Merry Christmas! We’re glad that you’re here to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ with us. This Christmas Sunday, I’ve entitled our message “When God Became Human.” Oftentimes we get so caught up in the Christmas season, we don’t ponder on the wonder of what really happened.
Philippians 2:6-7 (ESV) though he [Jesus] was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
Jesus, the Son of God, the creator of the universe, a spirit being, was conceived in a human mother. The Holy Spirit was in essence the father of Jesus and Mary His mother. Jesus laid down His divine power and chose to live His life in human form through the power of the Holy Spirit. What did Jesus’ DNA look like, having human and divine characteristics? Jesus came to this earth on a rescue mission, to save humanity from sin and Satan.
1 John 3:8b (ESV) The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
Since the garden of Eden, mankind had been tormented by its enemy, Satan. No human being was the match to defeat him, so Jesus had to come. How did Jesus accomplish His victory? By living a perfect life, without sin of any kind, even though tempted in every way. On the cross, He offered up Himself as the perfect sacrifice to atone for the sins of the world. On the third day, He rose from the dead and all those who believe in Him are forgiven.
What happens when someone believes in Jesus? They become born again, children of God with the Holy Spirit living inside of them. Each believer is to be a follower of Jesus. Jesus served as an example of what those who follow Him should be like. The Holy Spirit is available to empower every follower of Jesus to do exactly the same things that Jesus did.
And the best is yet to come. One day, when Jesus returns, our human bodies will become like Jesus’ resurrected body.
1 Corinthians 15:53 (ESV) For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.
How amazing will that be! And it all began 2000 years with the birth of the most unusual baby ever. A birth where God who had become human breathed His first breath. So, let’s look at the familiar Christmas story this morning with new eyes. Eyes to catch the wonder of what happened, and its impact on our lives today. At that first Christmas …
Luke 2:1,3 (ESV) In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. … And all went to be registered, each to his own town.
The Roman government decided that they needed to know the details about everyone in the Empire, so they began this census. Undoubtedly the purpose of the census was so that everyone would pay their taxes. You couldn’t just register where you were living, but needed to go to your hometown in order to register. Joseph and Mary may have been upset about this government intrusion. Especially as Mary was almost nine months pregnant and travel was difficult. Yet, it was all part of God’s plan.
Luke 2:4-5 (ESV) And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
Joseph’s family was from Bethlehem, as he was from the lineage of King David. Mary’s family on the other hand was from Nazareth. The distance to travel on foot from Nazareth to Bethlehem was about 90 miles. A long journey to take, especially for an expectant mother. It is thought that legally Mary did not have to make the journey, as they were not yet a married couple, but she chose to come. It was all part of God’s plan, as the prophets had prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.
Luke 2:6-7 (ESV) And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
The word translated inn, which means a commercial establishment to us, normally means a guest room in a private house in the Greek language. As Joseph’s family was from Bethlehem, it is likely that they stayed with relatives. A typical house in that time consisted of a single room, which was immediately adjacent to a lower level where animals were housed at night. More affluent homes would have an additional guest room. As the guest room in the home they were staying in was not available, Mary and Joseph needed to use the manger in the animal area when baby Jesus was born. That is how Jesus became one of us coming into our world and breathing his first breath.
Jesus became one of us, not in a palace, but in a humble home being laid in a manger. Jesus became one of us to serve and save the people of the world. Jesus became one of us to sacrifice His life that we might live forever with Him. Jesus became one of us to be our example of living life in the power of the Spirit.
So, this Christmas season, take some time to reflect on what it meant for Jesus to leave heaven to be born as a human being. What does His example mean to us this Christmas? Whom has God sent you to serve and to lead to Jesus? What do you need to sacrifice in your life that the Gospel may reach more people? What part of Jesus’ example of life are you not following? As you contemplate and meditate on the Christmas story, God will speak to you about following Him in new ways in the New Year. Not only did Jesus became one of us, but …
Luke 2:8-9 (ESV) And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.
In God’s plan, He decided to announce the birth of the promised Messiah, not to kings, not to influential people, not in broad daylight, but in the night to lowly shepherds. In those days, shepherds were not esteemed but despised. Their work was one of loneliness, danger and low pay. Yet an angel came down from heaven and the shining glory of the Lord dazzled those shepherds. Not knowing what was going on, they were very afraid of what might happen next.
Luke 2:10-11 (ESV) And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
The angel told them not to be afraid because he had good news of great joy. This news was not just for Israel but for all the people of the world. Just born in Bethlehem, the city of David was someone with three titles. The first title of this newborn baby was Savior. He would be the one who would save the people of the world, all who would believe. Next this baby was the Christ, referring to the prophesied Messiah, the anointed one who would usher in the eternal kingdom of God. Finally, this baby is the Lord, that is this baby is God Himself. This news of the angel is such good news, that it should make everyone who hears and understands rejoice.
Luke 2:12-14 (ESV) And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
The sign to identify this baby would be that he would be lying in a manger. It seems to me that most babies would be wrapped in swaddling clothes, but they would not be lying in a manger, an animal feeding trough. After these final instructions, the angel choir came down from heaven for a concert. The praised God and gave Him glory for the unfolding of His plan.
And they said this baby was bringing peace to those with whom God is pleased. Who is God pleased with? The Bible teaches us that without faith it is impossible to please God. The peace that Jesus came to bring is only available to those who believe in Him. This peace is peace with God first and foremost because our sins have been forgiven. And furthermore, peace with all the other children of God in the world. Heaven and its angels invaded earth on that first night of Jesus’ life to those shepherds.
Do you have peace in your life this Christmas season? Jesus came to bring peace. In the verse we read at the beginning of the service, one of the titles of Jesus, the Messiah, is Prince of Peace. What can rob of us peace with God? Any type of disobedience, sin or unbelief that is not repented of. If you are not at peace with God, something is wrong in your life. You need to get it straightened out this Christmas.
The peace of God rests on the lives of those with whom He is pleased. When you’re at peace with God, you can remain in that peace even when others are not at peace with you. Look at the example of Jesus’ life. Everyone was definitely not at peace with Him. Yet, Jesus lived in perfect peace, carrying out His Father’s mission. Heaven invaded earth to bring God’ peace to the world.
Luke 2:15-16 (ESV) When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.
It’s still the middle of the night, but the shepherds decided to leave their sheep and travel to Bethlehem. The Scripture says that they went quickly, probably running. They had no trouble finding Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus in a manger. Scholars believe that Bethlehem was a small town of less than a thousand people at that time. As Joseph had relatives there, it was probably widely known that he had come with a pregnant fiancée.
Luke 2:17-18 (ESV) And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.
The shepherds were excited to share with Mary and Joseph what the angels had sang about this baby. He was the Savior, Christ the Lord. It seems that the shepherds did not just tell Mary and Joseph, but they told everybody in Bethlehem. And the response was that everyone wondered or marveled at the shepherds story. You see this was not just the story of one person, which could have been discounted. This was a story of a number of shepherds who had no reason to make anything up. It was a story that had to be believed.
Luke 2:19-20 (ESV) But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Mary treasured and carefully remembered everything that the shepherds had said. She meditated on them in her heart, thinking about the implications for her child. The shepherds went back to work, back to their flocks. But they were changed men. They went back worshipping God. They worshipped God for the message that had been conveyed to them. They praised God for being able to see the Christ child. And I believe they thanked God for choosing them to see these miracles. The only proper response to Jesus Christ coming into our world is worship.
What is worship? Worship is at its essence, an attitude of the heart that is expressed to God. God desires those who will worship Him in Spirit and in truth. We often think of worship, as what we do with songs on Sunday morning. And that indeed is worship, if it comes from our hearts, not just from our voices. But worship is something that we can and should do seven days a week We can worship when we spend time alone with God and His Word. We can worship when we give thanks to Him during our day. We can worship when we rejoice in the good gifts that He gives us.
We can worship even when we don’t feel like it, for God is always good. We don’t worship for what we can get out of it. We worship because God commands and it pleases Him. People become like whatever they worship. To become more and more like Jesus, worship Him more and more. Worship helps bring the peace of heaven into your life because you are joining with the worship of the angels in heaven. Worship is our proper response to the gift of Jesus.
2000 years ago, Jesus came down from heaven to become one of us. God humbled Himself to become a human being and lived among us. In the live of Jesus heaven invaded earth in way that had never happened before. Jesus brought the peace of God to everyone who believed in Him. Those who believe in Jesus are His followers, they do the things that Jesus did. This Christmas as we think of the Christmas story, let’s take time to worship. Give thanks for the greatest gift every given, the gift of Jesus.