1 John 3:4-8 Christmas Morning December 25, 2016
1 John Sermon Series; Sermon # 12 Today: “Why Christmas Had to Happen”
Pastor Louis Prontnicki Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church
Did Christmas need to happen? Did God’s Son need to be born a man 2,000 years ago? What if the Son of God had not appeared long ago in Bethlehem? Think about the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, where George Bailey gets to experience what things would be like if he was never born. Can you imagine Jesus Christ had not been born, and if there was no Christmas? Retailers would lose money! Children would be disappointed. Evergreen trees wouldn’t be sold in parking lots, and we all would be celebrating some winter festival, instead of Christmas.
Can you imagine what the world would be like, if Jesus Christ had never been born? It would be a dark, cold, and cruel world.
But the historical reality is that the Son of God WAS born! He did appear on earth. Christmas, very simply, can be thought of as the appearance of God’s Son on earth in human flesh. This morning I want to focus on the way the Apostle John uses the word “Appear,” [also translated “manifest,” “reveal” and “display,”] both in his gospel and in his first epistle.
In 1 John 1:2 we read “The Life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.”
Amazing! The eternal God entered time. The invisible God took on humanity. The Word became flesh and people could hear Him, see Him and even touch Him.
But why did the Word of Life appear on earth? Why did Christmas have to happen?
John gives us two main reasons in 1 John 3: 5 and 8:
(1) “You know that He appeared so that He might take away sins…” 1 John 3:5
(2) “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” 1 John 3:8
We’ve talked about these two reasons for why Christmas had to happen in previous sermons, but let’s not lose sight of the main focus of Christ’s appearing on earth, namely, that He came to save us from our sins; He was born to defeat sin, Satan, and death; and He appeared in order to demonstrate God’s love, holiness, and righteousness. Praise God for His coming to earth to accomplish all those things!
But there’s more in John’s writings about why He came, about why Christmas had to happen. His appearance was designed to…
(1) Display His Glory (to those who had faith to see it.) We read in John 2:11 that “This, the first of His miraculous signs (Changing water into wine), Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed His glory, and His disciples put their faith in Him.”
Christ came to earth to display His glory. Though it was veiled in flesh, the glory of the Son of God made its entrance at Christmas and continued on through his life, his death, his resurrection, and ascension. And every miracle which He performed pointed to Jesus as the glorious Son of God. John the gospel writer wants us to see beyond the miracles themselves to their significance, which was to reveal Jesus’ glory. These signs, like the entire gospel of John, confront us with Jesus and the inescapable challenge, “Who do you say He is?”
It’s like that scene in a movie when everything is falling apart, and everyone is in fear, and then the hero of the movie first appears on the screen, and everyone cheers, because they know he will save the day.
So Christmas had to happen in order that we might behold the Son of God’s glory. “Hark! The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King.” So, are you beholding His glory?
Second, Christmas had to happen in order to…
(2) Manifest God’s Love: 1 John 4:9 “This is how God showed (manifested) His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him.”
God shows His love for us in a thousand ways each day, in everything from giving us our daily bread to providing us with taste buds to enjoy our food and drink! But His love is supremely made manifest by the sending of His own precious Son to come into the world that we – who were lawless, rebellious sinners – might be made alive and granted pardon through Him.
A woman might be impressed with a man who buys her diamonds and a new car, but she will only know the full extent of his love for her when he shows that he is willing to lay down his life for her. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world…” “Thou who are God beyond all praising, all for love’s sake becamest man… Thou who are love beyond all telling, Savior and King, we worship Thee.” So Christmas had to happen in order that we might see the depth and height and width of God’s saving love for us in Christ. Has that love captured your heart?
Third, Christmas had to happen in order to…
(3) Display the Work of God in Our Suffering and Death: In John 9:3, regarding the man born blind from birth, whom Jesus was about to give his sight, Jesus said, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. [Notice that this is the counterpoint to 1 John 3:8, where we were told that Jesus came to destroy the work of the devil.] “Jesus was asked about the cause of the man’s blindness, but Jesus answers in terms of its purpose.” Suffering – even birth defects – can be used by God to display His work, through Christ. Jesus came to earth to reverse the effects of the curse! Then in John 11:4 Jesus spoke about Lazarus’ sickness, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory, so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” So we see that sickness and death can provide a platform for displaying God’s glory; therefore let us offer our trials and illnesses to Him, for God to use them as He sees fit.
This is one way in which the Son of God came to earth at Christmas to destroy the work of the devil and to take away our sin. It means that suffering and death have been redeemed by the appearing of the Son of God, and this gives us hope and even joy, in the midst of our pain.
“Good Christian men, rejoice…Now ye need not fear the grave: Jesus Christ was born to save!”
But there will be another appearing of the Son of God!
1 John 2:28 “So that when He appears we may be confident and unashamed at His coming.’
1 John 3:2 “When He appears we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
The mighty intervention of God has already occurred (at Christ’s first appearance) but its fulfillment will be completed only at the second appearing of Jesus. Therefore let us connect Christmas with the Second Coming of Christ, for they are two acts in the same play.
Back to my opening question: What if the Son of God had not appeared 2,000 years ago? Can you imagine what the world would be like, if Christ had never been born? How would the world be different… and how would your life be different? Just as George Bailey stood at the edge of a bridge and contemplated his life, we too must consider our lives as if Jesus had never been born. If Jesus had never been born, the bridge between us and God would lay smoldering in pieces, and we would face a God who is righteously wrathful, holy, and distant. We would be His enemies. But because Jesus lived, died, and paid our ransom, God came near, and invites us to turn from our sin and run to Him across the bridge of reconciliation. What a change in our relationship. That’s the real Christmas story. That’s why Christmas had to happen!