We made it through Christmas. So what? Why does it matter? That’s what we attempt to answer in this message, based on 1 John 5.13-21. You can watch the whole service below, or just the message below that.
This Advent, we’ve been looking at Jesus through the eyes of the apostle Paul in his letter to the Colossians. In Colossians 1.17-18, he writes, “He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything” (NLT).
Imagine that: were it not for Jesus – who, we learned, was present in creation – the world would quite literally fall apart! He is the Glue that holds creation together.
And this Amazing Baby we celebrate in these days is also the Head of the church. No matter what your tradition or polity, the very top of the chain of command is reserved for Jesus. Why? Because he was born for it, gave his life for it, and rose from the dead for it.
So, this Christmas, let me encourage you to make him, in Paul’s words, “first in everything”.
You won’t be disappointed.
Since the next two Fridays happen to land on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, let me take this opportunity to wish you a very merry Christmas, and happy new year. Thanks for reading Encouragement From The Word. It’ll return in January.
Make Jesus first!
Some say we live in hopeless times. People go looking for hope in all kinds of places – emotional support, financial stability, you name it. But true hope comes from knowing Jesus. In this message, inspired by Andy Stanley, we learn how to find and nurture our hope in the Lord. It’s based on Psalm 33. You can watch the whole service below, or the message alone below that.
This Amazing Baby whose birth we anticipate is, as I’ve been pointing out in this Advent season, no ordinary Baby. Not only was he present at creation, but he was active in creation.
How can a baby do that? you might rightly ask.
Well, Jesus was not always a baby.
Of course, we know that he grew and became a man and ministered until he was crucified. He rose from the dead and ministered again until he was taken up to heaven, from whence he came.
See, Jesus of Nazareth was the incarnate version of the second Person of the Trinity. The Trinity is a difficult doctrine, one that is inferred by Scripture and that has been a hallmark of apostolic Christianity for almost 1700 years (so it’s proven the test of time). As the second Person of the Trinity, our Saviour was active in creating the world, so it’s no wonder that he was willing to give his earthly life for it.
Yet Jesus did not only create the mountains and valleys, the lakes and trees and rocks; he also set forth less immediately tangible realities.
This Amazing Baby in the manger is the Creator of heaven and earth. Imagine that!
He’s worth anticipating, worth worshipping, worth being ready for when he comes again.
“[F]or through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see – such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together” (Colossians 1.16-17, NLT).
In Advent, we anticipate the birth of Jesus – something that happened more than 2,000 years ago. Yet it has been commemorated annually by his followers for centuries. What makes it a birthday worth getting ready for?
Jesus was no ordinary baby. I’m pretty sure, though, contrary to the carols that proclaim “Silent night,” and “no crying he makes”, that his birth was a fairly normal human birth, with all the liquid and drama and emotion that go with it.
Mary, his mother, knew he would be different. An angel of the Lord had told her as much. But we can’t be certain when that different-ness became obvious to either Jesus or his mother.
Still, the birth was special, because Jesus was no ordinary baby. The Apostle Paul would write later that “He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation” (Colossians 1.15b, NLT). Other translations render that as Jesus having been the firstborn of all creation.
No wonder he would later say to the Pharisees, “Before Abraham was even born, I AM!” (John 8.58, NLT).
There’s definitely something special about celebrating the birth of One who has existed since time began, One who was present at the very creation of the world.
Whatever your seasonal celebrations look like this year – and I’m sure they will be different than in years past, at some level – there is definitely a reason to keep them special, since we’re celebrating the birth of no ordinary baby.
What will you do to make it special this year?