It is with great joy that we observe the traditions of Christmas each year. We love the carols of Christmas, and the Crèche / manger scene, and the tree and the decorations, and the family visits and the sharing of presents. We are blessed by the charitable outreach in which some engage each year. We love to read the Christmas birth story in Luke. We love to celebrate the birth of Christ, of baby Jesus, in the humble stable in Bethlehem.
In my meditations about these very same things this year, I heard the voice of my Savior, Jesus, saying, “Man, why did I choose to be born as a man-child on Earth? Why did I choose my earthly ministry? Aren’t these more important questions for you to think about this year?”
We all do major in our thoughts on the birth of Jesus, as bringing God to Earth in human form, which is true. And we major on the knowledge as Christians that, John 3:16, God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, to Earth that whomsoever believeth in Him should not perish but should have everlasting life.
In my meditations of answering those questions my Savior posed to me this week, I am reminded of so many other things accomplished in the coming of baby Jesus, God incarnate in human form.
The biggest part of the answer that I see, the overarching message, is set out in Matthew 28:18, in which it is recorded that Jesus said, All authority has been given to me in heaven and on Earth. Jesus came to rescue the earth from the authority over Earth that Adam gave to Satan in the Garden of Eden. The only way Jesus could do that was to walk out the authority given to Him by God the Father and, by doing so, to take back the authority over Earth that Adam gave to Satan.
This all authority given to Jesus is detailed in the Great Commission of Matthew 28, and also in Jesus’ answer to His Jewish critics after He healed the man at the Sheep Gate pool, the man who, for thirty-eight years, had been lame. This history is given in John 5, and we find in Verses 26-27 this, the core of, Jesus’ answer to those critics who criticized Jesus for healing the man on the Sabbath day. Here, Jesus said, For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. As to the phrase from Matthew 28:18, all authority, we find its explanation in John 5, that the authority included life in Himself, by which He had the power to exercise the authority of grace, to extend healing mercy as He did to the man lame for thirty-eight years. (And remember John 1:4, referring to Jesus, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”) And, of course, we see that Jesus was given the authority of judgment to be executed on men. That is the fullness of the full authority, of the all authority, given to Jesus, the Son of God/the Son of Man, in heaven and on earth: the authorities of mercy and judgment, of grace and truth.
So, everything Jesus did, is doing, and will do in the future is under the umbrella of the fullness of His authority, His all authority, on Earth and in heaven. That includes His judgments from the Great White Throne in Revelation 20:11- 15. It also includes the salvation by His grace that is suggested in John 3:16, and summarized by John in the Gospel of John 1:12 (But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name) described in detail by Paul as the ministry of reconciliation in II Corinthians 5:17-21 (which reads, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now, all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now, then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.). The salvation by grace and ministry of reconciliation are succinctly validated in Ephesians 2:8 (for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast). These two, salvation and judgment are the cornerstones of Jesus’ authority in heaven and on Earth, and out of them we see the work of that authority in preparing the Earth for the end of the ages.
Out of the work of the fullness of Jesus’ authority, we see in I John 3:8, that Jesus also came to destroy sin, the work of the devil: it reads, He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
Jesus Himself tied this all together, in the explanation He gave to the disciples, in Matthew 13:37-43 about the parable of the tares of the field, He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world (Earth), the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore, as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire (judgment) so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
In the confrontations with Pilate over Jesus’ statement that He, in His authority, was the King of the Jews, Jesus explained in John 19:36-37, “My Kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but My kingdom is not from here.” Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause was I born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” And we know, John 14:6, that Jesus is the truth!
In the special, humble, but powerful, way in which Jesus exercised His authority, He endured the crown of thorns and the beating and scourging (John 19:1) by the Roman soldiers, even before the walk to the Cross. And even these horrors exercised and extended His authority, because in it, we have available His ministry of healing: 1 Peter 2:24, who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree (our atonement for sin, whereby sin, the work of the devil, was destroyed), that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness — by whose stripes you were healed.
And He introduced us to the Holy Spirit, described in Luke 24:49 as the Promise of the Father, who would endue the followers of Jesus with power from on high and He told His followers, John 20:22, Receive the Holy Spirit. And, Acts 2:1-4, the Holy Spirit came and they received Him and they were filled with the Holy Spirit. And, John 16:13 and John 16:8, the Holy Spirit guides us in the way of all truth, Jesus, and also convicts us in regards to sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment – all essential to bringing us in faith to belief in Jesus Christ, and His one way, John 14:6, to reconciliation with the Father, Jehovah God.
And Jesus came not to abolish the old Jewish law, but to fulfill it, Matthew 5:17.
With love, mercy, grace, truth, power, authority, salvation and reconciliation, the destruction of sin, the work of Satan, with healing, we lead what can only be described as an abundant life, and we know, John 10:10, that Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Hallelujah!
And in all of this, we have Peace, John 14:27, the Peace of Jesus, which He gave to us: Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
What the coming of Jesus did, and all things in addition to salvation that we have talked about this morning, was to overcome arrogant intellectualism by validating His role in creation, by validating the history of the Jews, and by validating the history of man. When we view the manger scene, the star over Bethlehem, the kneeling kings, the awed shepherds, we are humbled by realizing that Jesus did all this for us, but that He did not, and does not, make us, choose Him. Rather, like in any good relationship, He left it for us to choose Him. We have free will and free choice, and Jesus richly values all of our choices in faith to believe Him, to believe in Him, to live for Him, to be his ambassadors of the ministry of reconciliation, to be healed by His stripes, to live without fear or troubled hearts in His Peace.
So, today, and in the days ahead in this Christmas season, and in the days ahead of the rest of your life, remember the fullness of the authority that came with the little babe in the manger, wrapped in humble clothing. Choose Jesus for yourself, and share His name, His word, His Truth, in the testimony and evangelism of your own life to all those whom you love – family, friends, and others – that, I Timothy 2:4-5, God’s will may be fulfilled, in that He desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Jesus Christ.
This Christmas, and forever, find the power of Christ for your life and do not let the traditions of man which will not redeem you (I Peter 1:18), nor the mere forms of worshipping God, (see II Timothy 3:5; Titus 1:16) ever deny the power of Christ available to you in your life.
And, Man, that is why Jesus chose to be born as a man- child on Earth. That’s why Jesus chose to chart the course of His earthly ministry the way He did. Man, He did it all for YOU! Will you and I do it all for HIM? That is the question you and I are left with as we observe the traditions of Christmas this and each year; as we love the carols of Christmas, and the Kresch/manger scene, and the tree and the decorations, and the family visits and the sharing of presents; as we are blessed by the charitable outreach in which some engage each year; as read the Christmas birth story in Luke; as we celebrate the birth of Christ, of baby Jesus, in the humble stable in Bethlehem. Will you take Jesus in reality for who He is in reality and live fully in His authority, in His reality? I urge you, to seize the day, to take the kingdom of heaven humbly but by force of your choices!