December 25, 2017
“Christmas without Christ?”
Luke sets the events of the gospel against the background of world history. The pagan emperor's decree about a census created the situation in which the Messiah was born in David's city of Bethlehem.
Jesus did not bring political peace to the world, but He made it possible for men and women to have peace with God. Charles Wesley (1:183) interprets the message as “Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.” Yet, to a skeptical world this is too much! Have you grown tired of Christmas? Do you believe possibly that Scrooge was right? Consider Luke’s words for today.
Christmas is bunk, unless…
- Christ is born anew in us. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11
In worldly terms Christmas is a happy time in terms of parties, banquets, gifts and friends. This is happiness that may wither with the Christmas tree which is discarded soon after Christmas day. Our joy is different. In fact, joy is far different then happiness. It is deeper. Because it is based on good news. A Savior is born to save us from ourselves. It is a joy that remains long aft the Christmas celebration is over. For this reason people who are unhappy at Christmas because of unfortunate circumstances can still have experience this Christmas joy.
Transition: Christmas is bunk unless Christ is born anew in us. You must also experience the worship of Christ.
- Worship of Christ child is experienced. “And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.” Luke 2:15-16
With a heightened sense of excitement and determination, the shepherds rushed off to the baby's side. Notice the missionary interest of Luke in the spread of the gospel, this thing..., which the Lord has told us about. (v.15)
In the recorded history of the world, there have been few years of universal peace. There has been very little peace among nations since the first Christmas. How can Jesus then be called the “Prince of Peace”? The peace Jesus brings is not necessarily peace among men but peace between God and humanity. Only when spiritual peace prevails will there be peace among nations. There will not be peace between God and people until Christ is accepted by faith.
Transition: The bunk of Christmas disappears when salvation’s joy is found.
- The joy of Christmas is the joy of salvation. “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” Luke 2:10
What God did not become. He could not save. And so, Jesus comes into the world as one of us to save us. He is counted with the sinners, to save sinners.
The Angel announces, “Be not afraid!” I’m sure that many of you have watched the television special “Charlie Brown’s Christmas.” It’s a classic made for family special. In that famous scene, when Linus recites the Christmas story. When does he drop his security blanket? He drops his blanket when he utters those very words – “Fear Not!” When our fears subside. We can truly worship the new born King with joy and peace. Without fear.
It is a bold proclamation of the Gospel at the very hour of Jesus' birth. The time has come for the fulfillment of the prophetic expectation of Messiah's coming.
Christmas was a communication event. The shepherds told the Holy Family what the angel said. If Christmas is good news, it must be told. It is told spontaneously. Here is good news! What has been promised and longed for over thousands of tears has at last happened.
The cradle of Christianity is evangelism – the telling of good news to sinners that they might have life in Christ. This leads to a joyous celebration because for us a Savior has been born!
The peace of Christ. Is the very hope people long for. It is the hope of a world where justice arrives. Where evil is put away. And where people are treated with love and respect.
By faith you grab hold of the One who “makes all things new” including this world of sin and death.
We live in a world where people hunger for righteousness. To embrace people as people. Flawed. Broken. And waiting. Waiting for the good to come. We are all broken. Hurt. Longing. Ignorant. And in need of rescue.
You can offer that hope to hearts longing for rescue. Christianity is primed to speak to hearts. Because it has always been the religion of the cross. Of the rejected. The Innocent. Who bears the guilt of the “other.” It is the promise of a Father. Who will bring justice. Love. And a lasting home.
Amidst the brokenness of our lives. Amidst the power structures and manipulation. The violence. The racism. The hurt. Comes the Christ. Who breaks in. Who shares our flesh. Who carries our burdens. Who bears our sins. Who will suffer the scars of evil. Who exchanges our shame for His glory. And calls us to be the very light of the world.-A light that is not ours but His. Gifted to us. For us to undermine the darkness. Which cannot stand against it.
So be that light. The world is hungry for salvation. Be the city on a hill. Let your light shine. Show the world it’s Savior. Trust. Pray. Proclaim. Repent. Believe. And Come Lord Jesus. Yes, Lord, return. To bear Your people home.
Passive Sentences – 7%
Reading Level -4.1
Woodcut by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, © WELS