Classic Christianity – Christmas P2 (12-22-20)
When you hear again the story of the birth of Jesus Christ, the events that happened prior and the events that followed his birth, what goes on in your mind? What do you ponder? Imagine having seen an angel or heard the voice of an angel speak to you, if you are a young girl, that you will bear a child without having relations with any man, and you are to name your child Jesus, Immanuel, which means “God with us”, and who says “He will cause the rise and fall of many in Israel”, and “a sword will pierce your own soul too”? Would you not ponder all those things in your heart as to what they would all mean?
Should we not also ponder what that all means, to you personally? How is God going to be with us? Is God inside this baby? When this baby grows up and works in the carpenter shop with his earthly step-father, could he really be God? And then, later in life, this now grown man, over 33 years old, is hung on a cross? If you were Mary, and you see your child in agony, beaten half to death, die on that cross, treated like a criminal, what thoughts would go through your mind? Why did it have to happen that way? Is there more to the story?
Mary heard from an angel that this baby she is to be carrying is God. We may not hear from angels, but the Holy Spirit is drawing you unto Himself. All the Old Testament prophets were looking for his coming. The wisemen certainly were. Angels even showed up to announce what the birth of John the Baptist would be for, “to prepare the way of the Lord”. And you have angels appearing to many shepherds in a field, telling them that a Savior would be born in Bethlehem, in the city of David, just as the prophets foretold, and to save His people from their sins. How did God save people from their sins?
This person, Jesus, claimed to be God, and demonstrated that He is by the miracles he did, and by all he said and did, in fulfillment of what the prophets said he would say and do. He even said “no one takes my life from me, but I lay it down only to take it up again”, and that “he received this command from his Father”. He even said “I and the Father are one“ and “no one comes to the Father except through me”, and “I am the bread of life”. He said once, while on the earth, “I am going back to my Father and it is good for you that I am because when I come back I will send my Holy Spirit to live in you” He promised that for everyone who puts their faith in Him. What does all of that mean?
So many people hear what the word of God says, but do not know what it means. They hear, but do not understand the meaning of why Jesus had to be born of a virgin, had to die on a cross, only to rise again. So listen again, and read the transcript, and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you what He really wants you to know concerning Himself, of this offer of eternal life, what new life in Christ Jesus is all about. There is more to the story than a quick listen every holiday season, which you may have heard once before sitting as a young child, at the front in some church, where someone called a pastor reads a story from the scriptures.
Take the time to read the book of Colossians, as he writes to believers, reminding them of the gospel he had preached to them. Think of Jesus Christ, what that means to you personally, that He died, was buried and rose again.
The emptiness that is inside of a lost man, that awareness that something is missing, that something is wrong inside, that does not come from being sinful. It comes from being lost, without the Spirit of God living in you. It comes from being dead spiritually. That is why Christ Jesus had to enter into my death with me in order that I could enter into His resurrected life with Him. Jesus Christ’ objective for you and me was not to get man out of hell into heaven but to get Himself out of heaven into you and me. That is where salvation took place.
That is what it means when He said He came to save people from their sins in order to give them life, and that He is the bread of life. We are to feed on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. He is our life, who are born again, having had the Holy Spirit placed into our hearts through faith in Him.
The word of Bethlehem means “the city of bread”. It is interesting that Jesus identified Himself as the bread of life.
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
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 guest room available for them.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
We talked before about how the angelic beings appeared at the birth of Jesus Christ (Luke 2:9). First of all, before that, an angel appeared also at the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:11-17). We read how an angel appeared to Joseph (Matthew 1:19-21), that this child in the womb of Mary, was born by the Holy Spirit of God. An angel also appeared to Mary (Luke 1:26-37) and then to the shepherds (Luke 2:8-9).
11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous – to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
Let us turn now back to Luke 2, of the angels appearing to the shepherds.
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
We talked about how Mary had pondered these things in her heart. You sit back and wonder, what we talk of the things that she was pondering in her heart. We talked about how she obviously knew that being pregnant with child, and not yet having been officially married, that the disgrace from people were certainly going to come upon her for the remaining portion of her life, of being misunderstood, of rejection, insult and injury and all of the things we experience in our day to day life. Mary was pondering these things happening to her. You also would know that Mary would be pondering in her heart some of the scriptures connected with the very thing that was happening.
There was no mystery at all that a Messiah was going to come. There was no mystery as to where the Messiah was going to come, in Bethlehem in Judea, as the prophets foretold. People in those days knew the scripture. They were taught the scriptures. This was not an unknown thing in regard to the Messiah coming.
Even the Samaritan woman at the well knew about a Messiah coming. Listen to what she said to Jesus.
25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you – I am he.”
In Micah 5, you see the prophecy in regard to the birth of our Savior. When the wise men were called to find out where this king was supposed to be born, they knew where the king was supposed to be born, where this Messiah was supposed to be born. How did they know that? Did they read about that in the Jerusalem news? Did they have a Jerusalem Digest? Where did they get the information from? They got it from the source of information they knew was truth, and that is the scriptures. They believed the scriptures for what they are, truth and the inerrant word of God.
2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
That was a threat, was it not, to the rulers of Israel. “You will be the ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, and from ancient times.” So, these people knew that the Messiah was coming. That was not the problem.
The issue is this. Who is that Messiah? Is this the babe that I hold in my arms? Is this the Messiah? The angel had announced to her that he was. And they were to name his name Jesus, Immanuel, meaning “God with us”. But again, can we not hear things and not comprehend a hundred percent what it means. So even though you may hear, you still are going to be in a situation of pondering in your heart. Is this what this means?
So, we look at that, and all through the life of Jesus, you can imagine him growing up as a small child. They took him into Egypt for a period of time and then returned. Then, after growing up, he was working in his father’s carpenter shop. After Jesus’ birth, Mary and Joseph had other children. So he had brothers and sisters.
55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?
3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
I have often laughingly said, “How would you like to have Jesus as your brother, doing everything perfectly all the time. But he had brothers and sisters. He worked like you and me. He was human. He took upon humanity and our human form in every way. How could you not look at that, as just a small child, and ponder in your heart and ask, “Is this the one?”
Remember on other occasions when Jesus was older, where Mary and her brothers went to him, and the indicator in scripture is that they thought he was a little off, that something was wrong here. Here he is claiming all these claims about himself and people were saying this man is crazy. They went to him with that thought.
1 After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. 2 But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, 3 Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. 4 No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him.
6 Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you anytime will do. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil.
That is Mary, who had a pronouncement from an angel, who had a child when she had never been with a man. That ought to be enough of a sign. But you see, still, we are human. We still have this humanity of ours, do we not? In this humanity of ours, we can know something and yet still wonder.
So, it was only over a period of time, of watching these things, of Mary going to ultimately see her son on a cross, and there watching her son that she loved more than life itself, hanging on a cross, beaten half to death, crucified like a common criminal, and die on a cross. In his flood of tears, in agony, and before his death, looking down at his relative John, and saying, “John this is your mother, take care of her”.
25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
History tells us that that is exactly what took place. The apostle John took Mary into his home. Obviously that could not have been the case if Joseph had still been alive. We know pretty well something, and that is in Jesus ’ lifetime, his father Joseph died. So, Mary and Jesus said to Mary to go with John, who was a cousin.
Jesus did not say to go with your son. He said to go with John. Why? We do not know the answer. But history and tradition tells us that ultimately John moved with Mary into Ephesus. They lived there. Folks, when you look at this whole story unfolding, and as the song that Amy sang today, Mary did you know, you have to agree that it was a very difficult thing to comprehend.
Mary Did You Know by Buddy Greene / Mark Lowry Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water? Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters? Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new? This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man? Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand? Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod? When you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know? The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation? Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations? Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect lamb? That sleeping child you’re holding is the great I am Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Oh Mary did you know?
It was over time, and over years, because it was in these later years that you will begin to see who Jesus is, and to see the whole implication of that.
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
Is He the firstborn? What does that mean? Were there not a lot of people born before him? Is that right? There are a lot of people born before him. Why do they call him the firstborn over all creation? Jesus was the first man born alive spiritually. Adam was the first man ever created alive spiritually. Jesus, called the last Adam, is the only man ever born alive spiritually. Adam was created alive spiritually, and when he sinned, they died, did they not? Death is the absence of life. So Adam died spiritually. We are born into this world in the image of God, but in the image of Adam.
1 When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them “Mankind” when they were created.
3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.
He was created alive and became dead spiritually. We are born dead spiritually. All of us are born into this world in the loins of Adam, dead spiritually. Dead to what? To the life of God living in you. We are not born in God. We are born alienated from God. Every child and every person born is born alienated from God.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
This is about a new creation. God had to create a new man out of the old. So if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation. What is the creation? God coming to live in humanity. That is a new creation. You were not born that way. You were recreated that way. When you and I were born again, we were restored to the life Adam possessed before the fall. Now, like Adam was created, we are born alive bodily, soulishly, and spiritually.
The difference between you and me and Adam is that Adam was created alive with the ability to die. You and I were born again alive with a total inability to ever die again. The only reason for that is because of the cross, which took away the sins of the world and sin is what caused spiritual death, and in the taking away of the sins of the world, He eliminated the thing that caused spiritual death. That is why you and I have a life called eternal life in Christ Jesus, a new creation. That is good news!
Why then was Jesus the firstborn over all creation? He was the only man ever born alive spiritually. That is why his virgin birth is not up for grabs. To deny the virgin birth of Jesus is to deny the fact that you and I could be born again. Because without his virgin birth, he would have been born dead like you and me. The reason he is the only man who ever laid down his life for you and me is because he is the only one who had a life to lay down for you and me. He is the firstborn from among us, who are called the dead.
16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.
What does the book of Genesis say?
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Who does he say here created all things? Jesus. Is that not what he is talking about here? Jesus. He is the creator. If all things are created by him and for and in beginning God created, then who is Jesus? So those who deny Deity of Christ are going to have to deny logic in regard to these scriptures. Do you suppose people understood all this? Do you suppose people understood the Triune God prior to Jesus coming? Not at all. That is why, if you asked a Jew, “who is God?”, they would say “He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”. He is the one who appeared to these men. “Their God is my God.” Jesus came to show Him who God is and who His name is. The name of our God is Jesus. We have to understand that all things are created by Him and for Him. He is the creator of all things. Do you suppose Mary knew that when she was pondering these things in her heart? I do not think so. These are things that had to be revealed over time.
17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Who do you suppose is holding this universe together? Now, that is an awesome thought, isn’t it? Another awesome thought is these people who capture pictures from these satellites, and produce this picture of earth, this blue marble floating out in space. I keep looking. Is there a rope? Is there a foundation that I do not see? No. It is spinning. Can you grab a hold of that, folks? That we are out there spinning in space, and at the same time, we are sitting here, while we are spinning in space. Who holds all this together? Jesus does. So He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church;
Jesus is the head of this body, which is called the church. The church is a body of people. It is not the place down on the corner of walk and don’t walk. It is not a building with stained glass. The church of Jesus Christ is people. The very moment that you step out of Adam into Christ and Christ steps out of heaven into you, you become a child of the living God. You have been baptized, placed into, His body.
That is why 2000 years ago, if you were to look for the body of Christ, you would have to go to Israel and find Jesus. There you would have found the body of Christ. But He said, “I am going away”.
28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.
But if you are going away, how will we see you? Where will your body be going to be? “Oh, do not worry about that. I am going away but I am going to send My Spirit in you and you will be My body. And greater things will you do?”
4 I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, 5 but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. 7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe in the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
What is He talking about? Do more miracles? No. “Right now I am limited in time and location. In a few days, my body is going to be all over the world. It is going to be all over the world. It is going to be in all colors and creeds because My body is going to be people in whom I live.” It is not an organization. It is an organism. You are a part of the body of Christ whether sitting here on Sunday or whether you are sitting at home. You are the body of Christ. It is not a building. It is not a location.
So when He talks about the church, we have made it into an organization, a building. We have got organizational structures. We say “Oh, that is the church.” “No, it isn’t.” The people is the church. You are the church. You are the representative of the kingdom of God here on earth, right where you are. Wherever you are, Penny, you are a representative of the kingdom of God right here on this earth. That is what the church is. We have made it into an organizational structure, and a control freak so we can keep people in bondage, and say there is nothing that is going to be worthwhile being done unless it is done in the pews. That is why they call them pews, because there are so many dead people sitting in them.
Can’t do anything unless it is here. This is the least significant thing you will do all week. The Christian life is not lived in an assembly. The Christian life is lived out in the marketplace of life. It is lived at your schools where you go, and in your home, and in your neighborhood. That is where the Christian life is lived at. He says that He is the head of this body, the church.
he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead,
Who is the dead? We were. Who was the firstborn among the dead? He was. Who has been born again since then? We are, everyone who has come to Christ by faith since that moment of resurrection. So He is the firstborn among the dead, so that. Here is the reason.
so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
If we do not see Him as the head, then we are going to name another head. And that head is going to be supreme. That is why, today, you have people that are supreme. You have Christian leaders who are supreme. Jesus takes a back seat through the whole deal when you see church for what it is. If it is not an organization, but people, then there is only one head you can turn to, and that is Him. He meant it to stay that way.
We meant it to do something else. That is why when people come, coming in saying, “You cannot be baptized unless you are a Baptist”. “You cannot be baptized unless you belong to our denomination.” Does that make any sense at all when you understand this truth? Or when you take communion. “You cannot take communion unless you belong to our church.” “You cannot take communion unless you are a Presbyterian or a Methodist”. Have you ever been in a church like that, that says “unless you belong to us.”?
Are you in Christ? You can celebrate the fact you are in Christ any place. We take the Lord’s supper. I want to tell you something. There is only one person you belong to and that is Him. You do not belong here. You belong to Him. You come to fellowship here. We praise God for that because you are with a bunch of free people. But you do not have any membership here, do we? Have we passed out any membership cards out to people? No. You are never going to be a member here. The only person you belong to is Christ Jesus. That means any place you go, you are a part of the body of Christ.
Now, I tell you, you are not going to grow to 20,000 members that way. I will guarantee you that, but who needs that? What do you want with a hundred born again Christians along with 19,900 carnal Christians, or non-Christians, who take up space and time and money? So I just assume to have a small group of born again believers than I would a huge group of the mix. So we have to understand, folks, this is what the body of Christ is all about.
19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,
So if you want to get to know the Father, who do you get to know? The Son. Jesus said, “I and the Father are one and if you have seen me you have seen the Father.” and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation – 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
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