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The Christmas Thread: From a Manger to the Cross

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The Christmas presents are all unwrapped. The leftovers are put away and family has gone home. Kids are asleep and maybe some of you have already begun taking your Christmas decorations down. It’s another successful Christmas is in the books. Now what?
Was this just another day? Just another year? Or might this Christmas have been the beginning of something?
But Christmas was never supposed to be a holiday to come and go. However your feel about the jolly holiday, it should at least be a day to remember the reason for the season: Jesus.
We’ve come to the end of our Christmas Thread. We’ve watched as God weaved all of human history towards the birth of His son Jesus. Jesus has been born in Bethlehem. The angels rejoiced. Shepherds worshipped. It was a good day. Now what? Is this what it was all about? Thousands of years waiting for a baby to be born? We know this isn’t it? That baby would grow up. He would live a perfect life before His earthly parents and His heavenly father.
Isaiah 53:1
Isaiah 53:1–6 ESV
1 Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
1 Peter 2:21–25 ESV
21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
1 peter 2:
Mark 10:45 ESV
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.”
Mark 10:25 ESV
25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

Big Idea: Give in to the One who gave it all.

1. He became nothing so we could be something.

Explanation: Nothing should makes us feel the weight of our sin than to acknowledge that there is a perfect God who is in control. That means that we are not perfect and we are not God.
Illustration: Stick figures vs. Michelangelo
Application:

2. He was rejected so we could be accepted.

Explanation: I don’t think that we get this. Many people act as though the cross were unneccessary or doesn’t mean what it did. We talk in terms of God’s love for ALL people. However, apart from the cross of Jesus Christ, we are rejected. It is the cross that makes a way for us to be accepted. talks about God’s love. We often think of this in terms of the quantity of His love when its really talking about the specificity of God’s love. The way in which God loved the world was the cross. By making a way for us to be accepted.
Illustration: I think that middle school students understand this. Because they are fickle. In order to accept the ones in school who have been rejected, they understand that they will be rejected too.
Application:

3. He was crushed so we wouldn’t have to be.

Explanation: Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. Why couldn’t God just forgive our sins? God cannot do anything that violates His nature. God’s nature requires that His wrath from sin be satisfied (propitiated). Now there were 2 ways that this could happen. 1) We satisfy our own sin, or 2) A substitute takes our penalty.
Illustration: Kings had whipping boys. I’m not sure why. It couldn’t have worked. And I think we see that it works about just as well in sinful humans. We’re just glad that it wasn’t us up there on the cross.
Application: Now here is where it gets hard. Peter, when talking about , tells us that Jesus is now the example we are to follow.

Have you given in to Jesus?
1 Peter 2:21–25 ESV
21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
GIVE IN TO THE ONE WHO GAVE IT ALL!
So what should we do? As we begin 2018 in a few hours, what is your plan? My guess is that you have professional goals, fitness goals, financial planning goals. We know that you don’t achieve much without a plan. So what is your plan? Here’s the secret, you can do nothing apart from God. Give in to God first.
Give in to God first so that you can...
Turn from our sins and believe.
Grow daily
Find a mentor.
Read your Bible.
Join a life group.
Pour yourself into the service of God and His church.
Do whatever it takes to tell others.
When I was a kid, I listened to a pastor who was a real “fire and brimstone” preacher. He wanted to scare people into heaven with fear of God’s wrath and hell. On street corners, we have people holding signs saying, “Turn or burn.” And we say that they are unloving, and judgmental or even sinful. Now I’m not saying those methods are effective or even right. I don’t think you can divorce telling someone about Jesus from a relationship with them. But I can’t in good conscience tell you that their message is wrong or that they somehow have misinterpreted scripture. And however misguided, there desire that people heed their warning is a gracious act of love. Far more loving than those who would remain silent.

Reflection: Christmas is about Giving so Give in to Jesus.

Have you given in to Jesus?
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