Jesus Has Come!

Jesus Has Come!

Have you ever anticipated the arrival of anyone? We’ve just come through a time of the Church year when we have anticipated, and celebrated, the coming of our Lord. Christmas has come and gone, what happens now that the hype is over?

It’s in the midst of the taking down of Christmas that we can be reminded again, that the Christ has come for us. He hasn’t come to us just during the celebration of the holidays, but He is here for the normal, everyday, routine of our lives. It’s into that kind of world that we land in our text for today.

Tradition has it that the story found in Matthew 2:1-11 happened as long as two years after the birth of Jesus. Just like the time of year we now find ourselves, the hype was gone. Jesus is most likely a toddler, tearing things up around the house like any other two-year-old would do.

What we do know, is that day-in, day-out living for the parents of Jesus had begun. Normalcy has set into the home of Mary and Joseph. It’s to this picture–this normal home with a toddler and regular parents–that these strange figures, star gazer, astrologers, show up. Nothing for them had been normal as they made their western sojourn.

These are people who are waiting for a new word. Like we find in Isaiah 60:2, darkness is dominating the world, but the light has come, and if it’s here, they want a piece of it. The calling for the people to rise and shine, recognizing that their light has come, is the new word everyone has been waiting for. But what exactly does that mean?

This is the continuing story of a God who is initiating a relationship with us. We’ve seen throughout the Christmas narrative in both Luke and Matthew that God is seeking to make himself known. Let’s review briefly today how this story of Christmas unfolds in some dramatic ways.

God approaches Mary, a teenage girl, whom scholars say is no older than 14. God then approaches a man, engaged to marry a woman now pregnant with the “Son of God.” He proceeds to approach a group of frightened, lonely shepherds, who will serve as the first group of witnesses to the birth of this new King. Odd to choose a set of people who’s character is so questionable that their testimony isn’t even credible in court.

And yet, these people are blind. Jesus would later call them “sheep without a shepherd.” They weren’t finding help within the religious system, there was no hope among politicians, and their oppression continued as it had for the past 450 years.

It appears that they are seeking Him, doesn’t it? In reality, it’s just another example of Him seeking out us. God is again initiating the relationship with us. He places parents in a stable, a baby in a manger, angel choirs on the hillsides, and a star in the sky.

First there’s Herod. He is so afraid of a child he has an entire region of male toddlers slaughtered. He was concerned with what this child would do to his life–too much interference. He might lose his position, his seat of power.

If that happens, he also loses his ability to influence, because power and control is how we influence others. Take a look at the group of religious men surrounding Herod, the “chief priests and teachers of the Law.” This is the church board of the day.

Their response is complete indifference. They were so wrapped up on their Temple duty, their allegiance to the task at hand, that they didn’t have time to deal with this child from Bethlehem, or wherever he is from. They are so consumed with their own affairs, their own sense of importance, that they don’t give the time of day to Jesus. He means nothing to them.

Then there is the last group in this story, the wise men. It’s no wonder we still talk about them; they are the first true “spiritual seekers.” They have a choice: stay home or journey after this sign. A journey like this couldn’t make any sense then or now.

This passage gives a new message of hope. It shows a God who makes the first move, always in our direction. And it demands a response, one way or the other. There is no middle ground on this one. We either journey, work to stop others who are journeying, or just don’t give a darn. Either way, a choice is made.

Just like them, it demands a response from us as well. This is a God who isn’t just about engaging our lives during the “holidays,” but wants to walk through life with us in the routine, the struggles, the not so good days, the Januarys of life.

Where do we find ourselves today? Too concerned about what this baby might cost us? Indifferent to the life this child can enable us to live? Or genuinely seeking to know Him more and worship Him. God still calls, how will we respond

Psalm 86

I will thank thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and will praise thy Name for evermore: for thou, Lord, art good and gracious: and of great mercy unto all them that call upon thee, alleluia.

Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. 1 Chron. xxix. 11.

 The Second Sunday after Christmas Day

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY God, who hast poured upon us the new light of thine incarnate Word; Grant that the same light enkindled in our hearts may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 
For the Epistle. Isaiah lxi. 1.

THE Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

 
The Gospel. St. Matthew ii. 19.

WHEN Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life. And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judæa in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: and he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene

The Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus

THE COLLECT

O God, who didst ordain that thine only-begotten Son should be the Saviour of the world, and didst command that his Name should be called Jesus: mercifully grant, that we who worship his holy Name on earth, may at length behold him face to face in heaven. Where he liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of …

THE EPISTLE

Acts 4.8-12

In those days: Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

THE GOSPEL

St. Luke 2:21

At that time: When eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Circumsion of Christ

Christmas Eve.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’

In Greek the word for “word” is logos. It is used in many places, but of special interest is how it is used of Jesus. As our text says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” The Word is divine and the word “became flesh and dwelt among us”. In other words, Jesus is the Word of God who represents God to us and us to God.

The reason the Lord wished to be born as a human being was so that he could take on a humanity in reality and make it divine, in order to save the human race. Know, then, that the Lord is Jehovah himself, or the Father, in human form. The Lord himself teaches this in John: “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).

And: “Jesus said, ‘From now on you know and have seen the Father. If you have seen me, you have seen the Father. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me” (John 14:7, 9, 11). And: “All mine are yours, and yours are mine” (John 17:10).

This great mystery is described in John Chapter 1. “The Word” is divine truth that has been revealed to humankind. Because this could not be revealed except by Jehovah as a person, that is, except by Jehovah in human form–thus it says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

The fact that divine truth could not have been revealed to humankind except by Jehovah in human form is also clearly stated: “No one has ever seen God. It is the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

An event that no merely human words can adequately describe is recalled in the simplest language: “The Word become a human being.” This simple sounding announcement contains an infinity of great ideas! The event itself was the effect and expression of infinite love, taking form as infinite wisdom.

The incarnation — the birth of Christ — was the complement of creation. It was a more complete manifestation of the love and wisdom of God than even revelation and providence. It involved and provided for a new and spiritual creation. Without it, the purpose of the first creation would not have been realized.

Incredible as it may seem that God should become a human being, it nevertheless involves no contradiction. Although there is no proportion–no ratio–there is a relationship between the infinite nature of God and the finite nature of human beings.

And this relationship made the assuming of a human nature, however marvelous, entirely consistent with divine order. The Word that became a human being was humanity’s prototype as well as its creator.

If Jesus had not been begotten of God, “all the fullness of deity” could not have lived in him in bodily form (Colossians 2:9). Nor could it have been said, “The Word became a human being.” Yet this is the grand truth of the Lord’s incarnation. God became human!

This is a perfect declaration of a most wonderful truth. We should never try to make the incarnation less than this, nor to dispose of it with some easy explanation. Let us keep it as God in his Word has put it. The writer of the fourth Gospel did not hesitate; why should any of us falter? Perhaps that is not exactly a fair question, since, of course, John had direct, personal experience of the Lord.

We find in the first letter of John these words: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched — this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.

The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us”

We are invited to have fellowship in a direct line of faith with one who was commissioned to give such testimony. Let us, therefore, see the living Word of God in human form as the one great truth, central to our Christian faith, intended to enlighten and strengthen our fellowship.

This profound truth ought to draw us, win us, strengthen us. We need this ministry of forbearance and power, grace added to grace. For we are slow, not simply to believe the truth, but to live in the light of it. And yet, what could be greater?

Blessed indeed are those who can say, “Out of the fullness of his grace he has blessed us all, giving us one blessing after another.”

Ps. 96.

Let the heavens rejoice and let the earth be glad before the Lord: for he is come.

REMEMBER the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

The Nativity of our Lord, or the Birthday of Christ, commonly called Christmas-day.

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us thy only. begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin*; Grant that we being regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy holy† Spirit; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Epistle. Heb. 1. 1.

GOD, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and up holding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the an gels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; there-fore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And, Thou. Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

The Gospel. St. John i. 1.

IN the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to be come the Sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made 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.

1st Sunday after Christmas

But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.’

There are many passages of Scripture that speak to us during the Christmas season. Many times we are drawn to the accounts in Matthew and Luke of the first Christmas night. While these are wonderful and tell us many things, there are two in Paul’s epistles that have special meaning. I think that most will see the significance of what Paul wrote in Galatians 4:4-5:

In this passage we see just a little of the work done behind the scenes of Christmas. Christmas was no accident and it all worked according to the plans of the Father.

In another passage we see a summary of Christmas from the Son’s perspective we hear in Philippians 2:5-11.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

These verses encapsulate the Christmas story. More than that, they encapsulate the life of the Messiah. Paul pre-summarizes Handel’s Messiah. Jesus Christ was (and is) God. It was nothing for Jesus to be considered equal with God, because He is God.

And while He is God, He made himself of no reputation and became a man. Not only a man, but a servant of men. This is what we must remember at Christmas.

Now as He was a man (yet equal with God), He humbled Himself further and allowed Himself to be killed at the hands of other men. He was put to death on a cross at the hands of the leaders of the Jews (his own people) and Pontius Pilate. This is what most remember at Easter.

I want to tell you why we commemorate Christmas and Easter. I know some point to some of the pagan traditions of these holidays, but we celebrate them because Jesus Christ not only came to earth at Christmas and rose from the dead on Easter, He also reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Look back at Philippians. Because Jesus humbled Himself and lived and died among us, the Father has exalted Him high above all names and every knee will bow to Him, and every tongue will confess that He is Lord. Every thing in every place — in heaven, in earth, and even under the earth — will show reverence to Him and confess that He is Lord.

A journalist wrote that “Christians should stop whining about missing the Christ of Christmas.” He said that some historical perspective would show that people have been celebrating at this time of the year for centuries, even centuries before Christ was born! I’ll grant him that people were celebrating at Christmas time before Christ came, but He came! 

And since He came, He rules all. He is Lord of all. Everything. even the date on the calendar is changed because of Him. I don’t care whether the Romans, pagans, or anyone else set up our calendar, I recognize Christ is Lord of the days, months, and seasons.

I don’t care that pagans celebrated the return of the sun that warms the earth, when the time was right the Son came and humbled Himself, and because of that, He is now Lord. Lord of all

REMEMBER the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us thy only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin: Grant that we being regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace. may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

 

The Epistle. Gal. iv. 1.

NOW I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: but when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive time adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an. heir of God through Christ.

The Gospel. St. Matt. i. 18.

THE birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying. Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, arid thou shalt call his name JESUS: for lie shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: and knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

Christmas

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’

In Greek the word for “word” is logos. It is used in many places, but of special interest is how it is used of Jesus. As our text says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” The Word is divine and the word “became flesh and dwelt among us”. In other words, Jesus is the Word of God who represents God to us and us to God.

The reason the Lord wished to be born as a human being was so that he could take on a humanity in reality and make it divine, in order to save the human race. Know, then, that the Lord is Jehovah himself, or the Father, in human form. The Lord himself teaches this in John: “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).

And: “Jesus said, ‘From now on you know and have seen the Father. If you have seen me, you have seen the Father. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me” (John 14:7, 9, 11). And: “All mine are yours, and yours are mine” (John 17:10).

This great mystery is described in John Chapter 1. “The Word” is divine truth that has been revealed to humankind. Because this could not be revealed except by Jehovah as a person, that is, except by Jehovah in human form–thus it says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

The fact that divine truth could not have been revealed to humankind except by Jehovah in human form is also clearly stated: “No one has ever seen God. It is the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

An event that no merely human words can adequately describe is recalled in the simplest language: “The Word become a human being.” This simple sounding announcement contains an infinity of great ideas! The event itself was the effect and expression of infinite love, taking form as infinite wisdom.

The incarnation — the birth of Christ — was the complement of creation. It was a more complete manifestation of the love and wisdom of God than even revelation and providence. It involved and provided for a new and spiritual creation. Without it, the purpose of the first creation would not have been realized.

Incredible as it may seem that God should become a human being, it nevertheless involves no contradiction. Although there is no proportion–no ratio–there is a relationship between the infinite nature of God and the finite nature of human beings.

And this relationship made the assuming of a human nature, however marvelous, entirely consistent with divine order. The Word that became a human being was humanity’s prototype as well as its creator.

If Jesus had not been begotten of God, “all the fullness of deity” could not have lived in him in bodily form (Colossians 2:9). Nor could it have been said, “The Word became a human being.” Yet this is the grand truth of the Lord’s incarnation. God became human!

This is a perfect declaration of a most wonderful truth. We should never try to make the incarnation less than this, nor to dispose of it with some easy explanation. Let us keep it as God in his Word has put it. The writer of the fourth Gospel did not hesitate; why should any of us falter? Perhaps that is not exactly a fair question, since, of course, John had direct, personal experience of the Lord.

We find in the first letter of John these words: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched — this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.

The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us”

We are invited to have fellowship in a direct line of faith with one who was commissioned to give such testimony. Let us, therefore, see the living Word of God in human form as the one great truth, central to our Christian faith, intended to enlighten and strengthen our fellowship.

This profound truth ought to draw us, win us, strengthen us. We need this ministry of forbearance and power, grace added to grace. For we are slow, not simply to believe the truth, but to live in the light of it. And yet, what could be greater?

Blessed indeed are those who can say, “Out of the fullness of his grace he has blessed us all, giving us one blessing after another.”

Ps. 96.

Let the heavens rejoice and let the earth be glad before the Lord: for he is come.

REMEMBER the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

The Nativity of our Lord, or the Birthday of Christ, commonly called Christmas-day.

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us thy only. begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin*; Grant that we being regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy holy† Spirit; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Epistle. Heb. 1. 1.

GOD, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and up holding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the an gels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; there-fore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And, Thou. Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

The Gospel. St. John i. 1.

IN the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to be come the Sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made 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.