Online Worship Christmas One, Sunday December 27, 2020
Sermon for Christmas One – Sunday December 27, 2020
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Hebrews 2:14-15 (NKJV)
14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
In the Name of Jesus Christ,
Our Flesh and Blood Brother,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Blood —
Do you still have the Christmas spirit…or have you experienced a letdown in your Christmas joy? If your Christmas Joy has departed, can I ask when it happened?
Did your Christmas Joy depart after the family gathered and opened the presents beneath the tree? I admit, I enjoy giving gifts and I experience a letdown when it’s over. Is a Christmas tree with nothing beneath it a downer for you?
Did your Christmas Joy never really reach its climax this year because of the weather? Did it seem a little strange, a little difficult to ‘get in the Christmas spirit’ with the lack of normal Christmas services and celebrations?
Did your Christmas Joy depart when you had to get up and go back to work? Have the Christmas carols and songs that buoyed your spirits in the days leading up to Christmas…now seem out of place?
Does your Christmas Joy die with the tree? Is your Christmas Joy gone when the decorations are taken down and the tree removed?
Feelings and emotions come and go; rise and fall, and our surroundings affect them.
If Christmas is all about the purchasing, wrapping and giving of gifts…then there is bound to be a letdown.
If Christmas is all about the nostalgia brought on by the sights and sounds of the season ….then when those things are removed our feelings will go away.
If Christmas songs and carols already seem out of place …then perhaps we should listen carefully to the words and refocus upon the Father’s gift of His Son.
After all, Christmas gifts break and are forgotten, Christmas trees die and decorations come down…life goes on. Our joy will fade too if it comes from these things. On the other hand, if we rejoice and mark the season because of the fact that the Son of God took on human flesh, in order to die to nullify the power of Satan and to release us from bondage to the fear of death…then that joy will not go away.
We need only return to the Scriptures and we will find that the smoldering embers of our Christmas Joy will again glow and burst into flame. May God the Holy Spirit renew our Christmas Joy by reminding us why the Son of God became our human brother, and what He then accomplished. Let’s look again at the gift given us by God, which never breaks, which is guaranteed to lift our spirits. Amen.
Have you ever heard the expression, “If you don’t use it…you’ll lose it”?
It’s true of our bodies; if you stop exercising and don’t watch what you eat; if you choose a sedentary lifestyle then you’ll likely gain weight.
It’s true of our minds; if you stop using your mind, if you figure you know all you need to and camp in front of the TV day after day, you’ll stop growing and learning.
It’s true of our faith; if you don’t return to the Word of God on a regular basis, then you will never come to a full understanding of what God has done, and has promised to do for you.
In the verses that open this 2nd Chapter of Hebrews, God urges those Jewish Christians to whom this letter was written (and us) to pay close attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it and lose it (Hebrews 2:1-4):
1 We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2 For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore such a great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
We will most certainly lose our Christmas Joy if we drift away from the Word of God. If God held Zacharias accountable for doubting words brought Him by an Angel, what will happen if we neglect the message of Salvation announced by the Lord in His Word and testified to in time past by signs and wonders?
If we are to know true Christmas Joy, then we dare not drift from the Word. After all, we were not on hand to see those miracles. We haven’t seen Jesus was the supreme ruler of the world, for the Jesus pictured on the Gospel accounts is Jesus in His Humiliation. It was necessary that Jesus humble himself to redeem us. He first humbled himself in taking on human flesh and blood.
14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same…
We are all the children referred to by these words…even the oldest among us. We are all the result of choices that our fathers and mothers, our parents made. We didn’t have a say, we didn’t play a role in our conception. We didn’t decide to be flesh and blood.
When it says that the children have ‘partaken of flesh and blood’ it pictures the fact that these bodies are in a sense an inheritance received of our parents. We are flesh and blood because our parents were flesh and blood. We are like our parents in makeup and in nature. We are flesh and blood, mortal, and corrupt. We didn’t choose to be flesh and blood…and that’s not an excuse.
While we didn’t have a choice…the Son of God did. The Eternal Son, equal in power and majesty with the Father and the Holy Spirit wasn’t flesh and blood by nature. He chose to be flesh and blood in accord with the Father’s plan (Galatians 4:4-7).
When it says that He shared in our flesh and blood… a different word is used. He was human like we are, but His entrance into humanity was different than ours. He was not the product of Joseph and Mary’s love for each other. He was not conceived in the natural way, but miraculously conceived by the Holy Ghost in the Virgin Mary.
It was the only way that He could share in our human flesh without also sharing in our corrupt human natures.
Let’s not forget that the infant Jesus we picture and sing about being born in Bethlehem was truly human, but perfect and without sin. We celebrate the fact that He shared in our humanity…but why?
Why did He partake of human flesh and blood? The answer is right here:
…that through death He might destroy him
who had the power of death, that is, the devil,
We pray that our children be healthy when born. We pray that God make them His own children by granting faith in Baptism. We continue to pray for them in life, asking that God direct their lives and grant to them God fearing spouses and a place in life. We have high hopes for our children. Yet, I doubt that any of us think about the fact that they will also, one day, die.
The infant Jesus’ purpose in being born was to die…that was why He shared in our flesh and blood. The reason that He was ‘made a little lower than the Angels,’ the reason He became flesh and blood was (as is stated in the 9th verse of this same Chapter):
“…for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.”
He was born to die, to taste death for us all, so that through Death (his own) He might destroy, that is nullify, put out of commission, the one who had the power of death, that is the Devil.
Does the Devil really have the ‘power of death’? Well, not in the sense of deciding who will live and who will die. As a matter of fact, God Himself decides who will live and die. It was the Devil, who by tempting Adam and Eve to sin, brought sin and death into this world. It is because of sin that death has a claim on us who sin (Romans 6:23).
But if we have gotten into the habit of downplaying and minimizing our sin and our children’s sin (they are just children)…then the news that Christ came to nullify the might of Satan…will be of little consequence to us.
If we do not understand that we have deserved eternal death in hell because of our sin…then the message of our Savior’s birth will only result in a lukewarm response and no real or lasting Christmas Joy.
We deserve to die and to spend eternity apart from God. But Jesus became one of us, that through death, our accuser should be silenced and sin its consequence, death, put out of commission.
What did Christ’s death really accomplish? God Himself here answers that question:
…and release those who through fear of death
were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
If we are honest about it…we are all naturally afraid of dying. We are also afraid of having to give an account of ourselves to the Judge. We are afraid because our consciences reveal our sin and guilt. We may try and ignore our guilt, but the conscience, which bears witness to the Law written in our hearts, reveals that those who die with sin on their ledger must face the consequences of that rebellion. We have good reason to be afraid…because of who and what we are…namely sinners.
The message that creates real, lasting Christmas Joy is this that Christ took our sins upon Himself, and dying also bore the consequences of our rebellion. He died bearing our sin, so that we might be forever set free from the fear of death. All sin is forgiven through faith in Him, and the sting of death nullified.
Lights, trees, decorations, gifts and songs have become a part of our Christmas celebration. But real, lasting Christmas Joy will never come from these external trappings.
Real Lasting Christmas Joy comes from God’s gift of His Son, Jesus – who came into human flesh and blood by choice, and chose to taste death for us to nullify Satan’s accusing power and our fear of death.
May our Christmas Joy always come from the Word made Flesh, the Christ-Child Himself. Amen.