Grace, mercy and peace to you from the Savior of the World who, in humility, was born in the flesh so that He might pay the penalty for our sins..
After many failed attempts, in December 1903, Orville and Wilber Wright finally got their flying machine off the ground. The airplane was born. In their excitement, they sent a telegraph to their sister Katherine. It said simply, “Flew 120 feet. Will be home for Christmas.” When Katherine got the news, she ran to the local paper and showed the telegraph to the editor. He glanced at it and said, “How nice, the boys will be home for Christmas.” He completely missed the point. Yes, it was nice that the boys would be home for Christmas, but man had flown in an airplane for the first time. That was the big news.
How often do we miss the big news at Christmas time? Too often, we get caught up in the lights and tinsel and shopping and gifts and family. Those things are nice and they’re fun. Just like it was nice that the Wright brothers would be home for Christmas. They’re nice, but that’s not the big news. The big news of Christmas is that God became a man in order that we could have a relationship with Him. In order that we could one day come to know, in a uniquely human way, the one who would one day, give His own life so we might gain ours.
Today, Christmas has just become another holiday for most people. A reason to buy each other gifts when the gifts we should be giving are to the one for whom we should be celebrating, Jesus Christ.
Today, the world will tell you that Christianity is no different than any other world religion. If your children or grandchildren take a world religion class in college, more than likely, the professor will tell them that there is no difference between the Christian God and the gods of other religions. They will say that all religions are essentially the same. Well, they’re almost right. You see, all world religions are essentially the same. That is, all of them except one. Every religion in the world—whether you’re talking about Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Mormonism, Paganism, or New Age—every religion in the world requires man to do something to work his way up to God. He has to achieve. He has to earn his way into some type of relationship with the deity. As a matter of fact, it’s not even a relationship with God. It’s actually becoming God. That is the thing that all religions have in common. They all require man to do things in an attempt to become divine. To become God. All of them except one. All of them except biblical Christianity.
You see, the goal of Christianity isn’t to become God. It is to have a relationship with Him. God is God and we’re not. And we never will be. We never could be.
God is far too holy and perfect and righteous and just and pure and powerful for us to even imagine, much less attain. There is nothing we could ever hope to do to become God. We’re too frail, and imperfect, and weak, and unfair. And I love that! Who would want a God that was so limited that we could one day attain His level of glory?
We could never become God, that’s why He had to become man. God had to become man, not so we could become God, but so that we, in all of our sin and imperfection, could be saved from that sin we have come upon by our own undoing. In order that God might have a relationship with us, His Son stepped down from His throne in heaven and, with all humility, became man so that, through death and resurrection, He might save those He so dearly loves.
I want each of us here this evening to see that Jesus came to earth as a man because God desired to have a relationship with us. And when we see that, I want us all to celebrate this Christmas knowing we have that relationship with Him. In order to do that, we will look at the three relationships God desires with us. The first relationship He desires is a human relationship.
Cheryl, may wife, and I have been incredibly blessed with three wonderful children. It seems like only yesterday that our oldest, Erik was born. Has that already been over a quarter of a century ago?
When Erik was born, I got to witness all the drama of childbirth, the contractions, the active nurses, the rapid breathing, all of it. What a scene. Finally, our first child arrives and he’s all pink and wet, the doctors are suctioning him out and getting him to breath, I’m cutting the cord. It all seems like it happened yesterday.
And then I think of Christmas, when our Savior was born in much the same way. What an odd way for God to choose to come to earth. So vulnerable, so meek, so dependent. Why did He have to become a man? Why didn’t He choose to do it with all the bells and whistles we might have imagined He would come with?
It reminds me of a certain blizzard story and, being born and raised in North Dakota, I have a lot of them. There was a certain farmer who never put much stock in God becoming a man. I mean, why would he do such a thing? One Christmas evening, a terrible blizzard came through with heavy snow and heavier winds. It’s the kind of storm you just have to bunker down and survive and eventually shovel yourself out of.
During this storm, this farmer, along with the sounds of the violent winds, also heard a thumping at his living room windows. He went to check, but the storm was too violent to see anything. So, he decided to brave the elements and go outside to check.
It’s there that he saw that several geese were desperately trying to find shelter and were trying to get in the house any way they could. The farmer knew they’d freeze to death if he didn’t do something so he made it to the barn and opened the door so they might fly in. But they wouldn’t go, because they were more scarred of the farmer than they were of the storm. He tried everything he could think of to get them in, but nothing worked. He thought, “If only I could become a goose, then they’d follow and I could save them all.” It’s at that moment that he finally understood why Jesus had been born a man. It wasn’t so ridiculous after all.
In Jesus’ humanity, He had to endure anything we could ever possibly have to endure. He endured physical struggles—hunger, poverty, pain. He endured emotional struggles—He was betrayed by a friend, He was rejected by his own family, He was mocked and made fun of. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” The word relationship comes from the root word relate. Jesus had to come to earth as a man so that we might relate to Him. In our sin and weakness, there is no way we could ever work our way into being good enough to relate to God. So God came to us in all humility and took on the feeling of our frailties so we could relate to Him. He became man in order to have a human relationship with us. He became man in order to become the perfect sacrifice for us.
But not only did God desire a human relationship with us, He desired a holy relationship with us. Jesus was born 100% man but yet He was also 100% God. He was born holy and was already worthy of our praise and worship. He was born without sin and 100% righteous. Imagine having that for a big brother. At birth he was both dependent as a human and omnipotent as God. Though He was born to die, He was already eternal. He was born in human frailty but perfect in every way. Even though he grew up learning His human Father’s trade, He was already all-knowing. I know, blows the mind right?
So how can this Holy child come to have a human relationship with such faulty people? How can this all powerful, eternal and all-knowing God even be around us and our weakness? He can, because our relationship is not about what we can do, it is all because of what He was about to do and, for us, what He has done. It’s not based on our limitations, it’s empowered by His glory. It not because of anything we have earned, it’s all about what we have been given. Our best efforts fall well short of His holiness. Our relationship with Him is based on His holiness, His righteousness, that’s why, when He sees those who have surrendered their lives to Him, all He sees is His Son. Because only His perfect Son could have saved us from our iniquities. Because Christ was born in human frailty, He was able to pay the price in an all too human way as the perfect substitution for our sins.
Because of His Son, He no longer see our imperfections, our limitations and our failed righteousness. Now, he sees us through the prism of His promised Messiah. In our repentance, He no longer sees our sins, they are as far apart from him as the east is from the west. All He sees is His Son, His righteous Son, His holy Son.
Let’s go back to the farmer story, because there is a human flaw in it. You see, the farmer thought that if he could just become a goose, he could save them all, but he forgot that, if he had become a goose, he’d be just as dumb as they were. What those geese needed was something more than themselves to save them.
If Jesus had been born just like any other man, he too would have been born with all of our extensive limitations. He wouldn’t have been able to be our savior because, mere humanity could never be good enough to provide the perfect sacrifice needed to lift sins curse. The Father knew we needed a Savior, so He loved us enough to send the only one who could pay the debt, and that was His only dear Son. He knew that only Jesus Christ could cleanse us from all our sins and clothe us in righteousness and holiness. Only a holy relationship could make it work. So He made the human and holy relationship work together towards a holistic union.
John 1:10-13 says of Jesus, “He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” That’s the right He wants you to have.
Jesus is no longer a helpless baby in a manger in Bethlehem. He is the Savior of the world. He lived and taught and while He did people rejected Him to the point of hanging Him on a cross. But God knew that all along and still He did what he had to do to save us. This birth we celebrate tonight was of a baby that was born to die, so that we might have a saving relationship with our creator. He was born to die a temporal death so that we didn’t have to die an eternal one.
He was born to die so that the penalty we deserved could be satisfied and he lives today to continue His plan for us so that, one day, we might be with Him in paradise. He lives today and is sitting at the right hand of the Father so that He might make His plea to the father on our behalf, making possible our relationship with Him.
Are you here today only because it’s Christmas? If so, I pray you give God a chance to show you how willing He is to be your Salvation too. There is nothing you can do to earn it. There is nothing that you can say to convince Him. All it takes is that you repent and believe in Him. He was born to die so that you might live. May His Holy Spirit guide us in our search for truth. Amen.