Community Group Study Notes
- Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching.
- What are some of the ways that sin gets downplayed in modern conversation? Why do you think sin isn’t always taken as seriously as it should be? How did the message on Sunday speak to the reality of how severe sin is?
- Read 2 Corinthians 5:14-15. Since Jesus’ death paid for our sin, how should this transform the way we live? Why is this the case?
- What is one action step you can take based on what you heard in Sunday’s message?
I don't know how many of you have children that are 12 years old or under? Maybe you've got grandchildren that are 12 years old or under, or you've got cousins or nephews or nieces that are 12 years old or under? But if you do, if you fall into that category, you've got family members of some kind that are 12 years old or under, raise your hand. All right, cool. Christmas season is fun when you've got that in your world. What I'm guessing, I can't be sure of this with 100% certainty, but what I'm guessing, particularly if any of those under 12 year olds are girls, I'm guessing that maybe in the last few years, there's a new Christmas tradition that has emerged in your house and that's watching the movie Frozen.
All right, so some of you know what I'm talking about. I've still never seen the movie personally. But I don't have any reason to. Tracey and Turner are 21 and 18. Although they begged me every Christmas to watch it. I'm kidding, they're here today, and I said that just for them. They're home from school. The interesting thing about Frozen is, you may or may not know this, but the source material behind the story of Frozen is actually a story by Hans Christian Andersen called The Snow Queen.
As some of you may know that, some of you may not. What Disney did, is they loosely adapted that story and they made it into the movie Frozen. Now, Hans Christian Andersen, a very famous author, a Danish author, from a long time ago, wrote a number of stories that maybe you're familiar with. He wrote The Ugly Duckling, he wrote The Emperor's New Clothes. And then he wrote one that Disney actually took and animated in 1989 and used as their big Christmas release, because if you remember, prior to that, Disney had a real low. They were not doing a whole bunch. You had Mickey and Cinderella and all of that stuff, and then there was this big gap.
So, this movie was the one that put Disney back on top of the heap in the Animated genre and they released it in the Christmas of 1989. If you don't remember which one it was, it was a Hans Christian Andersen story that they animated. If you don't remember which one it was, I'll give you three words, and you'll remember it really quickly. Ready? Under the sea. It was The Little Mermaid, right? They had this great story, they animated Little Mermaid, it did incredible. It was the harbinger of all of these animated films that Disney would do and release around Christmas time, and everybody would jump on and want to watch and all that stuff.
Now, what's interesting about the Little Mermaid is the story. I think the story is intriguing, and here's predominantly why I think the story is intriguing. It's intriguing because someone who is not a human wants to become a human because they love a human. That's an intriguing storyline. The reason that I think it's intriguing is because that storyline actually echoes a greater story. It's a story that's more transcendent just than what we read from Hans Christian Andersen.
Now, I can't help but think that Mr. Anderson was influenced because he grew up, and he was influenced by both the Bible and the belief in God. Now, if you looked at his whole history of life, it was a little bit complex when it came to faith. But nonetheless, he was influenced in his early ages by the Bible itself from a mom who was constantly in church and inviting him into that world. Also, by a belief in God that he even exhibited right before he died.
I can't help but think that it informed some of the narrative that he was drawing from when he wrote some of his books. Because when you read the Little Mermaid and you see a story about someone who is not a human, who wants to become a human because they love humans. That's a story that we've heard before. That didn't come just from his mind, that's a narrative that's actually coming out of a greater story, a more transcendent story. It's a story that we hear every single Christmas, the story of God, not a human, who decided to become a human because he loved humans.
This didn't come from The Little Mermaid. This is a story that is bigger and more transcendent still. You know the story, we read about it in Matthew 1, which is where we're going to be today. We're going to be looking at Matthew's account of the story. I'm going to be focusing in really on one primary verse. But in doing so, I want us to see the context around it. Here's how the story goes in Matthew 1, beginning of verse 18. It says, "This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about. His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph. But before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit."
That word when it says, before they came together, it means that they weren't involved physically. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But why is that? Because Joseph was thinking to himself, she's pregnant. I didn't have anything to do with it. So, somebody did have something to do with it. That's what's going on in Joseph's head, right? Someone had something to do with that, and it wasn't me. So, by law as an adulterous, she could be stoned to death. But Joseph being a righteous man and a Godly man ended up saying, "I'm going to put her away quietly in terms of the divorce and move on with my life."
But after he had considered doing this an angel the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins."
Now, when we read this particular story of the narrative of the birth of Jesus, among other things that we learn, here is what I want you not to miss, that Jesus was born for us. You can't miss that when you're reading what happened here, right? Jesus was actually born for us, because it tells us that very specifically, in Matthew's Gospel, it tells us why he was born. Now, when we look at why he was born, that Jesus was born for us. He was born for us with a purpose. That purpose is twofold, at least in terms of what I'm going to be drawing from the text today for our purposes today. It was a twofold purpose and I'm going to unroll that purpose one by one.
You're going to see that Jesus was born for us and then in the next two statements, you're going to see why and how that was the case, all right? Let's begin, Jesus was born for us, first of all, in order to save us. That's what we learn from the text itself, that Jesus was born for us in order to save us. Look at what verse 21 says, and that's where we're concentrating our time. In the latter part of verse 21. It says, "Because Jesus, He will save His people from their sins." It tells us about a purpose, right? That Jesus was born for us in order to save us. But what was He saving us from? Well, the angel tells Joseph, "Hey, she is conceiving but it is by the Holy Spirit. And I want you to name him Jesus. Here's why, because he will save His people from their what? Sins."
He tells us, this is the purpose behind this. That Jesus is born for us in order to save us. But what is He saving us from? He is saving us from our sins. Now, when we hear that word, sin, or sins, some of us don't know what to make of it. We know this much. We know, that's bad. When we hear the word sin, we're like, "Okay, that's bad." But we don't really maybe know, understanding the background as to what that word actually means. In the Greek language, it's very straightforward. When you see the word for sin in the Greek language, it's talking about missing the mark, airing, fault. It's talking about those kinds of things, right? It's the picture of someone who has a bow and arrow and shoots it at the target and misses the bullseye. Maybe even misses the target all together. That's the idea of sin. In other words, there is a standard of perfection that humanity has missed, and that's what we call the idea of sin.
Now, the thing is, when we hear that we go, "Okay, that makes sense to me. I get that." But sometimes we don't understand the implications of sin in the life of humanity, how deep it runs. Because it actually affects not only our past, but it affects our present and it affects our future. It actually runs through every tense of our lives. Sin, when we start to pause and think about what it is that Jesus saved us from, because sometimes we go, "Okay, he was born to save us from our sins." It's almost like it's a standard Sunday school question that you could just check off and answer and say, "Why did Jesus died for us? He died for our sins. Give me a sticker." It's that kind of idea. We don't want a sticker, we want to understand exactly what the purpose was, and what are we talking about when we say that. When we say that Jesus died to save us from our sins, what are we talking about?
Well, let me give you three quick things in relationship to sin that I want you not to miss. Here's the first one, sin is a fact that brings a penalty. Sin is a fact that brings a penalty. Let me start with the idea that sin is a fact. Here's how Paul wrote in Romans 3. He said, "For all have sinned and fall short or come short of the glory of God." Now, the interesting thing about this word all, in the original language of the New Testament, which is Greek, this word actually translates to all. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. That literally means everybody, everywhere, for all time, anyone ever born, everybody misses the mark. Everybody has sinned. It is a fact.
You see, you probably could look around very easily and go, "I can confirm the fact that everyone has sinned." Look at your spouse, some of you are going, "I can confirm it." Look at your children, "I can confirm it." Look at the world that we live in, "I can confirm it." Look at every friend that you have, "I can confirm it." Look at every employer or employee that you are surrounded by, "I can confirm it." Look at everybody in your school, you can confirm it. You see, it's a fact that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. But here's what I'd ask you to do. The first place that you want to look to confirm it is in the mirror.
It's really simple that when we look in the mirror, we can know beyond any shadow of a doubt that I am a part of the all. That all have sinned, and I, looking at myself know that that is absolutely the case. I have never actually talked to anyone, anywhere at any time, who genuinely believed who wasn't delusional or on drugs, who genuinely believed that they have never sinned, that they have never made a mistake, that there is no flaw in their life. I've not met anybody that actually believes that. Some people are perfectly fine with it. They're like, "I get it. I'll do whatever I want." But I've never met anybody who doesn't think that they haven't sinned.
When we look in the mirror, what we find is we find that there have been times in our life, particularly depending on when you look in your life, there have been times in our lives, all of us, where we have chosen a pathway of self-centeredness. Where we tried to organize the circumstances to benefit us and to hurt other people. Where we have chosen the pathway of tried or rebellion or selfishness and maybe we've done it a lot. Maybe it's characteristic of who we are. Or maybe we have chosen to not give way to the truth, but instead to bald faced lie. Maybe we justified it to ourselves because we're like, "I'm trying to get what I want, and this is how I do it." So, we've lied.
Maybe we've gossiped. Maybe we've spoken ill or derogatory about other people. Maybe we have been filled with rage and anger that's not a righteous kind of anger, but instead is a malicious type. Maybe we've been violent physically, maybe we've been violent in our minds or in our hearts. We've not actually punched them, but we have sure played that movie in our head a whole lot of times. Maybe we've been people who've been given over to idolatry. The idea of not of bowing down at some statue, but of letting something in our lives take more precedence and more preeminence in our world than God actually does. Whether it's money or relationships, or whatever it might be, or ourselves.
Every single one of us, I know I've covered just in the things that I've named, I've covered every single one of us. Not just with one of those things, but with all of those things. Did you know that everything that I just said, in my years of existence, 49 years, I've been guilty of every single one of the things that I just said? Every one of them I've been guilty of, and my guess is you have to. Do you know why? Because sin is a fact that we cannot run from, we cannot avoid, we can't get out of it. But this fact that all have sinned also comes with a penalty. In other words, here's how Paul says it Romans 6. He says, "For the wages or the payment of sin is death."
So, sin is a fact, and it has a penalty. What is that penalty? The Scripture says that it's death. What does that talking about? Well, let me pause for just a moment. It certainly has to do with the idea that humanity will not continue in perpetuity in terms of living, we all know that. But it's not the idea that once we sin, we physically die immediately. If that were the case, none of us would be here today, including the guy talking. This would be an empty room, no one would be here. The first time we sin, we are physically dead. That's not what's being referred to here. It means that when we sin, we are in the process of dying holistically. In other words, we're not only going to die physically, but something has died inside of us in our sin. That that is causing a spiritual separation from God. There is a spiritual death that occurs because sin interrupts our fellowship with God. And there is a spiritual death that occurs in relationship to sin. That's the payment for our sin. That's the wages for our sin. It's the idea of death.
So, sin is fact that nobody can argue with, and that fact comes with a penalty. Now, what else is true about sin? This, that sin's also a condition that brings wrath. You say, "Man, are you going to give me any good news? Eventually, eventually. But good news is only good news when we understand that there's bad news. If not, it's just news.
Sin is a condition that brings wrath. Listen to how Paul said it in the opening Chapter Two of Ephesians. He says, "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins." Why were you dead? Because the wages of sin is what? It's death. There is a spiritual death that occurs because of our sin. You were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you used to live when you follow the ways of this world, and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who's now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were ... Read this with me, by nature. We were by nature deserving of wrath. It's our condition. We were by nature deserving of wrath.
Sin is not only a fact that has a penalty, it's a condition that brings wrath. By condition, I mean this. No one actually had to instruct. you how to be self-centered. You came with all the component parts. No assembly required. You didn't have to pull this out of the package. My parents didn't have to sit me down when I was a little guy and say, "Little Jerry ..." They didn't call me a little Jerry by the way, even though my dad's name's Little Jerry, they called me something different. But I'm not telling you what it is. It's none of your business, frankly, it's none of your business. So, leave me alone. I don't even know why I brought it up.
If they were to say, "Hey, little Jerry, here's the cookies over here. You are not allowed to have any. Do not get into them." Yet, something inside of me said, "I'm getting into it." Nobody taught me how to do that. My mom didn't say, "Hey, this is what I want you to do. I want you to disobey me. It's the right thing." No one taught me how to do that. And then you get into the cookies and then you eat a few. I literally have an entire painting of chocolate on my face when my parents say, "Little Jerry ... ", they didn't call me that. “Little Jerry, did you eat a chocolate chip cookie. Did you get into the cookies when we told you not to?” And I say, with a Picasso of chocolate on my face, “I did not. I did not.” No one had to teach me how to do these things, and I'm not alone. Nobody had to teach you either. You know why? Because it's a condition. You know why we sin? Because we're sinners. That's why.
It's a condition. We were by nature deserving of wrath. So we are not only sinners by our choices, we are sinners by our nature. This is what the scripture says and this makes for a very difficult place for us to live in, doesn't it? See the problem is, is that we're sinners by nature and as we grow and as we get older and this is just a part from God, right? We start to get older, and we realize, okay I can't show all of this to everyone. This isn't good, all of my sin nature. I can't show it to everyone, so we learn how to live civilized and that's better than living uncivilized. And so we teach people manners, and we teach them how to hide stuff. And so what we do is we're basically putting lipstick on a pig. I'm not calling you a pig, but we put lipstick on a pig. And we try to make the look a little bit better, but we know that that's not really working and here's the thing. We've dressed it up, but we haven't cured it because it's a condition.
We haven't been able to get to it. We just dressed up, we've covered it over, we've masked it but we haven't been able to get to it. Why? Because it's a condition and according to the scriptures, listen to this, our sin comes with a penalty and that penalty is that we have died to the things of God. And as a result we are justly by our very nature as sinners deserving of wrath. That's what the scripture says.
We're going to give you a third thing about sin. Sin is also a habit that has power. You see, what we're talking about here is we're talking about the Christmas story because the Bible tells us that Jesus was born for us in order to save us from what? Our sins. And we're trying to understand what this looks like. That sin is a fact that brings a penalty, that sin is a condition that brings wrath and that sin is a habit that brings and carries with it or that has power. Listen to how Paul wrote about it in Romans' Chapter eight. He says, "The mind governed by the flesh ...". Now when he uses that term "the flesh", listen carefully for a second. When he uses that term "the flesh", he's not just talking about our skin. He's talking about that part of us that is affected by sin. He's talking about even though the fact that those of us who've put our faith in Jesus, we've been made new, that we are new creations, that there is a remnant that still exists because we live in this cage of body that has been infected by sin as a condition, and it's still wars against us trying to get us to act contrary to the spirit of God that's now living inside of us. That's what he's talking about when he talks about the flesh.
And he says, "The mind that's governed by the flesh is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law nor can it do so." Do you know why? Because you can't, listen to this, you can't cure the flesh, you can only kill it. You can't cure it, you can only kill it. You say, well then, should I just scrap my skin off? No, that's not what we're talking about. And do you know the only cure, ultimately for the flesh? Is your death and being made renewed by Jesus Christ. THat's why we get resurrected, renewed bodies. Because that's the only cure. We can have victory, and we'll talk about that in a moment, but it still remains. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. Have you ever known this to be the case? Have you ever felt this way? The good that I want to do, I can't do. It's the very thing I don't want to do that I end up doing. Has anyone ever felt that way? Anyone at all. Is it just me. Please, somebody ... okay four of you. Great, fantastic. I'm alone, I'm alone and scared, right now.
No, we all have right? That's exactly what Paul said in the previous chapter, in Romans' Chapter seven, right? The good that I want to do, I don't do, but the very thing I don't want to do, I end up doing. I do the things that I hate to do. Why? Because there's this war going on, and the flesh is constantly after us to try and live hostile to God, but the spirit of God inside us is saying, "No, no I want you to surrender." You see, Jesus was born for us in order to save us. Why? Because sin, sin! And sin has tremendous power. It has power in our past, it has power in our present, and it forebodes kind of a power in our future that is no good. Well if that's the case man, it seems like we are up a creek, and we are paddleless at this point.
So Jerry, what can you offer me? Well, I can offer you more of what the story teaches us. And it's this. Not only was Jesus born for us, but he was born in order to save us. And he did it by becoming like us. This is how this goes, right? Jesus was born for us, and he was born in order to save us from our sins, and he did that by becoming like us. Looking in on verse number 21, it says, "She will give birth to a son. And you are to give him the name Jesus." You see, here's the thing. Jesus was a real birth. This was a real birth, like coming out ... having to clean him up, all the stuff, right? All the stuff associated with actual baby's being born. This is Jesus. Except for Jesus wasn't conceived by a man and a woman, Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Yet, there is Jesus as an embryo. There is Jesus who is forming in the womb. There is Jesus who travels out of the body of his mother and is now born for us. Yet, Jesus is no ordinary birth because he was conceived of the Holy Spirit. He is God with skin on. Fully God and fully human at exactly the same time.
This is an extraordinary thing to think about and then the angels say, "Oh and by the way, I'm going to tell you what his name is." This is coming from God himself because Angels they weren't just making stuff up. They are messengers of God, right? They didn't just show up with their own thing, "Hey what's going on, let's talk." They are messengers of God, right? They are coming to tell you what God has said. And he said, "You will give him the name Jesus." The interesting thing about names, particularly in the Old Testament, certainly in the New as well but in the Old Testament, names to the people of Israel and names in the ancient culture, they meant something. They always had a meaning associated with them. They were either describing somebody, it was a description, or it was related to purpose. Not like now, like we just hear stuff, and we're just like, "Oh, that's a cool name. I'm going to name my kid that. That's a cool name." That's how we come up with stuff, right in the western world. That's a cool name. I'm going to name him Moon Beam. It's awesome, right? There's a 1,000 kids in California named Moon Beam, right?
I just like it, it's cool. If your name's Moon Beam by the way, right on. I would suggest going by MB but whatever it's fine. But it's interesting because names have meanings, and they have significance and this name is no different, even though it was a common name. This name was very common, it wasn't unique. This wasn't the first of its kind. We look back in our minds, and we're going, there was only one Jesus. Are you kidding me? There were tons of Jesus. There were lots of them. It was the John or the Dan of our day, right? But the name meant something. It meant Yahweh saves. The Lord saves, that's what the name means. Yehoshua in the Hebrew language. By the way, it's exactly where you get the word Joshua. It's the same name, Joshua and Yehoshua are the exact same name, and they mean the exact same thing, right? You will call his name, Jesus, Yehoshua because he will save his people from their sins. How's he going to do that? He's going to do it just like Joshua did. He's going to be the one spiritually speaking that is going to lead them out of the land of the law and out of the land of bondage and is going to lead them into the land of promise.
This is who he's going to be. Now how exactly is he going to be able to do that because as we sit here thinking to ourselves. Okay, his name is Yahweh saves, Jesus, Yahweh saves. How then is Yahweh going to save through Jesus. Well, as long as you can remember back in the story of Israel. From the time that they became a nation, they have always longed for, listen carefully, atonement. Always. This is what the Israeli people have always longed for. In fact, God knew that their desire and his desire was that they might be able to relate to him and he with them. And there was a day even that God commissioned, called the Day of Atonement, right? Yom Kippur, Yom in the Hebrew language meaning day and Kippur meaning atonement, right? This was the Day of Atonement, on the day of atonement, the high priest of Israel would go into the holy of holy's, the most sacred place there is where the manifest presence of God would dwell. Where you had there the altar and you had the opportunity for the priest to not only carry the incense in there but to offer prayers. You had the mercy seat in arch of the covenant. All of this was there.
It was a solemn time because people were always outside and they were waiting on the priest if he was ministering before the Lord because the priest outside would have sacrificed some animals like bulls and goats and sheep and those kinds of things and then some of the blood would have been taken and would have been put on the altar, right? And the priest would have come outside and would have taken a particular animal and would have placed his hands upon that animal, that sheep or that goat, and he would have put his hands on the horns of that animal and conferred the sins of Israel onto that animal. And it was called a scapegoat and he would send that goat out into the wilderness, signifying kind of the idea of sins that were being gone. Now, when all of this was happening in the Old Testament, it was because they greatly desired atonement. And if you're going, I'm not really sure what atonement actually means, break the word down and it becomes much simpler. At-one-ment, that's the idea of atonement. At-one-ment with God. I am unified with God. I am in harmony with God. I am rightly related to God. This was their great desire. At-one-ment with God.
And so, how did that occur in the Old Testament. Well, it occurred in this way that God would allow for his people to deal with corporate sin in a very specific way so that he still might be engaged with his people without consuming them by his holiness. But it didn't get to the root of dealing with every individual sin. That wasn't its purpose, it was a signpost that was telling us about something that was to come. So how then could God be rightly related to human beings who are so full of sin? How could we as human beings, who are so full of sin somehow pull out being rightly related to God? Well we can't, that's the bad news. But I started thinking about this in a unique way because Philip Yancey, the great Christian writer, whose been writing for decades. About 30 years he wrote an article that talked about his aquarium and the universe. Seems like an interesting article, right? He actually took some of that and some of to appeared in one of his books, I don't know which one it was, What's so Amazing About Grace or one of those types of books that he wrote. But here's what he wrote about.
He said, "I lived in Chicago at the time and I had an aquarium." And this wasn't just the kind of aquarium that we had when my kids were little. When my kids were little, we just had a fish bowl, right? We got them a fish in a fish bowl. I don't remember how old Trace was when we got him his fish. He named him Dino, I have no idea why he went dinosaur on a fish. I have no idea but they're five, right, they're naming the fish. Tanner had a fish at one point. The fish all ended up dying. We tried to take care of them, we went home one Christmas. I remember we came back, fish is just like ... whatever. And then Trace was upset and then I was like, "Hey dude, I don't know how to break it to you but we're going to flush him down the toilet." And of course I'm expecting him to just be like ... and he went "Yes! That's awesome." Like we get to watch him. And I'm just like, "Dude!". No concept, right? He was fired up about watching a fish go down the ... but this was an aquarium. Like a legit aquarium. Big. Had fish that were kind of unique in it, right.
And he's explaining how much care he gave to that aquarium. He was doing everything that he was supposed to do. He was filtering the water all the time so that they had a nice environment. He was working tirelessly to make sure that there was not ... kind of these bacteria and parasites that were coming in and that were going to do damage to the fish. He was working on all of that. He was making sure that there was ... he actually got an ultraviolet light so that he could shine it on them because he knew that that was good for them and so he did that. And he had a very clean area where was at. He made sure that the nitrate and the nitrate and ammonium content that was in there was absolutely perfect. He basically was a walking chemical lab to make sure that everything was just as it was supposed to be. And that everything was going to be perfect. He would pump in vitamins and enzymes and antibiotics to be able to make sure that the fish were going to be healthy and supplied and all that.
And he said, "You know what? After doing all of that. After care taking so much, you would think that the fish would be grateful. And they could care less. They didn't give a flip about me. In fact, they looked at me, as some mean deity that every time I walked up to this large aquarium, they were shoom, get out of here! This guys coming and I'm like, I'm coming to save them from parasites. I'm coming to save them from bacteria. I'm coming to provide food that somehow comes this mystical hand up here, right." And they're flying behind rocks and making sure to get away and probably talking to one another like, "Here he comes, get out of here." And he's like, "I don't know what the deal is with these fish but it sure helped me understand a little bit about what it's like to run the universe." He said, "I learned a significant lesson."
Listen to what he says, I'll quote him. He says, "I bought my aquarium to brighten a dull room but ended up learning a few lessons about running a universe. Maintaining one requires constant effort and a precarious balancing of physical laws. Often the most gracious acts go unnoticed or even cause resentment. As for direct intervention, that's never simple, in universes large or small. I often long for a way to communicate with those small brained water dwellers. Out of ignorance, they perceive me as a constant threat. I cannot convince them of my true concern. I'm too large for them. My actions are too incomprehensible. My acts of mercy, they see as cruelty. My attempts at healing, they view as destruction. To change their perceptions would require a form of incarnation. I would need to become a fish."
You see, what he's indicating here is that it became almost a reminder of the story of Christmas. That what God has actually done is he has looked and you've got all of these fish in an aquarium here as human beings so to speak, who are infected by parasite and bacteria of sin. We can't rescue ourselves, we can't help ourselves, we can't save ourselves but often time we look at anything that God is involved in, if we even hear his name or we see his hand or whatever, we run for the hills man. We're out.
We think that everything that he does is somehow going to be bad like God is stumbling around looking for somebody to blow up. But instead, maybe we want to remember that the story of Christmas teaches us that God actually loved human beings so much that he became one. So that while remaining who he is as God, yet becoming who we are as human, he could identify with us, he could communicate with us, he could rescue us, he could save us. See that's what it required. Because if God had not become like us, then God would not have been able to do it. You're going, "What?" Yeah, that's what the scripture teaches. That's the story of Christmas. In fact, C.S. Lewis weighs in on this a bit in Mere Christianity, here's what he says. He says, "But supposing God became a man. Supposed our human nature which can suffer and die was amalgamated with God's nature in one person, then that person could help us. He could surrender his will and suffer and die because he was man and he could do it perfectly because he was God. You and I can go through this process only if God does it in us, but God can do it only if he becomes man. Our attempts at this dying will succeed only if we men share in God's dying just as our thinking can succeed only because it is a drop out of the ocean of his intelligence. But we cannot share God's dying unless God dies and he cannot die except by being a man. That is the sense in which he pays our debt and suffers for us what He himself need not suffer at all."
You see this is why it's so astonishing to me because Jesus was born for us in order to save us from our sins but how could that be? It could only be if He became like us. That's how He could do it. Which means that Jesus then becomes the great High Priest of the people of God. He is the one who can not only enter the most holy place to sacrifice himself, to put his blood on the altar, he is not only the mediator as the high priest, he is also the offering, He is the offeree and the offering simultaneously because he is perfectly God while being perfectly man. Not 50% man and 50% God, he is 100% man and 100% God making him 100% God-man.
It is beyond our comprehension to even think of what this is and what this means, but what it taught us is this, is that the God who made everything that while we were yet sinners he came out of his love for humanity he came and became like us, listen to this, so that he could identify with us. This is what the writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews chapter 4. For we don't have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way just as we are. Yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Do you realize what it means, that God became man, that every time we go to God, God doesn't just sit there and go, I don't really know what you're saying. I don't really get this weakness thing. I don't really get this temptation thing, because Jesus is our high priest. Jesus has experienced everything that we've experienced, so you're not here you're not in this alone. When you go to god you are going to God through Jesus Christ our great high priest, our great mediator whoever lives to intercede for us because he understands exactly what's happening in our lives. He feels. He's felt what you've felt. He knows what you're going through. He knows what you're walking through and boy do we ever need that message in these times like holidays. Right? That's what we need.
But see the only way that he could become, listen to this, the only way that he could become our great high priest and the only way that we could be at one with God, the idea of atonement, is if he became like us. This is again what the writer of Hebrews says in chapter 2. Since the children, us, have flesh and blood, he, too, shared in their humanity. So that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death, that is the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.
You see what I'm doing today, is I'm taking one verse in this Christmas story and I am doing this with it, because the Bible teaches us so much regarding this one single verse that says he will save his people from their sins. And we're seeing that he, as the great high priest, does exactly that. Here's the thing, he can make atonement with God because he can save us and he can save us because he's the God-man. This is what Hebrews chapter number 2 says. I'm sorry, Hebrews chapter number 7. It says there have been many of these priests, like human priests, right? Since death prevented them from continuing in office but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly meets our need. One who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once fort all when he offered himself.
You see, that's why he's able to save us completely because he demonstrates, listen to this, as the sinless one he took our place because God who is holy will judge sin. He's not sinking at it. He's not sweeping it aside. Sin will be judged. It has a penalty. It deserves wrath. This is what the scripture tells us. And Jesus, listen to this, stood in our place. That's why when Paul writes about it in Romans 3, when we first find out that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, which we've already discussed, he goes on to say and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Listen to this, god presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement through the shedding of his blood to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness because in his forbearance, he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished. He did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time os as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
Here's what that means. God will be just. He will deal with sin. He will deal with sin, and those of us who put our faith in Jesus, listen to this, here's what Jesus has done. He was named Jesus because he would save his people from their sins. He, the sinless one, stood in our place, bore upon himself the wrath of God in our place that we justly deserved but instead he took it upon himself, dying our death, paying our debt even thought he owed nothing. And rising from the dead, conquering death, conquering hell, conquering the grave, conquering sin on our behalf so that when we put our faith in Jesus we can be now at one with God. For it is by, listen to this, it is by God's grace that we have been saved through faith. It's not of ourselves. It's the gift of God, not of works unless any of us should boast about it. Right? We didn't do this ourselves. This is something that God has done on our behalf.
I hope you recognize something. I'm going to wind it up here in just a second, but stay with me. I hope you recognize something. That with all those verses that we looked at in the book of Hebrews, in the book of Romans. Do you know what it helps us to understand? That even though sin, listen to this, even though sin is a fact and it has a penalty, Jesus has paid the penalty of our sin. Even though sin is a condition that bears wrath, Jesus frees us from the wrath and the guilt of sin, and even though we see that sin is a habit that has power in our lives, Jesus, listen to this, Jesus breaks the power of sin in the life of a believer. He breaks it. Our flesh calls out for it but Jesus' life in us is stronger than the sin that tempts us if we will yield to it. If we will yield to it.
This is the extraordinary thing. That's why what Jesus has done affects our past, affects our present, and affects our future just like sin did. But because he is the great high priest he has changed everything for us. He saves us from our sins. You will name him Jesus because he will save his people from their sins. I want to remind you this is what we talked about, This is the big idea, right? Jesus was born for us in order to save us by becoming like us. Do you know what that teaches us, folks? And here at Christmas time you know what it teaches us? It teaches us how much God loves humanity. God who was not human became human because he loved humans. The one who was not human became human because he loved humans. This is the extraordinary love of God. The verse that you first loved of any verse probably ever that god so loved humans that he gave his only son that whoever would believe in him would not die eternally separated from God but instead would live an eternal kind of life starting now and lasting into forever. That's the Jerry Amplified version.
This is the beauty of God. He loves you. You see in this timeframe at the holiday season, sometimes we get depressed because people don't behave like we want them to behave. Sometimes we get self centered. Sometimes we get sideways. Sometimes we get depressed for a million different reasons because life hasn't turned out how it's supposed to turn out or at least in the way that we through we could control it and then what we do is we take all of that hurt, and we project it on God, and we project it on God. Listen carefully, as opposed to projecting something on God that may not be real, why don't we look at he's actually done. That while we, listen to this, while we were under the penalty of sin, under the rath of sin, while we were stuck interesting he bondage and power of sin, God sent his son out of love for us. Why? Because the one who wasn't human became human because he loves humans and he wants us to be at one with him.
That ought to remind you during this season that God cares, that God sees you, that God is thinking of you, that you're not alone, that he's God with us. You ought to be reminded by that. You also ought to be reminded of this, that sin will kill you, but Jesus will save you, will free you. You gotta be reminded of that, too, right?
Sometimes when people are given the choice between staying and living in the comfort of their sin or living in the new light of Jesus, we're too much like fish. We don't know what we see coming. But God has become like us in Jesus. If you want to see what life is supposed to look like, look at Jesus. If you want to see where life is headed, look at Jesus. That's the kind of life that God invites you into, the life of Jesus. I hope you won't turn that down.
Let's bow our heads together. We're going in just a moment. If you're here and you've never before entrusted your life to Jesus by turning from your sin and putting your faith and trust in Christ alone, I want to encourage you toward that end because it's the most important decision that any human being will ever make. God has already demonstrated his love for us. We just need to turn and look without fear and look to how much God loves us and how much sin hates us. There is a way out for you. There is away of hope for you. There is a way of knowing new life and it is by entrusting your life to the one who is the way, the truth and the life, the great high priest. The one who was born for us in order to save us by becoming like us.
If you want to know more about what it means to receive Jesus and to begin your relationship with him, to have new life, to have your sins forgiven, when we dismiss in just a few moments I would ask you to come across the atrium into the Fireside Room. We would love to take a moment and just talk to you more about what that looks like.
Father, I'm reminded of how gracious you have been to us. It does cause us to stop and stand in awe in how incredibly kind and gracious and loving you have been to all of us fish. Thank you for your kindness to us. Thank you for the reality of Jesus being born for us in order to save us by becoming like us. I pray you would continually remind us through his holiday season of what it means to turn our attention to Jesus, our great high priest, who can empathize with us in everything but yet was without sin so that in the lives we lead, we can lead lives that have victory over sin because of the life of Jesus in us. He is the conquering one and not we ourselves and so may we yield our lives to the life of Jesus in us so that your life might show the victory that you've given and that the world would see a life that is truly life in this holiday season. We pray that would be the case in all of our lives for the glory of Jesus we pray in his name, amen.