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The Story
The Birth


This morning is Christmas! In our project to work through the Story, this year, this morning, we come to the birth of Jesus.  Since it is Christmas, I have a present for each of you...  “Merry Christmas.”  I know you feel bad for not getting me something. So, you can do me a favor, as I preach the birth of Jesus, occasionally, connect what I am saying to your present.  Let it be a reminder of who Jesus is.

As you know there are 4 Gospels in our Bibles... Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  Each of the Gospels approaches the Christmas story in a different way.  Each of the Four Gospels have different messages, to different audiences.  So, each of the Four selected a different way to handle the birth.  Well, except for Mark who is so anxious to get to the main story, he skipped the birth all together.   Matthew, Luke and John each present the birth of Jesus in a unique way. 

So, we have three different stories about Jesus coming to this planet to be one of us. What we are going to do this morning is follow the same sequence as The Story.  I thought the arrangement of The Story was well done. The Story did a good job of using different stories of the birth from the Gospels to bring out Christmas.  First, there is John’s cosmic story... then Luke’s Mary story and finally, Matthew’s Joseph’s-Christmas story.  We are going to look at these three stories in that order.

What is going to be fun is, as we explore these three Christmas stories, we are going to discover why Jesus came.  John, Luke and Matthew tell us the purpose of Jesus’s visit to earth.

Christmas in June... Everyone get their “crown” Christmas present?  Remember... connect the sermon to the crown.  Let’s get started with John.

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John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John starts with the cosmic Jesus before the creation.  In fact, John tells us that Jesus was the Word of God which spoke creation into existence.  When God said, “Let there be light...” it was the Word who made it happen.  Before Jesus was born, before Christmas, Jesus existed as the light of God bringing life to the universe.

Now to the Christmas part of the Gospel of John...

John 1:14-18 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.  (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.'")  And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.

The Word of God gave up His pre-creation-existence to be flesh... like us... human... amongst us.  Jesus brought the glory of God from heaven to this earth to make known to us... God.  Bam.  Look at your present... connect the glory of God in your hand! 

Three times in these 6 verses we find the word... grace.  Wait, wait... Jesus came to make known the God of grace. 

I need to make sure you know what a hendiadys is.  There may be someone here this morning who does not know the word... hendiadys.  I don’t want to embarrass anyone, so let me explain it to all of you for the benefit of that one person. 

Hendiadys is a figure of speech used for emphasis—"The substitution of a conjunction for a subordination". The basic idea is to use two words linked by the conjunction "and" instead of the one modifying the other.

Some Examples...

--The fire is nice and warm... you don’t mean it is nice and it is also warm... it is nicely warm.

--The concert was good and loud... you don’t mean the concert was good and it was also loud.  You mean it was really, loud.

--sick and tired...

Now, that you... whoever that one person was... knows hendiadys... go back and look at why Jesus became one of us... Jesus came full of “Grace and Truth”.  This is not grace and then, also truth.  This is... Grace-Truth.  It is not two separate things.  It is hendiadys.  Jesus came to bring Grace-Truth.  Jesus brought grace upon grace. Jesus came to the world as human to reveal to us a God who is Grace-truth; a God who is all true grace... Our God is truly graceful. 

Wow, Jesus came to make know to us a God whose fundamental truth about Him is that He is Graceful toward us, His creation.  Christmas is about Grace-Truth!

I don’t want cold hard truth. I don’t want angry truth. I don’t want unloving truth.  I don’t want truth written on stone, like Moses. I want the God, whom Jesus makes known to us, God who is truly grace!

John says... Jesus came to this earth full of Grace-Truth. 

Connect that to your present...

Wow... Let’s see what Luke says.

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Why Jesus came to this world is found in the song of Mary. You know Mary, the mother of Jesus.  After Mary finds out she is pregnant, with the son of God, she sings a song, called the Magnificat. 

Luke 1:46-55 And Mary sang, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever."

Mary’s heart over-flowed in song praising a God who comes to bring mercy.  The Greek word for mercy is e;leoj eleos. It means kindness.  It means help.  It means compassion. It means cutting slack. It means having active-pity on someone.  The Good Samaritan is commended because he had mercy on the guy who was robbed.  It is an active compassion that helps... it is mercy.  Wow, I like mercy... Jesus came to bring mercy.

But, in Mary’s song, the mercy which Jesus brings is a certain kind of mercy.  Notice... It is mercy with strong arms.  It is the mercy which scatters the proud.  It is mercy in might.  Wait, if this were a hendiadys, Jesus brings Might and Mercy; Might-Mercy. 

Jesus came to bring Might-Mercy! This kind of mercy has power.  A sacrificial life lived in offering kindness to others is the most powerful thing in the universe.  The power of mercy; this might-mercy can change the heart.  Jesus came to demonstrate to us the power of Might-Mercy. 

Jesus come this earth, according to Luke to bring Might-Mercy! Look at your present... connect Mighty-Mercy to your crown.

This is good stuff.  Let’s keep doing Christmas... move to Matthew.

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Matthew begins by telling us Joseph’s story, instead of Mary’s. Joseph has just found out his fiancé is pregnant... This is rarely good news.

Matthew 1:20-25 But as Joseph 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.  She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which means, God with us).  When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

First, the angel tells Joseph to adopt the boy and name him Joshua in Hebrew; Jesus in Greek; (both mean Savior).  Because... he will save his people from their sins. But he is also to be called Immanuel.  Which means God with us.  I’m sure Joseph is a bit confused when he wakes from his dream... What am I supposed to name him?  Jesus or Immanuel?  Jesus is easier to spell... Joseph called his name Jesus.

But, if we put the two names together... kind of like a hendiadys, we have a Savior who is with us... the With-Savior.  I like it.  Jesus came to the With-Savior.  Jesus is like the original Joshua who was with the children of Israel who lead them out of the wilderness into the Promised Land!  Joshua saved his people by leading them out of bad, into good. 

That is what Jesus does.  He leads us out of the wilderness of sin... to save us from sin... into the land of good; of promise.  Imagine this... humans were in sin; the wilderness.  Jesus went into that wilderness... to be with us.  Then Jesus moves us out of that wilderness into a new place... where sin doesn’t count or have power.  The With-Savior moves us to a new kingdom where sin does not control us or create any sort of debt. 

This is amazing.  The With-Savior came to lead humanity out of the place of sin, into the place of good.  Jesus came to save us from sin!

Glance at your present... Jesus is the With-Savior! 

Let’s wrap up Christmas...

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Last week, as we saw Nehemiah reaffirm being the covenant community, we saw that the point of the Old Testament was YHWH creating and preserving a covenant community!  I said, last week, Jesus is creating a new covenant community.  Jesus came to this world to create a new covenant community, by his blood on the cross.  Just like the bulls whose blood was shed to create the Old Covenant, Jesus blood on the cross created a new covenant.  Jesus formed a new covenant, a new people, who would know the abounding, steadfast love of YHWH. 

We see this in Christmas...

John tells us... Jesus came to make known Grace-Truth.  The new covenant community is founded in Grace-Truth.  Grace creates the community... Grace is how the community operates.

Luke tells us... Jesus came to be Might-Mercy. Mercy creates our community.  Might-mercy is how the community operates.

Matthew tells us... Jesus came to be the With-Savior.  Jesus became us, to be with us.  His blood creates a new covenant community.  His blood saves us by placing us in that community... where sin has no power.  We are led by the With-Savior out of an old covenant into a new covenant where we live in the new community saved from sin. 

We are the new covenant community created by Grace-Truth to be grace; formed by Might-Mercy to be merciful; created by the With-Savior to be with each other, to save others. 

Wow... Christmas in JUNE!

 

Tim Stidham

June 24, 2018

Los Alamos Church of Christ

 



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