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Christmas Eve 2021

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Merry Christmas family!
Last year I opened with these words which remain true...
“It has been quite a year with many uncertainties but through it all the Lord has been unchangingly faithful and gracious to us all. As we come together tonight we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ who made it possible for everyone of us to receive God’s grace as a display of His faithfulness to His own promises.”
We come tonight to celebrate that God put on flesh and came as a man to identify with us, to teach us the word and heart of God, to display the pure agape love of God, to pay for our sin with His righteous blood which was shed on the cross, to rise again on the 3rd day out of that borrowed tomb, a resurrection which proved that all He said and did was true, He then ascended back to heaven and asked the Father to send the Holy Spirit to dwell within each person who believes upon Him for salvation and He promises to return for us again so that we can spend eternity with Him in heaven.
Let’s read those familiar passages that tell of His birth and then I want to look at what His promised birth means for us today.
The Story of His birth
The announcement to Joseph
Matthew 1:18–25 ESV
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
The announcement to Mary
Luke 1:26–38 ESV
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
His birth
Luke 2:1–21 ESV
1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 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. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. 21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
Jesus = Jehovah is Salvation
Just as it was said to Joseph
Matthew 1:21 ESV
21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
This Jesus who is the Savior of the world was promised to come during a tremendously difficult time in the history of God’s people as so many horrible tragic events were taking place and as so many people were straying away from God.
The promise was spoken by God through the prophet Isaiah and is no doubt familiar from the cards we get in the mail this time of year.
During a time of great fear and loss of hope God sent Isaiah to speak to king Ahaz about the eventual plan of God to do more than save His people from the current calamity, but to bring an everlasting eternal cure for the problems of humanity. Here’s what God said...
Isaiah 7:14 ESV
14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Immanuel = God with us
When Jesus came humbly as a baby in human flesh, yet He was also fully God...
While it is true that we celebrate the birth of Jesus tonight as He came in the flesh we need to know that Jesus has no beginning and will have no end. He was not created, the Bible actually says Jesus Himself was involved in the creation of all things…
Which is why we read in John’s gospel account
John 1:1–5 ESV
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:10–18 ESV
10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
I told you earlier that I wanted to talk about what the birth of Jesus means for us today. What does it mean to have one given to us who is both man and God?
The answer is found in one last prophecy of God given through Isaiah the prophet that again you have probably seen on Christmas cards...
Isaiah 9:2–7 ESV
2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. 3 You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. 4 For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. 5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Government upon his shoulder - He is the King of kings and Lord of lords and as the eternal One who was born (given) for us, who died in our place to pay for our sin and purchase a place for us in God’s heaven, He will rule for eternity and we will be in His perfect presence if we have placed our faith in His free gift of salvation afforded to us because of His shed blood on the cross for us.
As we look at these unique titles given for Jesus it is important to understand that the first 3 Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty Go, and Everlasting Father are title that are reserved exclusively for God and would be understood by the original Jewish audience as being title that could only be used for God.
Wonderful Counselor = The word used for Wonderful in our English is the Hebrew word Pele and is a word used exclusively for God.
Jesus who came in the flesh as a brand new baby was also God who came in the flesh and as such is our Wonderful Counselor.
That means that with all the crazy, confusing, trying things that continue to come our way, He is the one that we can go to for wonderful Godly council (advice), and He will spend the time with us speaking to us and giving us that much needed council that is necessary to navigate these increasingly confusing days that may bring us fear, worry, sorrow, wonder, or what ever other response we have. You see, even as the days continue to change, our God is unchanging and unfazed by what goes on all around us.
Mighty God = Almighty God
There is non more mighty than God. No world leader, no dark forces of evil, nothing is greater or more mighty than our Jesus who existed before time and yet was humbly born for us through Mary when she was still a virgin.
Everlasting Father = Eternal Father
The idea here in the Hebrew is that this One who was born to Mary and Joseph is also the Father of Eternity, the very source of eternal/everlasting life, just as He said to Nicodemus...
John 3:16–17 ESV
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Prince of Peace = Ruler of Peace. This again is the only title on this list that can also refer to the title of a man as well as God.
In the OT the Hebrew word is Shalom.
Shalom has a larger meaning than merely a lack of conflict or war.
Shalom (Peace) has the broader idea of being whole or complete.
Let me tell you something family, Peace is something that is solely the work of God in our lives. There are things a person can do to have momentary bouts of peace, but only God can bring a constant peace to us that begins now and will continue throughout eternity.
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