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Advent Love: God Became One of Us

Advent 2017  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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God became one of us to save all of us.

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4th Week of Advent: Love

This morning we are in recognizing the last Sunday of Advent. Advent is a strange season for Christians because we are looking back to the time before Jesus was born in order to look forward to when he will come back. It takes some mental gymnastics some times.
You probably know the emphasis of Advent is the same every year. This year I wanted to stay on those as themes for each Sunday. Hope, Peace, Joy, and today, LOVE.
Love is sort of the capstone for advent. It sort of is the overarching theme of the whole season.

Christmas is Supernatural

The allure of Christmas has a strange power over us, even if you aren’t a really spiritual type person. The season has a kind a draw, a type of “spirit” or “magic,” that makes it every bit as big today, as it ever has been.
Why is that? Why is it that even in a society that tries to empty the holiday of it’s historical connection to Christ, have such pull on our hearts?
I’ve been entertained this month as people on TV, politicians or pop culture icons try to explain the point of Christmas without revealing the one who it was named after. They find the “reason for the season” as family and generosity, and food, etc.
Why does Christmas have this magnetism, even in a society that has tried to empty it of its origin in Christ? The real magic of Christmas is not gifts and goodies, new toys and familiar traditions, indoor warmth and outdoor snow. What lies at the very heart of Christmas, and whispers even to souls seeking to “suppress the truth” (), is the most stunning and significant fact in the history of the world: that God himself became one of us. The God who created our world, and us humans at the apex of his creation, came into our world as human not just for show, but for our salvation.
It’s almost comical to see a unbelieving world try to explain an event rooted in a miracle. The real magic of Christmas is not gifts and goodies, new toys and familiar traditions, indoor warmth and outdoor snow. What lies at the very heart of Christmas, and whispers even to those ignoring it (), is the most stunning and significant fact in the history of the world: that God himself became one of us. The God who created our world, and us, came into our world as human not to prove his power, but to be our salvation.
Truly, Christmas is supernatural. And I believe our culture is starving deep down for something beyond the natural, rarely admitting it, and not really knowing why. Our jobs are great, but we are still down deep dissatisfied. We have fantastic vacations, but we never seem to come home completely restored. We have beautiful homes and smart kids but we can’t enjoy them completely either, we want more for them.
Christmas comes along and taps into something deep in the human soul, it woos us, even when it’s inconsistent with a mind that professes unbelief.
Christmas is supernatural. And our naturalistic society is starving deep down for something beyond the natural, rarely admitting it, and not really knowing why. Christmas taps into something arcane in the human soul and woos us, even when it’s inconsistent with a mind that professes unbelief.
Christmas is the holiday that delivers
We don’t understand it fully, but we know there is something there. That something is what we are talking about today, That thing about Christmas that is drawing us in, is Love. I don’t mean a feeling of mushy gushiness. I am talking about Holy Love, perfect love, Advent Love.
The bible teaches this as it describes the birth of Jesus. Specifically that

God became one of us in order to save all of us.

Paul expressed the incarnation in this way: “In him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (). Think of that! Jesus wasn’t just some special appearance of God. Nor was he merely a misunderstood teacher of love who ended up getting crucified. He was God in the flesh—immortal; invisible spirit clothed with human hair, skin and blood; and supported by muscle and bone. For the first time, God had to breathe, eat, drink, and sleep. When cut he bled. He longed for companionship and truly suffered when his friends deserted him. He became one of us in every sense of the word.

Love - His Arrival - The Incarnation

This is what sets Christianity apart from every other religion. In no other religion does a god do anything more than tell his subjects what to do to become like him, earn his favor, or give instruction on how, if they’re lucky, they might avoid ticking him off. In no other religion does a creator god become weak and an indistinguishable part of his creation.
John 1:1–3 NIV84
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
What did Jesus look like? A regular Joe. His form was just like ours. Look around you. What do you see? A bunch of ordinary looking people right. That’s just how ordinary he looked. If you’d seen him, I doubt you would have thought he was anything special. He didn’t have any sort of magnetism that would make you take a second look. He looked like any twenty- or thirty-something carpenter on any construction job.
What did Jesus look like? A regular Joe. His form was just like ours. Put this book down for a moment and look across the room at someone. That’s how ordinary he looked. Or, better yet, look at yourself in a mirror. He looked just like you! He had eyes, pores, hair, and teeth. If you’d seen him, you wouldn’t have thought he was anything special. He didn’t have any sort of magnetism that would make you take a second look. He looked like any twenty- or thirty-something carpenter on any construction job.
What did Jesus look like? A regular Joe. His form was just like ours. Put this book down for a moment and look across the room at someone. That’s how ordinary he looked. Or, better yet, look at yourself in a mirror. He looked just like you! He had eyes, pores, hair, and teeth. If you’d seen him, you wouldn’t have thought he was anything special. He didn’t have any sort of magnetism that would make you take a second look. He looked like any twenty- or thirty-something carpenter on any construction job.
He willingly took a servant’s form and was born in the likeness of men. He was fully human ().
His complete identification with us shouldn’t have taken his contemporaries by surprise, because seven hundred years before his birth the prophet Isaiah spoke of how normal the Messiah would appear: “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him” (). He willingly took a servant’s form and was born in the likeness of men. He was fully human ().
His complete identification with us shouldn’t have taken his contemporaries by surprise, because seven hundred years before his birth the prophet Isaiah spoke of how normal the Messiah would appear: “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him” (). He willingly took a servant’s form and was born in the likeness of men. He was fully human ().
Even as a baby, Jesus was normal. He didn’t have some sort of radioactive glow about him. No little halo or cherubs floating around his head. No. He looked like any Middle Eastern infant, wrapped in rags and nursing at his mother’s breast. He cried just like us.
What was baby Jesus like? Did he have some sort of radioactive glow about him? Maybe a little halo or cherubs floating around his head? No. He looked like any Middle Eastern infant, wrapped in rags and nursing at his mother’s breast. And contrary to the sweet carol “Away in the Manger,” he did cry when awakened by the cattle’s lowing. He cried just like us.
What makes the incarnation powerful is that unlike ancient mythological gods, Jesus hadn’t been banished to earth as punishment like a Jewish Thor. No, God the Son freely volunteered to become one of us and to forever take to his person all that it meant to be human. “Though he was rich, yet for your sake he [voluntarily] became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (). It was a voluntary act of self humiliation, making himself nothing when he had everything.
John 1:1–4 NIV84
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
Jn 1:1-
This is Holy Love. Offering himself before we even ask. Not just offering himself, but setting aside his rightful place to become far less than he ever was…in order that we might experience more then we ever could.
John 1:1–3 NIV84
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
This is Holy Love. Offering himself before we even ask. Not just offering himself, but setting aside his rightful place to become far less than he ever was…in order that we might experience more then we ever could.
Unlike ancient mythological gods, Jesus was no naughty demigod stripped of his superpowers and banished to earth as punishment. Jesus isn’t Thor. No, God the Son freely volunteered to become one of us and to forever take to his person all that it meant to be human. “Though he was rich, yet for your sake he [voluntarily] became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (). The incarnation isn’t a punishment on the Son; it is an act of his love, a “voluntary humiliation.”5 He gladly “made himself nothing” ( NIV). He who had everything, who was Lord of all, God Most High, creator, became a poor servant—your servant—out of love for you, his beloved. He came to serve you and win you with his love. He became one of our own so that we could be his own.
John 1:1 NIV84
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
This was just the start of Jesus coming as Love on earth.
His message: Grace & Truth
Jn 1:1-This was just the start of Jesus coming as Love on earth.
****
Jesus also revealed Holy Love for us in the way he lived.
Our passage today describes Jesus as
So Jesus being God, woudl do all things
John 1:4–5 NIV84
In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
John 1:9 NIV84
The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
Jn 1:
Jesus was a breath of fresh air that the world was desperate for. And He still is.
Jesus was a breath of fresh air that the world was desperate for. And it still is.
You see, the people of Israel had the law. The law had been given to Moses. It was intended to show people how to live in relationship with God. To be a constant reminder and teacher of their need for a relationship with God, but instead, people had taken a perfect law and used it to separate themselves from others.
They had the letters of the law but failed to see beyond that. Into this Jesus was born

Love - His Message - Grace & Truth

Grace
This is still what resonates with us today.
Truth
Now was a time for grace and truth.
Not just grace…not just truth.
Jesus came to bring true life. He was God’s means of demonstrating his heart for humanity, giving them grace and truth. Not just grace. Not just truth. The fullness of both.
Unfortunately, we often do a poor job of communicating the Christian message at times.
We often swing toward one extreme or the other. One of ALL grace, where Christianity simply becomes indistinguishable from a broken world, morally lazy rather than obedient. We church folk gossip, argue, complain, and covet; allowing hypocrisy that is insulting to a world desperate for something different.
But an all-truth Christianity is no more the way of Jesus. Jesus called it out in the religious leaders of his day who seemed to love Law over people.
Television political commentator Bill Maher is a recent example of familiar pro-Jesus, anti-Christian rhetoric. In an interview on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, he echoed a Gandhi-like refrain that demonstrates the risk of watered- down, all-grace Christianity: “Jesus as a philosopher is wonderful. There’s no greater role model, in my view, than Jesus Christ. It’s just a shame that most of the people who follow him and call themselves Christians act nothing like him.” One can only wonder at the name-alone Christians that must have repelled Maher in order to produce such venomous and over-generalized opinions in him. Grace without obedience is false religion that Maher should reject.
Yet all-truth Christianity is no more on point. Jesus called it out in the religious leaders of his day who seemed to love Law over people.
We have all seen “truth” become a weapon in evangelism-gone-bad scenarios where megaphones, signs and arguments replace love, respect and healing words. But we have never converted someone to faith by winning an argument.
I have read about a Denver ministry called “Where Grace Abounds” that ministers to people dealing with sexual brokenness — primarily because of pornography and sexual addictions. Their motto is a fantastic summary of the message that Jesus lived: “100 percent Grace. 100 percent Truth. No compromise.”
As a single mother and an alcoholic, author Anne Lamott felt the judgmental sting that accompanied the ungracious standards of the Christianity she was presented with. In Grace (eventually) she says, “You can tell you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” Truth without grace tends to feel hateful and not loving.
One year my kids got a trampoline from Santa. That must have been heavy. When we set it up they immediately wanted to go out and jump on it…in the freezing cold.
Teaching how to do flips…had to show them.
That’s what God was doing in Jesus. Showing us what grace and truth looked like in the flesh.
That’s who Jesus was. He was all grace and all truth. We want to experience this, many Christ followers want to represent this. Jesus became one of us, so that we might see the way to walk.
That’s who Jesus was. He was all grace and all truth. We want to experience this, many Christ followers want to represent this. Jesus became one of us, so that we might see the way to walk.
People longed for it when Jesus was born and People still long for it.
A Denver ministry called “Where Grace Abounds” ministers to people dealing with sexual brokenness — primarily because of pornography and sexual addictions. Their motto is a fantastic summary of the message that Jesus lived: “100 percent Grace. 100 percent Truth. No compromise.”
We have a longing in our hearts for this grace and truth. Many refer to it as compassionate truth. What ever you call it, our hearts long for people to speak truth in love. That’s the way of Jesus.
People still long for it.
****
Jesus wasn’t a plan B.
The third reality of God becoming one of us is revealed in Jesus’s destiny, his sacrifice.
The third reality of God becoming one of us is revealed in Jesus’s name. We don’t see it in this passage, but we know that Jesus in Hebrew is Yeshua. Which means God saves.
The third reality of God becoming one of us is revealed in Jesus’s name. We don’t see it in this passage, but we know that Jesus in Hebrew is Yeshua. Which means God saves.
Wonder of sacrificing for us
Yeshua - God saves
Jesus wasn’t a plan B.
John 1:10–13 NIV84
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
JOhn 1:10-
Often times when we read the bible, we get this impression that Jesus was God’s plan B. But that would be wrong. Yes God asked people over and over again to be faithful. Yes he destroyed the earth with a flood because things weren’t working. Yes God judged his people. But ALL of it was his plan. Jesus you see had been there all along. When the time came for him to come and reveal God's heart to the world and to rescue God’s people he came. He wasn’t a plan B. Jesus was plan A.

Love - His Destiny - Sacrifice

Jesus was God’s plan from the beginning. The purpose of the law wasn’t to save, but to show us that we needed a savior. Pain wasn’t intended to break us, but to show us we needed a healer. Wealth wasn’t so that we would see we did it right, but that God was faithful and generous. Everything in life was intended to point us toward Him, but we tend to point it toward us or one another. God knew that we would do that because of the sin in the world, and that’s how it was supposed to be.
Became a Christian…wanting to live for him.
Friends and family frustrating me.
Realization…they are doing exactly what they are supposed to do without God.
God didn’t just come down to show us his heart, he came for a bigger purpose. The death that God himself came to die was no an accident. He came to die, and live again in order to match and overcome the rebellion of God’s creation.
Romans 5:8 NIV84
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
In this, he showed us the very heart of love — his own and his Father’s.
waiting until the fullness of time when he would come.
It is wonder enough that he “came down” at all. But when he did, he came not in human glory and comfort and prestige, but he “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant” (). He came not only as creature, but in poverty, in weakness, in humility. He came as one who rose from supper,
In this, he showed us the very heart of love — his own and his Father’s.
In this, he showed us the very heart of love — his own and his Father’s. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” ().
laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. ()
laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. ()
For a brief moment, on the hill of his transfiguration, three of his disciples caught a glimpse of the divine-human glory for which he was destined. “He was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light” (). But the Jesus they knew, day in and day out, on the roads of backwater Galilee was no dignitary. “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (). His disciples learned firsthand that “even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve” ().
For a brief moment, on the hill of his transfiguration, three of his disciples caught a glimpse of the divine-human glory for which he was destined. “He was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light” (). But the Jesus they knew, day in and day out, on the roads of backwater Galilee was no dignitary. “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (). His disciples learned firsthand that “even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve” ().
That’s who Jesus is. His name said it all.
All the Way to Death
All the Way to Death
Such service extended, and deepened, far beyond the mere inconveniences of life, into costly self-sacrifice, even the final sacrifice. He came not just to serve but “to give his life as a ransom for many” ().
It was one thing to wash his men’s feet. That was unforgettable, but only a tiny foretaste of his true service. It was another thing to rise from supper, lead them out to the garden, wait in agony for his captors, and walk alone the literally excruciating path that foot-washing anticipated: “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” ().
It’s good to have a name that says it all.
It was one thing to wash his men’s feet. That was unforgettable, but only a tiny foretaste of his true service. It was another thing to rise from supper, lead them out to the garden, wait in agony for his captors, and walk alone the literally excruciating path that foot-washing anticipated: “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” ().
To Rescue His People
Priddy…yes I am.
To Rescue His People
But this was no mere descent from heaven, as a servant, all the way to death. This was descent for a purpose. This was humility on mission. The death that God himself came to die was no an accident of history. He came to die, and live again. The extent of his people’s rebellion was matched, and surpassed, only by the extent of his final sacrifice. And in so doing he showed us the very heart of love — his own and his Father’s. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” ().

Love - His name - Yeshua [God saves]

We don’t see it in this passage, but we know that Jesus in Hebrew is Yeshua. Which means God saves.
The magic of Christmas is not just that God himself came from heaven as man. And it is not just that he humbled himself as a servant to meet the needs of others. And it’s not even just that he came to die, to unfold his service all the way to death. The magic is that he came down, and did all that, to rescue us. Such was the promise of God’s messenger from the time of his announcement: “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” ().
The magic of Christmas is not just that God himself came from heaven as man. And it is not just that he humbled himself as a servant to show us grace and truth. And it’s not even just that he came to die, to unfold his destiny all the way to death. The magic is that he became one of us to save all of us.
Matthew 1:21 NIV84
She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
He came down to rescue us from sin and restore us to that for which we were made: to know and enjoy him. He came to reconcile us “to himself” (). He came not to supply us with the bells and whistles of a commercial Christmas, but he “suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” ().
He came down to rescue us from sin and restore us to the final joy for which we were made: to know and enjoy him. He came to reconcile us “to himself” (). He came not to supply us with the bells and whistles of a commercial Christmas, but he “suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” ().
He came down to rescue us from sin and restore us to the final joy for which we were made: to know and enjoy him. He came to reconcile us “to himself” (). He came not to supply us with the bells and whistles of a commercial Christmas, but he “suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” ().
He did it by coming to us. As Eugene Peterson writes this verse in the Message:
John 1:14 The Message
14 The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.
God Became one of us to save all of us

God Became one of us to save all of us

That’s the miracle of Christmas. That’s love. That’s what draws us in and what our affections should be fascinated by this season. That’s the miracle of christmas. That God became one of us to save all of us.
What’s the proper response to that? What are we to do?
At Christmas, if you get a card, and they weren’t on your original list, you have to go and add them to your list. You have to do like wise.
We can’t do that for God though. He doesn’t need saving. So what can we give him? Since he created everything we have, he doesn’t really NEEEED anything we have…neither do we actually, at least not like we often think we do. Our response?
I read an article this week that got me thinking where all this might be headed. It was by JD Walt from Asbury Seminary.
He said that Jesus came so that we might see what God was like. Jesus was God you see. But he said in an even greater sense, ... God has come to show us what human beings are like.
The message of the Gospel of John is as simple as it is incomprehensible. If you want to see the one and only true God of all that is and was and is to come, look at Jesus. Jesus has not come to show us that he is God. God has come to show us that he is Jesus. Yes, Jesus has come to show us what God is like, but in an even greater sense, I think God has come to show us what human beings are like.
Then he asked the question: if humanity has always been in the heart of God?
So what if humanity has always been in the heart of God? What if being created in the image of God actually means to be truly human? Otherwise does being created in the image of God mean everything but being human? Otherwise what does "The Word became flesh" actually mean?

What if being created in the image of God actually means to be truly human?

He went on to wonder what if being human, in the image of God, meant we were intended to be like Jesus: fully human but empowered by the spirit of God, living in a reality of Holy Love.
IF that’s the case, the only response we could possibly offer is the same for everyone of us this Christmas.
To love him.
To love him.
Love
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