Christmas: Christ and You
Study Guide, December 4, 2016
Pastor Clay Olsen
We are in the season where we know the reason that there is this season is because of Jesus, as in – ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’. Right? Even the songs we sing are celebrations of Jesus coming to our world, like: ‘Joy to the world! The Lord is come; Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room…’ This is the season when we rejoice over the greatest gift the world has ever known and could ever know.
I love the way that great verse of John 3:16 has been described:
GOD — The Greatest Lover
SO LOVED — The Greatest Degree
THE WORLD — The Greatest Company
THAT HE GAVE — The Greatest Act
HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON — The Greatest Gift
THAT WHOSOEVER — The Greatest Opportunity
BELIEVETH — The Greatest Simplicity
IN HIM — The Greatest Attraction
SHOULD NOT PERISH — The Greatest Promise
BUT — The Greatest Difference
HAVE — The Greatest Certainty
EVERLASTING LIFE. — The Greatest Possession
As God’s people, as born again children of God, we have every reason to spend the rest of our lives celebrating our greatest gift of Jesus Himself and rejoicing in this greatest love we can ever know. And actually, in Christmas messages, we often focus on our responsibilities now, as those who have received God’s gift of salvation through our Savior, to live our lives as a thank offering to God. We emphasize our purpose for living as followers of the One who came to die for us so that we could live with Him. We dwell on what it means to us that the King of kings and Lord of lords would would become the Servant of all so that He could become the Savior for any who would receive Him as their Lord and Savior.
And yet, there is something else that is very amazing. In fact, it is so amazing that if we were to spend a similar amount of time thinking about it as we do on thinking about what it means to us that Jesus came for us it would cause us to wonder even greater still as we wander through this season and this world. It might even sound a little strange at first until you really think it through. It’s this: Yes, Jesus is the reason for the season, but so are you…because Christmas is really about Christ and you. You are the reason that there is such a season, because God so loved the world, loved you, that He gave His Son for you.
Have you ever thought much about what Christmas means to Jesus, what Christmas is all about to Jesus? Not the holiday itself, or the time of year when we think it all might have taken place, but the whole event itself, of what caused Jesus to do what He did in order to accomplish what He planned to do and why. Actually, thoughts about what Christmas means to Jesus are embedded throughout the Christmas Carols that we sing. Like in ‘Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne’ the first verse says, ‘Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown when Thou camest to earth for me; but in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room for Thy holy nativity.’
This song points to the wonder that the King of Heaven and Lord of all the hosts of Heaven would go to all the trouble and humility to take on humanity, even being shuffled off to a lowly manger instead of a palace for His arrival on a planet that He created Himself. But, you see, ‘where’ He was born didn’t matter as much as ‘why’ He was born. And ‘why’ He was born, why He left His throne and kingly crown, was to come to the earth for …who? ‘Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown when Thou camest to earth for me’…for you and for me. To Jesus, the reason for Christmas is you and me. To Jesus, the reason for this season is you. It’s a statement to the Universe of Jesus’ love for you.
Another Christmas Carol celebrates the reason Jesus came like this: ‘Good Christian men, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice; Now ye need not fear the grave: Peace! Peace! Jesus Christ was born to save! Calls you one and calls you all To gain His everlasting hall: Christ was born to save! Christ was born to save!’
You save what you value and what has great worth to you. Think about this: We tend to underestimate the magnitude of our worth and of just how much we mean to to God. And as such, we tend to overlook what God intended us to see by His coming for you and for me. And that is, we tend to overlook what God wants us to see when He looks at you and at me. This Christmas, when you look up into the stars to wonder over this greatest gift of Jesus, and what it all means to you, remember that Jesus is looking down at you and thinking about what it all means to Him; what you mean to Him. Central in the key to spiritual health and even mental well being is to see ourselves as God sees us, because who and what we are in God’s sight is the truth about who we really are and what we mean to Him.
Think about it this way: Yes, for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…or… the Father loved the world so much that He gave His Son to the world, to you and me. And then in return the Son then gives to the Father all those of the world that received the Son. The Father gave the Son to us, and the Son then gives us to the Father. Now, yes, the Apostle John reveals that the Father gave us to the Son as well. But we could think of that in terms of like ‘raw materials’, and just look what Jesus made of us to give back to the Father after He saved us.
Remember that this ‘greatest love’ of John 3:16 was about you, about God’s love for you. John 3:16 is not just about God’s love for the human race, it’s about God’s race to save each human that He loved, like you. The reason for all that Jesus went through was because of you. Hebrews tells us that the reason Jesus endured the cross and despised the shame was because of the joy of redeeming you and me. The reason that John 3:16 says that God so loved ‘the world’ is because there’s not enough room there to list each person’s name that He came to save. But that’s what it means. ‘For God so loved’…and then put your name there. That’s what John 3:16 means to God. He sees your name there. And so should you, because that’s what Christmas is all about: Christ and you.
In the song ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’ it points out this very thing. It says, ‘Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Son of Righteousness! Light and life to all He brings, Ris’n with healing in His wings. Mild He lays His glory by, Born that man no more may die, Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth.’
To Jesus, Christmas was a rescue mission. The ones He loved were now held captive to sin and death. The only way to get them back, the only way to bring them back, back to life again, was to go to Earth Himself and become one of them so that He could die for all of them and then give new life to any of them who would receive His light and life, receive Him into their life, and thus become born again. In fact, The First Noel reminds us, ‘Then let us all with one accord sing praises to our heavn’ly Lord, That hath made heav’n and earth of naught, And with His blood mankind hath bought.’ It cost Jesus everything He had to purchase our salvation. He bought us with His own sinless blood. And yes, we know that’s how much it took to redeem us from our sin. But don’t miss the fact that it is also how much we meant to Him. Jesus gave everything He had in order to have us.
We often think of the wonderful gifts the Wise Men brought to Jesus, of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We associate Christmas with gifts. Well, what was Jesus gift to the Father? Eph 5:25-27- “…just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” NASU Now, This gift of the church to Himself is also to the Father of course. But the point is that the gift that Jesus is presenting is ‘You’. You are the present that Jesus bought…bought with His own blood. And you are the Christmas present Jesus gave to His Father God. Why, we even come as a present that is ‘wrapped’ for God. Isa 61:10- “I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness…” NASU You can’t get any better wrapping paper than that!
They say that ‘imitation’ is the greatest form of flattery. Well, ‘incarnation’ is the greatest form of love. It’s not a ‘Carol’ we sing very much, but it’s called ‘O Hearken Ye’. And it says, ‘O hearken ye who long for love, And turn your hearts to God above…The angel’s song the wonder tells; Now Love Incarnate with us dwells.’ That God would become one of us…would take on human flesh, in order to save our souls is a love that cannot be described. Or as the Apostle Paul put it, 2 Cor 9:15- “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” NASU
That God loved us that much to become one of us and to then give His life for us is certainly an indescribable gift. Even the Psalmist revealed that this love that God has for us is beyond measurement. He had to put it this way: Ps 103:11- “His love for His followers is as high above us as heaven is above the earth.” ERV These are things that God wants us to know about the way He thinks and feels about us.
But the wonder doesn’t stop there. For Jesus not only became one of us, remember, the reason He became one of us to become one with us; united in spirit and life and love. Perhaps one of the most astounding things the Disciples ever heard Jesus say was in a prayer that Jesus prayed to the Father in John 17. And when you begin to grasp what Jesus revealed here you should never have any problem ever again with not feeling loved or ever again have a question of your self-worth. Listen to what Jesus said: John 17:22-23- “I have given them the glory You gave Me, so they may be one as We are one. I am in them and You are in Me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that You sent Me and that You love them as much as You love Me.” NLT
How can that possibly be that Jesus could say of us to the Father: “You love them as much as You love Me!”? Without interfering with the unique of love of the Godhead, still, this revelation was meant to explain to us why Jesus was doing everything He was doing for His disciples and for us. It was because the Father loved them and loved us as much as He loved His Son. Feeling special yet? And this explains why God is patient with us; why He is kind to us; why He doesn’t keep a record of our wrongs; why He never gives up on us; and why He endures all things and keeps working all things together for our good. It is because Our Father in Heaven loves us as much as He loved His Son on earth. Jesus said so.
And so that brings us back to the wonder of Christmas. When we think of Christmas we think of Jesus, for He is truly the reason for the season. But we are to also know that when Jesus thinks about Christmas, He thinks of us, for we are the reason that He came. And not just because we had become lost in sin, but because He wanted us back again. He loved us that much. And He loves us now, His sons and daughters, as much as the Father loves the Son. That’s what Christmas is about: it’s about Christ and you – He came for you so that He could have you with Him, forever, because that’s how much He loves you.
The Son is the greatest gift of God to us…yet in some wondrous way, you are Jesus’ greatest gift to God. It’s hard to imagine how this could be so, but how wonderful and how inspiring to know that it is so.