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A Beautiful Christmas - All People

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A Beautiful Christmas  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  34:41
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About 20 years ago.

I had parents in the church. I was serving. It was a large church and I was an associate on the staff arrange for their daughter to meet with me because they said out of the staff. We think you'd be the right person to counsel her and she was a college student and so she came into my office and met with me and within 5 minutes of meeting with me. She propositioned me.

Hard to believe I know. I was as shocked as you are and I'm describing it very mildly and very graciously. There was no misunderstanding what was happening. Now, I immediately called other staff got them in the room got her connected with a different counselor a female counselor. But it was so blatantly obvious that the adversary was in that moment. She might as well have worn a red suit with horns and a pitchfork and said I'm here to take down your ministry and your family and this church. It was so blatant. This week. I have not been propositioned. But I have felt like Satan has overplayed his hand this week and I've seen his horns and the Pitchfork trying to thwart what I want to share this morning. And so I want to begin by saying what will you lend me your ears for a season here where you listen carefully because I really believe there's a core gospel message to be shared this morning and the adversary has done everything he could this week in my life personally and a dozen other ways to say I can mess this up I can sort this. And so I pray that that that we shut him out that we see the obviousness of his ploys and we open our ears to the gospel itself. We're in a sermon series. That's really brought from Luke all month long. We've been centered on this verse in Luke. See another projector is not working. So say we know right now that

There we go in Luke it says and the angel said to them and this is when the angel appeared to the Shepherds. This is the in many ways the very traditional Christmas passage were familiar with about the birth of Jesus when the angel appeared to them the angel said fear not for behold. I bring you good news of great joy, that will be for all the people. This is the announcement that the angel makes stop fearing and pay careful attention behold. Look closely because what I'm bringing is good news. Not something to cause fear of great joy not something to cause dread who all people not just to some people for the people. We think are normally qualified or credential.

I want to look at another Christmas passage that we don't normally think of as a Christmas passage. But all the Christmas passages begin at the beginning of each gospel. And this is the beginning of Matthew's gospel. And I think this is a Christmas passage. Matthew says this is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the Son of David the son of Abraham Abraham was the father of Isaac Isaac the father Jacob and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.

Judah the father Perez and zerah whose mother was Tamar here as the father has Ron and hezron. The father of ram ram the father of a member dad and a minute add the father of nation and Nation the father of Salman Salman the father of Boaz who mothers whose mother was Rahab Boaz, the father of Obed whose mother was Ruth and how bad the father of Jesse and Jesse the father of King David David was the father of Solomon whose mother had been uriah's wife Solomon the father of read a poem read a poem the father of abijah. Abijah the father of Asa ASA the father of Jehoshaphat Jehoshaphat the father of jehoram. Jehoram the father of Zara. Luzia, the father of Jonathan Jonathan the father of a has a has the father of Hezekiah Hezekiah of the father of manasa. Manasa, the father of Amon Amon the father of Josiah and Joseph the father of Aniya and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon after the Exile was the father of she'll tell tell tell was the father of the rubble to Rubble the father of a betta who invented who the father of alaikum alaikum alaikum. The father of Azor Azor The Father's Day. They talked to father of Aiken Aiken the father of Allah hoo Allah hoo, the father of Ellie Azar LA's are the father of mathematics the father of Jacob and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah. Now that doesn't strike us normally as a Christmas passage, but it is and I was amazed this week when I simply looked into a commentary and studied the genealogy what I learned so amazed that I simply have placed my notes like you're in the study with me going through this passage learning things about ancient Israel and ancient Judaism and why Matthew would start this gospel with this long genealogy why it was so important that these were the first words that he wrote in announcing the good news of the arrival of Jesus Christ the Messiah so when you go to the counter, here's the kind of note you find the purpose of a genealogical resume was to impress on lockers with high-quality and respectability of one's Roots Merrifield. We know that Kings and that they would often edit their genealogy in order. Exclude some people from their family tree in order to say yes. Here's my family tree. It looks really good. I scrubbed a couple of names off there so that I look even better than I am. It was like a resume in today's world that we think a resume is what you present your best foot forward. This is who I am. This is my experience. This is my education Etc in that day in the Jewish culture, especially your genealogy was your resume and so it was collected and presented as a way of saying look at who I am. And the kind of show off one's roots and Heritage in ancient patriotika societies. A woman was virtually never named in such list. So when a genealogical list was put together. One of those categories of names that got excluded was women don't bother listing the women in the genealogy because in that culture that was a negative to have a woman listed in her genealogy focused on the men. We learned that later in the gospels that women were never allowed to be a witness in court. And so it's amazing. It will mix it will Easter in here with Christmas. It's amazing that the Easter record of Christianity is that the very first preachers of the Gospel the very first witnesses that Jesus who was dead has resurrected from the tomb the very first ones at the Angels appear to and say no now go and tell the others that Jesus is Alive for women. These first testimonies were women kind of amazing, but an ancient patriotic besides a woman was never personally never named in such list and yet in this list, there are five women listed in the genealogy of Jesus. So the first readers of Matthew would have said what is he thinking why is he doing this did not did not submit this to any of us for approval. He just puts it out there live within something you need to know about the gospels when they record things they record things for a couple of reasons. Okay, because there was lots of material and history John even says that's the end of his gospel. The number of things that I can tell you about Jesus and what he did there's not books in the world that can't contain it. But I told you these things so that you might believe the one reason the authors of the gospels selected material is because it revealed something They selected it on purpose intentionally. They wanted us to know something. And so John bother to say Heather is just one time. We were near Samaria and all of us did don't go in Samaria. We know Samaritan's or no good. That's the way God works. Some races are good. Some races are not some people are better. Some people are not don't go in there somewhere in Jesus intentionally went and they tell us that story and John chapter 4 of Jesus and the Samaritan woman. So they chose what they chose because they were wanting to reveal something important the second reason to keep in the back your mind whenever you read the gospels is the reason they recorded what they didn't is because it actually happened. its history They did not feel the authority to mess with the facts. They did not feel the authority to say. Well then leave me Jewish men would have been tempted to send can it be someone else that was at the grave on Easter Sunday morning and came back. The first Witnesses couldn't be a Pharisee or couldn't be somebody with credentials in our culture, but they didn't feel any Authority and here's what happened. Mary was at the tomb. an angel appeared we looking for Jesus my master

Go and tell the others that he was raised. He is raised and the second reason they record with its history Matthew is concerned to be historically accurate and also to teach us a lesson. And so he gives us this genealogy of Jesus which includes five women most of the women in Jesus resume. We're Gentiles. That's another kind of what do you what do you thinking Matthew? Look we got a system here. We got a set of beliefs Gentiles are no good and we are good for people that are no good and they're people that are good. We got the world divided that way you're messing with that whole system including women in the genealogy, and now three of them are Gentiles. So this is really messing up the status quo it to the ancient Jews Gentiles were unclean. They weren't allowed in the Tabernacle or into the temple to worship. And it here is the genealogy delivered to us preceding the announcement of Christmas the birth of Christ. There's more as if that's not enough. That's enough play me most most good Pharisees. Most good followers of Judaism would have said Matthew your, you know, you're off the team. I can't believe you did this guy thing and Matthew would have said hey, this is what happened. I'm simply reporting the facts and you need to look at them like the angel said in Luke behold, you need to look and perceive and understand that there is a revelation here and what's being recorded. So there's even more to what happens in this genealogy. Matthew says that Judah was the father of Pires and zerah whose mother was Tamar Tamar tricked her father-in-law Judah in the sleeping with her. This was an act of incest everywhere in the Bible against the law of God the way Matthew wrote the genealogy. He could have written it in such a way and still been accurate with with Jewish practices, and he could have left a marker out of it. But he intentionally chose to include that name knowing that the readers would have understood the history and what I just read to you about Tamar, which just what are you thinking? Why are you doing it? This way Rahab was not only a Canaanite that's about enough for the Jews but she was a prostitute and here she is in the official announcement in the genealogy of Jesus Christ Our Savior and she's listed right there with Gentiles. Just when you get a glimmer of hope for some human credentials to make you feel good about the lady of David as King David was the father of Solomon listeners would have perked up until good King David, maybe my Messiah he is in the lineage of King David, but look at the way Matthew words what he says about King David whose mother had been Uriah's wife anybody who got their hopes up when they heard or read King David had them dashed immediately because Matthew went out of his way to say in case you're excited about King David Jesus. Let me point out something you remember who his wife was and he doesn't even bother to say her name that Sheba that's not a diss to her. He's not disrespecting her. He's disrespecting King David. He's pointing something out. If you don't know the story about uriah's wife that Sheba King David was king of all Israel. He was the man he was royalty and he had these soldiers who were especially loyal to him during this time of protecting his kingdom and protecting him. They were his mighty men. His best friends who laid down their lives for him and one of those men was Uriah And one day strolling on the roof of the palace thinking comes up. It's good to be king. Esaal uriah's wife that Shiba and he decided I want her. And he had her brought to him. And a cover his sin. He had his soldiers and his generals put Uriah at the front of the battle line so that he would die in battle so that he could marry uriah's wife and that's exactly what happened. And Matthew in recording the genealogy will not let us hold on to any human respectability any credentials at all to feel good about this. He just keeps pointing out, you know. There are multiple women in the genealogy of Jesus, you know, there are multiple Gentiles in the genealogy. Do you know if you get excited about King David? That his son that can continue to lineage Solomon that his mother had been the wife of Uriah. So he continues this continues the law of Moses excluded these people that we just been talking about for the presence of God and yet they are publicly acknowledged as the ancestors of Jesus. Let that sink in a little bit.

All the sense of propriety the sense of religion and man-made efforts and credentials Matthew starts off the gospel by saying let me just turn all that on its head. put the Angels game and they said fear not because every part of the shepherd said if the holy is appearing before us if this Angel is announcing something from God we are doomed we are done for and so they're shaking in their boots and the angel turns all that on its head and says first Stop being full of fear. Because what I've come to give you is good news of great joy to all people it's stunning stunning when you read this people who are excluded by culture excluded by respectable society and even exploded by the law of God can be brought into Jesus family. This is the gospel hidden away in the begats of Matthew. I don't know about you. But when I read Matthew 1 I'm tempted to go out. Yeah, you just want to skip right ahead that but if you just are patient and start reading a deliver research you realize like I said earlier the gospel writers put everything in the gospels on purpose to reveal something to us. And because it's truth it's fact it actually happened this way in ancient times. Being good enough or holy centered around ceremonial uncleanliness if you wanted to stay holy or respectable or good you had to avoid contact with the Unholy that was the understanding of right and wrong of being good enough and that dominated Judaism and it dominated the New Testament and it still dominates our lives today. And is the opposite of the Gospel. But there was this feeling of that guy Scott leprosy. Let's make him y'all unclean unclean so that he will not get near any of us and contaminates us. That's the way it works right film and on Holiness and not being good enough. It's this stuff on other people and if we can just separate ourselves from those other people if we can get neighborhoods zoned in such a way that we don't have to see those people want to walk at our front door if we could just be separate from them play Dido once in awhile as a token kind of nice. I'm helping somebody less fortunate than me, but if we can just in general put blinders on and just Embrace a nice safe middle-class life. Then we can slide as you've heard me say fat dumb and happy from the Cradle to the Grave and what we're doing when we Embrace that is were saying to God. I don't want the fullness of your presents. I don't want to be transformed. I don't want my life to be turned upside down in such a way that I could be called Christ like that. I could be used as your vessel full of the Holy Spirit actually changing my neighborhood and my city and my nation. I just want you know, the old saying I just want $3 worth of God. Please just enough to slide into heaven but not enough to change everything about my life. We're advocating and rejecting the greatest part of the Gospel that God longs to transform who we are and ironically then we still pray Lord help me overcome this in Lord. Help me be a better person help me and yet we said don't help me. You can't do that the part that's actually going to transform me. But hey, why aren't you changing me to get in that weird dilemma where we push aside? I think in terms of I'm going to manage Holiness and on Holiness on my own. I'm going to do it the way I think about it in my head that cleanliness and unclean. This is about staying away from certain sections of the city about not being in certain chops about not hanging out with certain people that made you know, when I was in college, I converted to Christianity and I got involved in the life of a church and I was I had learned all the rules yet that were part of church life that weren't in the Bible. I was only reading my Bible and so I kept going to this liquor store cuz I knew a guy that worked at a liquor store. I'd park right in front of go inside and talk to him trying to win this damn about Jesus and finally somebody that your phone is not that you need to quit doing that. We don't like seeing your car there. Eventually, we kind of get we get talked into thinking in a human way and pushing aside God's way of thinking and I believe it's vital for us to understand the gospel not only for our own transformation, but for the transformation of the way, we interact with everyone around us and so the ancient way of thinking was the sort of uncleanliness the distance yourself the Unholy Mass was considered to be contagious as it work until you had to stay separate. Jesus turns all of that around his Holiness and goodness cannot be contaminated by contact with us rather his Holiness infects Us by our contact with him. Think about the magnitude of that truth. It turns on its head the way we normally think about cleanliness Holiness righteousness. We normally think of it as a burden on our own shoulders. I've got to figure out some way to keep my nose clean to keep myself out of trouble in order to be in good standing there to feel good when I go into church and go before God. I got to make sure I clean myself up just the wrong way to think about it this somehow Holiness is something we can do by staying away from holiness. It's not this do's and don'ts list for salvation is on our own shoulders the reason the angels. The reason the Angels fill the sky with light and song is because God has changed everything and sent his son and the announcement is what you always thought about Holiness is no longer true that Messiah is coming and he will make holy. Those who believe in him those who choose him those who hear this good news and receive it will be made Holy by Christ his Holiness Trump's our hunt holding us. Amen. His Holiness is more powerful than sin. That's the gospel. That's the demonstration on the cross that Jesus is greater than sin. Amen. So when we come to Jesus when we accept him, when we celebrate around the communion table, we are celebrating the gospel itself the news from the very beginning that the Angels brought stop shaking in your boots. I'm bringing you good news. Good news. Good good good news. Great joy. to all people all people

Why Isaiah prophesized? Come let us talk some more about this matter says the Lord even though your sins are bright red. They will be as white as snow even though they are deep red. They will be white like wool. And then amazing that the prophet said here's what's coming and that Messiah one day. Even though you are stained by Unholy nice, even though you are stained by your own sand and it can be bright red. It will be made as white as snow. The righteousness of Christ will be imparted to us when we accept him as our Lord and savior his Holiness contaminates us. We don't contaminate him. Thank God that he doesn't look at us and say oh wait a minute Holiness is about staying away from the Unholy. I'm going to get away from Robbie. He's not righteous. I got a distance myself from him. Thank the Lord that that's not how it works that instead he comes and says I laid down my life and therefore the price has been paid and my righteousness in parts to you. You're on Holiness is overwhelmed and trumped by my Holiness and we become white as snow because of Christ. It's the same for those who think they are disqualified for any reason as as it is for those who think they are qualified for any reason. I have no doubt that there are some here this morning that we consistently think yourself. I'm the exception to the rule Ben Robinson. He's a nice guy. I like being who doesn't like Ben. I understand Jesus saves him but I'm not as good as being I'm no good. I can't be like then until we just get all these thoughts in her head and we say I'm the exception to the rule because of my sin or my failure here a murderer King. David is in the lineage of the Messiah.

There is no one. That is too far from the grace of God in Christ Jesus. No one. And even if you say well, I'm not been a murderer. I've been a Christian all my life, but I still send I've been mean and selfish and gossipy. So I knew the truth and I still turn my back on God you are not too far from God. There is no one. It was too far from the grace of God. No one at no point in your life. Look you may not be able to make a new beginning to your life, but you can start today and make a new end.

If you say yeah, but you don't know Robbie. My life is marked by who I was or what I've done or things. I've said all relationships are broken. I don't know how to get started. You can start right now and make a whole new ending to your life. Christ cleanses us as white as snow. Because of his love and his grace. And even those who think I'm pretty good I've got reason to be accepted King David had all the world's power credentials. He was a man not a woman. He was a Jew not a gentile. He was royalty not poor yet as Matthew shows us he too can be in Jesus family only by grace and so God's grace extends every direction to every person. It's not the good people who are in and the bad people around everyone is in only by the grace of Jesus Christ. Do you understand the radicalness of the Gospel? That there isn't this Us and Them category in the world that we can participate in where we say for there's good people and bad people where we say. Let's start a cultural War. Let's circle the wagons and politicians involved in fletc people to vote our way and stu things are weigh-ins on the city our way and regulate this way approach is sometimes. Every time but sometimes it's built on the assumption that you can divide the world between good and bad and we're the good if we could just get everybody to cooperate. We all know. Like King David or anyone else in the lineage that before the Holiness of God. We are all Unholy.

No matter how hard we strive or how much we succeed or how much good we do we still fall short. So we need this good news, and that's why it is good news for all people all people the one percenters and the 0 percenters. It's good news for everyone. It's good news for those who heard the gospel in the end times and and accepted it and embrace it and if they're honest, they know they still need it everyday fresh in their life. That gospel. Truth is good for those who never heard it or heard it for the first time today. It is good news for all people. We need to realize But it's not an exception to the rule. We think about it. The birth of Jesus is in the house with these instructions. Don't be full of fear. Look closely at their arrival of Jesus see that his arrival is good news of great. Joy for all the people the idea that God is a god occasionally makes exceptions to the rule and less than uncredentialed near do well slip in is is corrected with the good news that he is handing out credentials to anyone and everyone who will believe the good news. Think about how radical this and this that's the news that we have to share. Listen, the gospel should completely shape the way we treat others.

And I'll be the first to admit I struggle with that. I'm ashamed at the thoughts in my mind at certain times. I'm ashamed of the way I think well, I see that guy and I'm going to park over here cuz I don't want to be asked for money when you get in the store and get my stuff and get out. You know, I've got the kids with me. I don't want to. I am so quick sometimes to judge somebody to size them up and assess their situation and cross the street. A woman fed. I might say to someone.

The gospel fundamentally changes the way we should be thinking not only about ourselves. That we are as white as snow not any effort of Our Own. No matter how much we probably could never achieve that but to Christ we are as white as snow forgiven cleanse right out of skiff in her step and a joy and a heart that makes people say what are you drinking at 9 in the morning? And at what they what they said and asked when the church was born. Somebody said, what's up with all these people are they drunk? And Peter said no. No. No, it's just 9 in the morning.

It's the gospel. It's a good news. The righteousness that God imparts to us the widest know that he gives us the gift. To fundamentally change the way we think about ourselves and this gospel on to fundamentally change the way we think about everyone else we encounter we have the opportunity to share the good news with others the gospel turns that idea on it said Jesus said look the old gospel from the beginning then it's all about a Manger being greater than a palace. The world would say no no, no no a king arrives in a palace. What are you doing in a manger and got a thing? I don't think you understand do you Grace is needed for everyone. And so it's not just an exception to the rule. It is the rule that I will work through the least the last in the Loft that my grace will build the bridge itself that I will be the author of salvation for humankind and they only need to accept and believe it's all the managers greater than the palace nazarus is greater than Jerusalem a baby is greater than the king of the Jews are greater than Egypt, you know, if you were coming on the scene then I'm going to get me the nation that announces my present. They said he picks this small little Nation to be the announcement of his news a Shepherd boy is the one who defeats a giant a still Small Voice is greater than the earthquake when God speaks. The second-born is greater than the first Abel and Cain Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau those who are considered old or Baron are considered the ones that God will use to bring the children into this world choosing Rebecca and Hannah and Samson's mom and Elizabeth was told she'd have no children and then a teenage Mother who is unwed to bring the Messiah into this world. Could God have made it more clear that our assumptions that somehow are standing with him is about credentials that we can create on. Her own could have made it more clear to say it's not about those sorts of credentials at all. You could be King David and you need Grace to get in you could be a gentile a prostitute and you're in I'm handing out Prudential to anyone who will believe anyone who will trust not in themselves. But in me, that's the good news of Christmas and ultimately price displays for us that across Trump's a throne. Could you have said to a Kane during there's that those days hey a person's going to come. And they're going to overcome your kingdom their Kingdom will rise and stand for centuries and yours will go away and they won't sit on a throne instead. They'll hang from a cross. Human wisdom of said that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. There's no way a criminal. There's no way a convicted criminal. There's no way someone who's executed by the state. There's no way that they're the king or the kingdom and again God came to say I have to keep turning your assumptions upside down. So that you understand your saved your saved my grace covers you and not only that that's the good news. You can offer to others. I'm going to invite the worship team to come forward. If you've never responded to the gospel, I hope you've heard it clearly this morning that there's nothing that can keep you from the love of God. There's nothing that can keep you from being as white as snow. You simply have to believe.

Believe that the offer is true believe that is real except it. Say yes Lord, even though part of me thinks this is too good to be true. I'm going to step out in faith and place my trust in you not my own credentials not my own effort. But in what Jesus did on the cross and if you've already made that decision Will you just double down in your heart on that? Will you just celebrate the fact that we are as white as snow because of the work of Christ. Look, I know we're not as white as snow on our own. Amanda Casey by thinks that somehow there's degrees in this room and that I will rob. He's a preacher and somehow he's like almost there and God just has to cover a little bit of non-white in his life. That's just the devil. You need to see the horns on the devil in those sorts of thoughts when he sang to you that somehow it's on you it is not on you is on Christ. He placed the burden of our sin and are on Holiness and our Brokenness and our separation from God himself on his own shoulders and took those to the Cross so that he was full of thought and full truth could offer that gift to us of being righteous and cleansed In God's Presence us the joy. We sing Joy to the World to the world. There's no exceptions crisis come and offered us this grace and the angel said to them fear not for behold. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people as we sing this song. It's a chance for us simply to praise Christ who has redeemed us. If you got that decision on your heart, I'll be in the back come to me. I love to pray with you talk to you about any questions. You have. No B folks in the front and the back of ailable for prayer. Also, please stand and let's praise price.

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