WHAT CHRIST ARE YOU LOOKING FOR THIS CHRISTMAS? PART ONE
Millions of Canadians will go to church over the Christmas Season, especially on Christmas Eve. They crowd shoulder-to-shoulder in pews to sing "Silent Night" and light candles and listen to someone sing "O Holy Night." Or better yet a few will witness nativity plays that recreate the birth of Jesus with a cast of 10-year-olds in bathrobes. When the service is over, they exchange hearty "Merry Christmas!" wishes before getting in their cars and heading home. And they will rinse and repeat this cycle each year. Why? Interesting to note that more Canadians search for “church” around Easter than at any other time, with the Christmas season usually ranking second, according to Google Trends data between 2004 and 2013. Probably because its human nature surrounding Easter and Christmas usually brings out our emotional side because of meaning and what the culture has been told surrounding these events. But mostly because it’s purely cultural….. It’s almost a requirement because most have bought into the idea that if you attend church on Christmas or Easter, God will somehow overlook your sin and will find it in His heart to usher you into His Kingdom.
One person answered to a question to why people go to church on Christmas. “Because they are not quite free of superstition. Give them a little longer, they will stop going entirely. But it may take time, e.g. until their parents die”
Is this why you’re here? Why are you here?
What Christ are you seeking, you worshipping, this morning?
Because the Apostle Paul said some are seeking a Jesus in their image, “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.” 2 Cor 11:3-4
What is Paul saying? If there was a better gospel! The sense is, there would then be some excuse for your conduct. But this cannot be done; if they can preach no other and no better gospel and Saviour than Paul has done, then there is no excuse. Many profess to be passionate, “sold out,” radical followers of Jesus, but they’re giving it their all for the wrong god. Just because someone is passionate doesn’t mean it’s healthy or right. When we invent a god in our image—like a divine buddy who is at times weak and needy—we are no longer talking about the God of the Bible.
Sadly this is the fear as each Christmas Season approaches. People seeking a Christ made in their image to suit their desires of a kingdom built for man…not God. Some people can handle a little bit of Jesus with a certain amount of hesitancy. But others must alter their Jesus to another of their own making. The danger of a socially constructed deity has damable consequences. Because it inspires them to "accept a counterfeit Jesus". Puritan Jeff Elliff wrote this about another Jesus. "Another Jesus" might be a Jesus who remains in a manger, or a Jesus who indulges everyone in the world regardless of his or her rejection of Him, or One who does not proceed from the Father and is merely human. There are lots of Christs out there to choose from. Such people try to re-invent Jesus from the One who said hard things and who demanded more than they want to give. They don't want the One who actually was raised from the dead and ascended to the Father and will one day judge the world, and who offers a way of salvation that is too narrowly focused on His way alone. Instead they think up a Jesus who is more compatible with the lusts and sophistry of their own hearts. Remade in our own image, Jesus can be attractive, even to unbelievers. And it is this Jesus of the imagination that so many can and do celebrate over Christmastime.”
Steven Lawson said, “Are we seeing a true picture of God these days, or a distorted one designed to fit a popular image on the present cultural canvas?
Who is The Christ the believer seeks after?
The Great One
The Second Person of the Trinity
The Son of God
The I’AM of all Creation
The Great Teacher
The Great Shepherd
The very Word of God made flesh
The First and the Last
The Bread of Life
The final amen
The Great High Priest
He is the image of the invisible God
The Judge of the living and the dead
The Name above all names
The Alpha and Omega
The Beginning and the End
No one can compare to Him for He is infinitely worth of all our praise and adoration Was Jesus just a man like you and me? YES
He Had A Human Birth…..“And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.” Luke 1:35
He Had A Human Mind…….“And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52
He Had Human Emotions……"Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.” John 12:27
He Endured Shameful Things……“then they spat in His face and beat Him; and struck Him with the palms of their hands” Matt 26:67
He Faced A Real Death…. “so when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “it is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit” John 19:34
BUT! Here is where I put “But” to the previous question! Yes, He was a man like you and me. But! Completely sinless. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor 5:21
Sadly the world doesn’t look at Jesus
in this light!
The Bible says the people only saw him as a man, a miracle worker who met their needs. Herod sought to kill him because he was jealous for power. To the world, Jesus is nothing more than a children’s bedtime story like “Jack and the Beanstalk.” Again, sadly these ideas are wrong and my heart breaks because they are seeking a Christ that is created in their image. Their ignorance and good intentions blind them to the beauty and truth found in His name. The Christ is so much more than a baby born in a stable. John says “He is truly God and truly man!” (v14) From a theological standpoint this means, “We see in Christ everything that it is to be human, and everything that it is to be divine, at one and the same time, without either being compromised by the other. We could say that in Christ, for the first time and the last, all the fullness of human being, and all the fullness of divine being, have come together and exist together in exactly the same way in the Godhead …..Or to put it more simply, Christ is fully and truly man, fully and truly God, at the same time, in a single person.” Paul wrote about Jesus this way! “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,” Col 1:16-19.
John’s gospel doesn’t waste time getting to who Jesus is. Not that the other gospel didn’t revere or display the glory of Christ. But the focus on John’s gospel is the man who Jesus was, and is, God incarnate deity. The underlining theme throughout this gospel is that Jesus not only as truly God, but truly the Son of God, who is God in the flesh. One of the first precious truths about Jesus we see John write about is a key truth to understanding this gospel letter, and that is Jesus is…….
THE ETERNAL SON [V1-V3]
What does that mean? Before light, water, the moon, and stars were put into their rightful places……He was there. Before plant life, flowers and trees were put into their rightful place…..He was there. Before animals, insects, fish, and birds were put into their rightful place….He was there. Before angels were created……He was there. Before Adam breathed in his first breath …….He was there. Before you were created……He was there. As Psalm 90:2 says “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Remember what Jesus said to the Pharisee’s “before Abraham was, I AM” Which could possibly be translated “I will be what I will be”. This is gives us clear indication that the Godhead is completely independent of His creation. Wayne Grudem in his Systematic Theology book defines it this way “God is independence is defined as follows: God does not need us or the rest of creation for anything, yet we and the rest of creation can glorify Him and bring Him joy. This attribute of God is sometimes called His self-existence or His aseity [from the Latin words “a se”, which means “from himself”. Scripture is very clear in several places that God does not need any part of creation in order to exist or for any other reason. He is completely self-sufficient, and absolutely independent of all His creation.
In Acts 17:24-25 we read, “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.”
Job 41:11 God says “Who has first given to me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.”
Psalm 50:10-12 states, “For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine. "If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine.”
This is what John’s opening statement is directing us to. (v1-v3) The fact that Jesus was there when the earth was without “form and void”. Gen 1:1-2. Which means “not finished in its shape and as yet uninhabited by creatures”. And what’s amazing about the Book of Beginnings is that God would decorate His creation in 6 days! That’s how amazing our God is, that’s the Christ we are to chasing after this morning in our worship. “In the beginning”… means, “He lived outside of time and has no beginning because He always existed.” (v1). “was” is an important word here! The “verb” highlights the eternal pre-existence of the Word [Jesus]. Meaning it has no end or beginning because Jesus is God incarnate. So when Jesus came to this earth He never ceased to be God, but took on a genuine human nature/body and voluntarily refrained from His independent exercise of the attributes of deity.
That’s amazing! And as a reminder Paul penned these beautiful words, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Phil 2:6-11
What does this mean? “Did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, He didn’t consider being God as a way of getting but giving, He didn’t come to please Himself but to give His life for others. “For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me." Rom 15:3
“a thing to be grasped” Jesus could have…. clutched His rights, His blessing and His benefits as King of glory. But! He lived open-handed, showing us what benevolent grace and service looks like in His humiliation and exaltation. The sovereign LORD who needs nothing from us, choose to come to this earth in Christ and saves fallen undeserving sinners like you and me. That in eternity past Jesus would come and lay down His life for your sin, so that you could find forgiveness and eternal life. That in eternity past Jesus would leave His glory, to give us a living hope through His death and resurrection. That in eternity past Jesus would reveal Himself to you for the simple reason He can! He’s God
The gospel is so much more than a man
dying for our sin!
It’s about a God who is infinitely worthy and deserving of our praise….even if He sends us to Hell. But the beauty is that He did come to this earth to save sinners which I am the chief of them all. He came in His humanity (humiliation) by lowering Himself to die for our sin and victoriously rising on the third day (His exaltation).. Why? Because He can! He is WORD and the WORD was with God and the WORD is God. The Self existent, independent Godhead, the One who loved you, despite your ugliness of sin and rebellion of heart.
Church family! Embrace this truth this morning and fall to your knees to the Eternal Son of God who is our Savior. The Godhead in the beginning there is a love and communication between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit before Creation. And it’s this Christ who is Jesus is the eternal Christ, who came to save sinners! This is the Christ we are to be looking for with anticipation for future things. Make Christ supreme! Which means first place in everything?
First place in our families
First place in our marriages
First place in our professions
First place in our missions and ministries
First place in all matter of the intellect/discernment
First place in our time
First place in our love and affections
First place in conversation
First place in pleasures and pursuits
First place in eating
First in our leisure’s
First place in what we watch, read and listen to
First place in our worship
First place in this church
He must be first in your life period! So the question I want to leave with you is this! What Christ are you seeking this Christmas Season? The glory and joy we have in Christ is to…… Treasure Him, praise Him, trust Him, love Him, and to value what He values (namely, Himself) above all else.
That means the purpose we are here is for
this very thing!
To glorify God is to treasure Him, praise Him, trust Him, love Him, and to value what He values (namely, Himself) above all else. This is my prayer for all of us as we come together over this Christmas Season. Seeking the only Christ worthy of praise and adoration not just this Christmas season but every day as long as we have air in our lungs.
Seeking this Christ. The Eternal Son of God
“Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail the incarnate deity!
Pleased as Man with man to dwell:
Jesus, our Emmanuel.”