- Hebrews 1:1-4
- Hebrews 2:5-18
Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
Christmas is a time of joy. It was the message delivered by the angel:
“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10–11, NKJV)
No usual announcement
Who was this angel who announced the birth of Christ? That little fluttering, overweight, baby-faced creature we see on Christmas cards? Surely not. Luke is just following on in his story of the events of the announcement of the advent of Christ. To Elizabeth, that angel, the arch-angel, Gabriel, (Luke 1:26) visited. He appeared to announce the birth of John the Baptist. He was the angle-in-charge under the direct command of God Himself. Right through the Scriptures, this angel acted in watershed events in the history of God’s covenant people. It was this angel of the Lord who appeared to Joseph to announce the birth of Christ.
This angel appears on significant occasions: in Luke, it was directly after the glory of the Lord shone around the shepherds. This glory was only seen and known on occasions like the appearance of the Lord in the mountain, the filling of the Most Holy section of the tabernacle, and the filling of God’s presence when the temple was filled with God’s glory, as well as other very important milestones of the redemptive history of God’s people.
So, the joy of Luke 2 in the message of the angel was that joy which signalled the reopening of paradise. Adam and Eve and all their descendants were driven from the presence of God out of paradise, and the appearance of the glory of God were signs of his direct intervention of salvation of his people. It was God revealing Himself in his full glory: the sin of the people was exposed, while the holiness of God was revealed. God made his home with the people.
And now, the joy: God, Immanuel, God-with-his-people announced the joyful news: For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Modern Christmases is more a time of frivolity than a time of joy. It is known as the season of silliness and superficiality. The reason? We don’t know who Jesus Christ is! In light-hearted amusement we hear references to “the baby Jesus” like He was just another of the 360,000 other born every day. If that is the case, why do we celebrate Christmas at all?
The Word of God
God speaks through Jesus
The period of the prophets had been fulfilled, the last and most faithful prophet appeared. If we want to hear what God has to say to this world, we need to listen to Jesus Christ. There is no other prophet more of ever lesser than Christ. Paul declares in 2 Corinthians 1
“For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” (2 Corinthians 1:19–20, NKJV)
The God who created everything, speaks through his Son, Jesus Christ. Just stop and pay attention: there is no other God, and this all-powerful, all-merciful, most-holy, most just in his judgements God has one ultimate way He communicates with us: Jesus Christ, his son. If Jesus is nothing more than just the baby Jesus in a crib 2,000 years ago, we have no hope to even hear God speak. And without the life-giving voice of God who called every into existence, and who will announce the last minute of the existence of the universe we are part of, we are nothing, as good as dead. Do you want to know God? You have to know Jesus Christ! No-one can go to the Father but through the Son.
The heir of the universe through whom God created everything
“has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:2, NKJV)
Jesus is not the One whom the folk sing about in the shopping centres through blaring speakers to get us into the right state of mind to spend more money. He is God’s Son! This universe was created through Him. The food you eat is because of Him; what you have in your home and your bank account is because of Him; your health is because of Him. The air we breath is because of Him. That fact that you and I are here today is because of Him. He is not only the baby of 2000 years ago of whom the world has forgotten. He is not be confused or exchanged by the trifling representation of Santa; and yet, that’s what is happened.
He is the radiance of God
More than that: He is God! With the Father and the Holy Spirit, He is eternal God. Not only does He show us who the father is, He is eternally God with the Father and the Holy Spirit. As God is powerful in sustaining all things, so Christ is powerful in sustaining all things. When God spoke the universe into existence the Word, Jesus Christ, was with Him.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” (Colossians 1:15–17, NKJV)
He is our Saviour and Redeemer
Why is al of this so important to understand? If Jesus was just another person, just the other baby in the crib of Bethlehem, his birth would mean nothing at all. The world caught up in it frivolity and sin would forever be under the judgement of God. If Jesus was not God, He would possibly merely be an example of good living. But we would still be entangled in the power of sin. We would still hate, covet, steal, murder — without the possibility of being rescued out of this mess. No-one can improve this world to be living a good life based on a good example. Santa might give fleeting gifts to good people, but Christ rescues bad people from sin and rebellion against the Father to give them eternal life.
We are in need of someone who is as holy as God, perfect as He is, but who knows and have experienced the hatred, envy and pride of sinful man, yet without having shared in the filthy sinfulness of this world.
Only Jesus did.
“… who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” (Hebrews 1:3, NKJV)
He was more than an angel
“For to which of the angels did He ever say: “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You”? And again: “I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son”?” (Hebrews 1:5, NKJV)
“But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: “Let all the angels of God worship Him.”” (Hebrews 1:6, NKJV)
Angles are created beings, but Christ is eternal:
“But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.” (Hebrews 1:8, NKJV)
He is king with an eternal sceptre.
“But You are the same, And Your years will not fail.”” (Hebrews 1:12, NKJV)
This is an attribute only of God!
He rules with God:
“But to which of the angels has He ever said: “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”?” (Hebrews 1:13, NKJV)
We have to proclaim this eternal truth: to stand at the crib of Bethlehem is to stand at the throne of God. To take the Name of Jesus on our lips is to take the name of God on our lips. To sing about Christ is to worship God. To celebrate Christmas is to fall before the One through Whom God created everything. To celebrate with joy is to understand that He is your Saviour. Anything less is meaningless frivolity and superficiality.
Christ is the Son of man
Between Hebrews 1 and 2 there is a shift from the deity of Christ to the role of Christ as the mediator between sinful man and God.
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” (Hebrews 2:9, NKJV)
“For it was fitting for Him [God], for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” (Hebrews 2:10, NKJV)
This expression “it was fitting” means “there was no other way”, or the only way to bring many sons to glory was to make the captains of their salvation perfect through sufferings. “the making perfect their salvation” means to provide salvation which meets all the criteria of the holy God.
We are made the family of God
It was by his perfect suffering as our mediator the He became our brother.
“For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,” (Hebrews 2:11, NKJV)
“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,” (Hebrews 2:14, NKJV)
Christ destroyed Satan
Only God can deal with Satan. So, only Christ dealt with Satan.
…through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,” (Hebrews 2:14, NKJV)
So why Christmas?
Why was Christ born as a babe in Bethlehem?
“Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” (Hebrews 2:17, NKJV)
Why would you want to know Christ?
“He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18, NKJV)
- Christ is eternal God.
- He is more than any angel.
- He is everlasting and all-powerful God.
- He is our Saviour and Redeemer
- He destroyed the power of Satan
- He is our brother.
- He is our helper when we are tempted.
To get any benefit from celebrating Christmas means that we need to worship Christ as God. He is as holy, righteous, faithful, powerful, gracious, forgiving and loving as the Father because He is God. To love Him is to fall before Him, worship Him, surrendering all rights of your life to Him and live under the power and guidance of his Holy Spirit as revealed in the Scriptures. Anything less is meaningless and foolishness.
Sermon preached by Rev D. Rudi Schwartz on Christmas Day 2019