on Christmas eve preaching (Sermon Summaries 12.24.06)

Our messages this Sunday were intended to be a trio of my two boys and myself, however Number One Son and his fiancee and their ride to the airport in Greenville all managed to oversleep and miss their plane Saturday AM. So they flew standby, and I rode the ferry across the pond in hopes to catch them late Saturday evening and then make it home in time for our services. Alas, it was not to be! They were stuck in Dallas Fort Worth overnight and I had to cobble together sermon #3 when I got back.

Nevertheless, we had a great day in the service of the Lord.

My 18 year old Rory preached the morning message on the Christmas Story, Luke 2.1-20. He is a gifted speaker and one semester of BJU freshman speech has served to polish his abilities even more. We were very grateful for his efforts. The title of his message was “Let Us Now Go and See” with this proposition: “Our pastor was saying last week, that the only two responses to the work of God are doubt or faith. I hope you can see from this passage that true faith is the only right response to the extraordinary work of God.” Rory focused on the responses to the Christmas story. The crowd ‘wondered’, which he called ‘Curious Unbelief’. He compared that to the response of the world today. If they pay any attention to the Christmas story, it is with a sentimental interest in the ‘wrapping’, but no real interest in the contents. It is put away each year for next year, to be put on display again. Mary ‘pondered’, that is, she had ‘Meditative Faith’. She weighed out what she saw and experienced and let its truth and its implications fill her heart and soul over the years she followed her Messiah-Son. The shepherds ‘glorified’, that is, they had ‘Expressive Faith’, a response to the message of Christmas that displayed the work of God to all who would listen. Both the meditation of Mary and the glorification of the shepherds are the appropriate faith responses that men need to have towards the great gift of God’s son.

In the second service, I preached on Lk 2.21-24, ‘According to the Law‘. In this message I connected the Messiah with the OT Law. In this connection, Proposition: The Lord provided for the infant Christ’s perfect compliance with the Law in order that He could perfectly keep the Law for you and me. First, we discussed the purpose of the Law. There are many of these, but the points I wanted to emphasize were these: the law reveals the holiness of God, exposes the sinfulness of man, establishes the rigorous standard required for fellowship with God, and supervises spiritual development of Israel to prepare the Israelite to receive Christ [the schoolmaster purpose]. From this we considered the law-keeping parents of Christ who kept the law of circumision, cleansing of the mother after childbirth, and presentation of the firstborn. These laws connect the participant with the Abrahamic covenant, the uncleanness of the human condition, and the demand of God for the life of the firstborn (seen in Isaac, the tenth plague, the tribe of Levi, and now the Son of God). The keeping of these laws were vital for Christ’s place as a Jewish man, under the Law of God, free from sin and free from any accusation of the Law. In order to accomplish this, two pigeons were sacrificed, one as a burnt offering, the other as a sin offering. The law demands death, and Christ the infant fully identifies with the Law’s demands, though he is sinless.

My point in rehearsing this detail is that the Lord submitted himself to the Law from the beginning (as my commentaries say). How did he do that? By choosing this devout couple to be the home of the developing Son of God. As a baby, he was subject to the whims and direction of human parents – others may have been less observant, but this couple fulfilled every requirement of the Law, as God intended. Jesus was the sinless and blameless Son of God from the beginning by God’s sovereign choice of this couple whom God knew would keep the Law perfectly. God provided for the sinlessness of the infant in the faithfulness of the parents. God did that for you and me, so that we could have a righteous sacrifice, without blemish or spot, to exchange his righteousness for our sinfulness in the cross of Calvary.

The last message this Sunday was “Waiting for the consolation of Israel“, where I discussed the testimony of the old prophet Simeon and the perhaps even older prophetess Anna. These two represent devout people who are only satisfied with the light that lightens the Gentiles. I found this comment in Norval Geldenhuys’ commentary on Luke concerning Simeon’s Psalm of praise: “Simeon’s brief hymn of praise, owing to its restrained ecstasy and intense clarity, is as beautiful as any of the psalms of praise in the Old Testament. The thought underlying its wording is of a slave who is instructed by his master to keep watch through the long, dark night on a high place to wait for the rising of a special star and then to announce it.” [p.119.] Anna, likewise, is a devoted slave of the Lord. Both are stirred to praise and worship of this Messiah that the Lord allowed them to witness before their passing. These two devoted people connect the Messiah with the people of the OT. Their lives go back to the Maccabean/Hasmonean heyday, before the coming of the Romans and later of Herod. They were from the families of the faithful remanant that returned from Babylon, and had seen the last period of independence for the nation Israel. But they look for something better than political deliverance. They look for the Light of the Gentiles, and having seen it, are spiritually satisfied. Our own devotion should follow their model, we are but slaves of the Sun of Righteousness (Mic 4.2).

Following this message, I made a beeline for the ferry, hustled over to Vancouver International Airport where my wandering waifs made it by bus from Seattle just minutes after my arrival, and we beat it back in time for the 6pm ferry home where we joined [finally!] the rest of the family. We’re buying them alarm clocks for Christmas!

Regards,
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

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