Server Outage Notice: TheSeed.info is transfering to a new Server on Tuesday April 13th

Statistics
2192 sermons as of October 5, 2022.
Site Search powered by FreeFind

bottom corner

   
Author:Rev. Ted Gray
 send email...
 
Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
 www.oaklawnurc.org/
 
Title:Christmas In the Words of Christ
Text:Hebrews 10:1-18 (View)
Occasion:Advent
Topic:The Incarnation
 
Preached:2016
Added:2021-12-02
Updated:2021-12-02
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Selections from the Psalter Hymnal, 1976, unless otherwise noted:

341 - O Come, All Ye Faithful
381 - “Man of Sorrows,” What a Name
93 (Red) - Angels We Have Heard on High
339 - Hark! the Herald Angels Sing 

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Pastor Ted Gray 
12/11/2016    
“Christmas In the Words of Christ”
Hebrews 10:1-18
 
Almost everywhere we look we see the story of Christmas portrayed. Admittedly it is often portrayed through the secular eyes of the world with Santa and his elves, the reindeer, and Frosty the snow man. But have you noticed that even in our secular society there are still Christmas scenes that reflect the true meaning of the season?
 
Some of the scenes view that first Christmas through the eyes of the shepherds. We see the shepherds by the manger; the sheep and other animals are sometimes portrayed, and there is Joseph and Mary with the baby Jesus. We can relate to that because we know the familiar second chapter of Luke. We rejoice in the angelic message proclaimed to the shepherds, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ, the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) We remember how the shepherds left their flocks and went to see the Christ child, and left praising and glorifying God for the gift of his Son.
 
At some manger scenes we see the birth of Jesus portrayed by the wise men. Usually, we see the wise men by the manger with the shepherds, and most of us realize that the wise men came years after the shepherds. We realize from Matthew 2 that the wise men traveled a long way, consumed a lot of time, and that when they arrived to see Jesus, Joseph and Mary were living in a house. The Bible doesn’t tell us how old Jesus was when the Magi came to worship him, but he was no longer a baby. Matthew describes him as a child. Yet that portrayal of the Christmas story, even though it is off chronologically, nevertheless, reminds us of another Biblical way to see the birth of Jesus – through the eyes of the wise men.
 
Another way to see Christmas is through the eyes of Joseph and Mary. Most of the nativity scenes have a special focus on Joseph and Mary with the little baby Jesus. Those scenes remind us of what the angel said to Joseph in Matthew 1:21 about naming the baby Jesus “because he will save his people from their sins.” Those scenes may also remind us of that descriptive verse in Luke 2:7 in the old King James Version, “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”
 
Those are the familiar views of the first Christmas. I am sure that most of us are familiar with the Christmas story in the eyes of the shepherds, in the experience of the Magi, and in the life of Joseph and Mary as baby Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
 
But have you thought about the Christmas story according to Christ?  If you were to ask Jesus to give an account of his birth, what do you think he would say? Would he review those familiar Christmas stories of the wise men, the shepherds, and Joseph and Mary?  Would he say, “I was born in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes, all because there was no room in the inn?”
 
I don’t believe he would. The focus of Christmas, in the eyes of Christ, as he came into the world to be born in the manger, was not on the cradle, but on the cross: His focus was not on a picturesque birth in a manger, but on the purpose for his heavenly Father giving him a truly human body, conceived by the Holy Spirit in the virgin Mary.
 
The exact words of Christ, when he came into the world, are recorded in Hebrews 10:5: “When Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me...’”
 
And the eternal Christ knew exactly why he would receive a body of flesh and blood. He who is One with the Father, the One by whom the world was made, the One whom an innumerable angelic host praise, took on human flesh to offer himself as the only acceptable sacrifice for sinners.
   
God had commanded the Old Testament people of Israel to make burnt offerings and sin offerings, so why would he not be pleased when the people would come and present their offerings? Why would verse 6 say, “with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.” How can that be?
 
The answer is in verse 3 and 4: …Those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” Those Old Testament sacrifices were just a shadow, a type of the reality of the ultimate sacrifice, the sacrifice of Jesus, described in 1 Corinthians 5:7, which states: “Christ, our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed.”
 
The Passover foreshadowed the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. When the Lord led Israel out of Egypt he sent the Egyptians ten plagues, with the last plague being the death of the first born in every household. To escape that judgment, the people of Israel were told to sacrifice a lamb without blemish or defect. They were to smear the blood of the Passover Lamb on the doorposts of their homes. Then, when the Lord came to bring judgment on the Egyptians, he passed over that judgment on the homes of the Israelites because he saw the blood of the Passover lamb on their doorposts.
 
In the same way, Christ is our Passover Lamb. We are passed over for judgment because of saving faith in him and his shed blood on Calvary. He was given a body, conceived by the Holy Spirit in the virgin Mary, so that he would have blood, blood that he would shed on the cross of Calvary to propitiate – to cover – our sins and appease the righteous and proper wrath of God against sin.
 
“It Is Written About Me in the Scroll”
 
As Christ came into the world, truly human, truly divine, he not only focused on the inability of Old Testament sacrifices to atone for sin. He also focused on doing his Father’s will. Verse 5 to 7: Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
 
                               “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
                                      but a body you prepared for me;
                                 with burnt offerings and sin offerings
                                      you were not pleased.
                                  Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
                                    I have come to do your will, O God.’” 
 
Doing his Father’s will meant offering himself, but not as a little baby born in a manger. Doing his Father’s will entailed fulfilling what was written “in the scroll,” and that involved not just the cradle, but the cross.
 
When Christ says in verse 7, “It is written about me in the scroll” he is referring to the Old Testament Scriptures.  He is the focus, not only of the New Testament, but the Old Testament as well. In the scroll of the Old Testament, in Genesis 3:15, the Lord told the devil, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel.”
 
That statement looks ahead to Christ. It is sometimes called the “Mother Promise of Scripture” because from it all promises flow as they are fulfilled in Christ. As 2 Corinthians 1:20 puts it, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ.Genesis 3:15 is also called the “proto-evangelium”, meaning that it is the first mention of the gospel in the Bible.
 
The writers of the Old Testament, inspired by the Holy Spirit, were all looking forward to Christ. Jesus himself spoke of that. After his resurrection, on the road to Emmaus, Jesus came across some disciples who were amazed and perplexed by all the events surrounding his death and resurrection. Luke records, in Luke 24:27, how “Beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”
 
Just a few examples: As Abraham was going to Mount Moriah to sacrifice Isaac his only son with Sarah, the child of promise, Isaac asked a question that must have cut Abraham to the heart. “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” he asked. Abraham answered with the assurance of saving faith: “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” (Gen. 22:7, 8)
 
Likewise, in the kingship of David, described in the Old Testament scroll at length, we see a type or shadow of the Greater David, Jesus Christ, the eternal King over all kings. He is, in the words of Revelation 22:16, “the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
 
And in Isaiah’s prophecy we see with brutal starkness the Old Testament scroll describing Jesus as the suffering servant who came to do his Father’s will. What was God the Father’s will for his Son?  Isaiah 53:9-10a: He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and (to make) his life an offering for sin…”
 
No wonder there in Gethsemane, before being betrayed with a kiss, Jesus prayed with such fervency, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)
 
He knew that the will of his Father was that he, the Son, would drink the cup of God’s wrath that sinners like you and I deserve. He knew the will of his Father was to forgive your sins and mine. And he knew that to do that, he who had no sin must become sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5:21)
 
He knew that his Father’s will was for him to be the sacrifice on Mount Calvary that had been foreshadowed in the scroll by Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac. But he knew the command from heaven would not come for him as it had for Abraham and Isaac. He knew there would be no command from heaven to stop the crucifixion.  He knew that no other sacrifice would do, no other blood could save. He knew the crucifixion would go on. He knew – from all eternity – that he would die the most painful and cruel of deaths.
 
That is the story of Christmas according to Jesus Christ. He is not filled with sentiment about a manger scene. He doesn’t go into a lengthy description of the shepherds or wise men the way we so often do at Christmas.   
 
Verses 5 to 7 are crystal clear in giving the Christmas story according to Christ: “When Christ came into the world, he said:
 
                               “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
                                      but a body you prepared for me;
                                 with burnt offerings and sin offerings
                                      you were not pleased.
                                  Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
                                    I have come to do your will, O God.’” 
  
Looking Past the Cradle to the Cross
   
How do we respond to such a Savior? How do we respond to the Christmas story according to Christ? 
 
To understand the birth of Jesus and all its implications, we must view his birth through the lens of the cross. To understand the true meaning of Christmas, we must look past the manger to the cross and the empty tomb beyond. From time to time, as you drive around looking at manger scenes, or just walking by some homes on a block, you may see beyond the manger scene – beyond the shepherds and the wise men, Joseph and Mary and the baby – beyond them you might see in the distance, a cross.
 
It is only when we see with the eye of saving faith the cross beyond the cradle, that we truly understand the meaning of Christmas. Only then do we understand Christmas according to Christ. In his classic book, Knowing God, J. I. Packer writes: “The significance of the cradle at Bethlehem lies in its place as the first step that led the Son of God down the pathway to the cross of Calvary.”
 
He is absolutely right! To understand the true meaning of Christmas, we must look past the manger to the cross and the empty tomb beyond, for Romans 4:25 reminds us: “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”
 
When we see beyond the cradle to the cross and the empty tomb beyond, then, by true saving faith, we can know that our sins are forgiven, remembered for judgment no more – not because of the sacrifices of bulls or sheep, but by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary.
 
God himself, the eternal Christ, came in human flesh to offer himself on the cross as the only acceptable sacrifice for sinners. When we look beyond the cradle to the cross, with true saving faith, we are spared from damnation and granted eternal life. That is God’s will for all who by his grace have true saving faith in Christ:
 
Verse 10 declares: “And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
 
Verse 14, “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”
 
 Verse 17 – “Then he adds: ‘Their sins and lawless acts, I will remember no more.’”
 
Those truths are nailed home to us as we see the certainty of our redemption through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest. Did you notice the contrast in this passage between the high priests in the Old Testament, and Jesus Christ who is now our Great High Priest? The contrast is clear. Verse 11 and 12: “Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest – Christ – had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God…”
 
In those two verses we see a distinct contrast between the Old Testament high priests and the Lord Jesus Christ as our Great High Priest. Those contrasts clearly teach that the work of redemption is finished. Nothing can thwart Christ's redeeming work. Nothing can derail your salvation or mine, if by God's grace we truly have saving faith in his Son this morning.
 
Verse 11 describes how day after day the Old Testament priest would stand to perform his duties. By contrast, verse 12 describes how after the ascension of Jesus into heaven, Christ sat down at the right hand of his Father. The portrayal of Jesus sitting at the right hand of his Father symbolically shows us that his work is finished. We read about the many furnishings in the Old Testament tabernacle: the ark of the covenant, the lampstand, the basin for cleansing and the other furnishings. But we do not read of a chair for the Old Testament high priest.
 
There was no place for him to sit because his work was never done. He always had to offer another sacrifice. The Day of Atonement would come each year reminding the high priest and the people of their sin. And each year, as the high priest went through his routine of sprinkling the blood of the sacrifice, he was reminded of the futility of that sacrifice to take away sin. Verse 11: “He offers again and again the same sacrifices which can never take away sins.”
 
But by contrast, Jesus offered himself once for all as the only sacrifice that can atone for sin and bring forgiveness. And then he showed the completeness of that sacrifice by sitting down at the right hand of the Father. Verse 12, “But when this priest” – Christ – “had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.”
 
By that action Christ shows that the debt of sin, the bondage of sin, and the alienation which it brings have all been remedied. The debt has been paid! The bonds of sin have been severed! The alienation has been breached; our reconciliation is complete!
 
And it all goes back to the “therefore,” (the “consequently” ESV) in verse 5. Because the Old Testament sacrifices could not bring redemption, Christ came into the world. As he did, he said:
 
                               “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
                                      but a body you prepared for me;
                                 with burnt offerings and sin offerings
                                      you were not pleased.
                                  Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
                                    I have come to do your will, O God.’” 
____
 
The story of Christmas is portrayed all around us.  At this time of year, almost everywhere we look we see the story of Christmas portrayed. Admittedly it is often portrayed through the secular eyes of the world with Santa and his elves, the reindeer, and Frosty the snow man. But certainly, you have noticed that even in our secular society there are still Christmas scenes which reflect the true meaning of the season.
 
But I challenge you: Don’t just view Christmas through the eyes of the shepherds, or the wise men, or Joseph and Mary. Look beyond. Look to see and hear the story of Christmas according to Christ, that “When Christ came into the world, he said:
 
                               “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
                                      but a body you prepared for me;
                                 with burnt offerings and sin offerings
                                      you were not pleased.
                                  Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
                                    I have come to do your will, O God.’” 
 
Amen.
 
 
 
Bulletin outline:
 
 
When Christ came into the world, He said, “Sacrifice and offering You
did not desire, but a body You prepared for Me.... It is written about Me
in the scroll - I have come to do Your will, O God.” - Hebrews 10:5...7
 
                             “Christmas In the Words of Christ”
                                            Hebrews 10:1-18
 
I.  There are many ways to view Christmas:
     1) Through the eyes of the shepherds (Luke 2:8-20)
 
 
 
     2) Through the experience of the wise men (Matthew 2:1-12)
 
 
 
     3) Through the life of Joseph and Mary (Matthew 1:18-25;
          Luke 2:1-7)
 
 
 
II.  The Christmas story in Jesus' words (Hebrews 10:5-7):
       1) “A body you prepared for Me with burnt offerings and sin
             offerings You were not pleased” (5c, 6)
 
 
 
         2) “It is written about Me in the scroll, I have come to do Your will” (7)
 
 
 
III. The true meaning of Christmas is only understood when we look beyond
       the cradle to the cross, knowing the certainty of our salvation through
       the finished work of our Great High Priest (11, 12)
 
 

 

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2016, Rev. Ted Gray

Please direct any comments to the Webmaster


bottom corner