X mas

In the bible there are 4 books recordings of Jesus earthly life and many other testimonies. Matthew the first begins “ the book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ.” Matthew begins on earth to show mostly for his historic Jewish listeners. For us it demonstrates that Jesus coming was God’s plan all along. Some of you are history buffs. History can help make sense of what is going on in the present and help us get a handle on the future. Like going to a funeral home and realizing that the person is only a couple years older than me. You are looking at what lays in my future sooner than I want to think about.

Mark, the second New Testament account of Jesus life on earth hits the floor running. If I can’t sleep I might as well go to work. Mark does not bother with the history of Jesus birth he hits the floor running by beginning with Jesus ministry right away. Mark then moves rapidly through the history.

Luke is more of the true historian. His account is actually a commissioned writing. He begins with a note perhaps to the man, Theophilus, who is the commissioner who supported Luke’s research in the life of Jesus.

John, the author of the 4th gospel is one of Jesus closest disciples. John perhaps knew Jesus as a man the best. In this book john is called the disciple whom Jesus loved. John and Jesus were very close personally.

It is thought-provoking to me that John starts out boldly in his account. John starts with a hammer, a statement of reality that changes everything. John begins his account with the demanding reality that makes all the rest worth hearing. John begins by saying Jesus, this one I knew personally, I heard him, saw him, and touched him. This one is God himself.      You remember the first verses of John; In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

This makes all the difference. If this be true that Jesus is God himself then every detail is important. If not than the story of Jesus may be important in other ways but not nearly the critical value it has if he is God.

We have begun seeing the testimony which John records so that we might know that this Jesus born in Bethlehem is God himself.

We can see a week’s worth of witness in the very beginning. We read of John the Baptist Jesus older cousin by half a Year.

John begins in direct terms by saying that Jesus is God in all that God is. Yet he was in relationship with God for all eternity. For God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God has always be fulfilled, happy in this beautiful relationship of love, three person in perfect love being one God.

Next John goes directly to the testimony of John the Baptist cousin. In verse 6-8 he introduced John the Baptist saying; There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

A few words later John returns to what John the Baptist cousin and his testimony to the truth. In verse 15 to 19 he says

15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

Again John punches you with directness of a straight arm, he is straight forward; He says here it is John testified concerning him.

Here is the essence of John’s testimony about who Jesus is; No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

There can be no doubt that the claim is that Jesus is God. The importance of that cannot be estimated. Jesus is not another religious teacher telling us we ought to be better people and here is how.

Anyone, anyone who does not teach and believe that Jesus is actually God is not Christian, as the bible defines and does not have eternal life. If Jesus is not God then all he says and does is not as important or demanding upon us.

If Jesus is God than none of us are all that much in comparison to him and so must bow before him.

Many of you are fine athletes. You have the physical attributes, the heart and soul of a competitor, the commitment to work and study. I am none of those. I loved wrestling in High School and even became an undefeated MAC champion in my senior year. I might think much of myself in those days. A Couple of years ago I was talking to a relative at funeral in this area. As I talked to him I discovered just how insignificant I was. He happened to be a 4 time NCAA national champion wrestler Mike E’s grandson in law, Brian K. Comparatively I had nothing to contribute to wrestling.

Even Cousin John the Baptist recognized that being God the Son, the Messiah, Jesus was way more, infinitely more, important than he. We read how the religious people wanted to know who John the Baptist was. John kept saying I am really no body except this; “John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”

John said to them, I am just the messenger telling you that you better get ready because the Lord is coming. We read of John saying not only had you better get ready to receive him, he is here. There he is! He who is God the son and here is what he came to do.

28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”[

 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One…” John points a finger at this real person in front of them. He is the one, the son of God “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Even though John is the older cousin and a very successful prophet by this time. This Baptist cousin John had stirred up the entire country. People were pouring out to the country side to hear him. The authorities were asking who he is. Even so, knowing who Jesus is, John say I am not even worthy to tie his sandals.

If Jesus is God and he is, we can only bow before him. We have no grounds to judge him or argue with him, to ignore him or dishonor him. When the President steps out from behind the curtain at a Christmas gathering of military men there is no question who is in charge and what the appropriate response is. We have nothing to offer him that he needs, he is God. He came because we need him.

John the writer here and cousin, John the Baptist both begin with the bold recognition of who Jesus is. Every Christian believes Jesus is; Our God and Lord.

As God, everything Jesus does takes on extreme meaning because of who he is. He is the eternal “X factor”. (X in the “Xmas” is very specifically the first letter of Jesus title “the Christ”.)

What will Jesus, Do? John, both of them, go right to the core of Jesus reason for coming. Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

I have no idea what you think of when you hear that. But I can tell you with the certainty of history back to Adam what was flooding the memory of the people there.

The Lamb of God, What? What did you say John? The Lamb of God. From the beginning of the history of humanity there has been this concept and reality, the Lamb of God. It has shown up in a distorted form in many many, if not every religion.

It began with Adam and Eve. When they first offended God they were cowering in the woods hiding. They were hiding because God had told them that the day they disobeyed they would die.

Did Adam and Eve die that day? Not physically. They did spiritual for that day humanity was separated from God because of sin. Still today, every human is born separated from God because of sin.

But someone did die that day. Who? After God told them about all the consequences for sinning against him, like that men would have to work hard and women suffer much pain to sustain a family and keep humanity going. God then promised he was coming after Satan and was going to crush him. Then God himself killed. Some think that for the first time God destroyed a life he had created.

God killed an animal to cover up their nakedness, their shame before him.

They remembered that God provided a substitute for Adam and Eve’s death.

Then there was Abraham, the great father of the nation of Israel.   Abraham had one special son, the promised one of God. He actually had another son born outside of God’s design but part of God’s plan.

One day God came to Abraham and asked Abraham to demonstrate his love for God and thankfulness by taking this special special son up on a mountain and killing him as a sacrifice.

After tremendous struggle Abraham took Isaac up on the mountain. Isaac even carried his own wood for the sacrifice. Isaac asked his Dad, where is the Lamb for the sacrifice they were going to make? Abraham answered Isaac, knowing what God had asked him to do. Abraham said God will provide the sacrifice. God had given Isaac when Abraham and his wife were way too old to have a child.

Abraham took his son, got the fire wood ready, tied up his son and put him on top. Just as he was about to plunge the knife into Isaac as a sacrifice God stopped him. God provide a substitute there in the bushes caught by its horns.

The people who heard Baptist cousin John remembered, a son, a substitute, an animal who died in the place of Adam for sin.

Then Moses and the Passover. In John B’s day they celebrated the Passover every year. Much like our Christmas and the 4th of July together, it was the biggest celebration of the year. By the Passover they had been set free from slavery.

How? God told Israel that he would go through the land of Egypt and kill the first born of every family. Every family, even Israel’s who were slaves in Egypt at the time. Your sin, our sin makes all of us guilty of sin justly deserving God’s just penalty as much as Adam.

However if the slaves, Israel, would sacrifice a lamb and mark their houses with its blood the angel of death would Passover their house accepting this lambs blood in their place.

All of this flooded back to the memory of those who saw John point to Jesus, God the Son, and say look there is the lamb of God.

The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

Christmas, Jesus coming, is God himself providing an adequate sacrifice to pay the penalty of our sin. That sacrifice was his unique son, God the son who came to die for us and he did.

Him we must trust as God and honor as God himself if we want to know who God is. Him we must love and appreciate for he paid the penalty of my sin.

To know him is eternal life. John the author here wrote a few verses earlier; 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

Jesus, this Jesus prayed hours before he was crucified and said;  Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.