Sermon series: Experience the Miracle of Christmas
When I was youth minister in Carthage we used to take our students to Centrifuge at Glorieta, New Mexico. Glorieta is a large Baptist conference center, so there would be other conferences at the same time. I remember one year while we were there, they were hosting a conference for the deaf. I was sitting in the cafeteria during meal times and watching with fascination their sign language. I had never really been around anyone who could use sign language, and so I was just fascinated with how they used their hands to communicate with one another. They seemed so fluid in their ability to talk with one another and the expressions on their faces as they shared their stories was priceless. As I watched, I was particularly moved seeing parents talk with their children using sign language.
My kids were quite young at the time and I can remember thinking as I watched those parents talking to their children that, if my children had been born hearing impaired, I would learn sign language because I would want to communicate with them. I would want them to know without a doubt how much I loved them and cared for them, how valuable they were to me, how much they matter to God. Learning sign language wouldn't be a burden but an expression of love.
As I watched the deaf communicate with one another, I couldn't help but reflect upon the significance of what God has done for us. I saw in that experience a living parable. We are here on earth, busy living our lives, pursuing our own agendas, but deaf to God's voice. We don't hear what God is trying to say to us. God has been trying to communicate His message to us, we aren't getting it. But rather than give up in frustration, God loves us so much that He desperately wants to reveal Himself to us in ways that we can understand. So He sends His very own Son to communicate His message in a way that we can understand. That is the miracle of Christmas. That is the miracle of the message.
Our Christmas sermon series is Experience the Miracle of Christmas. It is not enough to just know about the miracle of Christmas. We need to experience the miracle of Christmas in our own hearts and lives. Today we want to focus on The Miracle of the Message. We are using one of my favorite Christmas movies, Miracle on 34th Street, to help us illustrate and understand the miracle of Christmas.
In today's clip from the movie, notice how Kris Kringle interacts with a little girl who has come to the department store to see Santa. Part of the plot is that the daughter of Mrs. Walker doesn't believe in Santa and she witnesses Kris communicating with this little girl in a way that the little girl could understand.
(Show movie clip of Santa talking with the deaf girl).
Did you see the miracle of the message? Kris Kringle communicated in a way the girl understood. He was able to speak her language. Hebrews 1:1-2 records this miracle of the message from God: "Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways.In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him" (HCSB). God sent Jesus to communicate His message in a way that we can understand! The miracle of the message is that God speaks to us today so that we can know Him and draw near to Him!
I. God speaks through history
God has been speaking throughout history to reveal Himself to us. He wants us to know Him, to love Him, to worship Him. God reveals Himself through His creation, through the sunrise and sunset, through the sun, moon and stars. God spoke to Moses in the burning bush, He spoke to the Israelites from the smoke and fire on the mountain, He spoke to Elijah in a still, small voice, to Isaiah in a vision in the temple. God spoke to Hosea through his family circumstances and to Amos in a basket of summer fruit. He spoke to Jeremiah through a potter's clay and to Joseph through dreams. God even spoke His message through a donkey! God has been speaking His message through visions and dreams, through angels, through Urim and Thummim, through symbols, natural events, and many other means. He could reveal Himself in Ur of the Chaldees, in Haran, or Canaan or Egypt or Babylon. There is no lack of variety for God's revelation is not a monotonous activity that must always occur in the same place or the in the same way. God has been speaking throughout history in a variety of places through a variety of means in order to make Himself and His will known.
Prior to the coming of Christ there had been 400 years of silence. Since the prophet Malachi last uttered his messages from God, there had been no prophets until John the Baptist arrived. God's revelations in the Old Testament were fragmentary, occasional, and progressive, because no single one of them contained the whole truth. They could not adequately capture the full picture of God's nature.
God had been speaking, but people weren't getting the message. They didn't understand God's heart. They didn't understand God's plan. Too many claimed to be speaking for God but they only misrepresented Him to others. Confusion, not understanding, resulted.
II. God speaks through Christ
But now, at last, God sent His Son to bring His message to us! In the Lord Jesus Christ, God revealed Himself directly to us. It is true that God revealed Himself through the words spoken by Jesus, through His message, but He did more than that. Jesus Christ is the living, divine Son of God. He did more than just proclaim God's message - He is God's message.
Jesus came to reveal God, to make Him known to us in ways that we can understand. The writer of Hebrews goes on to say of Jesus in verse 3, "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high." John's Gospel describes Jesus as the Word becoming flesh and living among us. If you want to know what God is like, look to Jesus! When Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father, Jesus replied, "Have I been among you all this time without your knowing Me, Philip? The one who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). Jesus declares in John 10:30, "I and the Father are one."
III. God speaks to transform
The miracle of the message is not just in the fact that God speaks to us today through His Son, but that the message has the power to transform our lives. Christmas is the celebration of the greatest message ever proclaimed. God is with us. God came near so that we could draw near to Him. First Timothy 2:6 says Jesus gave His life as a ransom for all. The miracle of the message is that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. Jesus came so that God could reveal Himself and His plan to us in a way that we could understand. Jesus came to proclaim God's message that we can be set free from sin's hold on our lives.
Why would He do that? Because He wanted us to know how very much He loves us. He wanted us to know that He created us for a reason - that we might know and love Him. He came to proclaim the message that we have been set free. We don't have to live as prisoners to guilt and regret.
Some of you this past year have received messages that have certainly changed your life. You heard the message from the doctor when he said, "It's cancer." You heard the message from your teenager, "I'm pregnant." You heard the message from your spouse, "I don't love you anymore, I want a divorce." As a result of the message your life has changed.
But in the midst of all, there is another message. "Nothing whatsoever can ever separate you from my love." He speaks, "Trust in Me with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge me, and I will direct your paths." In the midst of life's betrayals and bitter messages He whispers, "Forgive those who mistreat you." In the midst of life's messages of joy and celebration He shouts, "Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad!"
The miracle of Christmas is the miracle of the message - God loves you and me! Are you listening? Believe the message God is speaking to you and your life will never be the same!
God, our Heavenly Father, in this holy, sacred moment you are speaking to our hearts through your Holy Spirit. Thank you for speaking so wondrously and clearly through your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank you for revealing to us the depths you would go in order to communicate your message to us in a way that we could understand.