Let Jesus Show!

Christmas Eve, December 24, 2016

Pastor Mark F. Bartels

Old Testament Lesson; Isaiah 9:2

                                      Isaiah 9:6-7

Epistle Lesson; Galatians 4:4-7

Sermon Text; Luke 2:1-14

There are so many great parts of the Christmas account, from Luke, chapter two, in particular, which is the text for this evening. Our first service was kind of like the multitude of the heavenly hosts. We had a full church, and now it is kind of like the group of shepherds, the little group of shepherds, who came to the manger, and saw the baby Jesus.

That reminds me of a church that had a Christmas Eve worship service. Like they did every year, they had the Sunday School Children put on the Christmas Pageant on Christmas Eve. So, they had a high school girl, who was dressed in a white robe, with a blue shawl, up in the front. She was sitting on a chair, and was actually holding a real, little baby. She was supposed to represent Mary, with the baby Jesus.

Standing next to her was a teen age boy who had a staff in his hand. He represented Joseph.

There was a little manger that had been made out of wood, and there was hay in it.

The lights were dim, as the pastor was reading the account from Luke, chapter two. While he was reading the account, children would come up front, such as shepherds, or angels.

It came to the point in the service when it was about time for the multitude of heavenly hosts, (which was all of the congregation’s children as the angels), to appear around the Christ-child. And, on that particular evening, there happened to be a lot of children in church! Somehow, the children knew when it was time to come up. And so, on cue, all of these children, dressed as angels, came up, and gathered around the baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. There were so many of them, they actually had to have several rows of angels gathered around the baby Jesus!

The last, little angel to get up there was the smallest, little girl. She had to stand behind several rows of other children, dressed as angels. And, they were so tall, and it was so filled in with children, that she could not see the little, baby Jesus, nor Mary, and Joseph. She was straining, standing on her tip toes, leaning one way, and the other, as the pastor read, “Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly hosts praising God and saying,

'Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace good will toward men!'

Then, it was silent for a moment in the church.

This little girl did something very uncharacteristic for her. But, she seized the moment, when it was quiet, because she so desperately wanted to see the little, baby Jesus. At the top of her lungs, with her little voice, and motioning her hands, as if to 'part the seas' she said,

“Let Jesus show!”

All of a sudden, there was silence in the church, as the congregation thought about the import of what she had just said.

The pastor knew there was still quite a bit of the service left in the service folder, but he stood up, and said, “May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you. Depart in peace.”

And, they all went home, thinking about what the little girl said.

“Let Jesus show!”

That is really what a Christmas Eve service is all about. It is about letting Jesus show. So, I want to do that in three ways, tonight.

       -First of all, I want to let Jesus show historically.

       -Then, I want to let Jesus show theologically.

       -And finally, I want to let Jesus show biographically, and how He fits into your life.

So, let's look at first of all how Jesus shows historically in today's scripture reading from Luke, chapter two. We really see tonight, Christmas Eve, in all its vivid detail the fact that

God is the God of history.

In fact, history is really His Story. It is the story about how God takes the events, and the people of this world, and directs them so that the Son of God is born into this world. And, the Son of God comes to save this world. That is really the events of what happens in history.

Prior to the birth of Jesus, in The Old Testament, for several thousand years, there were promises that were foretold. We call them prophesies about what this child (who was about to be born), this Messiah, what He was going to be like. This evening, as Jesus is born, we see how God is the God of history. This is His Story. He uses all of the events, and takes those events of this world to fulfill His promises.

Two foundational promises were fulfilled the evening Jesus was born. One of those came from seven hundred earlier. The prophet Isaiah, in Isaiah chapter seven, verse fourteen says,

“The LORD, Himself, will give you a sign.

The virgin will conceive and be with child.

She will give birth to a Son.

They shall call His name Immanuel,

which means, 'God with us'.”

That is exactly what happened that evening. The virgin did give birth.

And, she gave birth to what? A Son.

And, they called Him what? They called Him, Immanuel, which means, God with us.

God is the God of history, and He carried out that prophesy.

The second prophesy fulfilled that evening comes from Micah chapter five, verse two. This was also written about seven hundred years before that very evening happened. The prophesy says,

“But you, Bethlehem, Ephratha,

though you are small among the tribes of Judah,

yet out of you shall He come forth

who shall be ruler over my people Israel,

whose origins are from of old,

from everlasting.”

So, the prophesy was that the child would be born in Bethlehem. The problem was Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth. Nazareth is a long ways away from Bethlehem. One hundred miles.

The second problem was Mary was very pregnant. The Bible says,

“She was great with child”.

Now, those of you women who have been 'great with child', and very pregnant know you don't like to travel very far in that condition. You like to stay close to home. So, how is it that this woman who was great with child was willing to travel, on foot, one hundred miles? Well, it is because, God is the God of history. It is His Story.

So, God controls the events of this world, to bring about the promises He has made. God took the most powerful person in all of the world at that time, a man by the name of Caesar Augustus, and He caused Caesar Augustus to issue a decree. The decree was that all the world should be taxed, the Roman world should be taxed. Everyone should go to his own hometown where his ancestors came from, for this taxing, or census, to be taken.

And so, Mary and Joseph, both being from the line of David, by law, had to travel to Bethlehem, (from Nazareth all the way to Bethlehem), even though Mary was great with child.

God is the God of history, and He sees to it that His prophesies are fulfilled, and His Word is true.

Throughout the rest of Jesus' life, we see how God controls all of history to bring about these prophesies of Jesus so we know He is who God had promised He would be, and who would come.

As we look at the fact that God is the God of history, and that history was fulfilled that evening, we understand there was a theological reason behind it. Let's look at what happened theologically.

Theologically, we have a big word for it. We call it, “the incarnation”. The word, “incarnation” is a Latin word. It means, “in the flesh”. We believe that evening God came in the flesh. God came in human flesh, with human fingers, eyes, ears, and hands.

A young mans was once sitting in seminary class, and the professor was talking about “the incarnation”. He asked, “Gentlemen, which is proper to say? Is it proper to say, 'Man became God', or 'God became Man'?”

The young man thought to himself, “Well, what difference does it make? Don't they mean the same thing?”

Did God become Man, or did Man become God?

The professor went on to say, “Gentlemen, there are many religions in this world that teach that man, humans, can strive to become God-like, or become God. If you are good enough, if you are kind enough, if you are loving enough, somehow you can reach that gap, that distance between you and God. Then, you can become God-like. Some religions even teach you can become God.” But, then the professor said, “Gentlemen, that is impossible. The gap between us and God is so huge. Because of our sin, there is no way man can become God. What happened on Christmas is God became Man. Since we can't reach that distance, that gap, God filled the distance between the gap. God stepped into this world, and God took on human flesh. God, literally becomes one of us. He is the God you can look at, talk to, walk with, and listen to.”

We say, “He was one person, but He had two natures. God and Man, fully God and fully Man in one person.”

The other thing that happened, theologically, that evening was the manner in which God became Man, or human. The manner in which He became human is in a way that maybe the world would not expect. But, we see God acting in a unique way.

God could have taken on human flesh

in all of its power.

He could have been the most powerful human, the most brilliant human. But, He comes in a way that makes Him appear very weak, very foolish, and very powerless.

       -What could be more foolish, or appear more foolish, than God gurgling like a baby? That is how He came.

       -What could appear more weak, than God being told, “There is no room for you in the inn.”

       -What could appear more powerless, than God being born in the most lowly conditions, in a feed trough that animals eat from?

God comes to be one of us in the most humble, and lowly manner. Why? This gets to the biographical part. That gets to the story of your life.

We ask the question, “What does this mean that God became human, and He became human in such a lowly manner, such a humble manner? What does this mean? Why?”

We say it this way in the Nicene Creed.

“For us, and for our salvation, He came down from Heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit, and the virgin Mary and became fully human.”

Did you hear what we say, though? “For us, and for our salvation.” That is why He did it. That is why He became human. That is why He became a lowly human. That is why the angels said to the shepherds that evening. “Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be for (who?) for all people.”

All people.

That means you!

That means He was born for you!

He became human for you!

He was humbled for you!

It is good news for all people. It is good news.

That means, though, that there is bad news. In The Bible, there is bad news. The bad news is that every one of us is a sinner.

Every one of us, because of our sin, has brought all kinds of trouble into our lives, and into this world. There is pain. There is sadness. There is sickness. There is suffering. There is death. That is the bad news. And, ultimately there is condemnation for sinners. But, the angel says this:

“Fear not.

I bring you good news,

of great joy,

which shall be for all people.

For unto you

is born this day in the city of David

 (a what?)

a Savior...”

That is the good news. The good news is this.

       -The good news is He is like us.

       -The good news is also He is not like us.

What do I mean?

       -The good news is He is like you. Having come as a lowly human being, He is like you.

He knows what it is like to be in pain.

He knows what it is like to be sad.

He knows what it is like to be lonely.

He knows what it is like to be poor.

He knows what it is like to be hungry.

He knows what it is like to be thirsty.

He knows what it is like to be forsaken.

He knows what it is like to grieve, when someone you love dies.

He knows what it is like to face death.

He knows what it is like to die.

He knows what is like to have guilt before God,

because He bore our guilt on the cross.

He carried it for us.

He knows what it is like to suffer the punishment of God.

He suffered it, on the cross.

He understands us.

The Bible says we have One who can sympathize with us. In fact, He has been tempted in every point just like we are. So, He knows what it is like to be tempted. It is good news that He is like us.

       -But, it is also good news that He is not like us. The Bible says,

“He was tempted in every point

just like we are,

yet, He was without sin.”

You see, that child born was not just a human being. That child is God, God in the flesh. And, because He is God in the flesh, He will grow up, and throughout His life, although He be tempted in every point, just like you are, He will be able to keep The Law of God perfectly in your place.

He will be holy.

He will be sinless.

He will be spotless.

He will be innocent.

He will be loving and kind.

He will be forgiving.

And, when He went to the cross, He, God and Man in one, was the perfect sacrifice that ultimately would make the complete, sufficient payment for all of the world.

We have every reason to rejoice.

And so, when that little girl yelled out at the top of her voice,

“Let Jesus show!”,

we have every reason in our lives to want to let Jesus show,


       -in our homes

       -at work, and

       -in our communities.

May we give glory to Him, throughout our lives!