Advent 2010 #1
For Unto Us
Christmastime is here …
I love this time of the year.
Though many in the world would like to see our celebration of this season minimized, even attach allegations of prejudice on this time, this is a wonderful, the MOST wonderful time of the year.
It can seem a barren time of year, the leaves are gone, the ground is hard and infertile. Sometimes ice or snow covers the ground and it can be both beautiful and ugly, both blessed and dreadful, it can seem dreary and hopeless at the same time.
We do not know exactly the season or date at which Christ was born. Initially in the 4th Century they celebrated, Birth, Magi, and his Baptism in the early part of January. Eventually they began to celebrate Christmas on 25th December because that date had been a pagan celebration of the Sun winning over the darkness of winter. So now the SON, S-O-N, had triumphed over the darkness of sin and they substituted his celebration for that pagan celebration.
So in the bleak midwinter, Jesus Christ has come. When the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer, when the night has gotten its longest and darkest, we celebrate the Son of God.
In Luke 2:11 the angels say "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths lying in a manger."
Those words take us immediately to Jesus, but they take us back further, as fulfillment of prophesy, to Isaiah 9.
This season I want to return to look at one of my favorite prophesies of the coming of Christ, Isaiah 9:6,7. For the next month we will explore this passage as we celebrate this season of remembrance, proclamation, promise, and peace.
Today as we read from Isaiah 9, I wonder, do you find yourself in the midst of your own personal winter? Are the leaves gone? Does it seem that the ground has become hard and infertile?
Isaiah 9:1 says there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress …
9:2 says the people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.
I find that interesting because David wrote in the 23rd Psalm about passing through the "valley of the shadow of death" … But Isaiah says some of you are NOT just passing through, you are LIVING in the COUNTRY of the shadow of death.
Anybody know what it's like to live there? Well, Isaiah says "light has come"
Isaiah 9:5 says, those of you who have trod through the battles and become soiled in the blood of battle can burn your battle clothes.
WHY? Let's read this familiar passage
Read Isaiah 9:6,7
Our Text today is simply those first words …
For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given
We are looking at three important parts of the Story of Christmas today as found in this verse,
The first thing we see here is …
1. For To Us …
We of course relate Christmas to giving of gifts and rightly so because God so loved the world that he gave his Son …
But Christmas is NOT just about A WONDERFUL gift being given to someone …
What if I told you that I heard that someone had given some needy person One Million Dollars? You would think WOW what a cool gift!
But what if I had said that someone had given a gift of One Million Dollars to someone needy and that someone was YOU!
For … to US a child is born a son is given.
Look at each word
… there is a purpose
Because we are in darkness
Because we are living in the country of the shadow of death
Because we are in the midst of the battle for our very souls and eternity
Without the Child in the manger, Jesus Christ, there is NO expectation of deliverance, no promise of illumination
Without him there is no reason for hope
Because we are ALL in darkness
We are all under the sentence of death
We are all fighting a battle we cannot win
For that reason …
B. TO ---
means TOWARD; in the direction or movement toward someone or something
means function to indicate purpose, intention,
1. We could NOT move toward God
2. we WOULD not move toward God
3. So … God, in his love, grace, Sovereignty, made his move TO us.
But it was NOT just a Move of Direction - TO
It was a move in a direction with a purpose
and that was
C. US -
1. scripture says we are a little lower than the angels
2. we are the highest of his earthly creation
3. we are the ONLY part of his creation that has a relationship of redemption and reconciliation with him
4. We are the part of his creation that has broken his heart and that says that he loves us most deeply that he would long to provide a way to restore that relationship.
5. Lucifer, was his creation, and in pride was ejected from Heaven, and yet God made no way for Lucifer to return in relationship with him, nor the 1/3 of the angels that left with him
6. Yet to US a child is born a Son is given; because though God's heart was broken by our sin, he longed to be made right with whosoever will come
7. God loves the trees, the birds, the animals, but this gift of his Son was NOT for them, it was for US. Their restoration will ONLY be as a result of OUR restoration and reconciliation with God in Christ Jesus.
The Scripture is full of pictures of God reaching out TO US
Isaiah 65:1,2 I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said 'here am I, here am I' 2 All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations -
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that WHOSOEVER believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life
1 John 3:1 How great is the love that the Father has lavished ON US that we should be called the sons of God
Col 2:14 - Having canceled he written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross
1 Cor 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God
This is TO US
Because as we read in verse 2 we are in Darkness without Christ
This is GOOD NEWS to Us, that has the purpose of Great Joy
Luke 2:10,11 - I bring you good news of great joy that will be fore all the people … a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord
He is Born into the Covenant as one of us
He is Born to bring fulfillment of the covenant and establish a new covenant
For to Us …
2. A Child is Born
A CHILD IS BORN
A. He was NOT a Spirit
1. Jesus, the Messiah, the fulfillment of this prophesy, the Babe in the Manger, the Man on the Cross … was NOT a Spirit on earth. One of the earliest heresies taught by Gnostic, or special knowledge cultist in the first century, was this idea that Jesus wasn’t a real person but just a spirit in the image of a man.
That was a lie then and is a lie today.
2. While his birth was not normal, in that Mary was a virgin, He was born, and lived a full and normal life
3. So, he understands and experienced our limitations
Heb 4:15 - for we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin.
He was not just a Spirit or manifestation as Gnostics would have us believe, and
B. He was NOT a Myth …
1. He came TO US
2. He is the fulfillment of prophesy written about hundreds and 1000s of years before he came so that we would know him to be real when he came
Isaiah 7:14 the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and give birth to a son …
3. Isaiah wanted them to know that the Messiah, was not just a story or a type, or something to imagine … he would come in the flesh
C. He is a Physical Human Being
Child = yeled (yeh-led) = child … offspring -
Born = yalad (yaw-lad) = to bear to bring forth
He came forth in a human body, as a child ---
some might want to say “what difference does it make, isn’t it just the spirit of the thing. Does it really matter if Jesus was physical, spiritual, or even just a good story, an example for us to follow?” Yes it matters …
1. Heb 2:14 - since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death, that is, the devil … 17 … he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest … that he might make atonement for the sins of the people
2. Heb 5:1 every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God
3. Luke 24:39 look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see I have
He was human with all the frailties of humanity and yet he was without sin. To be our sacrifice he must be like us. To offer our sacrifice he must be like us. He was a living and alive human being and he lives today so that we can seek him.
Isaiah 8:19 when men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a perople inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?
To US a Child is Born
v1 says he will "honor Galilee of the Gentiles". He was born in humanity with full capacity of all we need. He was NOT born with the POTENTIAL to develop what we need … he was born with all that we need already within him
He was BORN a Savior according to Luke 2:11 not born one who will BE a Savior
For To Us a Child is Born
And To Us …
3. A Son is Given
Son = ben (bane) - = Son, male child
Given = nathan (naw-than) = given; to permit, to ascribe, to dedicate - <also means> - not easily uprooted or diseased - <also> to continue unchanged for considerable duration
Why a Son?
I heard a preacher once ask the question "is God a man or a woman"? His answer was "neither, he is Father, because we NEED him to be a Father" and all the things that a Father can provide from a Biblical perspective in that day and time.
The same is true here … a SON was given because of what a Son could do for us.
From a Middle Eastern Jewish perspective a daughter would not have been much more value than good property.
But a Son meant Inheritance, Authority, and Promise of the Father
A. A Loving Father
A Loving Father - Has given us the Son that we might have access to all of the Son's benefits and privileges. The greatest thing the Son gives us is the Love of the Father
John 3:35 the Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands
John 14:21 whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him
Gal 4:4 when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law … 6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out Abba Father
B. Inheritance of the Son becomes ours
The Son is able to take the Throne of David and He is able to make us joint-heirs with him of all God has for him
Rom. 8:17 if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory
Gal 3:29 heirs according to his promise
Gal 4:7 - no longer slave, but a son; and since you are a son, … also an heir
So we have his inheritances … and
C. The Acceptance of the Son is Ours
1. Eph 2:6,7 God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in heavenly realms in Christ Jesus 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness TO US in Christ Jesus
2. Because we have been given the Son, WE can become the children of God
John 1:12 to all who received him (Jesus) to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God
John 3:1 - how great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 2 now we are the children of God, and what we will be has NOT yet been made known. But we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is
I have the acceptance, provision, and promise of the Son because the Father has GIVEN the Son to us
3. Acceptance from the Father is in the Son - Read all of Psalm 2 Later but beginning in verse 10 it says be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. 11 serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed … blessed are all who take refuge in him
For to US a Child is born
To Us a Son is Given
And THAT son is the ONLY way to Acceptance with the Father
This child of the Manger IS the only way to the Father
John 14:6 - Jesus answered ´I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me
There is good news in this season … Jesus the Son, was given to Reveal the Father, to Reconcile us to the Father, to offer Restitution for our sins experienced in our Repentance and providing for our Regeneration
Oh, what the Son given to us has provided for us
Ps 89:28 I will maintain my love to him forever and my covenant with him will never fail
David understood it and his last words are recorded in
2 Sam 23:5 is not my house right with God? Has he not made with me an everlasting covenant, arranged and secured in every part? Will he not bring to fruition my salvation and grant me my every desire?
Because of the Son given, Jer 31:33 says … I will be their God and they will be my people
Christmas is more than just a child being born.
While you are shopping, and eating, celebrating and doing family stuff …
Don't miss the significance of what happened that night in Bethlehem.
Sometimes we are busy going about our lives and miss the significance of what is happening …
Wright Brothers' Hometown
Orville and Wilbur Wright had tried repeatedly to fly a heavier-than-air craft. Finally one December day, off the sand dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, they did what man had never done before. They actually flew! Elated, they wired their sister Katherine, "We have actually flown 120 feet. Will be home for Christmas." Hastily she ran down the street, shoved the telegram-the news scoop of the century-at the city editor of the local paper. He read it carefully and smiled, "Well, well! How nice the boys will be home for Christmas!"
The Headline of the Story following their wire home was "Prominent Local Bicycle Merchants to be home for Christmas."
THEY FLEW an airplane, they did something that would revolutionize the world and he said, "how nice, they are coming home" … He missed the significance of what was in front of him, he read the story but missed the History!
Don't see the Child and miss the Son
Don't see the Son and miss that it is TO US
Don't miss that Jesus Christ was born a HUMAN, Son of Man, but sent as Son, born already a Savior and it was TO US,
God with us, “Immanuel”.
What will you do with this child?
What will you do with this gift?
In the manger is the cross
In the child is the Son
In the Son is a Father reaching out to dead, rebellious people in need of salvation and new life.