Merry Christmas, everybody. It’s a packed house and this is a foreshadowing of what heaven will be like, with family members of every tribe and every tongue and every nation gathered around the throne to worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We have a lot of family here. Carolyn, Chris and the girls are here and two cousin dogs upstairs. Ashley is visiting. Thia is visiting. Anyone who’s visiting want to say anything? How about we pray.
Father, thank you so much for loving the world so much. You sent your Son to be born in a manger and die on a cross, to save us from our sins and give us a way back to the Father. We pray that you would speak to us today through your Word. We pray, most importantly, that we would meet you. That is our prayer. Every Sunday, every time we open the Scripture, Jesus, we want to meet you. We invite you to be head of this church. And you are the head of every church filled with believers that bear the name Christian. We pray that you would be head of all of us and speak to us and give us life. We pray for the Spirit to fill this place, to soften hearts, open eyes, open ears. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen
There are many characters in the Christmas story. There is obviously Joseph and Mary, instructed by an angel, moving from town to town. Then you have Zechariah and Elizabeth, relatives of Mary, also being visited by angels. You have wise men from the east, these educated astrologers following a star. You have uneducated local shepherds also being visited and being told to seek out the baby Jesus. You have Simeon and Anna, elderly people waiting to see Jesus with their own eyes.
And out of all the cast of characters, can anyone guess who I would choose to highlight on Christmas? Jesus. Yes, Jesus. So let’s read. Let’s read Gospel of John 1:1.
1 In 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 were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. 9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 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 have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
I love the Apostle John. If you read Matthew and Luke’s account of the Christmas story, you get introduced to the many supporting cast. But John, I would love to fellowship with him one day because when you meet with someone like John, the only person he’s interested in talking about is Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the Word. So go to Jesus and say, teach me. Teach me. It says, in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. Many people believe that this Bible is the word. And while that is kind of true, the world is not a compilation of 66 books and many verses and many principles. Jesus is the Word. Every time you open up Scripture from the Old Testament, you’re getting a foreshadowing of who to look for. And when you read the Gospels, you’re looking and reading about the Person who came. And all the rest of the New Testament is looking back and saying, Don’t lose hold of what you believed in who you believed Everything in Scripture is a pointer forward or or a reflection backward to the person of Jesus.
And Jesus is the Word. When people say they love the word of God and they love the Bible, it makes me cringe because I was there. I thought that this was a textbook that just needed to be studied as if they are principles. And imagine if I on my Google Docs every day wrote a journal and I shared it with whoever wanted to read about my life. And I just kept writing every single day and you read my Google Docs and that was your relationship with me, just reading the things I wrote and thinking about the things I was doing. Imagine if I showed up and you didn’t even pay attention to me, and you just said, well, let me just read the Google Docs and follow what you’re saying, but I’m standing right there. How offensive that would be.
Jesus is saying, I am the Word. Every time you open up Scripture, the takeaway is Jesus. You’re either either seeing a foreshadowing, a prophecy about Jesus in the Old Testament. When you’re reading the gospels, you’re reading about his life and his actions during the three and 1\/2 years that he did his ministry. Or you’re looking at the New Testament, where many people were losing the gospel. They were forgetting about Jesus, as if spiritually they’re the body and they have the head severed and they’re doing life without Jesus.
And I don’t know how you could give a Christmas message and not talk about the star of the show. It is Jesus. Every time I get behind this stand, I have to preach about the Star. He is Jesus Christ. He is the Word. And so we go to Jesus. Every time you open up Scripture, you are going to a person and saying, Lord Jesus, teach me because you are the teacher. Jesus is the Word.
Also, Jesus is life. And so you go to Jesus and say revive me. I don’t know about you, but by the end of the year, you kind of get weary. All the things you went through, all the gatherings, all the food, you just get tired. And so you go back to the source of life and you say to Jesus to revive me. If you’ve never been saved, then you say, save me. But if you are saved, you say, revive me.
The best analogy for this is the Christmas tree. You cut it from the roots, you bring it to the home. It smells fresh. You smell the pine, you can decorate it. But after Christmas, if you leave it in your home long enough, you see death. You see all the needles falling. And that is such a good metaphor for life that we are living. Yes, we can live 60, 70, 80, even 100 years. We can decorate our lives. But if we’re cut off from the source of life and Jesus is the source, if you’re cut off from him, you’re withering away.
The second a branch breaks from the vine, it can stay alive for a few moments, but over time it starts withering away. And that is our human condition. So Jesus is the life. And so we have to circle back to him and say, revive me. How long can you live without food? A day, two days, three days a week, 40 days? Possibly. How many days can you live without Jesus? Can you easily just go by a whole week and Jesus doesn’t even come into your thoughts? You don’t even bow the knee to Jesus. You don’t even go to Jesus and ask him for grace. How much time can pass before you realize that I’ve been cut off? Can you go through a whole Christmas holiday, two weeks, three weeks, a month and not even think about Jesus.
If that’s you, you have to return to Jesus, the source of life and say, revive me. Jesus is the Word. You go to him and say, teach me. Jesus is the life. You go to him and say, revive me. Jesus is also the light. Go to Jesus and you say, lead me.
4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
When it says Jesus is the light, we’re basically saying, lead me, Lord Jesus. And we’re living in a world that is pitch dark and all we have is a little flashlight. We’re putting it on the path. I don’t know if you’ve been hiking at night and you can’t see anything. You can’t even see a foot in front of you and you shine a light and all you can see is the next step in front of you.
That is what it means when we say that Jesus is the light. You go to him and he leads you step by step through every decision. We don’t just charge ahead and make all my decisions and say Lord, please can you bless this? I want to do this, can you bless this? Because who is the master and who is a servant? Who is the leader and who is the follower? When we say that Jesus is the light, we’re saying, Jesus, you are my master. You are my leader. I am following you. And when he shines his light, he says, take this step and then he shines another light. Take your next step. That is the Christian life. Step by step.
Jesus is the word. Jesus is the life. Jesus is the light. And the good news to a world in ignorance, to a world that is dead in their sins, to a world that is in pitch darkness, there is good news. Jesus came near.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us
Dwelt means he pitched a tent. He is saying, I want to live with you. I want to be with you. I want to walk with you. I want to do life with you. God is not far. Immanuel Jesus, God with us. The Christmas story is that God came near. And why do we go to Jesus? The second half of v14 says, we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. This is a description of Jesus. He is filled with grace. He is filled with truth.
Jesus is full of grace. So when we go to Jesus, we say, forgive me. And that is such good news for sinners. You probably have many sins that you sinned this past week, this past month, this past year, over your life. But Jesus is full of grace, and he gives us grace upon grace. And that is such good news for sinners that when you and I mess up, he’s not angry. He’s not impatient. He’s not frustrated. He doesn’t have a temper. He doesn’t have a big stick. He’s not going to whack you because you messed up. Jesus is full of grace. He’s the humblest person who ever lived. He is so gentle. And you, whenever you go to him because you have messed up, he’s full of grace and you can ask him, forgive me, and his blood will cover your sins.
Jesus is the word. We say, teach me, Lord. Jesus is the life, revive me, Lord. Jesus is the light, lead me, Lord. Jesus is full of grace. Forgive me, Lord. And lastly, Jesus is full of truth. And we go to Jesus and we say, free me, Lord.
31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Jesus doesn’t want to just cover your sins when we believe that Jesus is a savior. What is he saving you from? He’s saving you from sin, not just covering it. Yes, there is grace to cover sin. But he is saving you from sin. Do you know Jesus as the deliverer of sin? Do you know Jesus as the one who breaks the chains of sin?
And the main battle when it comes to these sins is in the mind. The battle is in the mind. There are certain thought patterns that have become strongholds that are not easily broken. And because the mind doesn’t change, our life doesn’t change. Jesus came to demolish every stronghold in your mind.
Something like the freedom from the love of money. You can tell people what the Bible says. You can show them the verses, but can they actually be freed from the love of money? Jesus comes to you and he reveals the truth to you personally. And in a moment, you’re free. That’s how it works. There’s no gradual. There’s no studying and thinking, oh, I think I understand now. No, it is Jesus coming to you and severing a chain and from that moment onward, you’re free. You may still stumble back into it, but for the most part, a chain has been broken.
The truth in Matthew 6 is that you have a Heavenly Father and he cares for you and he will not let you starve. He says, I will give you food. You will not die of thirst. I will give you drink. You will not be naked and cold outside. He will give you clothing. That is a promise of the Heavenly Father. And he says, do not worry about money.
Look back on this year, the last two years, the last decade. Have you been freed from the love of money? If you look back on every decision, has it been dictated or somehow related to money, in your job, in your savings, in all the securities that you put around you. I think this is a big chain in America. This chain has to be broken for you to follow Jesus. And you have to believe, my Heavenly Father will not let me starve. He will not let me die of thirst. He will clothe me. Everything else, yes, he doesn’t guarantee extravagance or luxury or comfort, but the bare minimum to all of his children, he guarantees.
And if you believe it, suddenly you’re free. I’m not going to worry about money. I might not be able to do all the things that other people do. But I am content with what the Lord gives me. You are free to follow the Lord Jesus. Freedom from the praise of men. If you’re not free in this area, then you will follow a certain script that is handed to you for success. You have a certain job title, especially for men, and you want to be able to tell people, and your parents want to be able to brag about their kids.
They have this. They work at this company. They have this title. It’s just bragging, and you can be free from this. If you believe that I live for the praise of the One who can send me to heaven or hell, I don’t bow the knee to anybody else. I am a child of God. No one can say anything to shake me from this reality. And then one day, I will stand before Jesus and he will say, well done, good and faithful servant. That’s all that I want to hear.
If this truth gets into you, then the whole world can reject you and you will stand firm. It’s a chain that has to be broken in your mind. And as soon as it’s broken, your life will be different from that point forward. And there will be a freedom from self, there’s no more insecurity. I am a child of God. If you believe this, there’s no more insecurity, no more having to prove yourself. No more showing off. No more selfish ambition, freedom from anger, freedom from bad habits, freedom from addictions, freedom from pride. All of this happens in a moment. Jesus will come to you and the truth will set you free.
So I think this is not just a Christmas message. This is an everyday message. Every time you open up Scripture, you’re not just learning facts in history. You’re coming to Jesus and saying teach me, Lord. I’m confused. I don’t understand. Teach me, Lord, because Jesus is the word. Every page of the Bible is a pointer or a reflection of Jesus Christ. Jesus is life and so we go to Jesus, the author of life, the source of life, and we reconnect to him and we say, revive me.
Jesus is the light in a world where it is pitch black. We don’t know where we’re going. Jesus says, follow me and he shines just enough to see one step in front of us. I used to want a plan. I used to want a five year plan. But God says in his word that this is arrogance. You don’t even know tomorrow, just today. Follow me today. Take this one step. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Don’t worry about five years later. Don’t plan out your life. Just follow me step by step because
Jesus is the light. He is a lamp and a light to your path. Jesus is full of grace. Every time you mess up, you don’t have to wonder. Will he accept me? Is he angry with me? I repented about this thing 1000 times this year. He is so full of grace. He is the safest person you can be with. You can go to him no matter what you’ve done and ask to be forgiven. And he will forgive you. He’s full of grace.
And lastly, he is full of truth. Jesus is not just full of truth, he is the truth. Jesus says in John 14, I am the way, the truth and the life. You go to Jesus and he is not only my savior, he’s my deliverer. He saves me from my sin. Just not just covering me. He saved me from my sins so that I can become like him. That is our destiny. To become mini Jesuses. That is what a Christian means. A little Christ. Go to Jesus. He will set you free.
Okay, let’s pray.
Father, thank you for highlighting to all of us the star of the show. It is not Mary, it is not Joseph. It’s not the angels, nor the wise men. It is not Zechariah, or Elizabeth, or John the Baptist. It is not the shepherds. It’s not Simeon. It’s not Anna. None of these characters. These are just the supporting cast. The star of the show is King Jesus.
He is the Word, and so we come to you, the Word of God. And we ask you, Lord Jesus, to teach us. We don’t know how to do life. We’re so confused. We don’t know what to do. And so we ask you, Lord Jesus, to teach us. You invite us to come to you and to learn from you. We are your pupils. We want to learn from the Master.
Jesus, you’re also the life. And so we come to you. And if it’s the first time we’re coming to you, we ask you to save us. If we are already saved, we ask you to revive us. We can’t go many days without eating. But spiritually, how easy it is for days to pass, or a week to pass, or two weeks or a month to pass and we don’t even think about you, Lord Jesus. And we don’t realize that spiritually we’re shriveling up and withering away because we’ve been cut off from the source of Life, the Vine. We want to be one of those branches that is grafted back in so that your life begins to pulsate and flow back into us.
Jesus, you’re full of grace and so we come to you and we ask you to forgive us. There are many sins we commit. We confess them one by one and say, Lord, we’re sorry. We don’t want to sin in this way again. Forgive us, Lord. We’ve done wrong. We ask for your blood to cleanse us.
Jesus, you’re not just full of truth, but you are the Truth. And this is not merely head knowledge. This truth that sets people free and opens up eyes. From the moment that the truth is given, we’re completely different. I pray that you would demolish strongholds because you are the truth and you alone can set people free. You alone can set captives free. You can set slaves free. You can open up eyes and ears and soften hearts.
We remember not just your birth, but we remember your death on a cross for our sins. We partake in the Lord’s Supper remembering your body broken, symbolized by the bread, and your blood shed symbolized by the cup. You didn’t come here to live a comfortable life. You didn’t come here to lord over people. You didn’t come here to boss people around. You came to be a servant and you came to be obedient to the point of death on a cross.
I pray that your blood cover every single person here from head to toe. I pray that your blood cleanses everyone, body, soul, spirit, mind, will, and emotion. We pray every sickness would be healed in Jesus name. Every addiction, every chain will be severed in Jesus name. Every stronghold in our thoughts will be demolished in Jesus name. Lord, we don’t want to go through the motions. We want to meet the Person — the Word, the Life, the Light, One full of grace, the Truth. Meet us today. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen