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CHRISTMAS TRUTH - Making Spirits Bright #2


In last Sunday morning’s text from John chapter one we saw that there never was a time Jesus didn’t exist. In very direct statements John points out that Jesus was God and also that Jesus was with God – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”(John 1:1).

Unless you’re going to radically tamper with the text (as some interpreters do) these are the kinds of passages that necessitate the doctrine of the Trinity. Jesus was God in the sense that He is of the same essence - that He is eternal - and that He is Creator of all that is. And yet, Jesus was also with God in the sense of not being an undistinguished personality with the Father. There is oneness and there is distinctness.

Today we’re going to look at the reasons Jesus gave for His coming” into this world. John’s teaching makes it very important for us to understand what we mean, and what we don’t mean, when we talk about Jesus coming into this world. We don’t mean the beginning of the Son’s existence. That would be impossible because, as John says, there never was a time when the Son began to exist, just as there was never a time when God the Father began to exist. The Son was eternally with the Father.

And yet, Jesus Himself does refer to His coming into this world. We call His coming as a baby the incarnation. This is the time when God the Son received His birth name - Jesus - and was born of the virgin Mary with a human, material body. That’s what we’re looking at in this Christmas teaching. Why did Jesus come into this world?

I want to let Jesus speak for Himself. There are all sorts of people who have their ideas about who Jesus was and is, and what He really accomplished during His earthly life. You know the ideas. They run from a poor, deluded moral reformer, to the greatest religious teacher of all times, to a superstar traveling Palestine with his zealous groupies. And if that’s all Jesus accomplished in His coming, I want to know that. I certainly don’t want to hitch my wagon to some mistaken religious dream that will desert me in the end. If I’m mistaken about Jesus, I want to find out now.

But I don’t think I am mistaken. I think the Biblical witness to Christ Jesus is reliable and compelling. I think the great “I came” statements from Jesus’ own lips are truly a double edged sword that still cut into the bones of honest searchers of truth.

I have six “I came” texts from Jesus. Some you have heard a million times, and some may surprise you, especially in a Christmas message. They are blunt and powerful. They cut to the core of human need and predicament. They are not media-friendly sound bites. They are the cutting edge of saving, light-giving grace, and they frequently bite and jab before they soothe and heal. Listen with fresh ears to these life changing Christmas messages from the Risen Lord of all the earth:


Mark 10:45“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

The words “ransom,” “redemption,” and “redeem” are used a great deal in the New Testament, and with good reason. They are words that go to describing the nature of our problem. We are reminded over and over that our need isn’t just information. This is highly relevant to today’s approach to mankind’s problems. We are constantly being told that education will turn the tide - that we will do the right thing once we know the right thing.

We are also told that all we need is a great example to follow. If we can just see the truth in action we will be drawn to it ourselves. But the world has always been loaded with good teaching to learn and good examples to follow. Our problem is we choose to either ignore or reject them.

Enter Jesus. He says our problem is we need to be ransomed because we are captive to an alien power. No amount of teaching, or preaching, or church-going, or penance-paying, or alms giving, or carol singing will pay the ransom for our release from sin’s power. No religious instructor or prophet can ransom our lives.

This is the relevance of Christmas. This is where Jesus Christ stands alone as our greatest and only Hope. Only He paid the ransom - Galatians 4:4-5 – “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, [5] to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”

The “fullness of time” Paul describes in these verses is the time of the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. He was born, says Paul, to provide for you and for me the “adoption as sons.” But there was something standing in the way. There was a ransom that had to be paid. We weren’t in morally neutral territory just waiting to latch on to a new family. We were in enemy territory. We sold our birthright. We willingly chose dark, sinful ownership. Jesus came to pay the price so that our adoption as sons and daughters of God could become a genuine possibility.


Luke 5:31-32 – “And Jesus answered them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. [32] I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

So prone are we all to forget this Jesus says the same thing twice in two verses, in two different ways. First, because Jesus knows all sin has its root in an inward condition that is invisible to human eye or x-ray, He refers to it in more common terms we can all get a handle on - human sickness. Think of disease. Cancer. Lupus. Migraines. Ulcers. We know this language. And what we all know, almost by reflex, is sick people need a doctor. No - more than that. The doctor exists for sick people. Hospitals aren’t full of healthy people. They’re full of sick people.

Then Jesus comes out and states the central point. Just as a doctor exists for sick people, Jesus came for sinful people. No one would come to this conclusion automatically. They wouldn’t come to that conclusion because the Bible is packed to overflowing with the fact that God is absolutely holy - blazingly holy! And so we naturally conclude that He favors holy people over sinful people.

This is ingrained in our systems. We sin and we hide from God. We sin and we cover up and lie. We sin and we blame others. We sin and we stay home from church. We sin and we stop praying. Or worse, we turn our noses up at “sinners” because we get it into our minds that’s what holiness is all about.

How desperately we need to hear - really hear - these words from the holy Lord Jesus, who said He came to call sinners to repentance. Because the ransom has already been paid on the cross, the roadblocks are removed. Sinners do still have to repent. But they repent knowing the price has been paid to make repentance fruitful. God is open to our repentance. He invites it. No one need feel his cry for mercy will fall on deaf ears in heaven. The ransom has been paid. God has taken the first step. We can repent with good faith in God.


John 9:39-41 – “Jesus said, >For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.’ [40] Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, >Are we also blind?’ [41] Jesus said to them, >If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, 'We see,' your guilt remains.’”

These are staggering words. They tell us that apart from seriously hearing Jesus Christ we don’t have a clue about the deepest issues of life - regardless of how brilliant we might be in other fields of interest. Apart from personal attachment to Jesus Christ we are simply blind to the key, eternal dimension of our beings.

The reason these words are so important is people who reject Christ usually don’t think they are functioning as blind persons. They think they have more important things to do. They think they are too cultured to embrace a two thousand year old religion. They think they are just living in the “real world.”

In other words, they think they “see” just fine. And that’s where this point is so keenly related to the previous one about repentance. People who don’t repent when they confront Jesus just aren’t seeing things as they truly are. Those who think they can genuinely hear the Christmas truth about Jesus Christ, and just continue on, business as usual, are truly blind. Jesus says their “guilt remains.”

God has made it easy. He opened the door by paying the ransom. Repentance doesn’t require much in the way of moral purity. You just have to come. You see only a tiny bit of light. Then, after repentance, the lights go on. Your eyes are opened to a whole new world of light, joy and grace. Ignore Jesus and you’re just not seeing things as they are at all.


John 3:17-18 – “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. [18] Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

These words are important because they prevent the misunderstanding that we can safely go on in the blindness of our own hearts, thinking that everything will come out all right in the end because God is loving. These words of Jesus are tailored to incite urgency in our hearts.

Let me say it as clearly as I know how. For the unrepentant sinner - for the one who chooses to turn away from God’s ransom and grace and mercy in Christ Jesus - the greatest danger isn’t his or her sin. And the greatest danger isn’t demons or Satan. The greatest danger is the just condemnation of God Himself.

Jesus is God’s answer to the just condemnation of guilty sinners. Outside of Jesus, there is nothing but wrath from Father God - not a wicked, temper-tantrum, irrational kind of anger we’re all most familiar with, but the unbending, uncompromising, fixed stance of one who cannot be softened against sin.

If we don’t choose Jesus in repentance and faith, we choose the wrath of God on our lives – “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him”(John 3:36).

Is it fair of Father God to punish the Son for my sin? It wouldn’t be if it weren’t for the doctrine of the Trinity. God doesn’t just pass the buck on to Jesus for my sin. He bears it Himself“ Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19).

When God the Son bears the just condemnation of my sin on the cross - when I truly embrace this truth in faith - my own life experiences true liberation. When the objective, legal, just condemnation of my sin is dealt with from God’s end in salvation, I am freed from the paralyzing hold of subjective, inward, satanically inspired condemnation that robs me of peace and contentment in Christ:

Romans 8:31-34 – “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? [32] He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? [33] Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. [34] Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died nmore than that, who was raised who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”

Notice the thread of argument in these carefully crafted verses. Condemnation can come from many sources. The Devil is called the “accuser of the brothers” in the Scriptures. Our own hearts, says John, can condemn us for many things at many times. Sometimes the way we were raised can bring needless condemnation for actions that are nothing more than the breaking of traditions that have no Scriptural support or merit. How will we stand in the face of all these? How will we find inner peace?

The key, according to Paul, is to have the capstone of condemnation dealt with in a way that is final and certain. This is the pulse of verse 34 - "Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died more than that, who was raised who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” Do you see it? The power of all condemnation - just or otherwise - is broken when the power of just condemnation for my sin is flattened by Christ’s death and resurrection.

Jesus came to bring the bondage of condemnation to their knees in His own ransom for human sin.


Matthew 10:34-36 – “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. [35] For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter‑in‑law against her mother‑in‑law. [36] And a person's enemies will be those of his own household.”

What are we going to do with these bizarre words? Pretend Jesus never said them? That’s what most people do. But I believe they were spoken for a rich divine purpose, and if we ignore them, we’ll miss a hidden grace in their hard shell.

In our hearts, we know what Jesus is trying to tell us. Better Jesus, with no one else, than everyone else without Jesus. Better to live with division, strife, persecution, and have Christ, than to have peace, harmony, the applause and adoration of your family and peers, and have no genuine allegiance to Jesus Christ.

These hard words need saying because of what we said earlier in this message - Jesus came to call sinners to repentance. But what does repentance look like? How does it manifest itself in our lives? Usually we think of repenting for our bad actions. We lie, or we steal, or we cheat, or we boast, or we hoard our material goods, or we covet. And so we know we need to repent of these things.

Then Jesus comes and says that in all of this repenting we may have missed something huge. We need to change not only our actions, but our allegiances. When we follow Jesus something that radical must happen or we aren’t following Him at all.

And the reason Jesus shocks us with His words about our own family members - those dearest to us on earth - is because He is trying to jolt us into seeing something we usually don’t look at very closely, if ever. Jesus came to be Lord of all - number one in our lives. Sometimes that will call for painful choices, but ultimately they are the only choices that will bring eternal freedom and joy.


John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

I vividly remember and Sunday night years ago when a woman in this church crunched back tears as she told me of her childhood. There was more brokenness and pain and dysfunctionality there than I could fathom. There were the usual “why” questions that are always impossible to answer. And I know she wasn’t asking those questions in bitterness by the way she closed the conversation. She said words something like this: “People tell me God didn’t cause these events to come into my life. I never know how to respond to that. If He didn’t cause them, certainly He allowed them. How is that supposed to make me feel better?”

I just stood silent when she asked that.

Then she wound things up gloriously. “I don’t know how people cope with all these things if they don’t have eternity.”

That’s it exactly. Though she didn’t use the exact words, she was talking about eternal life. It is always the great, ultimate answer. And it is a strong answer. It’s not a religious cop-out. Jesus came to give us that ultimate answer. He came to give eternal life to all who would believe. These are the great “I cames” of Christmas. Cherish them freshly in your mind and heart this whole Christmas season.