3 9-17 The Purpose Of Christmas
liberty bible church 12/30/07 a.M.
By Tom Zobrist
“the purpose of christmas”
Illus. of the purpose of Christmas for the retail world. READ the excerpts from the article. The world has a clear purpose for the Christmas season, albeit a very materialistic one. I guess we’ll know January 10th if Christmas saved the economy. Whether the world remembers it or not, God’s original purpose for Christmas was to save, but it wasn’t intended to save the economy. That purpose has evolved in recent years. No, Christmas is not about saving the economy, it’s about saving souls and no passage identifies that purpose better than the one we’re looking at today.
OPEN to passage.
Prop. In this passage, we see the ultimate purpose of Christmas.
Open in PRAYER.
PREVIEW the passage. Jesus is in the midst of a personal encounter with one of the top religious leaders in the nation and it doesn’t seem to be going real well. READ 1-8 to get the context. As we move on in the conversation, Jesus begins to clarify some of these deep Spiritual truths for Nicodemus. Why is it so hard for some to get it, the truth about Jesus? Why do they struggle so with understanding why He came? Why are they so offended by the word Christmas? First, understanding Christmas…
i. requires a heavenly mind vs. 9-12
Illus. of the world’s Christmas is much different than ours. Illus. of the number of movies that have to do with Christmas. “A Christmas Story” contrasted with “The Nativity.” We live in the culture but to fully understand what God wants us to about Jesus and His incarnation requires us to think outside of the flesh. Let’s start with…
a. kindergarten christianity
V 9 1. Nicodemus asks how this spiritual rebirth can take place. He was thinking in the physical realm when Jesus wanted him to go outside that box into the spiritual.
V 10 2. Jesus asks a rhetorical question that really puts Nicodemus in his place. The Greek as the article the before teacher. I don’t believe the NIV has this. Nicodemus was considered one of the preeminent teachers in Israel. Illus. of John MacArthur or Chuck Swindoll being rebuked by the Lord. They should get it. Nicodemus didn’t get it…the spiritual birth that was necessary to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The OT prophets spoke of the day when the Spirit would be working among the people. Cf. Ezek. 36:25-27 Certainly Nicodemus knew that God could give someone a new heart.
b. good teacher, failing students
V 11a 1. Jesus like the prophets spoke of the things of God; basic truths about salvation and the Kingdom. They were taught about repentance and forgiveness; He taught them how to relate to God and one another. Being God, Jesus was not teaching abstract philosophy. He was teaching truths that to which He had been witness.
V 11b 2. Like the prophets, Jesus’ teachings were rejected by the Jews. The word for witness is the Greek word from which we get martyr from and John uses it frequently. In a sense, a martyr is a rejected witness.
V 12 3. Another rhetorical question. If Nicodemus didn’t get how to be saved on this earth, the basics truths of being born again…including sin, repentance, trust, etc. If he doesn’t believe when confronted with these truths, how will he believe and accept deeper truths of God. How would he understand the virgin birth, the Trinity, the resurrection, the Second Coming, etc. If one is not born again, their understanding of God’s Word is hindered. That’s why the study of the Bible is boring to some. They don’t understand.
Trans. To understand the purpose of Christmas REQUIRES A HEAVENLY MIND. That can only be had when one is born again and the Spirit changes us. That’s where Jesus comes in. To really have Christmas…
ii. requires a heavenly man vs. 13-15
Illus. of Mike Huckabee’s Christmas ad that asks if we’re tired of all the political advertising. He said, “I don’t blame you. What really matters is the celebration of the birth of Christ and being with family and friends.” In the background is a tree and a part of a bookshelf that looks like a cross. The political pundits say that it is a subliminal message forcing Christianity on the nation and that non-Christians will be offended. One non-Christian blogger said, “As a non-Christian I found it to be a very refreshing bit of individual expression of personal conviction. I celebrate the holidays because it's a nice time for a holiday. I don't care what your religion is or how you celebrate. Have a good time. Don't hurt anyone and don't break anything.” Christmas isn’t Christmas without Jesus.
a. Were you there?
V 13a 1. No one has ever gone to Heaven and returned. Some say Paul did, but at this time they had not. We have no clear witness of Heavenly things. There is one exception.
V 13b 2. When God became a man in the incarnation, Jesus became the first person to give first hand testimony of the heavenly realm. Cf. Dan. 7:13 Jesus is link between Heaven and earth, having access to both.
b. Jesus is there for those who call on him
V 14 1. Jesus ascending to Heaven will not happen until after He fulfills the purpose for which He came. This was pictured in the OT event that we read about earlier. The people had rebelled and God’s answer was in Moses lifting a bronze serpent before them. All that believed that looking at that serpent for healing were healed. All that didn’t died. The medical symbol used today of a snake wrapped around a pole is called a Caduceus. It has some Greek mythology origins, but I think they stole it from this situation. This whole event was a picture of what Jesus would do.
V 15 2. Some Greek manuscripts leave out “not perish, but”. It doesn’t matter. “Whoever” includes everyone. It means that any sinner who believes or trusts in Jesus as the Jews who looked at Moses’ staff, would not just get earthly life, but eternal life. They would live a high quality of life forever. Just look to Jesus and trust in His death on the cross and be saved. You see, No Jesus, no Christmas. It’s just a day off that costs a lot of money.
Trans. To understand the purpose of Christmas REQUIRES A HEAVENLY MIND. That can only be had when one is born again and the Spirit changes us. That’s where we REQUIRE THE HEAVENLY MAN. Jesus came from Heaven to provide eternal life for all who believe in Him. Finally, to really have Christmas…
iii. requires a heavenly mandate vs. 16-17
Illus. of a mandate is a document giving an official instruction or command. This is where we come in. We are the heralds that put all this together for the world so that they have the opportunity to make informed decisions about Jesus and their eternal life; where they will spend it. Here’s the mandate.
A. a mandate for a better life
V 16a 1. God is motivated to save us by love. This doesn’t describe how much God loves us. It describes the way God loves us as sinners. It also includes all the world. It’s not just the Jews or a select group. This love is offered to all, but not received by all.
V 16b 2. “only begotten” is monogene, means only born-one. It’s the only Son God will ever have. God freely gave His only Son…for one purpose.
V 16c 3. So that all who believe or trust in His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead, might not perish, but have everlasting life. “perish” doesn’t mean annihilated, but rather “ruined,” separated from God for all eternity. “eternal life” does not just refer to living forever, but it refers to a higher quality of life. Illus. of this begins when we are born again. Believers have the potential of living a higher quality of life than the world. It is not one of just wealth and prosperity materially, it is one full of truth and joy and contentment. The world doesn’t understand this.
b. the purpose of christmas (why jesus came)
V 17a 1. Jesus didn’t come to condemn, we already were. God does not delight in the death of the wicked. Cf. Ezek. 18:23, 32
V 17b 2. God desires that everyone be saved. Cf. 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9 At this point many debate election and limited atonement, but the facts don’t change. There is s divine mandate that all believe in Jesus to be saved. To fail is to spend an eternity separated from God. We know that it is we who are to share this message with the world.
That the purpose of Christmas. To fully get it REQUIRES A HEAVENLY MIND, A HEAVENLY MAN, and A HEAVENLY MANDATE. How are we affected by this? Well, the heavenly Man has already been provided. We know who that is, what about the heavenly mind.
1. The Heavenly mind can only be had by trusting in Jesus. GOSPEL No works needed.
2. The Heavenly mandate is given to us to get this message to the world. We all are in a position to influence and share with others about the need to trust Jesus. How can we be prepared?
3. Knowledge of the Word; prayer; preparation of how we respond to when we have opportunity.
Illus. of James has been training for months for his service for the Army.
Should we do less. We seek to grow to be more effective is evangelism and disciple-making. Everything we do should revolve around that task. Secular jobs, family life, community involvement all should have their end in reaching lost people with the mandate to believe in Jesus. That’s the purpose of Christmas. That’s why Jesus came. That’s why we’re here.
“the purpose of christmas”
Christmas is not about saving the ____________________, it’s about saving souls.
i. requires a heavenly vs. 9-12
a. ____________________________ christianity
Cf. Ezek. 36:25-27
b. good teacher, _____________________ students
ii. requires a heavenly vs. 13-15
a. Were you there?
Cf. Dan. 7:13
b. Jesus is there for…
iii. requires a heavenly vs. 16-17
A. a mandate for a ___________________ ___________
b. the purpose of christmas
Cf. Ezek. 18:23, 32 ; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9
How are we affected by this?