YouTube video sermon
Well, we’re going to start a new sermon series this morning. And normally I begin each week by saying, “Take your copy of God’s Word and turn with me to….” But this week is a little different. We’re going to be considering various texts. So, if you’re in the habit of taking notes, then perhaps you could just jot down the Bible reference for the points that we’re going to be considering.
As you might imagine, knowing that Advent and Christmas were just around the corner, I’ve been thinking about the Christmas story that we’re all familiar with. I’ve shared with many of you before that preaching during Advent and Christmas and Lent and Easter are (for me) some of the hardest sermons because everybody knows the story. Even if you’re not a Christian. Even if you don’t ever go to church, you’re still probably someone that pastors call C.E.O.’s (Christmas, Easter and other services). There aren’t many people that don’t have a basic knowledge of the Christmas story.
So, I’ve just been pondering some questions. For example, can you imagine how Mary must have felt as she gazed at her newborn Child? Ladies, you might appreciate the weight of this scene more than the guys. But I picture Mary, in the quiet of the night after giving birth, talking to herself, “The angel said this baby would be the Son of God, and wouldn’t you know it, he was right. Now, I’m sitting here in this dingy cave of a stable and here He is.” Can you see her in your mind’s eye just staring at Jesus and thinking about all these things? After all, that’s what the Bible says she did, “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).
Every child that’s born is a miracle from heaven, but this Child was indeed a gift. This Child had been set apart from every other baby that had ever been born in the history of the world. But why? That’s the first question in our new series that I want us to re-examine this morning. Why did Jesus become a man? And the Bible provides five answers, and the first is to satisfy Old Testament prophecy.
To Satisfy Old Testament Prophecies
In Luke 24:44, Jesus said, “These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” We believe in a God of truth, a God of faithfulness, a God who keeps His Word. Therefore, everything said about Jesus in the Old Testament had to be fulfilled.
It’s almost possible to write a complete Christology using only the Old Testament prophecies concerning Jesus? Christology is a technical term that basically means “a biography of Christ.” You almost don’t need the New Testament to understand who Jesus is/was. The Old Testament prophets spoke so frequently about a coming Messiah, that every page from Genesis to Malachi trembles with the wondrous anticipation of the anointed One.
Despite the fact that the prophetic books were written by many different writers at various times over many centuries, when taken together, there are glimmers of a Savior who would rescue His people and restore them to God. In fact, there were more than 300 specific prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures about the promised Messiah. For example, Isaiah said that this special Deliverer would be miraculously born of a virgin and that His name would be called Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” He wrote that not one year before it happened, not ten years, but hundreds of years before it took place.
The prophet Micah also offered a prediction that was both specific and startling. He said the King would be born in Bethlehem and that He would come from the distant past. When you read Micah 5:2, here’s what you learn: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me One who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”
In Jeremiah’s prophecies we learn that the birthplace of this coming One would suffer a massacre of infants. Jeremiah 31:15 reads, “Thus says the Lord: ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.’” And Matthew 2:16-18 reveals the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy: “Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: ‘A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.’”
It was reported that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) calculated the odds of Jesus fulfilling just eight of the prophecies and the result was 1 in 100 trillion. To put that another way; it would be like covering the state of TX with silver dollars two feet deep and burying one painted silver dollar among them and asking a blind man to find it. And that’s just the fulfillment of eight prophecies.
The same report suggested that the chances of one man fulfilling 48 prophecies is the same as 10 to the power of 157, which is more than the odds of finding one atom among all the atoms of all the known galaxies of the universe. Suffice it to say, the fact that Jesus fulfilled almost 300 prophecies is proof beyond mathematical comprehension that He is the Messiah. Certainly, for the committed skeptic there may never be proof enough, but for those who are genuinely seeking answers, the evidence is clear that Jesus is who he said he is, and he did what the records say he did.
Why did Jesus become a man? First, to satisfy Old Testament prophecy. Second, to show us the Father.
To Show Us the Father
You remember, near the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, He was talking to His disciples and telling them that He had to leave, and Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father?’” (John 14:8-9).
Jesus was God in a body. If you want to know who God is, you need to know who Jesus is because Jesus teaches you who God is. So, when you see Jesus doing what He did in the Gospels, you’re watching God at work. If you want to know God, then get to know Jesus.
By the way, this is one of the reasons why evangelical Christians tend to use the name Jesus more frequently than God. In societal and neighborly discourse, the name/term God is almost too generic, but when you use the name Jesus you’ve just narrowed down what you mean by God. That’s why the only way you can become a Christian is to know Jesus because Jesus is the way that you know God. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Why did Jesus become a man? To show us the Father. Third, Jesus became a man to save us from our sins.
To Save Us from Our Sins
In 1 Timothy 1:15 Paul wrote, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst” (NIV). Those of us that are intimately familiar with our sins, our shortcomings, our failings and temptations always want to argue with Paul. “No! I’m the worst sinner.” In either case, we had to have a God-Man to save us.
And because Jesus was God and Man, He lifted up one hand and took hold of the Father and with the other reached down and took hold of man. And at the cross, in that moment of time, He brought us together. And now with His hands reached out, He offers His salvation to all who will come to Him in faith.
If Christ had not come, the course of humanity would be one long, downward, hopeless trudge toward the eternal night of despair. But Almighty God did come. He interrupted all of that. He shut down the cycle of sin by sending Jesus to be our Savior. If you’ve never put your trust in Jesus Christ, you can’t know Him; and without knowing Him, you can’t know God. And without accepting Him, you can’t be forgiven. That’s the purpose of His coming – to forgive our sins.
Why did Jesus become a man? First, to satisfy Old Testament prophecy. Second, to show us the Father. Third, to save us from our sins. The fourth answer is to sympathize with our weaknesses.
To Sympathize With Our Weaknesses
Jesus became a man to sympathize with our weaknesses. In Hebrews 4:15-16 we read, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Do you know why you can go to Jesus with whatever is going on in your life and know that He hears you and understands you? Because He came down here to experience everything that we’ve experienced apart from sin.
Dr. Maxwell Maltz was a plastic surgeon that rose to some fame in the late 50’s and 60’s. In his autobiography, Doctor Pygmalion, he tells of a man who had been injured attempting to save his parents in a terrible fire. His elderly parents died in that fire. And he was burned over a great part of his body, his face badly disfigured. He mistakenly interpreted what had happened to him as some sort of punishment from God for not having gotten his parents out safely. In his anguish, he refused to let anyone see him, not even his wife. So, she went to see Dr. Maltz for help. He said, “I can fix him.” But she knew her husband would turn down any offer of plastic surgery. When she visited him again, he asked why she had come. She said, “I want you to disfigure my face, so that I can be like him. If I can share in his pain, then maybe he will let me back in his life.”
Maltz wrote, “I had never heard anything like that in my life. I had always been paid to help people look better. She wanted me to make her look like her husband.” He wouldn’t do it. But he decided to go and tell her husband what she had said. He knocked on the man’s door and said loudly, “I am a plastic surgeon and I want you to know that I can restore your face.” There was no response. “Please come out,” he said. Again, no answer. Still speaking through the door, Dr. Maltz told the man of his wife’s proposal. “She wants me to disfigure her face to make her face like yours in the hope that you will let her back into your life. That’s how much she loves you.” There was a brief moment of silence. And then, ever so slowly, the doorknob began to turn.
The way that woman felt about her husband is the way God feels about you and me. He took on our face and our disfigurement. He became a man so that God would become touchable, approachable, and reachable. That’s why the name Emmanuel – God with us – is so significant. Whatever you’ve been through, you can be sure that God has been all the way to the end of that road. And when you pray, He will embrace you with His love and say, “I have been there and experienced that.”
Finally, Jesus became a man to secure our hope of heaven.
To Secure Our Hope of Heaven
He came down so that we could go up. Colossians 1:27 says that, “Christ in you, [is] the hope of glory.” Until Christ comes to live within your heart, you’re not fit for heaven. Do you know how hard it is to say something like that in today’s world – “You’re not fit for heaven unless you know Jesus”? It’s absolutely true and biblical in every way, but it cuts against the sensitivities of our normal sidewalk conversation. To tell you friends and family members that they’re not fit for heaven unless they know Jesus… How arrogant? How elitest? How mean? And yet that’s one of the reasons that Jesus became a man.
There’s a Christmas carol that’s typically attributed to the great reformer, Martin Luther, called Away in a Manger. We’ve all sung it. We’re familiar with the tune. The last verse of that carol says:
Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me I pray
Bless all the dear children, in Thy tender care
And fit us for heaven, to live with Thee there.
The only way you can live in heaven is with Christ in you. You come to God by coming to Jesus because Jesus is God, and He’s the One who paid the penalty for your sins. And one day, if we live until He returns, we’ll hear the trumpet, and we’ll go up to be with Him. And if we should die before He comes, our body will go in the grave, and our spirit will go to be with Him. If Almighty God has fulfilled all that He said about the first coming of Christ, then everything He says about His Second Coming will be fulfilled in the same way.
Let me conclude with this story. School was out for Christmas, and the family had chosen to spend the holiday in the country. Charlie pressed his nose against the bay window of the vacation home and marveled at the English winter they were experiencing. He was happy to trade the blackened streets of London for the cotton-white freshness of the snow-covered hills.
His mom invited him to go for a drive, and he quickly accepted. They snaked the car down a twisty road, the tires crunching the snow as they went, and the boy puffed his breath on the window. He was thrilled. (Can’t you picture it?)
The mother, however, was a bit more anxious. She could tell this was more than a normal storm. Heavy snowfall came down. Visibility lessened. And as she took a curve, the car started to slide, and it didn’t stop until it was in a ditch. She tried to drive out of the ditch, but she couldn’t do it. Little Charlie pushed, she pressed the gas, but they were just digging themselves in deeper. They were really stuck, and they needed help.
Charlie’s mom knew there was a house just a mile down the road. So, off they went, and they knocked on the door. “Of course,” the woman told them, “Of course you can come in. Please come in and warm yourselves. The phone is yours.” She offered them tea and cookies and urged them to stay until help arrived. An ordinary event? Perhaps, but don’t suggest that to the woman who opened the door. She has never forgotten that day. She retold the story a thousand times as if she’d only told it once. And who could blame her. It’s not often that royalty appears on your porch. You see, the two travelers stranded by that British roadway were no less than late Queen Elizabeth and now His Majesty, King Charles, who was only ten-year-old at the time.
I wouldn’t forget that day, would you? I’m here to tell you… Something far more wonderful than that has happened. Royalty has walked down our streets. Heaven’s Prince has knocked on our door, and God has moved into our neighborhood. He’s one of us. Almighty God is here. And He has you on His heart today. We don’t serve a God who’s far away. We serve a God who’s close at hand. He’s our Savior. That’s the message of Christmas and why Jesus became a man.