39. Sermon Text - "Sunnyhill" Herne Bay Evangelical Free Church

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39. Sermon Text

Special Service

What a person this Jesus Must Be!

I wonder what thoughts immediately jump into your mind when someone starts to talk about Christmas.

Maybe high on your list would be a well-decorated Christmas tree and so you think there must be some reference to a tree in Bible narratives. Well you’d be hard pushed to find any such reference the nearest being perhaps to roots and stumps in some a couple of OT prophetic passages. And if you’re thinking about family get-togethers and turkey dinners you won’t find that either. Mary and Joseph certainly weren’t welcomed into a relative’s home when their original plans to stay in the local Travelodge came to nothing?

Of course if you were to start with your Bible you might want to highlight a number of features that definitely help form our understanding of that first Christmas.

I hope you would want to begin with Mary and Joseph and their new-born baby.

But as you continued to draw up your list you would probably include some or all of the following:

·         Angels
·         Shepherds
·         Kings/wise men
·         Gifts
·         Stars

For a few moments this morning I want to suggest to you that these details that are recorded surrounding Jesus’ birth provide us with great starting points for thinking about the man that this baby would grow up to be.
Let me show you what I mean.

We’ll begin with the angels for angels play an integral part in the Christmas story.

In fact you might want to say that angels seem to have been working over-time that first Christmas.

And of course angels are very important spiritual entities. The Bible describes them as ministering spirits and sometimes they were charged with imparting important information and sharing good news. How readily they carried out the tasks that were assigned to them!  An angel met with both Mary and with Joseph and then a whole company of them appeared to some shepherds out in the fields where they were tending their flocks.

The shepherds were deeply affected because the appearance of these angels was very impressive. These angels were surrounded by the shining glory of God and it struck fear into the hearts of those shepherds. This shouldn’t surprise us because dealings with angels could be a dangerous business as Zechariah the father of John the Baptist had recently found to his cost when he doubted the message Gabriel had given him concerning the birth of another son, John the Baptist. You’ll remember, I hope, how Zechariah was struck dumb for months because of his lack of faith.

Yes, angels were important alright. So much so in fact that men could be tempted to worship them though this was wrong then and remains wrong now.

Angelic involvement in the life of the Lord Jesus was not restricted to the events surrounding his birth. As we read on in the NT we discover that angels figured again and again in his life:

·         They ministered to him and his needs after his 40 day temptation encounter with Satan in the wilderness.
·         They strengthened him in the Garden of Gethsemane as the culmination of his life and ministry drew near.
·         They were there ready to respond instantly to protect him should he call upon them for their intervention.
·         They rolled the stone away from his tomb not to let Jesus out but rather to let his followers in to discover that he had already risen from the dead.
·         They watched on as he ascended into heaven
·         And now they wait to accompany him in his glorious return.

Yes, angels are important beings and yet they serve Jesus a fact that indicates that he is far, far greater and more important than they are. The writer to the Hebrews was keen to underline this truth as he quoted OT Scripture detailing that angels were called upon:

·         to worship him
·         to serve him and
·         to serve those whom he has saved!

The presence of angels in the Christmas story demonstrates the supreme importance of the babe in the manger. What a person this Jesus must be!

Moving on from angels we come to the shepherds. In a school nativity play the angels make up a significant group and the shepherds make up another. Luke in his gospel tells us how these two groups came together and interacted. Now shepherds were not generally well regarded in the society of the day, they were not thought of as being either particularly religious or of being particularly honest. But this group of shepherds were accorded a great privilege – they were early recipients of the good news of a Saviour’s birth and they were thus able to quickly go and see the One the angels had told them about.

And as we think about the shepherds and their shepherding of their flocks in the fields around Bethlehem it is easy to start thinking about our Lord Jesus as a shepherd. As Jesus progressed in his earthly ministry we learn that he regarded his followers as sheep that belonged to his own flock and that he had come to serve and to save them. We discover him in this regard describing himself as the Good Shepherd, the One who is no hired labourer but the One who is genuinely interested in the well-being of his sheep. In fact so concerned is he for his flock that he will lay down his life for the sheep. We will also discover that in laying down his life he will do so as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

What a person this Jesus must be!

Kings/Wise Men
Next on stage come the kings or wise men – tradition says there were three of them but that is based on the number of gifts they brought.

They came to the capital city, Jerusalem where they sought out another king, a nasty piece of work called Herod. They told him they were looking for the newly born King of the Jews.

After making some enquiries Herod sent them on their way to Bethlehem and there the wise men from the East found the One they were looking for. They obviously thought this new King of the Jews was an exceptionally important  character for they had come to worship him! I wonder indeed how much they understood. Did they have some inkling that this One was destined to exercise an important reign? Did they know that he was the One who was the Prince of Peace, the Lord of lords and the Kings? The rest of NT indicates that the baby born in Bethlehem now sits at the Father’s right hand with all authority in heaven and on earth firmly in his control!

What a person this Jesus must be!

I guess for most of us Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without gifts and gifts played their part then too. When the wise men got to Bethlehem it didn’t take them long before they were presenting him with their gifts.

You know what their gifts were, don’t you? Strange gifts perhaps for a baby or very young child, but packed full of significance for what this particular child was destined to achieve in life:

·         Gold
·         Frankincense
·         Myrrh

Gold spoke of royalty, frankincense spoke of priestly activity and myrrh, the strangest of all, pointed to death. These gifts very effectively summed up this baby – born a king, he offers a sacrifice as a priest does and what was the sacrifice he had to offer? His own life laid down in death!!
And the theme of gifts carries on in the NT. Because of who he was and what he did Jesus gave a series of gifts to his people. He gave them the gifts of:
·         life, eternal life
·         the forgiveness of their sins
·         justification
·         the Holy Spirit
·         the gifts of the Spirit for service and ministry

What a person this Jesus must be! Small wonder that the apostle could burst out with his:

“Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” 2Cor.9:15

A Star
When I was a kid our Christmas tree was always topped off by a silver star – you may do the same still. And of course a star played a vital role in the Christmas story – it guided those wise men from the East to the place where they would find the new born.

A star gives light but it is also so useful for finding your way around the world in pre sat-nav days.

In the OT there is a verse that describes the coming Messiah as a star. Now in the NT a star leads to this new-born “star” who would grow to shine so brightly in this dark world of sin that he would be known as the Light of the World, the Bright Morning Star.

There is no darkness in God at all and Jesus shone with all the brightness of the Father’s glory as he was full of grace and truth. He came to put an end to Jewish darkness and to introduce the full light of the glorious gospel day. His coming heralds the light of the everlasting day in the everlasting kingdom which will have no need of any source of light:

Rev.21:23 “the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.”

What a person this Jesus must be!

What a person this Jesus must be!
I have repeated that phrase a number of times now and the Names and titles that are given to him in these birth narratives bear that out. Just listing them should make us stop and think. He is:

  • Jesus
  • Christ
  • Immanuel
  • King of the Jews
  • Saviour
  • Lord
  • Holy
  • Son of David
  • Son of Abraham
  • Son of God

How will you respond to this child who grew up to be such a glorious and important individual?

The angels worshipped, will you?

The wise men worshipped, will you?

The shepherds worshipped, will you?
Herod said he would worship but never did. Close to the truth he never benefitted from it and ended up seeking to destroy the Only One who could do him eternal good, the One who only wants to do sinners good.
Make sure that you come to Christ before it is too late. In the words of the chorus of the song with which we’re going to close this service in a few minutes:

Come, come,
Daughters and sons,
Look to the Light of the World.
Sing, sing praises to Him.
Simply believe,
You will receive
Mercy and love without measure.
To God be the glory
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