Theme: Have You Responded?
From these Christmas lessons, we look at how God’s promises were fulfilled at the first Christmas, and what everyone must do in response to them.
Scripture: Luke 2:6, 7
This brings us to the last of the four categories of those to whom the promises were made, as I presented them. It brings us to the human race at large and particularly to ourselves. The issue is: Have you accepted the fulfillment of God’s promise of a Savior who came to deliver you from your sins? Have you put your trust in him?
The problem here is that there are so many competing “saviors” in our world and that we are constitutionally disposed to trust anything other than Jesus, because we are in rebellion against God. This was the problem in the Eastern bloc countries for the last seventy years. It was not that communism worked. Communism was a terrible political system, a lie, cruel, destructive, barbarous and humiliating. But people did not want God and therefore chose communism as a defense against God and as a substitute. It took seventy years for the truth of the failure of communism as a system to break through to people, and even yet it is only some people, not all, who are discovering true deliverance from sin and true freedom in Jesus Christ.
And what about the Western world? We have been spared the horrors of communism. We should praise God for it. But has our society as a whole moved to embrace the fulfillment of God’s promise and believe on Jesus as the Savior in recent years? Hardly! On the contrary, in recent years our society has moved increasingly away, and today most Americans would rather trust anything else than Jesus. They would rather bow before any false savior than kneel at the manger, acknowledging Jesus to be both Lord and God.
What holds us back? Our materialism certainly. We love things. That is why we have turned Christmas into a commercial binge rather than a time of worship. We trust our bank accounts and homes and cars and retirement programs more than we trust God. We are thankful for them, but it is ourselves we thank.
Our love of pleasure, too. Kneeling on the floor of a dirty stable with some bad smelling shepherds is not our idea of fun, and we want fun above all. In fact, we are willing to sell our souls for fun. We want parties and gifts and jokes and laughter, not worship, not God, not a Savior. We like our sins. We do not want to be rescued from them.
And that is the real problem, of course. In the final analysis, it is our sin that holds us back. To come to Jesus we must confess and forsake our sin. We cannot kneel before that One who is purity itself while clinging to impure thoughts and planning impure acts. The very act of looking upon him exposes our sin to us, which is why we turn away. Do you want a description of our American culture as we come to the end of the twentieth century? It is a culture that has turned away from God. It is a culture that rejects the first Christmas because it prefers a Christmas of its own, a Christmas where sin is no longer mentioned and no one ever has to repent of sin, believe on Jesus and do the right thing. It prefers family rather than faith, gifts rather than God, decorations rather than discipleship. It is willing to have the Christmas story as long as no one takes it seriously.
Yet there are always those who do come to Jesus and do believe, for God always has his people. He had them in that far-off day, and he has them in our time too. They are people like Joseph, who believe against great odds. They are like Mary, who may not have understood fully all that was involved in Jesus’ birth but who respond to God, saying, “May it be to me as you have said.” They are like the shepherds, who heard the angels and left their sheep to worship Jesus. They are like the wise men who left their far-off homes to seek “the one who has been born king of the Jews” (Matt. 2:2). When they found him they presented him with their treasures.
I encourage you to become part of that great company and help to bring that first Christmas back, freeing it from the distortions with which it has been encumbered. I invite you to find and worship God’s promised Savior from sin, even Jesus Christ.
What other “saviors” exist today that seek to draw our focus away from the Lord Jesus Christ?
Are there any things in your own life that are hindering your discipleship?
Key Point: Yet there are always those who do come to Jesus and do believe, for God always has his people. He had them in that far-off day, and he has them in our time too.