Sermon:  The Meaning of His Birth

Summary:  There is no warrant from God to celebrate Christmas as a holy day any more 
than there was a warrant to celebrate Hannukah.  However, following the example of Christ 
at Hannukah, this would be a good opportunity to use it as an opportunity to teach the truth 
concerning his birth, life, death, and resurrection.  Jesus came into the world as a human to 
be a mediator as a merciful and faithful High Priest.  Our only hope is to follow him as our 
Lord and Savior.

Know:  Christians can use certain holidays to teach their lost friends the truth about Christ, 
the Gospel, and our condition.

Feel:  The desire to find opportunities to teach the Gospel

Do:  Reflect on the meaning of the birth of Christ in the flesh, and how there might be opportunities 
during this season to share it with family, friends, and neighbors.

Text:  Heb 2:9-18; 4:14-16

Scripture Reading:  Col 1:13-17

1.  Read about a missionary who worked hard to "identify" with native culture
	a.  If he could identify with them, could really connect with them with 
	b.  Ate like, dressed, like, spoke like, and even smelled like them
	c.  In spite of all of this, he was still not one of them
	d.  He could not crawl into their skin and become one of them
2.  However, Jesus did become flesh and become one of us
	a.  Jn 1:14 - Gospel of John began this way - Word became flesh
		- He dwelt among us as one of us
		- He has "explained" God by demonstrating God
	b.  Gospel of John demonstrated that he is the focal point of everything
		- He is the lamb of God who takes away sins of the world
		- He is the new temple, where we meet God
		- He is the one of whom the scriptures testify of
		- He is the bread of life
		- He is the one who gives living water
		- He is the good shepherd
		- He is the resurrection and the life, the way, truth, and life
		- He is the true vine
	c.  We have now come to a major turning point in the Gospel
	d.  John 17, last words Jesus says before his arrest
3.  Let's pause and review what has happened so far…

I.  Gospel began with his birth
	A.  Birthday's are a special time in our culture - we celebrate them
		1.  Celebrate our own birthdays, and even birthday's of famous 
		     dead people, many have chosen to celebrate Jesus' birth
		2.  Many people's disposition changes around this time of year
			- Life slows down, many pause enjoy simple pleasures of life
			- People feel benevolent, give gifts to poor, work soup 
			- Glittering lights everywhere, people sing, etc.  
		3.  On the other hand, many disposition are negative
			- All about the shopping deals, what gifts to get, 
			- Some get extremely lonely
		4.  What is this all about really?
	B.  How should Christians deal with Christmas, or any other holiday?
		1.  Legitimate question - The holiday didn't come from God
			a.  Older than Christianity, - Germanic and Celtic tribes
			b.  Worshipped sun, moon, stars for changing of seasons to 
			     ensure the return of the burning wheel (sun)
			c.  This season of worship called "Yule" season, and used 
			     holly, mistletoe, evergreen wreaths, signs of perpetual life
			d.  Many of these relics still with us today, but Christianized
		2.  Christmas came centuries after Christ
			a.  First celebration of his birth was about the 5th century
			b.  11th century, it was called the "Christ-mass" (Christmas)
			c.  Lots of excess baggage arose - Santa Claus, etc…
			d.  None of this was instructed by God
		3.  So should Christians reject it?
			a.  Should they ignore it?
			b.  Should they skip Christmas vacation, gifts, holiday bonus, 
			     and other benefits of the season?
			c.  Can certainly choose to do so, nothing wrong with that
	C.  Let me suggest what I believe to be a better approach
		1.  Don't ignore it, but understand it
			a.  It falls under the heading of "tradition"
			b.  It is not a day that is holy to the Lord
			c.  To declare it a holy day is to give a meaning to it that God 
			     did not
			d.  Only holy day would be the "Lord's Day"
		2.  Ask - What would Jesus do?
			a.  But Christmas didn’t exist!  But there is Hannukah  
				- Hannukah means "dedication"
				- Originally known as the "Feast of Dedication"
				- Many also call it the "Feast of Lights"
			b.  Origin in the intertestamenal period
				-  Temple captured by Antiochus Epiphanes 
				   (sacrificed pig on altar)
				-  Judas Maccabees recaptured and rededicated it 
				   164 B.C. - 
				- 100 years of Jewish independence
				- To commemorate it - Feast of Dedication
			c.  Hannukah is not mentioned anywhere in your O.T.
				- Like Christmas, it is a man-made holiday
				- God never instructed them to observe it
			d.  It has excess baggage as well
		3.  So what - Jesus rebuked the people for teaching as doctrine the 
		     commands of men
		4.  However, this feast is mentioned in the N.T. (John 10:22-24)
			a.  What did Jesus do?
			b.  What he did NOT do
				- Condemn their practice
				- Boycott the celebration
			c.  What he did do
				- Used it as an opportunity to teach
				- On Jewish independence day, Jesus teach about 
				   Messiah and faith
			d.  See I Cor. 9:19-23 - Paul understood this principle
				- Become like them but not of them
				- Why?  To teach the Gospel
	D.  Conclusion:  Nothing is demanded or denounced in regard to 
	     Christmas as a "tradition"
		1.  Good opportunity to teach, to teach someone
		2.  Good time to remind people of the true meaning of the 
		     birth of Christ
		3.  With that in mind, I will reflect on the meaning of his birth

II.  Word became flesh
	A.  Let that sink in for just a moment
		1.  Jesus existed BEFORE
			a.  He was with God, he was God
			b.  Col 1:16-17 - By him all things made, and are held 
			c.  He is God
		2.  Then, he came into the world…as a baby
			a.  Born in a typical working class family
			b.  Totally dependent on those whom he created
			c.  He becomes vulnerable
				- Could scrape a knee and bleed
				- Had to learn to eat, walk, talk
				- May have even had pimples
			d.  What an amazing journey, to become a baby!
		3.  Remember looking at each of our young boys when babies, 
		     always check hands, feet
		4.  Is everything there?  For Jesus it was all there
	B.  Jesus participated in our humanity as one of us
		1.  It means that our Lord Jesus had a mouth
			a.  This was the mouth that gave the words of life
				- He spoke the word, official's son was healed - 4:50
				- His words are spirit and life - 6:63
				- He has the words of eternal life - 6:68
				- If we keep his word, we will not see death - 8:51
			b.  This was the mouth that spoke with authority over 
			     sickness, demons, and even death
				- Healed the sick - 9:1ff
				- Cast out demons by commanding them - 
				- Raised Lazarus from the dead - 11:1ff
			c.  This was the mouth that spoke out against injustice, 
			      unrighteousness, hypocrisy
				- Spoke out against blindness of Pharisees - 9:41
				- Called them thieves and robbers - 10:1
				- Pronounced woes on hypocritical Pharisees - Mt 
			d.  This was the mouth that spoke kindly concerning sinners 
				- Forgave adulterous woman, said go and sin no more 
				- Forgave sins of many others who came to him, Mk 2
				- Said - "Father forgive them, they know not what they 
				   do" from the cross - Lk 23:34
			e.  Imagine the mouth of the Lord, speaking to you
		2. It means that he had eyes
			a.  Eyes that noticed a poor widow putting in two cents into 
			     the treasury - Mk 12:42
			b.  Saw people like Tax Collector Matthew, and called them - 
			     Mt 9:9
			c.  Eyes that had compassion on multitudes, like sheep 
			     without a shepherd - Mt 9:36
			d.  Eyes that shed tears at Lazarus' grave - 11:35
			e.  Imagine, the eyes of the Lord, seeing you
		3.  It means that he had feet
			a.  Walk on water - Mk 6:47ff
			b.  Walked to Samaria. Decapolis, Jn 4:1f; Mk 5:20; 7:31
				- To a well in Samaria, spoke to a woman about thirst
				- To the Decapolis, Gentile area, taught people there
			c.  Walked to where people needed him
				-  Ate with Tax Collectors and Sinners - Mt 9:11
			d.  Walked resolutely to his death, for us
				- At the end, resolutely went to Jerusalem, Mk 10:32
				- Warned his disciples what would happen to him
				- He walked obediently, courageously, and lovingly
			e.  Imagine, the feet of the Lord walking toward you
		4.  It means that he had hands
			a.  Touched the lepers, sick, hurting, Mk 1:41-42; 7:33; 
			b.  Touched coffin of a dead man, raised him, Lk 7:14
			c.  Touched the children, blessed them - Mk 10:13ff
			d.  Touched disciples at transfiguration when fell down on 
			      faces, do not be afraid - Mt 17:7
			e.  Hands and feet Nailed to a Roman Cross
			f.  Imagine, being healed by the touch of Christ
	C.  ILL:  At Mardel's - Saw a picture of little boy Jesus
		1.  Was about 4 or 5 in the picture
		2.  Was in his Dad's carpenter shop
			a.  Dad was working at the bench
			b.  At his feet, Jesus was playing with the nails
		3.  Looking at it brought a rush of emotion
			a.  Powerful picture of what this little boy was destined for
			b.  Jesus didn't come to just be born, but to save us
	D.  Could Mary have known all that was going to happen when born?
		1.  Simeon said that a sword would pierce her own soul
		2.  However, his death would not be defeat, but victory

III.  The significance for us
	A.  Not so we could have Christmas, or a nativity story
		- Something much more deeper, more cosmic
	B.  Some verses
		1.  (Tit 2:5-6) - The "man" Christ Jesus became our mediator
			a.  Isa 59:2 - Need mediator, because sins came between us 
			     and God
			b.  Rom 3:23 - All of sinned and fallen short
		2.  In order for Jesus to be a mediator between man and God, 
		     Jesus himself became a man
			a.  Jesus is God, so he represents God's side
			b.  Jesus is man, so he represents man's side
			c.  He brings the two sides together as a mediator
			d.  Next passage explains it some more…
		3.  (Heb 2:9-18)
			a.  Tasted death for everyone - as a man
			b.  He "shared" or "participated" in our flesh and blood
			c.  Made like us in all things - Become a merciful & faithful 
			     High Priest
				- High Priest offers sacrifices for sins (propitiation)
				- Jesus offered his own blood
			d.  Walked in our shoes as High Priest
		4.  (Heb 4:14-16) - 
			a.  Not only merciful, but sympathetic
			b.  Exhortation for us
				- Hold fast our confession - He is faithful
				- Draw near to God with confidence
			c.  May receive mercy
			d.  Find grace to help in time of need
	C.  So we need to draw near to God for mercy and grace.  How?
		1.  Have to let Jesus take care of sin that separates
		2.  (Rom 6:3-7) - Baptism
			a.  Your old self "dies" - Repentance, transformation
			b.  Walk in newness of life - New person - Obedience
			c.  Sin is done away with
		3.  (Rom 6:17)
			a.  Before obedience, slaves to sin
			b.  But obey from the heart
			c.  Important - It is from the heart, not a mere ritual
	D.  Jesus came in the flesh, why?
		1.  To reconcile us to God
			a.  To become a mediator, 
			b.  To become a merciful and faithful High Priest
			c.  Offer up his own blood, his own life for us
			d.  Take away sin that separates us from God
		2.  To teach us what he wants us to do
			a.  Repent
			b.  Be Baptized
			c.  Walk in newness of life

1.  If you have not done this - Sin is still between you and God
2.  If God were to come right now, would not be ready
3.  Respond today, repent, obey from the heart, let him wash away your sins
4.  If already did this, use the holiday to teach
	a.  My Dad used to do this at family holidays - One time more open to 
	b.  My Grandmother eventually obeyed the Gospel herself
	c.  Give the greatest gift you can - the Gospel

Small Group Notes:  The Meaning of His Birth

Summary:  There is no warrant from God to celebrate Christmas as a holy day any more 
than there was a warrant to celebrate Hannukah.  However, following the example of Christ 
at Hannukah, this would be a good opportunity to use it as an opportunity to teach the truth 
concerning his birth, life, death, and resurrection.  Jesus came into the world as a human to 
be a mediator as a merciful and faithful High Priest.  Our only hope is to follow him as our 
Lord and Savior.

- What is your most meaningful holiday memory?


1.  John 1:14-18; Tit 2:5-6 - Why did Jesus become a man according to these passages?  
What did his humanity enable him to do or be?

2.  Because Jesus became human with a human body, what did this enable for him to do?  

3.  Heb 2:9-18 - Discuss the significance of the birth of Christ according to this passage.

4.  Heb 4:14-16 - What exhortation is there for us as the result of Jesus becoming human?  
How does one obey the instruction here, especially if they are lost?


5.  Compare the portrayal, significance, and meaning of the birth of Christ to the way the 
world perceives it.

6.  What teachings, themes, etc. concerning Christ might be a surprise to people of the world?

7.  What opportunities might exist for you this holiday season to share the truth concerning 
Christ?  How might you "make" the opportunity?