Sunday, December 25, 2011

Immanuel: God with us.

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to his own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luke 2:1-7

At our church we have been taking the last few weeks to celebrate Advent and look at the world Jesus entered into. He came to a world we have described as being full of fear, full of doubt, a world that was with out HOPE, a world that was out of control and in need of rescue. We talked about the great LOVE of a God who would move heaven and earth to reveal himself and his plan to us. We talked just last week about the JOY that we discover that comes from this savior. And today people and churches across the world are reading this story, talking about this baby, celebrating this day. Today is the Christ Mass, and Christians and non-Christians alike are celebrating worldwide. Christmas is a big deal, you can’t miss it today, but that’s not the way the first Christmas was. When Jesus came the first time, in the first Advent, the world around him barely even noticed.
He came peacefully.
The angels that were heard on high, came to the field where the shepherds were. The star that guided the wise men was something the people in the area didn’t even notice! There were no billboards, there were no breaking news announcements. He didn’t rent out the palace. there were no fireworks or broadcast proclamations in the city. If we look back to Matthew, Herod didn’t even know he had been born! He most likely cried like any baby, but he came peacefully and with little fanfare.

He still comes in that way. He could overpower us with his power, and glory. When the angels came, even the diminished glory they radiated left everyone terrified, or sore afraid. But the King, God himself, left that all behind. He took on flesh, as the incarnation, and came as a helpless baby boy. He came peacefully. He still does.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
- Revelation 3:20 (ESV)
He comes in our sickness, our pain, our distress, our busyness, and says:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
-Matthew 11:28-30
When he came he came quietly, but he also came personally.
He came personally.
When he came he didn’t write a message in the clouds, he didn’t send everyone a mass marketed letter, he came personally. Now the wise men and shepherds they sought him out, they were seeking the truth and they found him and when they did they were personally changed. Mary and Joseph were personally changed. When the wise men left they and went home their lives took on a new direction. The Messiah came personally and he changed their perspectives. When the shepherds left they turned into unashamed personal evangelists, proclaiming that everything they had been told was true. Mary and Joseph were obviously very changed, in that way new parents are always changed. Some things remained the same, the wise men still had their role to fill, their jobs didn’t change and they still had a long and dangerous ride home. The shepherds were still shepherds, we read no where that because they found the Messiah, that all their problems came to an end. But we do see that they were individually and personally changed, even if their circumstances remained the same. They came seeking the satisfaction of their curiosity, they left living lives of worship in him. He came quietly, he came personally, and their lives were changed. As a counselor, I can tell you one thing with certanty, life change never comes easy. But hese men who met the Messiah, their lives were changed! Which tells you one thing...
He came powerfully.
He came quietly, he came personally, and he came powerfully. I want to share a video with you that illustrates the power that this infant came in.
He came purposefully.
When he came there was a point, mankind, you and I, the prize of all creation, was lost in sin with no way out. Jesus came, He lived the perfect life, he died the perfect death, and he Rose from the grave to complete his perfect plan for our salvation and for His glory. This is what we celebrate today, the truth that this salvation is for all who would believe. This is what Christmas is really all about. Take time today to reflect on the true meaning of this season, and may you have a truly blessed and Merry Christmas.

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