1. The Savior was just right
2. The gift was just right
3. The blessings were just right
Christmas 2 – January 3, 2016
1/1/2016 7:15:13 PM
During November many TV stations will play Christmas movies. Which one is your favorite? One of the all-time favorites is the 1946 movie: “It’s A wonderful Life.” Jimmy Steward plays George Baily. George inherits his father’s business and finds himself trapped in the little town of Bedford Falls, unable to fulfill his dream of doing great things. When his competitor swipes his daily deposits George loses all hope and is ready to commit suicide. Suddenly, out of nowhere, an angel posing as a man named Clarence jumps into the river first, forcing George to save him and thus saving George.
In plays and movies, when things are going so badly that there is no way out, help often comes out of nowhere. The cavalry arrives. An angel descends. A hero shows up. The old playwrites had a gimmick. They called it dues ex machine – God out of the machine. Years ago on stage when all seemed lost, a gadget or machine would swoop down to save the day. The Roman poet Horace criticized some of the playwrites of his day for resorting to this dues machina too often and easy solution to a tough situation. He said, “Do not bring a god onto the stage unless the problem is one that deserves a god to solve it.
Martin Luther applied this comment of Horace to the forgiveness of sins. “Here” he said, “is a problem which needs God to solve it.” “When the time had fully come, God sent his Son.” God did not send merely a fine, moral philosopher. God did not send a politician. God did not send a committee. He didn’t even send an angel. God sent his Son. The Bible calls Jesus Christ “the true God and eternal life.” And “God over all.” Anyone less than God himself cannot be the right Savior. Thank God has sent his Son!
The question after Christmas almost everyone asks is: How was your Christmas? So how was your Christmas? Was everything just right? When Jesus was born you might as well have asked: Did anything go right? It just seems that everything that could go wrong went wrong. Some days are like that and some years are like that. At this point we no longer say, “Merry Christmas” but we say, “Happy New Year!” Christmas may have had some disappointments when you come down with the flu. It seems that everyone experienced a Christmas when you were under the weather. Christmas also may not seem right when someone could not make it home for the Holiday or if there was a family feud when members of the family got into a fight.
When God speaks about his promises in the Bible they are all certain and sure. Everything was just right. The gift he brought was not to reward me and you for what we are. He came to change our status. He came to establish a relationship. This is what each one needs. With this in mind there can only be a good beginning to the New Year. As the old year passed each one wonders what the New Year will bring. Christmas makes the transition easier when all those promises are still echoing in our hearts and minds.
Everything was right at this time for the savior to come. The Roman Empire brought peace to the world. Roads linked the empire and enabled commerce to prosper. Communications was good and news spread fast. Everything was just right.
1. THE SAVIOR WAS JUST RIGHT
Jesus was the right man for the job. God has often been challenged to come down from heaven to see for himself how bad life is here on earth. God did come down. “He was born of a woman, born under the law.” Jesus Christ is not only true God, but he is also true man. He became one of us. He was born of a woman. He placed himself under the law to keep its demands in our place. He did for us what we could never do for ourselves. He came down and saw and felt for himself this world his creatures had ruined. He became hungry in the wilderness and thirsty on the cross. He fell asleep in a storm and broke down in tears at the grave of Lazarus. He was the victim of miscarried justice. He knew what it was like to go to the cemetery himself, and then he came back guaranteeing that we will do the same.
Jesus is the Savior who is just right because 1 Peter 1:18 & 19 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. In recent decades, the blood theology of the Bible is considered PIC and certain passages in their Bible have replaced the word blood with death. The right price of our redemption was nothing less than the blood of God’s Son. The right price of our redemption – God’s ransom payment when we were held hostage by sin, death, and hell – was nothing less than Jesus’ blood. How expensive we are!
When is the time right for something bad to happen? You and I would say without any doubt that there is never such a time. When a baby is born this is not always at the most convenient time. It might be in the middle of the night. When there was no room in the inn for Mary and Joseph this made matters worse for them. When God intervenes in the History of the world it is always a good thing. When Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census be taken it was because this was in God’s plan. His motives were different than those of God. God’s plans for this world are always good. Through the prophet Jeremiah 29:11 the Lord reminds us, 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jesus is the right man. He keeps company with riffraff like us. If we are embarrassed by some of our relatives, think what love it took for Christ to become our relative. Nor is he ashamed to put his arm around each one of us and say, “This is my brother” or “This is my sister.” There is not a single believer in this world who has not been blessed by Jesus. He is the right man who came with the right gift. Everything about him is just right and the gift is right.
The world was blessed by his coming. It was the right thing. We sometimes make bad decisions. We say and do the wrong things. Instead of building people up we break them down. Instead of having a good time when the family gets together there are fights and arguments. I’ve heard people say they hate Christmas because they always end up arguing. Even though this happens it is a blessing to know that Jesus came into this world to become part of a disfunctional family and disfunctional world. Mary and Joseph were God-fearing people but they were still sinners and they also need a savior from sin. Jesus also came for them.
During this Season we hear of the gifts that were brought to Jesus but the gift he brought was really the one that counted. Without that gift we would have been lost forever.
2. THE GIFT WAS JUST RIGHT
The gifts we so often get might not be what we exactly wanted. We even might want to exchange those gifts. But what God gave to us is something we would not want to give up. In this letter of Paul to the Galatians we read that he redeemed us that we might receive the full rights of sons. Gal 4:4-5 . 4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. This was something we did not have and needed if we want to be in heaven.
Paul speaks about us having the right kind of attitude when he says, “You are no longer a slave but a son.” Slaves do things because they are forced. A man who has spent some time in a concentration camp once said something like this: “My captors could force me to do anything. They could force me to eat garbage and bury my own friend. But one thing they could not force me to do – they could not force me to love them.”
The attitude of sons is different from that of slaves. God does not want his children to do things out of slavish fear but out of childlike faith and love. When God enables us to call him Father through faith in his Son, he also changes us from the inside out. We begin to want what God wants – our thinking aligns itself with God’s will. We begin to serve the Lord with gladness. We begin to breath an attitude that expresses gratitude.
When the angel announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds outside Jerusalem the message was, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” The good news announced a message which declared that God’s favor was on man. God has shed his grace on the human race. The shepherds were the first to hear of the good news of the birth of Jesus. God’s grace had dawned. It was born here on earth in the person of Jesus.
God’s favor rested on those people. This was the year of the Lord’s favor. Many years before this Isaiah preached the year of the Lord’s favor. God’s faithful and unfaithful people of the OT knew many a year as the year of the Lord’s favor. Among God’s people the year of Jublilee was also known as the year of favor when all debts were forgiven and slaves released. The birth of Jesus ushered in a permanent year of the Lord’s favor. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, (2 Cor. 6:2) I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”
In the well-known Christmas carol “Silent Night” we sing about “the Dawn of Redeeming grace.” In German it says, “Da uns schlaegt die rettende Stund.” When the hour of grace rang. Christmas is the dawn of redeeming grace. Jesus came to live in this world to give us the gift that is just right.
When the birth of Jesus was announced to Mary the angel told, “Greetings, you who are
highly favored, the Lord is with you.” God had shed his grace on her and all. God was with her. But the reason why God was with her was not only because of his love for Mary but because of his love for the world. All of the glory was God’s. He deserved it from beginning to end.
According to what children are told they only get something when they are good. This is a prerequisite for receiving gifts. God’s gift however is different it is out of love. When we think of the many times when God’s people were so helpless and hopeless stuck in other countries as slaves never even believing that they would be free. Until by a miracle they were freed. The same can be said and even more so of our spiritual condition. How could anyone ever get free from the tyranny of sin and the devil. That is something we all deserved. But instead God has shed his grace on us. This is Good News. This is the best news there ever will be.
With the birth of Jesus God’s love was evident. With his birth there was hope for the future. That’s what this season means to all of us. For us this makes every dawn and day of grace another day of God’s mercy because his mercy is new every morning. The gift was right and the gift brings blessings
3. THE BLESSINGS ARE JUST RIGHT
People sometimes fantasize about receiving a large inheritance. They dream about how they would spend it. They imagine how it would change their lives. Some people will actually inherit great wealth. Because they are children, they are heirs. The inheritance we have from our heavenly Father are different. When Jesus says on Judgment Day Matthew 25:34 “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” It will be clear that heaven is a gift, an inheritance earned for us by the life and labors of Jesus in our stead. Jesus had to die in our place so that we could receive the inheritance.
We should say that the blessings are out of this world. Do we even grasp how great these blessings are? Paul reminds each one in this lesson: 4:4 & 5 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. Who wants to be a slave? The Galatians knew the meaning of being slaves of Satan. As Christians
Christmas reminds us of eternity and how all believers will be in heaven because of what Jesus did.
The individual who is not a child of God know no mercy. God does not love him nor does God’s favor rest on him. For him the New Year will not be good unless this relationship changes the only thing to count on is God’s anger. On the other hand the one who is a child of God by faith has nothing to fear because God’s favor rests on him.
The one who is not a child of God has no forgiveness of sins and his sins will keep heaven locked for him and condemn him. The child of God on the other hand has forgiveness of sins which Jesus procured for him by living a perfect life and his death on the cross.
This world counts wealth, power and great accomplishments as vital and necessary. The child of God on the other hand may be as poor as a church mouse as was the case with Joseph and Mary. Even those who are fatherless and motherless and say with David, “Even though my father and mother leave me, the Lord receives me.”
For the one who is not a child of God everything seems lost when the end of the year seems bad. Then everything seems like a curse. How different it is with the child of God. For the child of God everything works for the good of those who love him. Even when the entire year seems like a lost cause because when you end the year with him it has been a good year. Christians may be persecuted and make life miserable for him but God changes curses into blessings.
When the prodigal son came home his father said to him. Luke 15:31 “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” Imagine that. Heaven is God’s home and the home of every believer.
The one who is not a child of God can only look to the year gone by as lost time, time which can never be reclaimed. It may even seem like time wasted. On the other hand the child of God knows that the year he’s leaving behind was a blessing. God came out of heaven to save the day. This gives meaning to life and to every day we live here on earth. Thank God for doing everything right. We make so many mistakes but he makes all things new. And when you feel your day or life was a waste then think about God’s gift. It was just right and rights all wrongs. Amen.