Jesus is everything that God wanted to say to the world He loves. Jesus is The Word. He is The Message.
To those who receive this message, God gives them the right to become His children—His totally new creation.
Only Jesus could make this possible. Only Jesus could bridge the gap between a Holy God and sinful man. Only Jesus could pay a debt that He did not owe because we owed a debt we could never pay.
But in order to do this, He must become one of us in every way. In order to bridge the gap between a Holy God and sinful man, Jesus needed to be both the Son of God and the Son of man. God needed to be born as a man. God needed a birth story—the birth story we find in John 1:14:
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
The birth story of Jesus in the Gospel of John isn’t easy to find. Unlike Matthew, there’s no list of names. Unlike Luke, there’s no heavenly host addressing shepherds. That’s because John highlighted the deity of Jesus—how Jesus is God.
So we need to rethink what a birth story would look like for God. Where did God come from? What is God’s history? What is God’s heritage?
On Christmas Eve, we considered these questions as we looked at the first chapter of the Gospel of John—where we find the birth story of Jesus, who is God. Watch and marvel at the wonder of the Infinite becoming infant, the Maker becoming man—Immanuel, God with us!
“And it came to pass in those days…” (Luke 2:1)
The first verse of Luke 2 give us a mile marker in history to understand the time in which Jesus was born. It was during the reign of Caesar Augustus, a remarkable man who many saw as the “savior” they had been waiting for. But just consider the contrast between the man-made messiah Caesar Augustus and The Messiah who is God-made-man:
Caesar Augustus, the man-made messiah, climbed the ladder of power through brutality and force, finally exalting himself as the “sacred one.” Jesus, The Messiah God-made-man, left His throne, gave up His power, and descended to be born a helpless baby in the most humble of circumstances.
Caesar Augustus was the adopted son and heir of Julius Caesar. Jesus was born to a poor peasant woman, whose pregnancy was surrounded by controversy.
Caesar Augustus would have great pomp and circumstance when he entered a room. Jesus was born in a stable, laid in a feeding trough, and wrapped with ripped pieces of cloth.
Caesar Augustus tried to be a civil savior—providing outward peace through military might—but ultimately his empire crumbled. Jesus was, is, and forever will be the sinner’s Savior, who’s kingdom will have no end. He needed to be made perfect through suffering (see Hebrews 2:10) so that we would be able to say, “Jesus, You know what I am going through. You know what it’s like to be born into poverty and problems, to be an outcast, to be betrayed, to be alone.” He came to purchase and provide what we needed most—inward peace with God.
We’ve paused our study in Romans to consider the birth of our Savior and study the true story of how Jesus made His entrance into our world. Last week, we looked at the account of Jesus’ birth in the Gospel of Matthew. This past Sunday, we looked at the Gospel of Luke.
Luke 2 may be a familiar text. But as we work and worship our way through the word from God that never changes, by the power of the Holy Spirit we will change as we preserve, ponder, and proclaim the indescribable gift of God’s Son! Watch our study of Luke 2:1-20 as we consider Jesus—the sinner’s Savior.
On Christmas Eve (4pm this Saturday), we’ll look at how the Gospel of John records Jesus’ entrance into our world. Read ahead and do some digging—the account of Jesus’ birth in the Gospel of John might not be immediately apparent.
At the end of the first chapter in Matthew, we read that the Messiah was given two names—Jesus and Immanuel. Two different names with two important meanings, and two answers to two important questions.
Those questions were posed to God by David in Psalm 8: “What is man that You are mindful of him? And the son of man that You visit him?” The two names given to the Savior in Matthew 1 are God’s answers to those questions.
“What is man that You are mindful of him?” God’s answer is Jesus, which means “God our salvation”. God is mindful of us because we so desperately need Him!
“And the son of man that You visit him?” God’s answer is Immanuel, which means “God with us”. In order to save us, He has to be with us.
If God knew that our greatest need was money, He would have sent us a banker. If God knew that our greatest need was health, He would have sent a doctor. But God knew our greatest need was salvation, and that’s why He sent us a Savior. And He has gone to incredibly great lengths to show us beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus of Nazareth is that Savior that we have been waiting for—and He is able to save you!
The Christmas season is upon us! It’s a time we choose to set aside to ponder and proclaim that “…unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
For the next few weeks, we will take time to pause and consider the coming of our Savior Jesus—reflecting on the account of His birth and the significance of the greatest gift that God has ever given.
Three of the four Gospels have detailed accounts of the birth of Jesus. This week, we considered the account recorded in Matthew 1. Next week (12/18), we will look at Luke’s account. And then on Christmas Eve, we will look at The Gospel of John. Read ahead!
Ministry can be so discouraging, depressing, and frustrating IF we only rely on feelings. That’s because feelings (although tangible and real) are not always the greatest communicators of truth. When we only rely upon our feelings, we fall into making faulty assumptions about others. And if we entertain those assumptions, we’ll eventually believe the best about ourselves, and the worst about everyone else.
This is such a common occurrence for those who take ventures of faith in serving the Lord—like Elijah.
Elijah was one of Israel’s most powerful prophets. He single-handedly took on 450 false prophets by calling down fire from heaven. Then he received a death threat from the wicked queen of Israel…and things started to quickly unravel for him because he focused on his feelings.
Elijah became so scared and discouraged because of this threat that he ran into the wilderness and asked the Lord to end his life. Elijah went from living out great faith to focusing on his feelings. He became depressed, weary, and (quite frankly) annoyingly cranky.
But instead of immediately correcting him, God provided Elijah with good food, good rest, and time to recover. Then God drew Elijah out with thoughtful questions. Once Elijah was quiet and ready to receive, God firmly but gently reaffirmed his calling, giving him something specific to do. You can read all about in 1 Kings 19.
We can learn an important lesson from this episode in Elijah’s life. When we’re tempted to only listen to our feelings, we need to take our eyes off of what we think, feel, or assume others are doing (or not doing), and put it back on the Lord. The discouraging feelings, frustrating assumptions, and constant criticisms of others that we entertain reveal our own immaturity and keep us from doing the work that God has called us to do. But when we take our focus off of our feelings and put it back on the Lord, He will restore and revive us for the work He has prepared for us to do.
God is not done with the nation of Israel. His promises to Israel are to Israel, and He will be faithful to fulfill those promises. God is still stretching out His hands to His covenant people, longing for them to come to Him.
We see that throughout Israel’s history. Even if the majority were functioning in unbelief, there was always a faithful remnant who believed.
Paul points to the prophet Elijah as one of these faithful, but even Elijah struggled at times with discouragement and frustration in his ministry. Why? Watch our study in Romans 11:1-5 as we consider the danger of relying upon feelings rather than the facts of God’s word.
From Pastor Dom...
When I first gave my life to Jesus, there were friends in my life who helped me to grow in my understanding of God, through His word, and for those friends