Like many of you, I love the Christmas season. As Andy Williams used to sing, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” There are so many special things about Christmas that its almost magical. I love the lights, Christmas trees, and the good times with my family. Christmas is very special.
But Christmas is more than magical; it’s a miracle. Today I want to speak to you on ‘The Miracle of Christmas.’ We begin by reading the Christmas story found in the gospel of Luke.
Luke 1: 26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. 36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing shall be impossible. 38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
Some Christians believe that we shouldn’t celebrate Christmas. I agree that it’s way too easy for us to get caught up in the decorations and holiday shopping and miss the real meaning of Christmas. What is the real meaning of Christmas? Let us never forget that the first six letters of the word Christmas spell C-H-R-I-S-T. Christmas is about Christ. And Christmas is more than just a day; it’s an event. It’s a miracle. Christmas is our celebration of when the Son of God left heaven’s glories in order to become the Son of Man. The Old Testament name for Jesus at His birth was Emmanuel which means “God With Us.” Christmas is about God being with us and God being for us.
Because God has revealed to us in His Word the events of the birth of Christ, I believe it would do us all good to slow down a little bit this morning and ponder for a few moments what we are told. My desire today is that every believer will somewhere in this message today pause for a moment and say within themselves – “Wow! It’s really amazing that God was willing to become a man.” I also pray that anyone here today who does not know Christ will hear something that will cause them to stop and consider -“If God was willing to do something so amazing and wonderful, perhaps I need to consider what it means to me.”
I. Who is Jesus?
So where do we begin? I believe that we must begin by asking the question – “Who is Jesus?” If you went through the world and people who Jesus is, you would receive a variety of answers.
A. Some Believe that Jesus Never Existed
Some believe that Jesus Christ never existed. They believe that a bunch of religious fanatics got together and conjured up a man called Jesus and the miracles He performed. They believe that it’s all a myth. Yet there is much evidence that Jesus did exist and that His life has greatly impacted humanity. Today is November 29, 2015 AD. ‘A.D.’ as most of you know means – “In the year of our Lord.” Sometimes it is translated as “in the year of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” Yes, Jesus Christ did exist.
B. Some Believe that Jesus Existed as a Great Prophet of God
Some believe that Jesus Christ never existed. Others believe that He existed as a religious figure or leader. It might surprise some of you to learn that Muslims believe in Jesus. They believed that He lived and walked upon this earth two thousand years ago. They believe that He was born of a virgin and that many of the things recorded in the four gospels are actually words He said and taught. They believe that Jesus existed, but they don’t believe that He died on a cross, nor that He is the Savior of the world. They believe that He was a great prophet of Allah, which is the Arabic name for God.
Muslims believe that Christians have taken the words of Jesus and the events concerning Him and distorted them by adding to them. They believe that Christians have done this in order to develop their own religion. They believe that Jesus is Islamic and a prophet of Allah that He came to teach men to shun evil and to submit completely to Allah. They also believe that He wants them to correct the errors Christians have made about Him. They believe that around 600 AD, Allah raised up another prophet who was even greater than Jesus and through Muhammad, Allah gave a corrected revelation. They call this corrected revelation from God the Quran.
C. Some Believe that Jesus Existed as the Human Form of an Angel
There are some who believe that Jesus never existed. There are others believe that He existed, but that He was only a man called to be a great prophet of God. Then there are others who believe that Jesus was once an angel. The Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the first thing God created was an angel named Michael and through that angel God created the rest of the world.
D. What the Bible Tells Us About Jesus?
There are lots of ideas and opinions about who Jesus is and why He walked upon this earth. What does the Bible tell us about Jesus? The angel told Mary that although she was a virgin, she would conceive in her womb a holy child who would be called the Son of God. Think about those three facts for a moment:
1. Jesus was born of a virgin
2. He was called a holy child
3. He is the Son of God
II. Who Was Jesus – Before Bethlehem?
To fully understand who Jesus while He walked here on earth, we must understand who Jesus was before His physical birth at Bethlehem.
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by 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 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
A. When was In the Beginning?
John begins his gospel with says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” “When was in the beginning?
John’s ‘in the beginning’ is the same as ‘in the beginning’ found in Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
Before there was anything else, there was God. Before there was an earth, or an universe, or even angels, there was God.
Without getting too far off the main subject, let me say that something in this universe has to be eternal. Either some material part of this universe has to be eternal and from it everything else evolved, or there has to be something or someone outside of this universe that has to be eternal and possess the power to create something out of nothing. Evolution does not explain the beginning of the universe. It only theorizes how something was able to evolve into a higher form. The Big Bang Theory does not explain the beginning of the universe. It only theorizes how something that was already here could have exploded and become something greater. Both evolution and the Big Bang Theory leave out one very important detail. Where did that something originally come from? Only the Bible explains the origin of creation. “In the beginning God (a supernatural and eternal being) created the heaven and the earth.”
B. Who was In the Beginning?
The second question we must answer is – “Who was in the beginning?” Only God was in the beginning. God is that supernatural and eternal power that possessed the ability to begin the beginning.
I call your attention to the fact that John does not say, “After the beginning…” John says “In the beginning…” When the beginning first began, Jesus was already in existence.
1. In the Beginning – WAS the Word
Jesus, the Son of God, did not begin at Bethlehem as some suppose. Neither did He begin shortly after the beginning as some others try to teach. The Bible says that in the beginning, the Word was already in existence.
The verb ‘was’ seems like such a simple little word, yet it is very important. The way it was originally written speaks of a continuous state of existence. It speaks of time when something ‘was’, ‘is’ and ‘always will be.’
In the Old Testament, this same form of grammar was used to declare the name of God. When Moses asked God what His name was, God replied that His name was – I AM THAT I AM. (Ex 3:14) In other words – What I Was, I Am, and Always Will Be. God is God. He never changes. He is eternal perfection.
Consider verse 1 in contrast to verse 14.
John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…
The ‘was made’ in verse 14 is different than the ‘was’ in verse 1. The ‘was’ in verse 1 speaks of an eternal existence. The ‘was made’ in verse 14 speaks of a birth, or a beginning.
2. In the Beginning – the Word WAS With God
John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God…
Many people struggle with the concept of one God existing in triune form. We often refer to this as the Trinity. I sometimes hear some people try to explain it, but every explanation I have ever heard falls short. Some envision three Gods working side by side. That’s not true. There’s only one God. Some envision God being a Father one moment, and the Son the next, and the Spirit the next. Kind of like liquid, vapor and ice. But that’s not right. Throughout scripture we find the three often present and interacting at the same time. So what is the Trinity? I don’t know. It’s God.
I can’t explain Trinity, I can only tell you that’s what the Bible teaches us. Consider this prayer Jesus made to His Father. Concerning Jesus existing before Bethlehem as a part of the Trinity, consider this prayer He prayed –
John 17:5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
a. Jesus Asked to be Glorified With God’s Own Glory
No mere human being could pray such a prayer and expect it to be answered. The Bible says that God will share His glory with no one. He alone is God.
b. Jesus Said That He Had Experienced This Glory, Before the World Began
3. In the Beginning – God WAS the Word
John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
The Jehovah’s Witnesses have added an ‘a’ in front of God to make their translation say, “and the Word was a god.” But that’s not what the Greek says, nor is it biblically correct. The Bible says –
Isaiah 45:1 I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. NIV
There are not a bunch of mini-gods in the universe. There is none God and His name is Jehovah.
Literally John 1:1 says, “and God was the Word.” Before there was anyone to reveal it to, God already had a revelation. At one point in Jesus’ ministry, a voice was heard from heaven that said – “This is My Son, whom I have chosen; listen to Him!” (Luke 9:35) BSB
God sent His Son to this earth with a very special message. What is that message? Jesus said-
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
III. Who Did Jesus Become ‘At’ Bethlehem?
Something amazing happened at Bethlehem. The Son of God became the Son of Man. At Bethlehem, the Son of God clothed Himself in a human body. Before Bethlehem, Jesus was God. At Bethlehem, Jesus also became a man. Why? The Son of God became the Son of Man so that He could become the Savior of the world.
Each Sunday morning as I pray, I pray for several men I know who are pastors or worship leaders. I also send them a text containing a verse of scripture that I hope will inspire and encourage them. This morning I sent them John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it in all its fullness.” (BSB)
Satan is the thief and he wants to rob men of the real joy that can be found in Christmas. Therefore we must be all the more active and diligent in sharing that joy.
There is no time like Christmas for sharing the good news about God gift of forgiveness and eternal life. Therefore, we need to take advantage of this season and do everything we can to tell everyone we can about why Jesus was born.
The other morning I was blessed to hear someone on the radio that I haven’t heard for a long time. His name is Ron Hutchcraft and you can find him at: www.hutchcraft.com
Ron Hutchcraft is a master at using practical illustrations to teach God’s Word. Friday morning’s devotional was about redeeming the time to tell others about Jesus before it is too late. (The illustration was shopper’s frantic rush to get the bargains on Black Friday) Here is some of what he said:
When the bargains are gone, you lose a little money. When the Jesus-sharing opportunities are gone, it can cost the eternity of someone you care about. Because in the words of the Bible, “He that has the Son (That’s Jesus, the Son of God.) has life; he that does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12). If you’ve got Jesus, you’ve got life forever in heaven. It’s up to you to share that life with those around you who don’t have Him and don’t have that life.
Okay, so what creates a natural opportunity to talk about your relationship with Jesus? It might be something that’s happening in your life, something happening in their life, or something going on in the world. Anything that legitimately provides a natural opportunity for you to reference some difference that having Jesus has made for you.
More than anything, I think what opens natural opportunities to talk about Jesus is praying for them. You can’t be around me too long without learning about the 3-open prayer based on Colossians 4:3-4. Here’s what Paul says, “Pray for us, that God will open a door for our message.” And then he says, “Pray that I may proclaim it clearly as I should.”
So, you say, “Lord, open a door.” That’s a natural opportunity to bring up Jesus. And then, “Lord, open their heart.” “Lord, get them ready. And if you’re going to get me ready to talk to them, get them ready to hear about Jesus. And then, “Lord, open my mouth.” Give me the words, give me the courage, give me the approach to use.
Listen, if you start to pray that 3-open prayer, God’s going to answer it. You don’t have to say, “Lord, if it is Your will.” It is. He wants to open a door, open their heart, open your mouth. So, start praying that. Learn it right now: “Lord, open a door.” “Lord, open their heart.” “Lord, open my mouth.” When you ask God for open doors, then you open your eyes to look for them. They’ll be there, all over the place, because God really wants you to tell the people you know about what His Son did for them.