What Are We Celebrating - Podcast

What Are We Celebrating?
Luke 17:11-19

The God of all Creation – the Maker of Heaven and Earth – The Lord of the Universe – The God who is Unspeakably Holy - The Eternal, All-Existing God… became a baby.

What does it take to grasp that? We can’t actually grasp that, but if we can just pull back a minute and say, wait a minute, how big is God, and how small did he get that night in the stable as he was laid in that stone manger?

If we can begin to fathom the monumental vastness of that truth, the immeasurable bigness of God, becoming the smallest humble baby, if we can start with that, then we can begin to understand how big a deal Christmas is and what we should be truly celebrating at Christmas.

The immensity of that truth opens the Gospel of John. John 1:1-4. Jesus is described as The Word by John. John loves to give Jesus Christ the title Logos. The Word. And if you’ll notice, it’s a capital W in all Bibles. The Word – this Greek word Logos, it means literally “God in Communication” like “God Communicated to Us” or “God in Expression.” God expressed as a man. He is the God-Man. English – translated "The Word."

John 1:1–4 (NLT)
1 In the beginning the Word
(Jesus) already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He existed in the beginning with God.
3 God created everything through him 
(he is the Agent of Creation, he is the conduit of creation), and nothing was created except through him.
4 The Word 
(Jesus) gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.
In the beginning the Word Jesus, that baby in the manger, surrounded by animals – you know what animals need to do in a stable – cold night outside Bethlehem. He already existed before the beginning began. The Word. Jesus. He was with God. It means belly-to-belly, face-to-face. It’s a reference to being one, one in unison. The Word was with God and the Word was God. 

Verse 2 says He existed in the beginning, meaning he already existed in the beginning with God.

And then look who this baby is. This is impossible to fully grasp, so I’m begging you to just try. Verse 3 God created everything through him. This child we call the Agent of Creation. He is the conduit of Creation. Everything that was created was created through him. And nothing was created except through him. Without this baby, nothing that’s ever been created has been created. It’s really big.

Verse 4, The Word, Jesus, he gave life. He is the source and the giver of life. He gave life to everything that was created and his life brought light to everyone.

And then the really big verse is down in verse 14.

John 1:14 (NLT)
14 So the Word became [flesh] and made his home among us . . .

So the Word, the Word that’s explained in the first four verses, that Word became flesh. The NLT says, became human. He took on a tent of human flesh, a tabernacle, and he made his home among us. Every one of us deserving God’s judgment, sinners and enemies of God, this God who Is and Was and Is to Come, who has always been, who has always been God, who is the Agent of Creation, who is the Author of Life. This God Became a Man and dwelt among people who deserved Hell. No, holiness. It is impossible for me to explain how far down Jesus came from indescribable holiness to indescribable wretchedness. It’s almost impossible to explain it.

The God of all Creation, the Eternal and All Existing One became a baby in a manger in order to give eternal life to us.

It’s the only reason he came. There’s no other reason. He came to give us eternal life.

Philippians 2:6–7(a) (NLT)
6 Though he was God
(speaking of Jesus), he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. (In other words, he didn’t have to prove he was God, he didn’t have to maintain his deity position, he maintained his deity but set aside its privileges)
7 Instead, he gave up 
(set aside) his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being . . .

From Lord of the Universe to the lowest slave, and was born as a human being. We forget that Jesus Christ is God. And he is all that God IS expressed to us in the flesh, but initially as a needy baby.

He became a human being. We call this the great condescension, meaning the great lowering, the great coming down, the great humbling of the King of Kings. The King of Kings became the slave of all. The Lord of All Creation became the sacrifice for our sin. The Lord of the Universe, the infinite universe, always growing, always expanding, the infinite universe, the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, unspeakably holy God lowered himself to where we were. And where we were, we’re on our way to Hell because God must judge sin.

And so, Jesus lowered himself to our level by being born as a despised Nazarene. He was born in a filthy, stable. Not a stable like you would think, but a cave. (Many of us have been to a cave in Bethlehem that may have been his cave.) He was born to a poor nobody Jewish girl. He was born without any earthly fanfare. I can’t say without any fanfare, because all of Heaven broke into glorious worship. But as far as the Earth was concerned, he went as low as he needed to go to save us.

Philippians 2:7(b)-8 (NLT)
7 . . . When he appeared in human form,
8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

From the Lord of Glory to death on the Cross. The most humiliating, degrading, disgusting death that a person could be put through. And it began in the manger, in the stable. God lowered himself, God lowered himself so far down to reach us, and we have too high of an opinion of ourselves – even being willing to question God.

We don’t realize how far down God had come to reach us, the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He humbled himself. He demeaned himself. He lowered himself down, down, down to the pit of sin that we were stuck in with no way of getting out ourselves.

The year was 1987, and a little toddler that the world came to know as Baby Jessica. Some of you old-timers will remember this; it was phenomenal. Baby Jessica fell down an eight-inch well casing. She felt twenty-two feet before she was stuck. She became lodged in a well pipe twenty-two feet below the ground, and there was no way to pull her back up. No way. She was stuck there.

And so, in a heroic fifty-eight hours – some of you remember this, I remember it. It was the first time ever that CNN ran a 24 hour, you know, live news, right. And so, the whole world watched fifty-eight hours.

Here’s what the rescuers did. The rescuers dug down another well casing right next to the one the little Jessica was in. And they dug it down past her, more than twenty-two feet and then listen. A rescuer shimmied down that second well pipe. And when he got underneath Jessica, he had to dig by hand over to her well pipe and break through the pipe that she was stuck in underneath her. All of this was twenty-five feet underground, and he had to do that by hand.

And he dug through that ground to get lower than where Baby Jessica was, to pull her down because she couldn’t go back up because of the way she was stuck. He pulled her down, pulled her over, and then they were pulled up together through the second well casing. And if you remember, the picture actually won a Pulitzer Prize when he gets pulled up with her in his arm, in his arms. Phenomenal picture of what Jesus Christ did for us.

Jesus gave his own life. To come down this hole that we’re stuck in and to get lower than us, to die criminal’s death, so that he could pull us out of the pit of sin that we’re in and rescue us and give us life.
That’s what we celebrate. That’s what we celebrate is that the Lord of Glory shimmied down a well hole and dug through the miry ground to reach us because we weren’t going anywhere; we were going to die. And he pulled us out, and he pulled us up to life.

We want to recognize how far down the well God came to get us, but then we want to celebrate that he gave us life from that point. Here it is. You may have heard the verse.

John 3:16 (NLT)
16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Thank you, NLT, for an awesome translation. We read For God so loved the world, but the word so can be translated either like so much or so like in this way. God loved the world in this way. This is how much God loved the world, and this is how God loved the world. He gave his one and only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

That’s what we’re celebrating at Christmas. Because the earthly path, not the eternal path, or the heavenly path, but the earthly path to our salvation began in the manger. And so, we can look at the manger with the same hope we look at the Resurrection with. Because without the manger, without the stable and the manger, there could be no empty tomb in the Resurrection.

That’s what we have to celebrate. The question is, are we celebrating that as Christians? You know, as church-goers? I mean, you know. There’s a lot of other stuff we can be doing right now. Listen, I know our Christian response is, “Of course, Dave. What do you think we’re celebrating? Well, you know, of course, we’re celebrating Jesus.” But isn’t it good to take stock? Isn’t it good to be challenged and say, “Wait a minute, actually, look? Let’s actually look at what we’re doing”?

Look at what we’re doing. We have to ask ourselves in our current situation with our current stuff (and we’ve all got stuff), in our current situation, our current focus, our current mindset: “Are we celebrating what God did for us that began in the stable – in the manger?”
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