We are in a Christmas series and looking at why Jesus came.
We are doing this series because we don't want to miss the real reason for the season. It can so often happen at Christmas that we get caught up with the stuff of Christmas and forget what it's all about. We buy presents out of the urgency of just needing a gift rather than really thinking about the person. It becomes about us. We get anxious and worried more about what people will think of our house and food than of blessing others.
Christmas can become very hollow. Outward actions from listless inward assumptions. You go through the motions but your heart is not in it and it is void of meaning. We want to know what is at the heart of Christmas.
But let me tell you something. What happens to Christmas is now happening with the most important parts of life. Beliefs and ways of life once based on the Christian faith are hollowed out and become outward actions without inward understanding. Purpose in life. Marriage. Work.
Another one is justice. There is a ferocious desire for justice in the world. Such a buzzword. Want fairness, rightness, and moral decency. Justice from oppressors. Culture consumed with making sure every wrong is righted, one tweet at a time.
Judgment is an important part of life. It is a theme of Christmas. I would venture to say the quest of justice is a theme of the majority of movies, even Christmas movies.
You don’t believe me.
Ebenezzer scrooge is a rich man and yet he fails to care for others and particularly the poor. When people ask for alms for the poor he callously asks if there are no more prisons and workhouses to take care of them. It’s wrong for him to do that. But even more you learn later that Ebenezze was hurt as a young boy and the hurt that caused him to bottle up, protect himself at all cost, has led to his miserable condition. He has been wronged and suffered injustice.
The grinch has been denied justice. born with a heart being "two-sizes too small". He lives in his cave with his dog, Max, and only goes into Whoville to buy groceries and harass the Whos. Suffered a disjointed childhood spent alone and unwanted in an orphanage. Unable to bear these memories, the Grinch chooses vengeance and steals Christmas from all of Whoville.
Rudolph. Same things. All the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names. Didn't let him join any reindeer games.
Clark Griswold has been denied a bonus from his boss and now cant pay for his pool.
George Bailey has been living his whole life looking out for other people and trying to keep Mr. Potter from gaining control of the town and taking advantage of the people. He has sacrificed and sacrificed and has nothing to show for it.
Want more. How can you celebrate Christmas and be joyful and have peace when there is a war in Ukraine? There are terrorists in Gaza. Where are you on these issues? Many issues. Everyone speaking up against someone and something. Constant search for justice, because constant bombardment of injustice. Anxiety anxiety.
I believe resting in the justice of God is one of the great apologetic tools for our time. That in the Christian faith we find a way to rest and release the wrongs we have suffered, and a calling to seek after justice and do what is right. Christmas reminds us a Savior has come to the world, and this passage in John reminds us the Savior has come for judgment. He will make all wrongs right.
The Reality of Injustice
You need to plan for adversity, suffering, and injustice. You will experience it. People are sick and crippled. People are mean and selfish and willing to hurt others to advantage themselves.
Suffering in body. This man was born blind. He never had a chance to do what others did. He wasn't able to see. Wasn’t able to work and had to beg. Not fair= not just. Not everyone will experience the touch of God in this life.
Suffering misunderstanding. Did this man sin or his parents? They had a view that suffering only happens when people sin. Grammar school understanding: mechanical view of world. Protected environment, do what you are supposed to do and generally things go well. When you get out of that you see otherwise.
Suffering oppression. This man is healed by Jesus, but the Pharisees, the religious leaders, are not interested in justice. A great wonder is done and they criticize and attack it. They have a system of thought, a way of life to protect themselves, and Jesus is messing with that. They aint going to have it.
Suffering rejections. The man also suffers injustice in that no one sticks up for him. Others had an opportunity to do what is right and they would not do it.
Suffering when evil prevails. The man is removed from his community. He is cast outside. Unbelieving government prevails.
I wish I could tell you that people would not laugh and call you names. But it is going to happen. It reveals more about those people that it does about you.
You might do everything right and suffer for it. Are you prepared for that? Do you have a theology of God that allows you to press on when it is hard?
Prepare for it because it will come.
Read so many blogs of people who come to church and suffering and talking about the disparity between what they sing and what they are experiencing. A disparity every believer feels at some point.
Will you become a miserly Ebenezzer Scrooge, a vengeful grinch, a depressed George bailey. How will you deal with it?
Secular creeds. A great philosopher once said, “haters gonna hate, hate, hate. Players gonna play, play, play. Shake it off. It's gonna be alright.” What is your basis for believing it will be alright? All Taylor Swift can offer is wishful thinking, and a hard shell that says it won't get to me. That is not comforting or enlightening, and leads to inward isolation or outward vengeance. Need answers.
The Bible is clear that there is evil in the world, and its reality shows there is a ...
Need of Judgement
If there is injustice then there is a need for judgment. A need and longing for wrong things to be made right. How??
Many are writing today about how a secular worldview falls apart with suffering. They don't know what to do with it, because there is nothing more to life or bigger than finding happiness in the here and now. Depression, mental illness, suicide are rampant.
The reason the church struggles so much is most people are way more influenced by the world than the church. Adverse to participating in small groups and discipleship, staying home to do your own thing rather than participate in the community God calls us to. The theology of the world is having a greater influence than the theology of the church. People discipled more through televisions, movies, and social media nonsense than the discipline of reading the word and praying. And so it filters into the church, where people abandon the faith when it gets hard. Don't know how to pray with others on these things and have no opportunity to.
[39 Jesus said, "For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind."
Need someone greater than the evil, greater than the adversity to take it away. Who can remove it? Only the one who created it. Next time you tell someone, “It's going to be OK” ask yourself if you have any real basis for that.
Can’t save yourself. This is one of the things suffering shows you. If you have not suffered you live under the illusion that you can save yourself. If everything is going well in life you have little dependence on others. Government is not all knowing. People demand perfect from the imperfect. Feel the limitations of people around us.
The coming of Jesus means that injustice will not prevail. Blindness meets its end. Bigotry meets its end. Hypocrisy meets its end. Those who do wrong will not get away with it. Those who are spiritually blind and do evil will be dealt with. The light of the world has come and will expose the darkness.
Anxious and ferocious spirit to eliminate justice in which many end up becoming oppressors themselves. Seeking to eliminate anything and everything that interferes with their concept of justice.
Judgment needs a judge. HIs name is Jesus. He came to bring judgment. He came to make things right.
Judgment means evil will not triumph. God will bring everyone to account for what they have done. This mistrial of justice performed by the leaders will be dealt with. Those doing wrong will be brought down. Those doing the right will be rewarded.
**It means the greatest thing you can do now is not striving for material prosperity, but striving for faithfulness to God. People work and strive so hard to gain prosperity. They ought to be more concerned with honoring God. Stuff is going to come and go. Obedience to God is enduring.
When Jesus was born it was said he was the messiah. The messiah was to be the prince of peace. You have heard this about Christmas, the messiah was to establish a kingdom of justice and righteousness (Isaiah 9:7). Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where people always did what is right! Well, Jesus brings it, and having righteousness means having a judgment.
Ex: I was angry at God for things that I went through. I realized he was not silent on these.
If you are a Christian, and you believe in a crucified messiah, then you should be prepared for life to be hard. Don't be surprised when it is. When marriage is hard. When your view on life, marriage conflicts with others. When you don't fit in with others at school. When other people hurt you and disappoint you.
The Necessity of Salvation
If there is evil then judgment. If judgment then there is a desperate need for salvation.
But the reason we can suffer is we believe it will lead to glory. God did this work in the man that
[3 Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.
The glory of God will overcome all the suffering that the world throws at us. All things will be made new. We can be delivered and set free from what others have done to us.
This causes us to look beyond ourselves and our situations.
The light of the world has come. We can find life and healing in him. We can find forgiveness for sins and mercy for inadequacies.
This man finds eternal salvation, not just a temporary medicare. He worships. Removed from his own people, still suffering, but worshiping.
Christmas tells us God has seen our misery. He has seen our suffering. He has seen the wrongs we experience. Why did Jesus come?… to save us from our sins.
Can find peace in a world that is angry and warring. Whether you are liked or disliked. You may be removed from. Healed a blind man. Healed something that never was before. He can heal our situations.
Trust the Lord. Where you might want to. Bound in fear: cant eat. Can't show affection to people. Shaking another hand. Cut yourself off from others because you dont like what they do. You are all alone because no one meets your standard.
How many movies show the need to have a heart changed. And yet in order to make that happen Scrooge has to have a supernatural encounter with ghosts. Other stingy men have to have some kind of magical encounter with Santa clause and magic. Silly. But it shows that for real heart change we need to experience something outside of ourselves, a purpose beyond our own immediate needs and cravings. Scripture shows it is through being born again. Hearts coming alive to God.
Insufficiency of religion. Religion is not the answer. The Pharisee are religious jerks. They are not interested in God but protecting themselves. We need to be saved from religion. Jesus knew that. HIs hardest rebukes were not for prostitutes and tax collectors but for hard hearted religious leaders. Sobering! The problem was not with God’s plan, but with their understanding and commitment to it. People turn from because their God is themself. Insufficiency of hollow understandings that don't flow from a heart of obedience.
This man has seen something he cannot deny. He goes to the religious oppressors and tries to help them see who Jesus is. He resists their injustice. Knowing Jesus causes you to do that. It moves you. It also brings you rest.
[38 He said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him.
He met the light of the world and knew everything would be ok. That was all he needed.
Has this man's circumstances improved? He sees. But he is removed from his community. No one sticks up for him. He gained and lost. But in the end he worships. It's not about changing circumstances but the eyes of our heart being opened. He worships. He has come into the presence of one who can heal and restore, with one who is the light of the world. And being in his presence is enough. CAn rest in him knowing everything will be fixed.
Can trust in Jesus and follow him. Or you can keep busy trying to create your own salvation. Become a pharisee trying to build an institution that meets your understanding and keeps God from interfering with your life. You rage and deride others when your kingdom of self is threatened by the kingdom of God. Why is there so much anxiety and fear in the world? Often because we are not trusting in the things God calls us to do and trust in.
Do you live with hurt? Are you mad at people? Are you mad at God? Are you determined to never hurt again, then you have determined to never love again.
Do you long to see people ruined? LIve in constant fear. The way to life and peace is through a Savior. Through the hope of christmas.
Can you not enjoy Christmas dinner because of your anger over what someone has done to you? Are you living in constant fear, trying to hold on to things other than God’s kingdom? Christmas reminds you to rest in Christ. He came to bring judgment. You are not the judge he is. Live fully. Live freely. Live with conviction.
You will be hurt by other people. And you can go inward and unloving. Or you can turn to a crucified savior. Who loved you despite your sin. Who set an example for you to love others, give yourself for them, and who will also return to judge the world. He will judge those who wrong you. But he will also judge you for your lack of love to others.