Sunday, December 26, 2021

God Has Spoken to Us


Hebrews 1:1-6

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.  And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.  When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high; having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.  For to which of the angels did He ever say, "THOU ART MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN THEE"?  And again, "I WILL BE A FATHER TO HIM AND HE SHALL BE A SON TO ME"?  And when He again brings the first-born into the world, He says, "AND LET ALL THE ANGELS OF GOD WORSHIP HIM."

Sermon for Christmas                                                              12/25/21

God Has Spoken to Us

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Talk to me.  You've heard people say that before.  Talk to me.  And if you do, how would you do it?  Silly question, right?  You would use words.  That is how we talk.  Well, Jesus is the Word of God.  That is from the Gospel of John.  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being."  And then verse 14: "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."

This Christmas morning our epistle lesson tells us that God has spoken to us – and He has spoken to us in the person of His Word – His Son Jesus Christ.  Our Christmas message – the one that give us such joy on this morning is that God has spoken to us!

Hebrews is the most intellectual of the epistles.  There are parts of Hebrews that, frankly, baffle us.  Even the simplest parts require careful reading and careful thought.  But the opening verses of the entire epistle to the Hebrews is pretty simple.  It tells us that Jesus is God's communication, His Word to us.
God has always been talking to man.  He walked personally and talked with Adam and Eve in the garden.  After they had sinned, they could not bear His presence.  They were too frightened.  So God began dealing through intermediaries with us.  He sent prophets.  He spoke to them in visions, usually, or dreams.  He communicated with them without actually talking out loud.  Moses seems to be the last one that God talked out loud to.  After that, it was in visions and dreams and such – or he sent an angel.  He always stayed in touch, giving guidance and revealing more about Himself through His prophets.

In Jesus, we have God returning to direct communication.  That is what we celebrate in our Christmas celebration.  God was in Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ is God, the Second Person of the Trinity.  Christmas is the festival of the Incarnation.  Isaiah 7:14, which prophesies the Virgin Birth, also prophesies that the name of the child will be Immanuel.  The meaning of the prophecy is not that He will have that name, but that He will be God, with us – among us.  Jesus fulfilled that Word of God by putting on human nature and human flesh and blood in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and being born at just the right time – Scripture calls it "the fulness of time," and Luke says "the days were accomplished that she should be delivered."

The manger in Bethlehem is precious to us because God was born there.  He was not born according to His divinity, but according to His human nature – but God was born as a man there.  And having taken on human flesh and blood, God spoke directly to us.  There was no "middle man".  There is no mediator, except the man God chose to be, Jesus Christ.  So, at Christmas, we celebrate the truth that God has spoken to us!

Jesus often said that the words He spoke were not His, but that they had been given to Him by His heavenly Father.  Jesus wanted us to know that God was speaking to us in Him.  He always pointed back to God as He taught.  God was speaking to us and teaching us in Jesus, and He took great care to let us know precisely what it was that He was doing.  He knew that men would disbelieve and deny Him and His Word in time, but He wanted to be as clear as possible so that those who would believe would have utter certainty and clear evidence that God has spoken to us in Jesus Christ.  That is why every sermon has a text, and often quotes Scripture.  When the Word is spoken faithfully, God is still speaking to us through Jesus.

But that isn't all that the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews meant to say.  He meant that Jesus was God's communication.  Who Jesus was, and what Jesus did, and the fact that He was here to do it, is as significant as the Words He spoke – and it says as much or more than Jesus did with His mouth.  God spoke to us by sending His Son.

Jesus spoke of the love of God for us.  Of course He also preached about it, but just the fact of the Incarnation spoke to us about how far God would go – how deep His love is for us.  Think of the manger scene.  Could you imagine having your child in a barn, and using a hayrack for a crib?  Would you send your daughter or daughter-in-Law to give birth in filthy conditions on a cold night in an open-air stable like that?  Yet God chose to be born there for us.  He chose a teen-aged girl and a humble and poor carpenter as parents.  He chose to be born on a trip, in a stable where the young parents were housed for the night because the town was so crowded.  We celebrate Christmas every year without pausing very often to consider the absurdity of it, or what fantastic love it was that required God to humble Himself to become human, and then a poor human in a poor nation at a time and place in history so crude and violent and backwards.  The simple fact that Jesus is who He is reveals God speaking of His great love for us.  God has spoken to us!

And why did God do this?  It was our sins.  Because of our sin, we deserve to die.  We come from polluted stock and we behave as though we never knew God.  We hate, we covet, we lust, we gossip.  Many times we act as though God will not take care of us.  We behave as though God were less important than our next outing, our next purchase.  Even we, who know God and His goodness many times will behave as though we did not, or that we simply do not believe or care.

God did the Bethlehem thing for us.  He did it to save us from our own sins.  He was born in a stable so that He could die on a cross in our place, and redeem us from His own justice.  He had to keep His own bargains – He had to punish sin with death.  He had to be just and fair and righteous.  And yet He desired to save us.  Jesus coming, and His attention to fulfilling every prophecy – right down to the virgin mother and the place of His birth – speaks to us of the desire of God to save us.  There was no way to rescue us from the just consequences of sin, except to take them on Himself.  So Jesus was born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those that were under the law.  He, who had no sin of His own, became sin for us – took our sin upon Himself – that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him and through Him and on account of Him.  That is how much God wanted to save us – God has spoken to us!

Jesus Christ –  the fact of His birth and life and death and resurrection and ascension – spoke of God's plans for us beyond the grave.  Now I know that all of what we are looking at is not Christmas.  But we cannot celebrate Christmas two thousand years after Christ's life and pretend that the manger and the shepherds are all that there is about the holiday.  Jesus demonstrated what God has in store for us.  He told us plainly that He would come again for us.  He told us that because He lives, we too shall live, and because He rose from the grave, we too shall rise from our graves.

And we celebrate that truth as much as any, in Christmas celebrations.  The birth and life and death of Jesus speak to us about God's plans for us which go far beyond the short time we spend here in this world. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.  And when the time comes, and God raises us from the grave, then death will be defeated, and we will cry out with all the children of God, Death is swallowed up in victory!  O death where is your sting?  O Grave where is your victory!  And we will share in and delight in that reunion with all those who have gone before us, whom we miss so today – parents, grandparents, children, and spouses.  We will be there and we will do that and we will delight in God with all of our being – and Jesus, His existence and His life is God telling us all of these things.   God has spoken to us!

  And that is what we celebrate today.    God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.  And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.  When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Jesus tells us many things – but He reveals even more.  He is God, and He reveals God to us – His love, His nature, His compassion, His power, and His will.  And what is the will of God for us?

And you know that because God has spoken to us through the person of His Son.  And that is what we celebrate in Christmas – and it is truly merry!  So let us sing and laugh and feast and celebrate with all our might.  God has spoken to us and the first word He said was a little baby, born in Bethlehem, sung about by angels, and worshiped by shepherds.  

A merry and a blessed Christmas to you all!

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
(Let the people say Amen)

No comments: