Christmas Eve

Good evening. Welcome to Journey Church.  My name is Phil Human and I’m one of the pastors here at Journey Church.  And it’s exciting to be able to worship with you this evening – whether you are here with us tonight in person or worshipping with us from home.

I mentioned not long ago that Children measure the year in holidays.  There are five holidays for a child.  Taking away the religious significance or lack of significance – strictly from the eyes of a child – there are five holidays that happen before glorious summer vacation!

The first is Halloween, then Thanksgiving, Christmas is halfway mark, then Valentines day, and Easter.  I mentioned that to a child Halloween is the second greatest holiday there is, how many of you still have Halloween candy stashed in your house somewhere?  Maybe someone out there…  But in terms of sheer excitement – nothing comes close to Christmas- the greatest holiday of them all.

There are some similarities to Halloween and Christmas – strictly from the eyes of a child – on Halloween you walk around getting candy from neighbors, and Christmas you get toys from loved ones.  But there is one major difference – see on Halloween we dress up ad pretend to be something we aren’t.  We disguise ourselves.  Halloween is all about hiding our real self.

But Christmas is the exact opposite.  At Christmas time we celebrate the birth of Jesus – God in the flesh – God with us – who has come to earth – not to disguise who God is – but to reveal who God is…  Jesus shows us exactly what God is like.  The Bible tells us in Hebrews chapter 1 that “Jesus radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God.”

What does that mean?  Jesus isn’t God in a costume pretending to be a certain way.  No.  Jesus is the exact representation of God’s own character. When Jesus loves people it’s because God loves people.  When Jesus shows compassion he is revealing to us that God is compassionate.

Halloween hides – Christmas Reveals.

And this evening I want to talk about one virtue – one character trait of God – one beautiful and yet often overlooked attribute of God that the Christmas story reveals about God.

And that is the humility of God.  God is humble.

We see the Humility in the way he is born.  Look at the Humble God, lying in snugly clothes in wooden manger. 

It’s not a palace – It’s a barn.  It’s not to wealthy parents – in fact – but poor.

His parents were not influential – in fact- the truth is that Jesus was born out of wedlock – Mary and Joseph were engaged but not married.  Jesus’ mom was an unwed teen-ager.

What kind of God makes sure that every unwed teenage mom, that every child born out of wedlock, that every couple struggling with poverty – from that point forward would be able to turn to a God who truly understands them?  What kind of God, but a humble God.  Lying in a wooden manger.

Who are the first visitors to see the God child in a manger?  Not King Herod.  Not his officials.  Not the mayor or magistrate of Bethlehem.  Not the religious leaders – No – the first ambassadors of humanity to visit the god-child – were  shepherds.  Rough around the edges, blue collar, hard working.  Held in no particular esteem.

Why the shepherds?  They were the only ones the angels were allowed to tell.    You don’t think those angels wanted to light up the sky with the good news?  You don’t think they didn’t ask for permission to buzz the towers of Jerusalem?  How excited they must have been to see this amazing sight – God made flesh – and yet – God limits their excitement to a little hillside with a few unsuspecting shepherds.

Look at Jesus – lying in a wooden manger.  What kind of God would choose such a lowly entrance into the great stage of life?  Look at the audience.  What kind of God chooses this audience.   Only a humble God who loves the overlooked.

Wait – someone might be thinking – wasn’t there a star in the sky?  Wasn’t there wisemen and weren’t they carrying with them gold, and frankincense and wait – there’s myrrh?  That doesn’t seem humble of God to have gold delivered – but let’s remember what Mary and Joseph did with those treasures?

They used them to finance their flight to Egypt – were they lived as refugees for a number of years.  Our humble God was an immigrant.  Our humble God was a refugee.  Running for his life to escape death at the cruel hands of a ruthless King Herod.

What kind of God would become a refugee? Only one who wanted to make sure that every refugee, every immigrant from that day forward could look to the heavens with assurance that they are praying to a God who understands.

Look at the Humble God – lying in a wooden manger.

Not only was Jesus born humble, but he lived a humble life as well.  Here is Jesus, the humble God, stooping to wash the feet of his disciples with a wooden bowl.

What kind of God stoops?  What kind of God prides himself on being a helper?

One of my favorite portions of the bible is Matthew chapter 11.  I love it because it is the only place in the bible where Jesus describes himself.  It’s easy to overlook because it’s couched in a beautiful invitation.  Let me read it for you.

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 

Do you hear the compassion in Jesus words?  Are you weary?  Are you carrying heavy burdens? Jesus says, I came for you.  Come to me – let me help shoulder the load.  You can count on me…  Why?  Because – listen to Jesus describe himself…  He is humble and gentle.

Every time Jesus makes an announcement about his mission – he consistently points out that he came to bring good news – to the poor, the oppressed, the prisoner, the blind, the weary, burdened, and he consistently says – I’ve come to bring you rest.  Freedom.  To help carry your burdens.

On the night before Jesus was arrested he is about to eat dinner – all around him are his disciples – and you know what they are doing?  Jockeying for position.  They are actually having an argument about the pecking order of the disciples.  And Jesus notices that no one took the time to wash the dirty feet of the disciples – as was the custom of the time before sitting in the dirt to eat.

Jesus gets up, takes a towel around himself – and stoops to serve his friends.  Look at the humble God, stooping to wash the feet of his disciples with water in a wooden bowl.

What kind of God stoops for the likes of people like you and me?  The Humble God, Jesus Christ our Lord.

The next afternoon, on the day we now call good Friday – Jesus reveals the ultimate humility of God.  Look at the Humble God, dying on a wooden cross. 

What kind of God dies for us?  What kind of God looks at a cross he knows we deserve to be on and says – I will take your place.  Who looks at the debt we owed for our sins and says – I will pay the price.

The wooden manger, the wooden bowl, the wooden cross – all symbols of a Humble Savior, revealing to us the nature of our humble God.

Of course – we must not confuse humility with weakness.  And on the third day Jesus also showed that, not only is he a humble God but he is almighty as well.  And Jesus breaks the chains of death and springs forth from the tomb.

Nothing can keep him down. Nothing can separate us from the love of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

Now I’m sure that tonight and tomorrow you all will be opening gifts and celebrating the love of your family and friends.  So let me close by reminding us that Christmas is the celebration of a God who humbled himself for us in order to deliver to each of us the greatest gift we could ever receive.

Romans 6:23 “…the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

How then does one receive this gift?  It must be accepted.  A gift is not a gift if it is not received.  And we receive this gift of salvation – the gift of a fresh start with God – the gift of a new kind of life – an eternal kind of life – by receiving this gift through faith in Jesus Christ.

So – how do we respond to this Humble Savior?

It requires, of course – Humility.  The humility to bow our knee to the true King of Kings.  To humbly admit we need a savior.  That we are the kinds of people Jesus died for. 

If you have never done so – we’d encourage you to receive the gift of an eternal kind of life – become a new kind of human being, ask Jesus to be your Savior and receive the gift of Salvation.