has been born. PAUSE.
Now, on this glorious day, as we have been brought to the manger by the Holy Spirit, we too are humbled to see that GOD HUMBELED HIMSELF AND TOOK ON HUMAN FLESH TO BE THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD.
The facts are before us and the story is true and real. The Babe has been born. He is swaddled and nestled among the hay and in relative safety of the manger. The angels on high have sung their Gloria in Excelsis. The shepherds who were once sore afraid, have come in haste and are now rejoicing over what they have seen and heard at the direction of their good and gracious Lord. Mary is hard at work pondering in her heart all that she has experienced over the last 9 months. All of this is done. Today is Christmas. Today the world, including you and me, rejoices at the reality that we are recipients of the greatest gift of all time! God is in the flesh! Love has come down at Christmas. Joy to the world and joy to you and me! The God-Man has entered our world by a humble baby.
On this Christmas Day, remember the joy that this humbled Son of God gives to each and every sinner. The joy of this morning is still present. Even if life seems to overshadow and swallow this joy, it is still here. It is still here because the Lord is here. On this day it is critical that we take a moment and linger at the Manger. We can’t be distracted by the cuteness of the baby. Look closely. What you see is remarkable. You see in the face of this infant the very face of God. The tiny hands that wrap themselves around Mary’s finger were instrumental in the creation of the entire universe! This is God in the flesh! Almighty God is an infant. The Creator becomes the creature. The infinite becomes finite located within space and time. When you stand at the manger and ponder like Mary ponders, the wonder of Christmas doesn’t fade so quickly. In the most humble of packages, we see the most magnificent, marvelous and majestic gift of all time for all people everywhere! PAUSE.
But why would God do this? What would make the King of Kings and Lord of Lords humble Himself and become a baby? It would seem that God has come to go slumming with His people. As we gaze in the manger we can be certain that this is not the case! As author Chad Bird makes clear:
The incarnation is not so much God-made-small as it is man-made-big. The God who made man in His own image outdoes Himself: He makes Himself into His own image and thereby exalts us. Jesus becomes what you are—a woman’s child—that He might make you what He is—a son of the Father. That’s what this is all about. One small step for God, one giant leap for mankind. He becomes no less, but we become infinitely more in Him. Within the womb of Mary, something new happens under the sun. A woman is pregnant with God, by God, for us. Conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, Jesus issues forth as the first man of a new race. This race calls God Father, and means it. For in the fullness of time, He sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
This is the God—the God-made-man—you need. He is the Lord you have. He gives purity to the depraved, life to the dead, salvation to you under hell’s thumb. He did not come to save the trees or the spotted owl. He was not born to rid the world of hunger or stop the ravages of war. He came to be for every man what no man has been or could be for himself. Born under the law, Jesus fulfilled the law He Himself had given. He was the perfect infant, perfect teenager, perfect adult. He bore your flesh and blood along through every stage of life, bearing it to the cross, bearing it out of the grave. And all of it is credited to you. You—perfect infant; you—perfect teenager; you—perfect adult, all in Jesus. For God so loved the world, He strapped the world to the back of His Son, so that where He went and what He did, you went and you did also.
This is all wrapped up in this humble gift. Just like the tiny atom when split gives off tremendous power, so this Baby Jesus, so sweet and small an unassuming has more than enough power to overcome the world. He can overcome the world because He made it. He comes to overcome this world of sin and death for one clear purpose: to give you joy!
The joy that this Christ Child brings to you and me is so much bigger than the joy that the world is selling today. In fact, that is part of the world’s problem! Our Christmas is too small! When our Christmas is too small, too located in Bethlehem our joy is too soon gone. For there is so much of our lives that are lived in the wilderness of life. If Christmas and Bethlehem are but an oasis in the wilderness of life, it too easily becomes a mirage. This is especially true because in the wilderness is where our bank account runs out of money before we run out of month. In the wilderness is where those routine medical tests give less than routine answers. In the wilderness the faithful spouse wanders and the golden child rebels. When our Christmas and our Savior is too small, the world overruns it like a rampaging army!
But thanks be to God, that He humbled Himself and came to overcome our wilderness and give His wonder forever. In Humility He came to be our Savior and Redeemer. In love He adopted us—to be His very own. In mercy He forgave and in grace He wraps us with His garment of salvation and sends us out on our way rejoicing.
No wonder everyone makes a big deal out of Christmas—because it is! It is for you in the humble Son of God who made your heart His manger for today and always. A very Merry BIG Christmas to you and yours! Amen.
Now the peace…
SOLI DEO GLORIA