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A Savior Has Been Born to You December 25, 2011

Posted by sandhandrews in Sermons.
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Luke 2:1-20

Christmas Day

December 25, 2011

Focus: God remains faithful to His covenant.

Function: That the hearers see Christ’s life as a whole, not a set of pericopes.

Structure: This or that?  Both this and that.

 

A Savior Has Been Born to You

            As most of you know, we’ve spent the past month celebrating the season of Advent.  And as Advent means coming, we take that time to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Messiah.  It’s a time to reflect on ourselves, our lives, and how we are doing in our walk with God.  But it’s also a time for us to focus more on the history of creation.   It’s a chance to expand our knowledge of our past.  Too often as Christians, we can focus so narrowly on one event that we miss out on the true masterpiece that God has created.

During our midweek services this Advent, we took the time to look at the rest of the masterpiece.  We took the time to explore some of the depths of Scripture and to see the connections that make it so awesome.  But since not all of us could attend the Advent services, a brief summary should be considered.

We all know that God created the heavens and the earth, Adam and Eve, and all things.  We know about the fall into sin when Eve ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  At this point, God had the right to do away with His creation, just like we do when a car breaks down or we break a plate or a glass; we throw them away.  But instead, God chose to stick it out.  He made a covenant, an unbreakable vow, to Abraham that He would be their God, and they would be His people.  He would make them into a great nation, giving Abraham more descendants than he could count.  Abraham’s line would produce kings, and Abraham’s descendants would inherit great lands.

As we moved along, we saw how each of these promises came true.  In Exodus, the people inherit the promised land.  In Samuel and Kings, we see kings who were descendants of Abraham.  And throughout it all, we see Yahweh being their God, providing for them every step of the way.

Yahweh was faithful to His covenant at all times.  Despite the worst of the sins of the people of Israel, God’s chosen people, despite their turning away to worship false gods, despite their breaking of the covenant, God remained faithful to them at all times.  He continued to preserve them as a people, His people.  He continued to provide for them and help them grow as a nation.

But along with all of this, we kept seeing these signs, these little things along the way that pointed to something greater.  We saw a reference in God’s punishment of the serpent in the fall, that Eve’s offspring would crush his head.  We saw a reference in Isaiah of how a king would come from Abraham, a king of all people.  We saw a new covenant to be made in Jeremiah in which God would give forgiveness to men.  We saw a reference to One who would save and redeem the people of Judah.

All of these things pointed to the same man, a Messiah, a Savior who was to come.  All of Advent, we prepared for His coming.  And now, on this Christmas morning, the moment we’ve all been waiting for has arrived.  “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior has come!

The bare essence of God’s covenant with us as His children is that He is our God, and we are His people.  When you boil it down, it’s all about our relationship with Him, a relationship which we broke by sinning against God and living life our own way.  But that’s why the Savior came.  Yahweh sent His Son Jesus into the world to fix the relationship.  God could have given up on us, but He didn’t.  He gave us a solution, a sacrifice to pay for our sins.

The past few weeks, the various Bible studies here at church have given me a few things to think about.  During our Wednesday morning Bible study this week, Pastor pointed out how American Christianity likes to focus more on Christ’s birth than Christ’s death.  A cooing baby boy is a more pleasant thing to talk about than a man who’s bleeding to death.  So Pastor actually shifted the focus of class more towards the cross than the manger.

And in Mark Wilkening’s class on Sunday morning a few weeks ago, he wrapped up the class with some good ol’ gospel, challenging any of us to think of a better gift, a greater gift, than Jesus and the salvation that He gives to us.  I had a smart-alic answer, but I kept it to myself.  But it connects today, so I’m going to say it now.  What about creation?  If push comes to shove, which is the greater gift: that God created you, or that He saved you?

It creates a paradox for us.  If God hadn’t created us, we wouldn’t need saving.  But if we aren’t saved, creation would be a terrible thing.  It’s a paradox, and that’s okay.  Paradoxes are one of the things that separate and distinguish the Lutheran church from other church bodies.  We’re okay with saying that we don’t know.  We’re okay saying that sometimes we have to hold things in tandem, even though it doesn’t make sense.

Think about that for a moment.  Paradoxes are all over in our theology.  Are you a saint, or a sinner?  The Bible calls you a saint, you know you are a saint via your baptism, but yet you sin don’t you?  Well, sinning means you’re not a Christian.  So which are you?  Are you a saint, or a sinner?  And Lutherans answer, Yes.

What about the Lord’s Supper?  How can the elements in the meal be both bread and body, both wine and blood, at the same time?  We don’t see the blood or the body, and we don’t taste them, but they’re there.  And yet, the bread and wine don’t just vanish either, as the Catholics teach philosophically, but they are both still there.  So what does Luther say?  In, with, and under.

And what about predestination?  God, in His foreknowledge, saves the elect, those who believe.  But doesn’t that also mean He condemns everyone else to Hell as most Protestant churches today say when they believing in double-predestination?  No, that’s saying too much.

And then at the very heart of it all, we have law and gospel.  If I quizzed you right now, I would be willing to bet that every one of you would say the Gospel is the dominant one.  But it’s a paradox.  Think about it: without the gospel, we all know the law would beat us down.  But without the law, what need would any of us have for the gospel?  There is a sense of togetherness, of the both/and that is all over theology, and as Lutherans, we seem to love it.

It’s no different with Christ.  Which is more important: His birth at Christmas, or His death and resurrection?  Well, without being born, He couldn’t have died for us.  But, if He hadn’t died for us, His life wouldn’t have been much different than any of our own.  It’s a paradox, it’s a tandem, a team, a beautiful both/and.

As sinners, as covenant breakers, we counted on God giving us a Savior who was both born and sacrificed, died for us to forgive us of our sins.  We needed Yahweh to be faithful to the covenant even though we weren’t.  We needed our relationship to be restored.  And that’s precisely what God did for us when He sent His Son into the world.

And so we hold to the paradox of Christ.  Just like we should look at all of Scripture as a whole, rather than a bunch of small disconnected pieces, so we should think of the life of Christ.  When we think of Christmas, it is easy to think of His birth that day in Bethlehem.  But we shouldn’t limit our vision to just that.  We should always connect it with all of His ministry, and ultimately with His death and resurrection.  It’s not by any one act, but the whole of Christ’s life that makes Him our Savior.

Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, came into the world, born of a virgin named Mary in the little town of Bethlehem.  He grew up going to His Father’s temple and learning the things of this world (another paradox).  And once old enough, Jesus began His ministry of preaching, teaching, healing, baptizing, loving, and forgiving.  And when the Jews finally got the chance, they hung Him on a cross and bled Him to death.  Little did they know that they had actually played into the role God had set up.

Christ was the sacrifice for our sins, the necessary bloodshed for the broken covenant; He took our place.  And on the third day Jesus rose again from the dead.  He ascended into heaven where He reigns at the right hand of His Father, Yahweh.

As Christians, aka those who follow Christ, we must always look to Christ.  But when we see Him, we think of who He is and what He’s done for us.  We call Him Lord and Savior.  We call Him God and King.  We call Him Prince of Peace and Messiah.  We remember what He did.  He came into the world to fulfill the covenant by redeeming us.  He came into the world to restore our relationship with Yahweh, our Father.  And that’s precisely what that baby boy did.  Because of Him, we are loved, forgiven, and saved.  We will live with Him in everlasting glory.

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