12-19-2021 - Sermon - Born to Die
Christmas is a wonderful time of year. It is a time for Christmas decorations and lights. It is a time for Christmas songs. It is a time for spending time with family. It is a time for giving gifts. It is a time for the smell of turkey and dressing and sweet potato pie. Christmas is a very special time. As the old song says, it truly is “The most wonderful time of the year.”
But we as believers celebrate Christmas for more than just exchanging gifts or eating a meal together. We celebrate Christmas because we are celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is a time for us to remember and give thanks to God for the greatest gift that has ever been given. Because let’s face it, without Christ, there is no Christmas. I’ve heard someone say if you take Christ out of Christmas, you are left with a mas (mess).
Last week, we talked a little about the story of Abraham and Isaac. How Abraham obeyed God in taking his son Isaac up Mt. Moriah as a sacrifice, but how God provided another sacrifice and never intended Abraham to go through with it. Unlike Isaac, who ascended the mountain that day, totally unaware that he was the sacrifice, Jesus descended from heaven fully aware of what His Father had planned for Him.
5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. 7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.
This passage of Scripture gives us incredible insight into the mind of Jesus just before His birth. Jesus knew that He would have to be born into this world as a child. He would have to add humanity to His divinity. He knew that one day He would ascend the same mountains of Moriah surrounding Jerusalem as Abraham and Isaac had done hundreds of years before. But there were no more substitute sacrifices. He was the one. The Heavenly Father would do what He didn’t require Abraham to do. He would offer His only begotten Son, Jesus, as a perfect and final sacrifice, on an old rugged cross, at Mt. Calvary, to save humanity from their sins.
What makes Christmas so great is not just that Jesus came to earth, but why He came. When we think about the incarnation of Jesus we think about His sinless life. We think about the miracles He performed. We think about His teachings and sermons. But all of these are incidental to His true main purpose in coming to earth.
Jesus could have performed all of these things without being born of a virgin and becoming a human. He could have showed up as the Angel of the Lord, as He did many times in the Old Testament, and accomplished everything listed above. But Jesus had one main reason for coming to earth, taking on human flesh and blood, and being born in the little town of Bethlehem that night.
Jesus was born to die.
Think about as Jesus is laying in the manger in Bethlehem. Those tiny precious hands, which were fashioned by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb, would one day be nailed to an old rugged cross. Those precious feet would one day have to walk the path up Mt. Calvary. His body, that Mary wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, would one day be pierced with a spear by the Roman soldiers. His head, so small and tender as a infant, would one day have a crown of thorns pressed into it.
Jesus was born to die.
But the story of Jesus, the story of His incarnation and His death on the cross, is not a tragedy. It is the greatest victory that has ever been won. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, and He accomplished it. Jesus came to save His people from their sins, and He completed it. Jesus came so that we might have life, and that we might have it more abundantly, and He has offered it. Look at what the writer of Hebrews tells us in Hebrews 2.
9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. 10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
The incarnation of Jesus Christ is truly miraculous. But Jesus did not come to stay a baby in a manger. He grew. He lived a sinless life. He performed miracles. He taught about the Kingdom of God. All that so one day, He could be nailed to a cross and lay down His life for us. So that He could destroy the works of the devil. So that He could redeem us from our sins. So that we could have our fellowship with God restored. So that we could have the promise of eternal life in heaven one day. All by simply accepting Jesus’ sacrifice for us by faith and making the easy decision to become one of His followers. Ladies and gentlemen, that is good news.
And as we reflect on these thoughts today, it should remind us that we are to reflect on all Jesus has done for us until He returns to take us to our heavenly home. And Jesus gave the church a very special way to do this. It is what we call Communion, or the Lord’s Supper.
Before we partake in Communion together this morning, I want to read you a few verses that will prepare us for this moment by demonstrating to us its meaning, its purpose, and how we are to approach communion.
23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: 24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. 27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
Communion is all about remembering Jesus and what He did for us by coming to earth in the form of a man and dying on the cross for our sins. The Last Supper that Jesus shared with His disciples was actually a Passover meal, when the Jews celebrated Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. The breaking of bread and drinking of wine were important parts of the Passover celebration. Jesus took these important reminders of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and added them to the meanings connection with His death on the cross and our deliverance from sin, death, and hell.
The bread represents the body of Christ that was broken for us on the cross. The Passover meal featured unleavened bread, made without yeast, both because yeast is a picture of sin in the Bible and because, in bread, yeast needs time to work and in their haste to leave Egypt, they did not have time to let their bread rise. The unleavened bread used at the Passover meal had the scorch-mark “stripes” and holes from baking that looked like “pierce” marks.
The wine, or grape juice, represents the blood of Jesus that was poured out for us at the cross. The wine in the Passover meal represented redemption from the slavery in Egypt. Under the new covenant, it represents the redemption of Jesus’ blood that has redeemed us from the power of sin.
We celebrate communion for a couple reasons: (1) to remember what He did for us at the cross, and (2) to look forward in anticipation of His return. Jesus said, “do this in remembrance of me.” We remember the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made for us to purchase our redemption. Paul said, “as often as you do this, you show the Lord’s death until He comes” or until He returns. We also take communion in anticipation of the rapture and resurrection when we will be with Him.
How to Take Communion
Communion is both a solemn and a joyous occasion. We should approach communion with a true heart of worship and thanksgiving. As we partake of the bread, we should reflect on the pain and suffering He endured as He died on the cross for our sins. As we partake of the fruit of the vine, we should reflect on His blood that was poured out for the redemption of our sins. The bread and juice are not supposed to taste good. They are supposed to be reminders of what Christ endured for us.
Communion is also a time of personal reflection. Paul warns against some who might partake in communion unworthily. We are to approach communion reverently. Paul’s warning is not about excluding ourselves from communion, but a stern warning that we are to approach communion with reverence and self-examination. We must prepare ourselves to receive communion with the right heart. We should examine ourselves to see, as we receive communion, that we are conducting ourselves in a way that honors Jesus.
Now let’s prepare to partake in communion together. Let us first take time for self-examination to ensure that our hearts and motives are pure.