He Has Come - Christmas Day — A Christian Growth Message - Hope 103.2

He Has Come – Christmas Day — A Christian Growth Message

A short series leading us up to Christmas by Simon Manchester of Hope 103.2's Christian Growth podcast and pastor at All Saints in Woollahra, Sydney.

By Simon ManchesterSunday 25 Dec 2022Christian Growth with Simon ManchesterFaithReading Time: 1 minute

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Good morning and a very special Christmas. Welcome to you, everybody. It’s great to see you.

There were two radio presenters in the UK and played a prank on the American ambassador one year by ringing to ask him what he would like for Christmas and not wanting to make a fuss, he said he’d be perfectly happy with a bottle of wine and a pair of slippers.

The next day, they announced their survey of ambassadors on their radio show and said that the Chinese ambassador was hoping for good international trade across the world. The French ambassador was hoping for the cessation of unnecessary wars, and the Russian ambassador was hoping for a safe nuclear disarmament, While the American ambassador was hoping for a bottle of wine and a pair of slippers, it still makes me wince. When I think about the prank, however, you will notice if you listen carefully in the world today, that Christmas has been reduced to an incredible amount of trivia.

Wine and slippers would not be a bad description of what people are basically looking for, and so Jesus, when he came into the world, was speaking in cosmic terms and people are speaking in salad terms. Jesus came with the telescope and people are more interested in a microscope.

The language of the New Testament is I’ve come to bring light in your darkness life over death. I’ve come down, says Jesus, to raise you up and the language of the community is family lunch, more toys and a beach holiday. Not that the small things are wrong. They’re perfectly fine. You just wouldn’t wouldn’t want to settle for something that was so small. Now I’ve picked two verses from the New Testament from Hebrews, Chapter two, verses 14 to 15 to show the greatness of Christ and the greatness of Christmas. And I hope in looking at these two verses which are printed on your service sheet, is to show that the things that you’re facing, whatever they are actually small compared to the thing which Jesus provides. Interestingly, this letter, called Hebrews in the New Testament, was written to people whose faith in Christ was being replaced by fairly empty things, and the letter was to show the greatness of Christ, well, I want to mention three quick things from these two verses about Jesus.

First he made a unique decision we read in Verse 14. He joined our humanity or he shared our humanity. He entered into our humanity. He decided to become human. Now we don’t do this. There’s nobody here today who said I think I’ll become a human. Somebody else makes that decision for us, but we realise steadily that we are human. Jesus, however, didn’t begin that way at all. He did not begin at Christmas. He did not begin at Bethlehem. He existed before he entered the world. And when you see a nativity scene, I hope that you’ll remind yourself that this is not where Jesus of Nazareth began. Or at least this is not where the Son of God began.

Another verse in the New Testament puts it like this. He was rich, yet he became poor so that you, through his poverty, might become rich. It’s very hard to find in the page in the New Testament, where Jesus is rolling in money. But he was, of course, rich Before he came in heaven, he was rich in glory, and he talked about this in John’s Gospel Chapter 17, he said to his father in prayer. I’d like to be in the glory that I had before the foundation of the world.

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So Jesus, you see, made a unique decision to come. He saw the human race. He saw the human race running away from God. He saw the human race making a mess because it was running away from God. And he saw that it was necessary that the human race running away from God would nevertheless die and meet God utterly unprepared.

And so he came as a faithful, flawless man to pay what we should pay and to offer to us what he should enjoy. Many people think this coming of Jesus, this entering into our flesh. What’s called the incarnation is the miracle.

And I don’t think we can ever grasp the gulf between God and humanity. I don’t think it’s just the size of the Gulf that God is very big and we’re very small. That’s true. But the difference between a perfect holy God and selfish, sinful people. The gulf is massive, infinite.

Back in the 19 seventies, there was a very admirable but slightly clunky movie, made a colour film with the father and the son on a kind of a mountain paradise and they were looking down the mountain together. And there was a massive ant’s nest at the bottom of the mountain. And the ants were at war with one another. And the father and son on the top of this Paradise Mountain were planning how they would solve this.

And of course, the answer was that the sun would go down the hill and he would become an ant, a Saviour aunt. And then there was some very clever footage of this quite distinctive aunt moving into the nest and being rejected and attacked and carried out of the nest. It was a very clever piece of film. But the comparison fails because the gulf between a human and an aunt is tiny compared with the gulf between our creator and ourselves. So, his decision, his unique decision to come into this world is a remarkable decision indeed.

Secondly, he made a unique destruction. We’re told in verse 14 he came to destroy. He came to destroy the one says the text, who has the power of death and this is a reference to the devil. Now, why should we care about this? Why should we stop thinking about the lunch that’s coming and the toys we’ve received and the holiday that’s around the corner and the many other things that are on our plates. And I’ll tell you the reason. You must imagine that you have been told perfectly accurately and authoritatively that at some time in the future you’re going to come to a river and the river. Let’s imagine, is 50 kilometres across and it’s a dangerous swirling river, and you’re going to need to swim it to safety. You’re told that’s just part of life.

It could be that you’ll come to the river tomorrow. It could be that you will come to the river in 10 years’ time, but you will come to the river now. How would you prepare?

One of the ways many people would prepare is, of course, to join a group who will distract them so they don’t even have to think about what’s coming. But we know that there is a river which is around the corner, the river, which is called death, and it casts a shadow, a mocking, sad shadow over everything we do. Now. I wonder whether it would change your life if you knew that that river, which is ahead for you and me could be safely crossed and you could be safely carried across. And I imagine the answer to that is yes.

If you believe the river was coming and if you were told that you could be carried safely across, I imagine you would be interested. And so when Christ came to destroy the danger of death and you grasp this, it changes your life. It’s not irrelevant. It colours. It lights up everything in your life. The future hope affects the present. A safe future affects the present.

And so when Jesus entered the world of the first Christmas, he had his sights set on Good Friday, he said, I’ve come to give my life a ransom. And of all the things that we could have said about covert for the last couple of years, it is a reminder. Is it not a very kind reminder in a way that we should seek and find a bigger solution than a vaccination?

Well, how did Jesus destroy the power of death? Because it doesn’t look like he succeeded. The funeral directors are still in business. The cemeteries and crematoriums are in big business doesn’t look like he succeeded. But he did succeed, and I’ll explain to you why the fact of the matter is, according to the Bible, that the case that is against us when we reach God’s courtroom and we will reach God’s courtroom. It is an unbeatable case against us. None of us can arrive safely before a perfect holy, huge God.

Imagine the evidence for my life being brought out that I have served myself. Not Christ Well, there’ll be truckloads of evidence that that is true.

But, my friends, it will also be true for you. There are truckloads of evidence that you’ve served yourself, not Christ. Imagine a film could be made of everything that we have thought about said or done in the last week or two. And then it could be played publicly. What an excruciating film that would be. But when Jesus came, there was absolutely nothing against him. There was not a mark against him.

He served the Heavenly Father exactly and perfectly as he should. There was not a single mark on the film of his life of sin, and yet he laid down his perfect life as a payment in order to set free every person who receives him. In other words, the cross of Christ was a swap. He took what we should receive to offer what he should receive. And suddenly, when this truth hits home for the person who’s listening and they take hold of this gospel this good news and say Yes, I would like to be a forgiven new reborn person. Suddenly the chief prosecutor in the courtroom of God. Let’s imagine the devil has nothing to say against you. Your debt has been paid, your danger has been swallowed up and the control of death is destroyed by Christ. And so we may pass over the river and land in God’s courtroom completely safely. As the Bible says, we can meet him without fault and with great joy.

Please don’t think that you can meet God safely without Christ. Please don’t think that you can impress God with yourself. I was noticing this week that on the tomb of Mohammad Ali, the boxer is one of his favourite quotations, and it says this service to others is the rent you pay for a room in heaven. Service to others is the rent you pay for a room in heaven. Now, that’s an absolutely tragic sentence. First of all, it says you must save yourself. You must be your own Saviour. Secondly, it says you’ve got no home that you’re going to. You’re only going to rent a room. Thirdly, you’re going to have to do a lot of serving. And you’ll never really know whether you’ve done enough serving. So you cannot go through this life with any sense of hope.

And most seriously, of all, this sentence on the tomb is saying, Jesus Christ, you needn’t have come. You needn’t have come. You needn’t have died. You needn’t have risen. We don’t need you. That is the complete opposite of Christ. That is to take a view which is anti Christ.

And here is a man, Muhammad Ali, who did turn away from his Christian upbringing. His personal life was increasingly messy and tragic. And here he is on his tomb telling people you can solve death yourself. You don’t need Jesus Christ. Tragic, tragic inscription. But on the day Jesus died on that first good Friday, a perfect life was offered for yours. A perfect cheque was paid for you and every receiver finds their sins forgiven and the future is made safe. He has done the achieving at the cross your parties to kneel down and do the receiving to ask him for forgiveness and a brand new life and to follow him as Saviour. And Lord Jesus made a unique destruction. He made a unique decision to come. He made a unique destruction in his death, and thirdly, he made a unique deliverance where Swift teen he came to deliver or free those who are slaves to the fear of death.

Now please notice something that I realised this week in studying these two verses. The text does not say that there will be no more fears in your life or that there will be no more fears about dying. It says that there will be no more danger. Christ has broken the teeth of death, so you need not fear the teeth. One of the most influential Christians today is a man called Tim Keller. In America, he’s just turned 70. He has pancreatic cancer, and his preaching and his writing have been a blessing to millions around the world. And he’s recently written these words one of the first things I learned after the diagnosis of my pancreatic cancer is that a belief in God and an afterlife does not become spontaneously comforting and strengthening.

Instead, he says, there was a remarkably strong psychological denial. I found myself thinking, I can’t die. I can’t die that happens to others, not to me. So you see, he is prepared to be fearful. But that does not mean he’s unsafe. He is safe.

There are many people who are fearful, but they’re safe. They belong to Christ. There are many people who are fear less. They don’t belong to Christ, but they’re fearless, but they’re not safe. Many people today, as you know, are saying very loudly that death is no more than asleep. They say it’s nothing to worry about where you’re afraid before you were born. Well, you won’t be afraid after you’ve died. Don’t worry about it. But friends, we weren’t conscious before we came into this world. Now we are, and most importantly, the one person who has been through the grave and back. Jesus Christ is the one we should be listening to. Evidently, he did go through the grave, and evidently, he did come back and he’s not a guess are like we are when it comes to death. He is the expert on the issue. So, if we turn our backs on Jesus, as this community does well not find ourselves freer or deeper or better.

But we will find ourselves darker, maybe sadder, certainly shallower and lost.

Greg Sheldon, who writes for the newspapers of this city, has said recently in one of the newspapers, reestablishing the historical truth of Christianity would rescue Western civilisation from its desperate situation, running mad down every dead end and diving into every poisonous creek. Well, contrast that with the beauty of Hebrews. Chapter two, that are maker entered into our flesh. Yes, he did.

He didn’t just come with some safe visit in a helicopter and leave again. He came and entered our flesh and blood. He knows exactly what this world is like. And then our Saviour entered into death. He carried a world of sin onto himself in order to pay our debt and to free us.

And he also enters into our ears with his words in his scriptures, which tell us that we can know him and that he will be with us in the grave and through to the other side, so there may be many fears to face. One fear we can say goodbye to, however, is the fear of evil in the grave. It’s the fear of damnation. In the future we can go into the valley. We can fear no evil. We can stand before God and know that we will be welcomed.

Now one of the Bible speaks of eternal life is something which you collect not after the grave. That would be a tragedy, but someone who you collect or join before the grave. And as you receive him and then you begin to walk with him, you experience his fellowship and you serve him gratefully and usefully. You have a new life. It’s been made possible by his decision, unique decision to come into the world, his unique destruction of the power of death and his unique deliverance, therefore, from the fear of danger.

And that is the real peace of Christmas that so many around the world enjoy. And we hope so many who don’t yet know Christ will come to know him and all those treasures and riches that he brings.

Let’s bow our heads.

We thank you, Almighty God, for the sending of your Son for the unique decision to enter this world for the unique destruction of the power of death and the unique deliverance from the fear of danger. Please enable those who are here today listening in whatever way to receive and live, to rejoice and hope and to go forward in great service for you and others. We pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.