Christmas 2012 WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT CHRISTMAS?
This week the whole world shuts down for Christmas. Shops and offices have closed. There will be very few cars on the highway today. It’s amazing to me that an event that happened 2000 years ago can have that profound an impact on us today. We even date our calendar by this event. Every time you use the words “2012” the reference point is this event, the birth of Jesus Christ. What’s so special about Christmas? What’s the big deal? Today we’re going to look at 3 things. 1. The relevance of Christmas. Why is it so important? 2. The reason for Christmas. Why did God do it? 3. The result of Christmas. What difference does it make to me? 1. The Relevance of Christmas We can sum up the relevance of Christmas in one phrase – God came to earth. During World War II it was big news when the allies invaded Normandy on D-Day. But it was bigger news when God invaded earth 2000 years ago. It was big news when man walked on the moon. But it was bigger news when God walked on the earth. And not only did God come to earth but most shocking of all He came in the form of a human being. “Jesus Christ is the exact likeness of the unseen God. He existed before God made anything at all. In fact, Christ Himself is the creator who made everything.” Jesus didn’t start in the stable. His beginning was not that little manger scene. He existed before creation. In fact the Bible says He is the creator because He is God. He made you. Jesus Christ made you. He is God. We have a phrase that says, “Like father, like son.” It’s true with God. If you’ve seen the Son, if you’ve seen Jesus Christ you’ve seen God. “He became like men and was born a human being.” If I was God I wouldn’t have done it this way. I would have come to earth in a much more spectacular way. But God had another idea. He would come into this world the same way that everybody in this world came into this world – by being born into it. That shocked the angels - that God who created the universe would so humble and limit Himself and come down to earth in human form. Not only that but be born of peasant parents in a stable in a little tiny village was unthinkable. All of God's plan for the world was wrapped up in that fragile little infant. Why did He do it that way? I'll tell you why - because He came to save us not to scare us and nobody’s afraid of a baby. God could have come to earth in a lot of ways that would have freaked us out, scared us to death and made us run in terror. But He didn’t do that. He came in a way that we could all relate to because we all had that experience ourselves. We’ve all been born. The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ was in every sense a human being. When He came to earth He limited Himself so that He could become both God and man at the same time. He was born like us. He grew up like us. I don’t want to blow your stereotype but Jesus didn’t walk around in spotless white robes with a halo and a glow on His face like they show in some of these movies. He was every bit a Palestinian Jew because that’s what He was. He worked in a carpenter’s shop so He probably had well-developed muscles. He looked just like an average guy because He was. The Bible says that while He was here on earth He was tempted just like we are. He had the same struggles that I have and you have. The same temptations, the same desires, the same drives, the same problems. The Bible says He suffered just like we do. There were times when Jesus was lonely when He was tempted to be discouraged, when He was frustrated. There were times certainly when He was fatigued, very tired. That’s good news. What it means is He understands how you feel. God says, “I’ve been there. I’m not some distant God who doesn’t understand what you’re going through. I’ve been there. I came to earth and experienced what it means to be a human.” The truth is during Christmas is not a happy time for a lot of people. Christmas stirs up all kinds of negative emotions for many. Sometimes grief over loved ones who aren’t with us here any more. Sometimes depression over “Another year has passed and I’m no different.... I wanted to get married and I didn’t... My marriage problems haven’t gotten any better...” Sometimes all kinds of other difficulties and we feel sad or we feel depressed. If you feel that way this morning Jesus Christ understands. He knows exactly what you’re feeling right now. First, He made you and second, He became a human Himself. What we and billions of other people celebrate today is not the birth of some average, normal baby. This baby was God in human form. So why is Christmas a big deal? Because of its relevance. God came to earth. He came to earth as a human being and that’s what split history into A.D. and B.C. – the most significant event in history. But that’s not the good news. The good news is why He came. That’s the reason for Christmas. 2. The Reason for Christmas God came for your benefit. He came because you needed Him to come. You don’t even realise it but you needed Him to come. Why did God come to earth at Christmas? At least 4 reasons - A. Jesus came to earth to show us what God is like. There are a lot of crazy, bizarre ideas about what God is like in this world. Jesus said, “I am the truth. I came to show you what God is really like so you can know what I’m like.” By looking at nature we know God is powerful – obviously – the waves, the wind, the rotation of the earth, all the power of God that’s seen in the universe. We know that God is organised because there is order to the universe. We know that God likes variety. We know that God likes beauty. But the most important things you would never know about God except that Jesus came to tell us. Nature doesn’t teach us that God is loving. We only know that because of Jesus Christ. Nature doesn’t teach us that God is forgiving. We only know that because of Jesus Christ. Nature doesn’t teach us that God has a plan for your life, that you’re not an accident, that He put you on earth for a purpose, for a reason. Only Jesus Christ can teach us that. He is the one that lets us know what God is really like. B. Jesus came to earth to show us how to really live. Most people aren’t really living - they’re just existing. They get up in the morning, they go to work or go to school, they come home, watch TV, go to bed, do it over and over for 60, 70, 80 years and then die. They never really are fully alive. They just exist. One of the most famous statements of Jesus is “I have come that you might live life to the fullest.” Jesus didn’t say “I’ve come to make you religious.” He said “I’ve come to make you fully alive, to teach you the kind of life that God put you on the earth to live.” Until you get connected with your creator you’re not going to live that full life. You’re just going to exist. C. Jesus came to earth to show us that we can trust God. You don’t trust somebody you don’t know. You’ve got to get to know Him first before you can trust Him. The reason why you don’t trust God more is you don’t know Him. The more you know God the more you’re going to trust Him, the more you’re going to know He’s worthy of your trust, that you can count on Him, depend on Him. So you have to get to know Him first so you can learn to trust Him. D. Jesus came to earth to forgive your sins. “He became a man so that He could take away our sins.” “Though He was God He laid aside His mighty power and glory taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men. And He humbled Himself even further going so far as to actually die a criminals’ death on the cross.” Jesus Christ came to earth to die for all the things that you’ve done wrong, so you don’t have to pay for them, so you can be forgiven, so you can go free. That’s called grace and it’s the only way you’re ever going to get into heaven because none of us are perfect. It cost Jesus Christ a lot. God sacrificed a lot to do this for you. He left His eternal throne, His kingdom, His home in glory. He limited Himself, became a human being. He put up with all the aches and pains and suffering that we do even though He was God. He gave His life for us, He died on the cross. Jesus Christ didn’t stay in the manger. He went to the cross. Why did He do it? How much does God love me? Jesus Christ stretches out His hands on the cross and lets them nail Him to the cross and says, “This much. I love you this much. This is how much you matter to Me. I made you, I created you and I also die for you. That’s how much I love you.” “God showed how much He loves us by sending His only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love, that God sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” The Bible says the greatest kind of love a person can have is when you give your life for somebody else. “Greater love has no man than this than a man lay down his life for his friends.” But Jesus Christ laid down His life for you when you weren’t His friend. In fact, before you even knew Him, when you were going the opposite direction headed in a different way He gave His life for you. The reason for Christmas is for your benefit. You’ve probably the slogan “Jesus is the reason for the season.” That is true – Jesus is the reason for the season. Christmas is not about a Santa Claus. It’s about a Saviour. It’s not about jingle bells. It’s about Jesus. That’s why we celebrate this. But let me teach you a deeper truth than that. Yes, Christmas is about Jesus. He is the reason for the season but let me tell you something even deeper. You are the reason for the season. If God hadn’t known that you needed Him to come to earth and die for you He wouldn’t have done it. If you didn’t need what Jesus Christ had to offer He wouldn’t have wasted the effort. You are the reason for the season. You are the reason we celebrate Christmas. It’s God's Christmas gift to you. The relevance of Christmas - God came to earth as a human being. The reason for Christmas -He came for your benefit. 3. The Result of Christmas You can know God personally. You can have a personal relationship with the creator of the universe. God knows everything about you. He wants you to know about Him. He wants you to be His friend. He wants to be your friend. The reason you were put on this earth is to have a relationship with God. If you miss that you’ve just blown your whole life. This is the gift of Christmas. God says, “I want you to know Me like I know you.” But you have to receive the gift if it’s going to make any difference in your life. “We were restored to friendship with God by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies and we will be delivered from eternal punishment by His life. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us.” This is the most wonderful gift you will ever be given. Today you’re going to open gifts. Some of those gifts are going to be impersonal, some of them are going to be impractical, you really can’t use them, some of them are going to be temporary – they’re going to wear out or break before the day is over. None of those adjectives apply to God's gift to you. God's gift is personal. “To you is born a Saviour.” This is the most practical gift you’ll ever get. You need this gift that God has to offer you. It is priceless. Jesus Christ paid for it with His life. It is permanent. It will last forever throughout eternity. Where are you going to get a gift like that? Nowhere, except from God. If I told you that I have a gift for you and that gift will solve all your biggest problems, heal all your deepest hurts, forgive every single mistake you’ve ever made, help you understand the purpose you were put on earth for, make you a better person, fill your life with confidence and joy and peace and eternally secure your future in heaven would you be interested in a gift like that? I guess so! So let me ask you a very personal question. How many more Christmases are you going to go through before you finally accept God's gift to you? You celebrate this event year after year after year without unwrapping the biggest gift under the tree – God's gift to you – the whole purpose of this. How many more? An unopened wonderful gift is a worthless gift. Today, now, this time, don’t let another Christmas go by without accepting and unwrapping God's gift to you.