Pic from Flickr by M
Our text for this sermon comes from Isaiah 9:1-7.
Santa Claus is not necessarily a bad thing. The idea of Santa Claus that we have now comes from the real life story of St. Nicolas. The problem comes when we try to use Santa Claus as a means of manipulating a child’s behavior. According to the Santa Claus story, he has a list of who is good and bad. You can go from good to bad and go from bad to good. What we teach children is that for them to be on Santa’s good list, their good has to outweigh their bad. Then we threaten the kids by telling them if they are not good, we are going to email Santa and he is going to take their name off the good list. So they live for a couple days, maybe a week with this weight on them that if they step out of line one time, their name is removed from the good list. How long does that last? Until they realize that it is not worth it. So, we have taken Santa Claus and turned him into some sort of micromanager just waiting for you to mess up so he can strike your name from the list.
The sad thing is…
We do the same thing with Jesus.
From the time kids can learn, most church teachers teach law instead of grace. By the time a kid becomes a teenager, it is ingrained in them that their good has to outweigh their bad. Don’t drink, cuss, smoke, have sex before marriage, don’t wear baseball caps, flip flops, or holy jeans at church. don’t listen to rap music, don’t hang out with lost people because they will bring you down. Do read your Bible, do go on mission trips, do your devotions, do pray, WWJD, True Love Waits, Modest is hottest, do serve at church, do teach VBS…but it becomes not out of your love and passion for Jesus but because that is what your supposed to do. Here is the problem. Not only does this way of teaching produce thinking that is harmful, it also puts people under a huge weight. These rules become a chain that binds well-meaning Christians. It does not take long before people realize that this way of teaching also produces double standards. Church leaders will reprimand a guy for wearing a baseball cap or jeans with holes in them, but we will overlook a woman that is sleeping with her boyfriend as long as she can sing well.
So people become burdened, and frustrated. Once they fail at keeping all the rules, they believe Jesus is mad at them. So, they try harder. Then they end up creating this endless cycle of trying and failing, trying harder and harder and still failing. Then when they get tired and frustrated enough, they quit. They quit church, they quit reading their Bible, they quit Jesus.
So, we created a term for this type of behavior…backsliding. Our hearts are prone to wander. What is taught in the Bible is that the church needs a clear view of the gospel. What else is taught in the Bible is that you will know a tree by its fruit. – Jesus said that. The Bible also teaches confession and repentance. Not saying your sorry because you feel guilty and you say a prayer to make yourself feel better.
The Bible categorizes people into two groups. Sheep and goats or wheat and weeds or those that love Jesus and those that don’t.
The Bible teaches us to live by the Spirit and not the flesh. To kill sin before it kills us. When you stumble, when you lose focus, when you sin…REPENT! The Bible also teaches that a person that calls themselves a Christian and loves sin is a liar.
The church needs a clear view of Jesus and the gospel.
Vs 1 Her who was in anguish refers to Israel as the people of God under his discipline. In the former time. Isaiah’s vision projects his thought out of the tragic present as if it were already past. Brought into contempt, i.e., humiliated with national defeat. the land of Zebulun.
Vs 2 The people who walked in darkness. Such people as those who refused to walk in the light of God’s Word ( John 3:19–20). on them has light shone. Those who walk in the light are not under subjective wishful thinking but an objective, surprising joy breaking upon sinners through the grace of Christ.
Vs 3-5 God breaks all human oppression as on the day of Midian. (Judges 6–7) where Gideon achieves an improbable victory over Midian by the power of God. There is coming a day, when God will eradicate everything that holds you down, keeps you in bondage, and oppresses you. There is a day coming when Jesus will rule as victorious over every thing.
John Lynch said:
He is Immanuel-“God is with us”
He is not a concept, a theory or a theology. He is not a system or a religion. He is not an icon, a figurehead, or a mythical movement leader. He is not an allegory. He is not an ideal. He is not a way of life. He is not a memory. He is not experienced in the past or the future. He is not a static-drenched echo from a far off land. He is not once, or at one time. He is not less real now than He was to those who could touch Him. He is not the property of the pietistic, of any denomination or location…He is God with me, God with us, God with them, God with the wicked and twisted and vile, all at once…”
Jesus is not just a little, non-threatening, non-confrontational, baby.
- The Wonderful Counselor A “counselor” is one who is able to make wise plans. He is a ruler whose wisdom is beyond merely human capabilities. We cannot fathom his wisdom.
- Mighty God For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God! Deuteronomy 10:17
- Everlasting Father A “father” here is a benevolent protector which is the task of the ideal king and is also the way God himself cares for his people. He is King Jesus!
- Prince of Peace He is the ruler whose reign will bring about peace because the nations will rely on his just decisions in their disputes.
The confrontational thing about Christmas is that Jesus did not stay in the manager. Jesus grew up, became a man that taught us to be passionate for the things of God and he died the horrific death on the cross so that we did not have to. Jesus frees us from the weight of living by rules. Jesus changes have to into want to.
We celebrate the birth of Jesus because that is the day that God chose to send redemption in the form of a baby. The King of Kings, the Lord of Lords was born in a barn and his bed was a horse’s plate. Every prophecy about the messiah, every promise God had given concerning redemption was born in that barn on that day. On that day, hope had a name. His name is Jesus.
Fall in love with Jesus. You do not have to work under rule and bondage any longer. Jesus came with love, grace and mercy. There is nothing that you can do to make Jesus love you any more and there is nothing that you can do to make Jesus love you any less. Jesus loves you now as much as he is ever going to love you. Jesus loves you with an everlasting love, a love that has no end. Jesus is your righteousness! Jesus did what you cannot do! Jesus conquered death, sin and hell. The work is done. Rest in Jesus. Live the abundant life of joy that Jesus came to give you. That joy comes out of the overflow of your passion and devotion to Jesus not out of any form of obligation. Cultivate your relationship with Jesus. He loves you for you. Love Him for who He is and what He has done for you.
Go celebrate Christmas. Give and receive gifts. Feast on turkey, ham and pie but know that it is because of Jesus that you are able to celebrate at all.
He is JESUS!