The Christmas Miracle

The Christmas Miracle

December 17, 2017 | Dave Hoffman
I’m going to ask for two volunteers who like to win things, alright? But, you have to know something about the Bible. Alright, come up here Dan. What do you mean you already know all the answers? You have the outline? But you don’t have the answers. You know the answers? Come up here, oh ye, pride come before a fall, young man. Stand right here. You sure you know them? (Dan answers: “I’m absolutely sure I know them”). OK, get out of here. (Dave chooses two ladies from the congregation). This is a good thing that you’re going for, and I’m going to have you face the other way because I want you to see what’s going to come on the screens. For right now, just tell everyone who you are. “Kiana Newkirk.” “Julie Avila.” Now ladies, you’re going for a really good thing. Here we go, first question, that of course Dan already knows.

When Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem, how did they get there?

  • They walked

  • Joseph walked; Mary rode a donkey

  • They took a chariot

  • We really don’t know

“B”. “D”. D, correct! We haven’t the faintest idea. So, you have one, you have none. You didn’t win yet. There are four or five questions here.

How many angels spoke to the shepherds?

  • A multitude

  • Two; Gabriel and Michael

  • One

  • Not sure

“C”. “C.” Correct, you’re both correct. Wow, alright.

What song did they sing?

  • “O Little Town of Bethlehem”

  • “Joy to the World”

  • “Glory to God in the Highest”

  • None of the above

“D.” And you say what? “D.” You’re both right. Three to two.

In what books of the Bible can you find the Christmas Story?

  • Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

  • Matthew and Luke

  • Mark and Matthew

  • Matthew, Mark and Luke

“B.” “A.” It’s ‘B’, you win. Sorry, honey, I’m sorry, Kiana, thank you. I have for you a fifty-dollar gift card to the Brigantine. Alright. That’s my favorite restaurant, that’s why I had her get that. That was fun, for me. And now, I was going to say something about Dan, but we won’t. He does have a master’s degree in something. Apologetics or something. You teach apologetics at the school and the principal and you’re gonna get married. Stand up. Stand up with your… he’s engaged. Gail, come on. She’s dying a thousand deaths. That’s good. We’re all really happy for you guys.

Alright, I think I already told you to go to John Chapter 1. One of the things that I, early on, found interesting after becoming a Christian, was when I read through the gospel of John. John does not give any details about the birth of Jesus. As a matter of fact, neither does Mark. But as I studied the book of John, I found out that John did in fact, have a specific reason for writing his gospel. He wrote it in about 85 A.D. and the reason was because there was a lot of opinions running around or thinking around about who Jesus really was. Some said that he was God, but not a man. Others were saying that God adopted Him. He was born a human and then as He lived out His life, God adopted Him as His son and it just goes on and on. As a matter of fact, when I was studying this, I found eight distinct heresies that were flying around the time of John, in A.D. 85. And down through the centuries, there had been a ton of them. If I have time, I’m going to read to you, some of them. You see, because as I’m going to show you in just a minute, it’s very important that we understand that Jesus was fully man and fully God. In John 20:31, John tells us the reason, the main reason why he wrote his gospel.
…but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

John 20:31 NASB

John wrote his gospel to proclaim that Jesus was who He said He was: the Messiah, the God-man, the Savior of the world. The second thing I want to just mention first before we read these eighteen verses in John 1, is that John is going to immediately refer to Jesus as ‘the word.’ He did that to relate to his Greek readers because the Greeks believed that there was this power in the universe, this unnamed power in the universe, that they called “the logos” (the word), that created everything and ordered the universe. Now, John defines who that power is to the Greeks. He is Jesus. So, let’s go ahead and read John 1. I’ll go eighteen verses.
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. 6 There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. 9There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ 16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

John 1:1-18 NASB

Again, there is no description about the details of Jesus’ birth, but what John does here is he makes three important points about the significance of Jesus being born in Bethlehem and that’s the message for today.

Three Truths Concerning Jesus’ Birth

The first important point that John makes is that:
1.) Jesus has always been.

This little baby that was born in Bethlehem... Jesus’ existence there did not start in Mary’s womb. Jesus has always been. The Bible tells us that there’s one God but God exists in three, a plurality. A triunity. Father, Son and Holy Ghost. And the Son is obviously Jesus. There was a pre-existent Jesus. Jesus does not have a beginning. He simply allowed Himself to be born of a woman. Philippians, Chapter two. This is confusing because everything in our minds has a beginning and an end, but Jesus didn’t have any beginning. He simply humbled Himself and became a man so that He was God and Man. I have a definition that I think will make it clearer to you. Let’s read it to you. “He who never began to be, but eternally existed and who continued to be what He eternally was, began to be what He was eternally not.” I hope that makes it clear for you. Exactly! That’s a pretty good definition, but if it doesn’t make sense to you, that’s okay. Like I said, you and I, we can’t understand eternity. Everything we’ve ever seen in our life has a beginning and an end. Everything. John 8:58 says this.
Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”

John 8:58 NASB

He’s got Pharisees and people around and He says, “I say to you, before Abraham was born, I Am.” When He says truly, truly, he’s also, I can get into this, but He’s talking about, there’s more than one witness. He’s talking about God. “Before Abraham was, I Am” and at that point, they picked up stones and they wanted to kill Jesus. The reason was that they understood when He said, “I Am”, He was saying He was God. When Moses was called by God to go deliver the Israelites, Moses asked God, “Who should I tell these Israelites, who should I tell my countrymen, my fellow Jews, who sent me?” And God said, “Tell them ‘I Am sent me’.” So, when Jesus said, “I Am”, the Pharisees and the Jews knew exactly what He’s saying. Jesus was saying, “I am God.”
Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

John 17:5 NASB

Here again, Jesus is claiming to be God, that He’s always been. And you can logically say from that verse, if Jesus was before the world was, He was there at creation. He was part of creation. As a matter of fact, in Genesis 1:26, God said, “Let us make man in our own image.” That us included Jesus. The pre-existent Jesus. The Son. Colossians 1:16-19, Paul tells us that all things were created through Jesus, by Him and for Him. Jesus was before time. That’s because Jesus, part of the triune God, created time. God broke into His creation (this is confusing to me), Jesus broke into the time that He created and was born of a woman. So, Jesus is part of this triunity. He’s always been. And if you can’t wrap your head… if you can’t really understand, it’s okay. No one ever really has. I don’t think any of us will really, fully understand this side of heaven. The point is, Jesus has always been because He’s God. He’s the third part of the trinity. The second point John makes about this miraculous birth... it kind of goes on with the first one.

2.) Jesus was both God and man.

He was fully God and fully man. In verse 14, John tells us that Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us. The eternal God also became a human being. The theological term for this is the incarnation. It’s a fancy word that says, “I don’t really understand what this is”. It’s the incarnation. It’s a miracle. People could see Him, touch Him, watch Him. John later in his first letter, chapter 1, verse 1, he said this talking about Jesus, “That which was from the beginning (in other words, eternal) we saw, we heard. We saw with our eyes and touched with our hands.” John’s gospel was a little different and I think the next time you read it, if you think about the reason why he wrote it, he wrote it to prove that Jesus was eternal and that He was both God and man because there was a lot of heresies going on around at that time. I think I mentioned that already. This is on the night Jesus was betrayed. He is praying for His disciples and ultimately for us.
…that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and me in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. (There’s that word us again). 22 The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;

John 17:21-22 NASB

Here again, Jesus is claiming to be God. John 10:30, this is very clear.
“I and the Father are one.”

John 10:30 NASB

Apparently, it’s very important to Jesus that you understand who He is, who He was and always will be. To believe that Jesus is something different than He is, is a problem, because if Jesus is less than God, then He doesn’t have the authority to forgive sins. In Mark chapter 2 and Luke chapter 7, you have an interesting scenario there and I don’t have time to go to it, but Jesus says to this guy, “I’m gonna forgive your sins” basically. “Which is it easier for me to say, ‘walk’… (He was going to heal the guy, he was lame) or say to him, ‘I forgive your sins.’” Well, the Pharisees there were reasoning among themselves, “How can He say He can forgive sins? Because only God can do that.” And of course, He forgave this guy’s sins and then He healed him. Ultimately, all our sins are against God, okay? Because He created us and we are His and when we sin against someone else or do something against them, it’s always against Him, ultimately, since only God can forgive us. That’s the point here. Only God can forgive us. If I sin... I’m picking on you Dan… if I sin against Dan, or if I treat him poorly and down the road I want Dan to forgive me, John over here can’t forgive in Dan’s place, only Dan can forgive. John can’t say, on behalf of Dan, I forgive you. No, Dan is the only one who can give me forgiveness. If Jesus is something less than God, His sacrifice on the cross can’t forgive sins. That Jesus was both God and man is foundation to the Christian faith. Anything less is heresy. If you don’t believe that Jesus was both fully God and fully man, you’re not a Christian. That’s why the Mormons are not Christians. They are not Christians. They believe that Jesus is the son of Yahweh. Of course, Lucifer was Jesus’ brother. Just one of many sons of Yahweh. One of many gods. No. Jesus is part of the triune God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who humbled Himself and became a human being, who is fully God and fully man. While studying this, I ran across a whole page of heresies and the reason why it’s interesting to me is because the Holy Spirit, I believe, led John to write his gospel because God knew that down through the centuries people were going to try and explain away the incarnation. People have trouble with things they can’t understand so they try to come up with something else. You know, there’s whole page of stuff, I remember when I was in seminary I could probably pronounce these things correctly. It was a long time ago. Adoptionism: this is a heresy that believes that God granted Jesus powers and then adopted Him as His son. Apollinarianism: Jesus’ divine was overshadowed and replaced by the human. Arianism: which became a real problem in the church, Jesus was less than God. He was a created being. And it just goes on and on and on. The gospel of John forever will punctuate the fact that Jesus is both God and Man. James, the brother of Jesus who became the leader of the Jerusalem church, he grew up with Jesus. If anybody knew He was human, it was James. James saw Him fall and probably cut Himself when He was in his carpenter shop. If you’re a carpenter, you’re going to nick yourself. Things are going to happen. He knew He was human. He’d seen Him bleed. He’d seen Him do the normal things that a human being does. But He came to believe something else. James chapter 2, verse 1 says this.
My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.

James 2:1 NASB

Now he’s talking about there should be no partiality in the church for a rich person, a poor person. But he says something else. He says that Jesus is His Lord, capital ‘L’. He’s his God. When Thomas was faced with a resurrected Jesus, he falls on his knees and he says, “My Lord and my God.” Christmas is about, most important thing, it’s about the pre-existent Son, the eternal Son, becoming a human being, both fully God and man, and dying for our sins. The perfect sacrifice. The only way it could have happened. Someone’s excited about that because that reality changed your life. The third point that John obviously wanted to make here about this miraculous birth in Bethlehem is yes Jesus came, both God and man, came to sacrifice His life for ours, but He came to bring life and light.

3.) Jesus came to bring life and light

John tells us, in Jesus there is life. So, we need to take a few moments here and reflect on this whole idea of life and light. Let’s start with life. This is important because we’re talking about something eternal here. One way or another, you’re going to stand in eternity looking at an eternity, one way or another. And God came, Jesus came, so that you can live forever with Him. Through faith in Jesus Christ, you and I are assured an eternal life with God in heaven and ultimately the new heaven and the new earth. And this new birth, it changes everything. Because as John said, it’s something God does. He places His Holy Spirit inside of us, that a spark of eternal life, however that happens, is birthed inside of us and it changes our attitudes, our desires, our motives because God’s Holy Spirit has been placed inside of us. And John tells us this life, this eternal life is not something that is bestowed on us because someone shook something over our head or sprinkled something on us. Or that we go to a certain church or we’ve confessed a certain thing, or we’ve done a certain number of assignments. It’s a gift of God given to all those who accept Jesus’ death and sacrifice for them. See, Christmas is all about Jesus loves you. He loves you enough to die for you on the cross. To take your sins upon Himself and get rid of that separation.

Eternal life. We’re all afraid to die and if you tell me you’re not, you’re a liar, sorry. But it’s because we’re afraid of the unknown. But guys, we don’t have to be afraid of death like those who are outside of Christ because Jesus promises us that we’re going to live even if we die. John Chapter 11. This past Tuesday we did a funeral service for Al Green and we’re gonna miss him around here. We really are. But the millisecond Al stopped breathing on December 4th was the millisecond he was with God in heaven. Paul says, “To be absent in the body is to be present with the Lord.” Eternal life. You know, if you and I really get our heads around it and really believe it and start thinking about eternity, we can say with Paul, “Oh death, where’s your sting?” Because as a Christian, you really don’t die. Your body poops out and every time I look in the mirror I know it’s getting closer. But when this tent (as Paul talks about) gives out, I’m still living. It’s just like opening a door to another room. I remember my Dad said something to me one time. We were’ talking about going and visiting someone who was dying. I said, “You know, Dad, death is a real incredible thing” and I told him I was a little afraid of it. He goes, “Son, first of all, a lot of people have done it and seemed to have come through okay.” That’s what he told me. He had a smile on his face of course, but he said that to me. There really is a difference, if you’ve ever been in the presence of a Christian who’s died and if you’re worshipping, and them going to be with the Lord is quite an event.

Now this eternal life that God has given us also brings light into our life. Jesus said, “I’m the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but have light.” When you walk in darkness you can’t see. Look, hopefully you’ve had an experience where you’ve gone into a cave and you’re on a tour, they take you in a cave and then they shut the lights off. You’re totally disoriented. You can’t see your hand in front of your face. Years ago, we went on a trip. Our family went with Jim and Mel Deyling. We went up to Idaho and we went on this bike ride. In the north west, they have all these old railroad tracks that were used to take the timber from high in the mountains, down to the mills. Well, they’re not using them anymore so what they’ve done, there’s a whole society, they collect money, they get rid of these rail lines and it’s a bike track. You drive way high in the mountains and you get on this bike. This is my kind of a bike ride, you just coast the whole way. It’s awesome, guys. I’ve always thought, what a great vacation, just go from one of these things to another. There’s dozens of them. So, anyway, we’re going down and we come to this tunnel and it’s a long tunnel. About a quarter of the way through, we had to all get off our bikes because you could not see anything. And so, we’re walking our bikes and I didn’t know it, but I kept walking my bike into the side of the tunnel because I couldn’t see and that’s what happens when you walk in spiritual darkness. And if you don’t know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior there’s all kinds of things that you’re not seeing. There’s realities that you’re not seeing and you’re just like I was, you’re bumping into the wall. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, it brought sin into the world which caused a separation from God, which caused spiritual darkness. When you receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, when you accept His gift for you that He died on the cross so you can have a relationship with God, that separation is done away with and so is the spiritual blindness. The Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:16, it’s like taking a veil away from your eyes. All of a sudden you can see. You see things differently. As long as a person remains in spiritual darkness they are going to make decisions, move ahead in their life based on how they feel, expectations of others, bankrupt value systems. It’s a wisdom that’s lacking because they only see what they can see and it’s just like I was in that tunnel with that bike, I couldn’t see anything, so I kept going the wrong way. So often people don’t understand what they don’t see. They make decisions without understanding the ramifications of those decisions. Have you ever known someone who keeps making the same mistake over and over and over again? And you wonder, “What is wrong? Can’t you…?” No, they can’t see. They’re spiritually blind. “Can’t you see that this decision again is going to cause you pain and suffering?” No, they can’t see it because they’re making their decisions based on their feelings, so on and so forth. They’re spiritually blind.

Now, before we get too confident here, we Christians can be spiritually blind in certain areas of our life. We haven’t submitted that area to our Lord Jesus Christ, so we’re spiritually blind. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians chapter 2, (and I wish we had more time but that would be a whole other message), Paul says that people outside of Jesus, they can’t understand. They can’t see the truth of the word. They read the words but because they don’t have the Holy Spirit, they can’t understand it. They’re spiritually blind. They can’t understand or accept spiritual wisdom because they’re steeped in worldly wisdom. And until that Holy Spirit comes into your life, there’s a lot of what’s said in the Bible that’s not going to make a lot of sense to you. It’s going to go against what you think is right. A person who’s walking in spiritual darkness only sees part of the truth. They don’t know that there’s a lot of stuff they need to see.

Mike VanMeter talked last weekend about, you know, God has put certain laws, spiritual laws and realities, He created them and if you aren’t aware of them, if you don’t understand them, you’re going to make decisions without understanding them and you’re going to suffer for it. This sexual freedom stuff. Sexual freedom. There’s only one sexual freedom I know of and that’s inside marriage. Anything outside of that, the Bible says you’re going to suffer consequences for. But if you’re spiritually blind, you don’t understand that. Jesus wants to shine His light in all areas of our lives especially, and I’m speaking to Christians, especially on the path in front of us. He wants to illuminate our ways. He wants you to read His Word. He’s placed His Holy Spirit inside you and He’s given you godly counselors to come alongside you to illuminate your path so you can make wise decisions that will keep you from experiencing pain and heartache. Proverbs 4:26 tells us that if we’re careful how we walk, in other words, if we’re careful to let God illuminate our path through His Word and listen to godly counsel and listen to His Holy Spirit, our plans, our steps will be established.

So, the real question is, for Christians this morning, is there an area in your life that you need to submit to God? It’s that room that you don’t want God to go in. Is there an area in your life that you haven’t submitted to God? If there is, you’re walking in spiritual darkness in that particular area. If you don’t know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you’re making decisions everyday and you’re missing some stuff. You’re missing the wisdom of God Almighty on how to live what Jesus says is an abundant life. You’re missing out on how to get the best out of marriage. You’re missing out on peace and freedom and understanding and having a relationship with God. You’re in darkness. It’s spiritual darkness. And I’m not putting you down because for 22 years of my life, I was walking in spiritual darkness. I thought I was just fine. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. So, the real question is, are we tired of missing it? Are we tired, especially in that area that we haven’t submitted to Jesus, are we ready to let Jesus in, get the healing He has for us and move on so it doesn’t affect us… hearing God’s voice and His illumination on our way? And if you don’t know Jesus as Lord and Savior, are you ready to have that veil come off of your eyes? I’m telling you, when He puts His Holy Spirit inside of you, the whole world looks different. That’s why Jesus calls it being “born again.” It changes everything. All of a sudden, your attitudes on things, you see things, you understand things differently because now you have His Holy Spirit inside of you.

I love this time of year. I love the trees and all that stuff, but I’m at the age now, you know, if we just had a tree this big in our house, I’d be happy (gesturing that it’s small). But I love this time of year because it reminds us that Jesus, God, was born of a woman in Bethlehem and all who believe in Him have the right to be called the children of God. And this new life, this being born again, changes everything. His presence overcomes our fear of death, because we’ll never die. Jesus, again, said, “You live even if you die.” His presence, His Holy Spirit and His Word illuminates our way. Following Jesus enables us to see what we would not normally see. The wisdom to make the right choices. I look at so much of my life and I know there’s so many decisions I would not have made like I made them if the Holy Spirit wasn’t living inside of me, if I didn’t have His Word, if I didn’t have godly counsel in my life. So, this Christmas I want to say this. Every Christmas, I want to say… thanks be to God for His indescribable gift, this baby born in Bethlehem, this amazing miracle. That God, part of the trinity, the Son that pre-existed, Jesus, that has always existed, became a man and dwelled among us for one reason, because He loves us, and He wants to have relationship with us. He wants to give us eternal life. He wants to give us life as He intended it to be. This miraculous birth changes everything. So, I just want to end by saying this... Happy Christmas. Rejoice in Christmas. Merry Christmas. We celebrate the fact that your Savior, the God-man has been born in Bethlehem and it changes everything.