I am very thankful for the opportunity that I had this year, to preach at the Lima Rescue Mission on Christmas Eve. It was a great time for my whole family to go and serve the Lord as we celebrated our Savior’s birth. I am equally grateful for the way in which the Lord led in my selection of a text to preach on that evening. I am preaching my way through John’s Gospel as I go there every month. I have been in that book of the Bible for well over a year (about a chapter a month). As I prayed about what to share with the men, since it was Christmas Eve, I went back to the text and prayerfully read through the passage one more time. As I did, I came across Jesus’ very own Purpose Statement. If I was to ask the average person (Christian or not), “Why did Jesus Come into the World?” I am sure that I would get many different answers. Answers like, “To show the love of God,” and “To be our Savior.” While these answers are certainly true, this is not what Jesus says about Himself as he answers that question. There is a foundation that needs to be laid underneath of those truths in order to make them fully comprehenisble to the fallen race of mankind.
For This Purpose I was Born – SERMON AUDIO
John 18 is, by no means, a nativity passage. However, as Jesus stands before Pontius Pilate, He relates His present situation to the reason that He was born a man. He came with a very specific purpose, to accomplish a very specific goal. Not just to be something, but to instruct the world of siful men in the nature of who we are and what He would accomplish on our behalf so that we could embrace Him and His work by faith.
As the Jews brought Jesus to the tribunal of the Roman Governor at the rising of the sun, the somewhat stunned and unprepared ruler sought to get to the bottom of the situation. Why were there scores of angry priests thrusting a man into his presence and demanding His execution? What had He done that waranted such hatred? As Pilate questioned Him we find this very specific statement by Jesus that sheds some light on the behavior of His people;
John 18:37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world–to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
What is the truth to which Jesus bore witness? It was the truth of man’s utter depravity and self-serving nature. These Jews, who had waited upon their Messiah for centuries and read, weekly about His coming, did not like the message that He brought them. They despised Him! So much so, that they were willing to shed His innocent blood in order to be rid of Him. In that very act, they showed the level of their sinfulness.
John 18:28-31 Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover. 29 Pilate then went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?” 30 They answered and said to him, “If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you.” 31 Then Pilate said to them, “You take Him and judge Him according to your law.” Therefore the Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death,”
They would not enter the house of a non-Jew for fear of being ceremonially unclean, because they wanted to participate in the ritual feast of Passover. Yet, they had no problem in condemning an innocent man. Though they were very religious, their understanding of sin and purity was twisted beyond recognition. Exposing our sinfulness is one of the first parts of the Truth that Jesus is bearing witness to. The Apostle Paul tells the Romans that this is so when he writes to them and says;
Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,
The Love of God that was also demonstrated in Christ’s Advent, could never be properly understood without sin as its backdrop. It was through this that Jesus was able to say to His Father, regarding the men who nailed Him to the Cross, “Father, forgive them…” (Luke 23:34). This is the Love that loves in the face of the rebellion and sinfulness of man. This is the Love that loves in spite of who we are and not because of who we are. I am profoundly thankful for that kind of love! I am profoundly thankful for the God who made His love known in such a profound way as He sent His angels to announce that our rebellious race could be at peace with the God whom we had made our Enemy!
Luke 2:10-14 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
This peace and goodwill is announced to the shepherds but is extended to all people, people from beyond Israel, to the remotest parts of the earth. It is the announcement of peace to those who are at war with their Creator. It is not a benign concept of peace among the human race, of simple well-wishing. Jesus came to tell us the truth about who God is, who we are, and how He has satisfied our greatest need. Yet, just like Israel of old who murdered the prophets (Matthew 23:31) we do not want to hear that truth. We do all that we can to obscure that message and pretend like we have everything covered when it comes to God and sin and religion. Jesus demonstrates this as He witnesses to the truth in the 18th chapter of John’s Gospel, not by His words as much as by giving the people an opportunity to display their self-righteous wickedness in contrast to His truth.
Something to think about as you consider the Babe in the Manger this year.
For This Purpose I was Born – SERMON AUDIO