The Christmas Controversy
By Bobby Blakey on December 20, 2015
The Christmas Controversy
By Bobby Blakey on December 20, 2015
This is a rush transcript.
[00:00:00] If you've got one of these, please grab your Bible and open it up to the gospel of John 7. Great job, guys. Singing It seemed like a few you guys might have even been shouting.
[00:00:17] Wow, powerful. Yeah. Now, my daughter was in the kids choir. You probably noticed her. She was the cute one in the front. Right. Cause she was. That's how we all think of our kids. Well, my daughter Emma is six years old, and I know Christmas is only five shopping days away, but she is really excited about this other day. She's been talking about for months now.
[00:00:43] It's her birthday and it's coming up soon. And she's really just thinking about it. And she's like, Dad, this year we got to have a party that's pink and orange. She keeps telling me, like, there's this vision of glory to come and it's pink and it's orange.
[00:01:00] How many days is it now to my birthday, Dad. And I'm like, Emma, your birthday's in February. This is December. We've got a long time to go yet. Right. But now it's this party that's coming that she's very excited about. And can you imagine how terrible it would be as a father if it was my daughter's birthday and I forgot about it? Won't that be terrible?
[00:01:25] Well, kind of a message would I be sending to her if she wakes up? There's no pink. There's no orange. There's no party. We just go along. It's another day and we forget my daughter's birthday.
[00:01:36] No significance to your life. And maybe let in the next year, she's like. All right, well, they blew me off last year, but this year I'm for sure going to get my pink and orange party. And there's a celebration. There's gifts. She's like, this has got to be it. And it's like, no, I'm actually we're not here to give you gifts in the spirit of giving. We're going to give each other gifts, saying we want to celebrate everybody today. And so everybody gets gifts on your birthday now. She's just heartbroken. She's devastated. And the next year comes around.
[00:02:09] And this year for sure, on her birthday. This one, we're gonna go big and we tell her there's a big gathering. Our friends and our relatives are coming from all around. There's going to be a massive Christmas gathering. See where I'm going with this. And so we drive off. And now for sure, she thinks we'll celebrate her birthday. It's this three year surprise in the making and we get to the party.
[00:02:31] Lo and behold, it's not about her. People are talking about whether people are talking about sports. People are arguing about what Donald Trump might have said or have not said. And poor Emma is in the corner, forgotten and alone. You see what I'm trying to do here?
[00:02:48] I mean, it's that time of year. Let's celebrate in a season and the spirit of giving. Let's give each other gifts and let's get everybody together. And we completely forget that the point of Christmas is it's somebodies birthday and his name is Jesus Christ. That's what we're supposed to be celebrating here.
[00:03:07] We just cruise right past it. Many people in America do. In fact, it's controversial in this country. If you should even say Merry Christmas to people at this time of year, how ridiculous is that? Can we just speak honestly here for a second? Is that not ridiculous? Even Wikipedia knows what Christmas is all about. It's a commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ. It's a day to remember that he was born. And the significance that we believe that carries for everybody's life. So I hope you won't miss the birthday that's going on on Friday.
[00:03:41] I hope that when it comes to you and your kids and your family, there will be some acknowledgment, in fact, would be great if we put him front and center that this is about celebrating the birth of Jesus. Can I can they meant for Muttaburra? That's the way we're going to celebrate it here at church. And we're going to celebrate it right now. And we're gonna be back here on Thursday night if you want to come back. But I hope you celebrate Jesus somewhere besides church with your family this Christmas. Maybe to read that Christmas story that we heard from Luke to maybe to even sing some songs together as a family tree with me to John, Chapter seven. That's where we're at. We're going through the gospel of John. If you come to this church, if you're here regularly, you know that we go through verse by verse through one book of the Bible at a time. And we've been working our way through this gospel and we're in the middle of Chapter seven. Not really what anybody would think of as Christmas passage, but right here in the middle of this chapter, an argument breaks out about where Jesus was born. And there's some controversy here that I think shows even the controversy about Jesus today. So let me read Artex, not your traditional Christmas texts, but it's about the birth of Jesus. Look at John, chapter seven, verse 40.
[00:04:57] And please follow along with me as I read the verse 52 says when they heard these words, some of the people said, this really is the prophet. In others said, this is the Christ. But some said, is the Christ to come from Galilee has not. The scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was. So there was a division among the people over him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him. The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees who said to them, Why did you not bring him? And the officers answered. No one ever spoke like this man. And the Pharisees answered them. Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd that does not know the law is a coerced. And Nicodemus, who had gone to him before and who was one of them, said to them.
[00:06:01] Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?
[00:06:09] They replied, Are you from Galilee to search and see that no profit arises from Galilee? So the main character of this story, really of this passage are these chief priest, sometimes referred to as the scribe, sometimes referred to as the Pharisees. They're the religious leaders of the Jews in the day of Jesus Christ. And they are the ones here in this story who completely Miss Jesus, because when Jesus is te. Shane. And he's doing miracles and people are responding to him and they're saying, could he be the prophet that was told in the Old Testament?
[00:06:46] Could he be the Christ, the anointed one who comes from God? Could this be the guy we've all been waiting for?
[00:06:53] Here come the religious leaders. Of course not. He can't be that guy. He was born in the right place. That's their argument. They have a lot of snobbery here. They have a lot of superiority. These guys are better than other people. This is the way a lot of the world views religious people. Like we're judged mental and like we're better than everybody else. That's these guys. In fact, when the crowd doesn't agree with them, they say this accursed crowd you don't want to list. They just look down on all the people believing in Jesus Christ. Nicodemus says something sensible. Hey, maybe we should give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe we should hear what he has to say before we just write him off. Or are you from Galilee, too? Like, who are you to listen to this guy? Like anybody who believes in Jesus and starts following him as the Christ. Like you're just stupid. You're just written off right there at the beginning. Does that sound similar to the way it is in our world today?
[00:07:46] Right. None of the smart people can believe in Jesus. None of them are really culturally elite. People can really believe that Jesus was born of a virgin in Bethlehem. Nobody could believe that. What's going on here is there's two regions in Israel. There's this northern region.
[00:08:04] But what we call Galilee and there's the southern region that's called Judea. That's where the capital city of Jerusalem is.
[00:08:11] That's where all these chief priests and scribes and Pharisees hang out is around the temple there in Jerusalem. And so immediately they write Jesus off just because he's from the northern area of Galilee with his band of fisher men in those low lowlifes up there. Surely he can't be the Messiah.
[00:08:30] The Messiah comes from our territory. The Messiah comes from Bethlehem. Let me ask you guys here at church this morning, what city was Jesus actually born in? Was he born in Bethlehem? I mean, these guys are writing Jesus off and they have the wrong information. They're assuming that just because he grew up and came from Galilee, that that's where he was born.
[00:08:53] And so they're just throwing him under the bus because he's not one of us from down here in Judea.
[00:08:59] And really, no, he was born in Bethlehem just a little bit outside of Jerusalem at this little town. That's the town of David. That's exactly where he was born.
[00:09:11] So we see people missing. Who Jesus really is and writing him off based on mis information. That's what a lot of people have about Jesus. And I want to make sure that everybody here this morning, we've got the right information about Jesus tour with me, the Majka, chapter five, verse two. And I want you to see this prophecy. This is in Micah. It's in the Old Testament. And might you might have these use table of contents to find it. As it is not a very popular book. Micah, you got one of our Bibles. It's page seven hundred and seventy nine.
[00:09:44] And I want you to see that this guy, Micah, in the Old Testament. Let's just make sure we all understand how the Bible works. The Bible we view is one book, but really it's an amazing thing because it's 66 different books that are all assembled into one book or somewhere around 40 different authors written over a timespan of one thousand five hundred years or even more than that.
[00:10:11] And it's all collected in it all goes together in one group. Now we do break the Bible down into an old and they knew what do we call them, the old and new what testaments.
[00:10:23] Right. And so we mostly focus on the New Testament because that's when the story of Jesus Christ, his birth, his life, his death, his resurrection. But in the Old Testament, which a lot of people today don't dove into as much, what's amazing about the Old Testament is it prophesies is the word that we like to use Predix is a way you could say calls it before it ever happens, like the Old Testament tells you a lot about the life of Jesus before he was ever born. So, Micah, this guy, Micah.
[00:10:55] He would be a prophet. And he was writing around the time of 700 B.C.
[00:11:03] Now, let me just ask you a quick question. Maybe you know the answer. What does B.C. stand for? Everybody was a sample before Christ.
[00:11:11] And we're living in the year 2015 A.D.. Anybody know what A.D. stands for? Had a Latin phrase know Damini, which means the year of R. So before they change it to Common Era, let's just make sure that everybody here understands that the entire basis of the years of our life is the birth of Jesus Christ.
[00:11:33] Kind of a big deal. OK.
[00:11:34] What we're here to talk about is the fact that people today write it off so easily is so tragic and so foolish because this guy Majka writing 700 years before the time of Jesus, talking about what's going on in Israel in his day and the judgment that God was going to bring on the people for not obeying him in his day. And he just kind of drops a little something in one of his verses.
[00:11:59] Look at Mike. Chapter five, verse two.
[00:12:02] And as he's given this prophecy about all that's going to happen, he kind of says this about about Christmas, a Christmas prophecy.
[00:12:10] It says, but you owe Bethlehem everything.
[00:12:14] Who are too little to be among the clans of Judah from you shall come forth.
[00:12:20] For me, one who is to be ruler in Israel who's coming forth is from of old from ancient of days. So there is going to come from Bethlehem.
[00:12:35] A ruler of Israel who is coming for me.
[00:12:40] OK. And there's an amazing statement here that this one who's going to come forth. Right. Who's going to be born? Who's that's going to be their hometown is Bethlehem. Well, this one who's gonna be born to be a ruler in Bethlehem is actually from of old. So they're born from birth in Bethlehem and they come from Bethlehem, but they're ancient. It's an amazing thing what Mike is saying here. Someone who's ancient, who's old, who's previously previously existed for all of eternity, is going to come from Bethlehem. He's going to enter the MIT world as a man in the city of Bethlehem. This is a Christmas prophecy.
[00:13:21] Seven hundred years in the making. Is that awesome to anybody else besides me? Am I the only one fired up about this? Is it so like God to just prove who he is by saying, I want to tell you where he's going to be born 700 years before it happened? So if you are ever tempted to doubt about this. Well, let me just put. A little verse here to blow your brain up. OK, because I'm going to say it 700 years. Can you imagine someone in the 12 hundreds prophesying about where you would be born? Did they even know about us over here in the 12 hundreds? I mean, how do you pull something like this off if you believe that this is legitimate? That it was really written in 700 B.C. and then it's really about the birth of Jesus. There's no other way to explain something like this. God called it. That's the only way we can explain.
[00:14:11] So I'm gonna give you guys two reasons to hopefully excite you and encourage you to celebrate Jesus this Christmas. So if you're taking notes, that's for that's not where we're going today. Two reasons to get excited about putting the focus on Jesus this Christmas season, making sure we don't miss it.
[00:14:28] And the first reason that we've got that they're arguing about, well, he's got to be born in Bethlehem. Here's the prophecy. They're referring to Michael five, too. Well, reason number one is we should celebrate Jesus this Christmas because Jesus was celebrated before he was born. I mean, they were already talking about a messiah, a Christ, an anointed one who was coming from God, and it says he was going to be the of the offspring of David.
[00:14:52] And David was anointed in Bethlehem, David, who lived about 1000 years before Christ. Well, someone's gonna come in his line edge. Did you hear how it was read today? Right.
[00:15:03] His lineage is his descendants. Someone's going to come from the line of David and he's gonna be born in Bethlehem and we're calling it 700 years before Christ.
[00:15:14] Okay. Now, here's what we believe about the Old Testament. We believe the Old Testament was pretty much done hundreds of years before the New Testament. In fact, there's this time period that we call the inter test to mental period between the old and the New Testament, where there is no revelation that we put in the Bible. And how long is that inter testamentary period? Anybody know how long it is? Shout it out if you know, 400 years.
[00:15:39] So when I start saying that 700 years before Jesus was born, Micah by the power of God prophesied what city he would be born in the city of David.
[00:15:50] Bethlehem, everything. Because there are multiple Bethlehem is just to clarify which one we're talking about. The one by Jerusalem. Some people are against say, I don't really believe that I have our time with that. I think maybe sometime after Jesus was born, maybe they they kind of penciled that in.
[00:16:08] You know, they just inserted that in there to make it seem like they called it 700 years before, because that just seems crazy to me. And I have a hard time believing it.
[00:16:17] Well, you're going to have a hard time proving that argument, OK? Because the scripture was already around at the time of Jesus Christ.
[00:16:25] And there's these things that give us a good idea of what the Old Testament looked like, B.C. before Christ, before they could change anything to add what was gonna happen in his life. And it's this archeological discovery that really kind of helps us out in an amazing way. It's called the Dead Sea Scrolls.
[00:16:43] Anybody ever heard about these things?
[00:16:46] Dead Sea Scrolls.
[00:16:47] Right, when everybody's ready to write off the Old Testament, middle of the nineteen hundreds. And this is just a preview really of our sermon next Sunday, if you come back. We're gonna do a sermon called Why the Bible? Why should you and I believe this book? What are the arguments even outside of this book? I think the best reason to believe this book is just by reading it firsthand, encounter with it. It's powerful. But one of the reasons you should believe this book is the prophecies that can be verified outside of this book.
[00:17:16] And when the Dead Sea Scrolls do, there's these ancient scrolls that are found in caves and coom run in the nation of Israel and an archeologist from all over the world. I'm not talking about Christian people. I'm talking about the top notch archeologists of the day. They date most of these scrolls to a time before the life of Jesus Christ.
[00:17:39] To a time where no one could have changed them later, you see where I'm going with this. What if this is true, if this is true, this is surely something worth investigating. That Jesus his birthplace, was prophesied 700 years before he was born. That's something to think about.
[00:17:57] I got it. But before I write that off, I need to investigate that and see if it's true. And wait, there's more. Go to Luke, Chapter two. Let's look into the traditional Christmas story. So beautifully read by these cute kids for us here this morning. Right. And usually we like the part when we get to the shepherds and the angels and glory to God in the highest and peace on Earth. But what about the details that sometimes maybe we gloss over on our way to the good stuff?
[00:18:26] Look at how it starts here. And Luke, chapter two, verse one. It says in those days that a crew went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. Time out. Who's Caesar Augustus? Who's this guy?
[00:18:42] The Roman Emperor of the time. Maybe you heard of the Roman Empire taking over much of the known world at this time. They were the ones ruling over Israel. So you're saying the most important man in the world, like the ruler of the majority of space on planet Earth?
[00:18:59] He says there's a register registration that needs to happen, a census that's going to take place, and he wants everybody to go to their hometown. So they register for this census. So we're talking about the top guy, the Hefei gron day, the big cheese, OK?
[00:19:17] This guy does something. Now, look what that then causes verse to. This was the first registration when Corinthian's was governor of Syria and all went to be registered. All people go into their hometown, each to his own town.
[00:19:31] And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth. And he went down south to Judea, to the city of David, which is called wait for it.
[00:19:42] What does it say there, my friend?
[00:19:44] Time out.
[00:19:46] When when the angel comes to marry. An angel tells her that she's going to give birth to the son of God. She's up in Galilee.
[00:19:57] She's up in the northern region and she's told that she's going to give birth to Jesus, the savior of the world.
[00:20:05] And then the most important man on the planet at that time, Caesar Augustus, just so happens to decide that we're gonna take a census. So everybody needs to go to their hometown.
[00:20:17] And all of a sudden these two young people in love, Joe and Mary, make their way down to this little city, Bethlehem, because they're of the line of David. What a coincidence that is. No, not only did he call it 700 years beforehand, but then he's showing that he's in control of the most powerful man in the world to get his people where he wants them to be at the right time. Keep reading with me here. It says they went to the house and lineage of David to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
[00:20:49] And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. Maybe you could right there in the side of your Bible. Yeah. The time came. The seven hundred years of a time.
[00:21:01] Prophesied in the scripture, we're not talking about a normal pregnancy here, we're talking about that time, and she gave birth to her first born son and she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no place for them in the end.
[00:21:16] God sovereignly in control of the leaders of the world to get his people to Bethlehem to fulfill a 700 year old prophecy. Go to Matthew, chapter one, Matthew, chapter one. Probably your favorite passage in all of the Bible because it's a geneology.
[00:21:35] Don't you love the genealogies? All these names you can't pronounce stray. We'll just skip over this. Get down to the birth of Jesus Christ. Why does Matthew start with a geneology?
[00:21:48] What is he. Why is he listing all of these descendants? Look at Matthew. Chapter one, verse one. The Book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ. The son of who does it say he's the son of David. What is Matthew trying to prove? He's trying to prove the prophecies of the Old Testament.
[00:22:05] He had said he would be the offspring of David, said he would be born in the city of David. That's Bethlehem. That's where David got anointed. You know what Bethlehem means? It means house of bread.
[00:22:16] What a great place for the bread of life to be born. Right. And he's born there.
[00:22:21] Just I mean, you can write down the great to Vidic Covenant Second Samuel seven or God promises to David that one of his descendants would become a king who would reign for ever.
[00:22:32] And so why is Matthew giving us how we get from David down to Joseph and Mary? Because he wants to show us, hey, they knew what they were talking about in the Old Testament. This is an amazing thing. God called it hundreds of years before it happened to go back to David. We're talking about 1000 B.C.
[00:22:51] God saying it's going to come from your line, David. And here's the chart. Here's the history, David. To this person. To this person. To this person. And it just so happens to be Joseph and Mary.
[00:23:01] Both of them in the line of David, both of them happening to go to Bethlehem at the right time. All of a sudden, the genealogy starts to get a little bit interesting. Say. And then there's these guys in chapter two, it says, The visit of the Wise Men. OK, now read this with me here. The story of the wise men often misunderstood, says now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea. OK, now, there it is again. In the days of Herod the King. Too bad those chief priests couldn't have read Matthew Chapter two. Then they would realize how stupid they really work. Can you believe those guys the day they realized how wrong they were? Guys now from Bethlehem. He can't be the Messiah. Tough day when those guys meet Jesus because they wrote him off without investigating. But here it says that Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the King. Behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem. And they say, where is he? Who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.
[00:24:04] Now, wise men from the east coming to Jerusalem became we three kings of Orient are.
[00:24:11] That's the way we traditionally sing. And when you think Orient, you think east, we mean forest. Right. And somehow we picked on the number that there were three of these wise men. I think it's because there were three gifts that they gave to Jesus gold and myrrh and frankincense. But we have this picture of the wise men coming from the east. Well, let's just go back to the Old Testament. Maybe there's an answer in the Old Testament to where these wise men come from and maybe the East isn't the Orient. No, there were people who came from the east and they invaded Jerusalem and they took some of the best and brightest out of Jerusalem and they took them back to their nation of Babylon. A guy named King Nebeker Nasr. You ever heard of this guy Babylon? Definitely to the east of Israel in the area of what we might refer to as I Iraq today. That might be where these guys came from. And one of these guys and we know him, if you study the Bible, if you're familiar with the Old Testament, you might have heard of the name of Daniel. And when he was taken to Babylon, he was brainwashed. They took him to this school in the Palace of the King for three years. And guess what? They made him in that school.
[00:25:23] A wise man is what they made.
[00:25:27] And in Daniel, Chapter nine versus 24 to 27, he actually throws out a prophecy of the timeline of when Jesus would be born.
[00:25:38] And it's a complicated prophecy. We can't get into the whole thing is that's a sermon in and of itself. But if you figure out what the weeks of years that Daniel's talking about, basically he's predicting that from the certain time when the people are allowed to go back to Jerusalem till the time when Jesus comes in to be in Jerusalem is going to be a time of 483 years.
[00:26:01] And it's quite possible that these wise men know this prophecy of Daniel have studied the prophecy of Daniel.
[00:26:08] And the reason they show up at Jerusalem at this time is they are tracking the years of Daniel and they now want to come and see who Daniel prophesied about hundreds of years ago in the Old Testament, as I am.
[00:26:22] Am I the only one who's fascinated by this stuff? There are any other Bible nerds here besides me. I mean, how do you call that how? I mean, are these guys. If that's true, that they're coming from Babylon. Following the prophecy of Daniel. That's amazing. And they show up in Jerusalem where surely they know about the king of Jews in Jerusalem, the capital city of the Jewish nation nation. And they say, hey, where is he? We saw a star. We've come to worship him. Now, look at verse three when here at the king king of Israel, at this time, the king of Jerusalem. At this time, when he heard this, he was troubled in all Jerusalem with him. They didn't want a new king and dissembling the chief priest, the scribes, the bad guys, if you will, of the people. He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. Hey, do you guys know they're saying there's gonna be this king, this anointed one that's gonna be born? Do you know where he's gonna be born? And the chief priest and the scribes know the right answer. They told him it's in Bethlehem of Judea, not too far from here.
[00:27:24] For so it is written by the prophet quoting Micah. Chapter five, verse two. And you o. Bethlehem in the land of Judah are by no means least among the rulers of Judah. For from you shall come a ruler who will be. She will shepherd my people Israel. So here come some guys come in from the east, another nation. They're like, hey, we're on. We're on a search for this king of the Jews. You guys know where he is at?
[00:27:47] Well, Herod's kind of like, whoa, there, I'm looking. And then he's like, hey, religious guys, you know where he's at? Oh, yeah, we got it right here. Microfiber to Bethlehem. That's where he's gonna be.
[00:27:56] And after this conversation, the wise men go to see Jesus and nobody else goes. I mean, you realize what happens. They know the answer. Yeah. He's gonna be born in Bethlehem. Well, here, guys showing up saying we think now's the time we're looking for. Oh, yeah. It'll be Bethlehem. And the wise men go and look for the baby Jesus. While the religious leaders of the day completely missed the point and don't even go looking for him.
[00:28:22] How ironic is that?
[00:28:24] Here's some foreigners come in through there and search for the king and the Jews.
[00:28:29] But the God's own people aren't even interested. They're fine with how it is with the status quo. Don't rock the boat.
[00:28:35] Let's just keep it how it is.
[00:28:37] I mean that right there you have the first in a long line of people who completely miss the point of Jesus the point of Christmas that the one who's been prophesied for hundreds of years has now been born in Bethlehem. And we should all run and behold. O come, let us adore him. But now I know.
[00:28:57] I know that's true. But I'm not really doing anything to seek it out or to celebrate. And if this is real, what we're talking about and I want to say to you that this is the truth, that before it ever happened, God predicted, he prophesied his son was going to be born.
[00:29:13] Then we should all worship God.
[00:29:17] For doing what he's done here.
[00:29:19] How could he how could he know the future before it happened? He must be God and he deserves our worship. I hope that you won't miss out on the story. These are just some of the famous passages about the Christmas story and what an amazing story it is. Now go back to John Chapter seven.
[00:29:37] Because the chief priest, the guys who are just better than Jesus and he can't be the Messiah because he comes from Galilee and we know the Messiah is going to come from Bethlehem. Now, maybe if they had bothered to run down there to Bethlehem and see like the men did, maybe they would have met Joseph and Mary and they would have found out that Jesus was born there. But no, they did not seek it out. They did not get the information. And so they are ignorant. And so they just hate on Jesus and they send people to seize Jesus to arrest him. But the officers come back to them without Jesus. Look at verse 45. The officers then came to the chief priest and Pharisees who said to them, Why did you not bring him? Hey, we sent you to arrest Jesus. You didn't pick him up. There's no handcuffs. He's not here. What's going on? And the officers answered. No one ever spoke like this man.
[00:30:30] OK. We went to him. We were going to arrest him. But we did something before. We just made up our mind about what we thought about Jesus based on what somebody else said about him.
[00:30:39] We actually stopped and we actually listened and we actually gave Jesus a chance to speak for himself.
[00:30:46] And we found out that nobody speaks like this man right here. No one's ever talked like this.
[00:30:52] No one's ever spoken with this level of authority. No one's ever given us this kind of wisdom and insight. No one has ever exposed the secrets of our own hearts like this man right here.
[00:31:03] No one speaks like him, which was offensive, I'm sure, to the chief priest in Pharisees who probably thought they were pretty good speakers themselves say. We live in a world where we have to debate about the debate as to who won the debate. And did anybody, even men, say anything that made sense in the debate? And maybe we should fact check in. Oh, yeah. It turns out they're all lying to us, right. That's the kind of world that we live in. We live in a soundbite world. Does anybody have anything good to say? Who's going to win the debate? Let me just tell you. We need Jesus was speak in these days. No one would have a debate that Jesus one. No one has ever spoke like Jesus did.
[00:31:42] And the men who are sent to arrest him say we can't bring him back. Look at this guy. Nobody speaks like him.
[00:31:50] And I wonder how many people that you and I know and love who don't believe in Jesus, who have decided to live their life not like Jesus is Lord. And they need to obey him. Not like they're in sin. And they need Jesus to save them from their sin. Now they've want decided to live life how they want. I wonder how many of our loved ones have a firsthand experience of Jesus Christ.
[00:32:12] So I know some of us, we're gonna go into Christmas and it's gonna feel kind of like a war zone and we're gonna be like, oh, here I go to Christmas dinner to get persecuted because my family's all gonna hate on me because I'm going to want to talk about Jesus and they don't care. Those pagans, it's Amen to go in there and I'm going to get persecuted. Right. And before we start throwing our family, our loved ones, under the bus, let's just win. Did they read the Bible for themselves?
[00:32:36] When did they come to a church like this and hear the word of God preached before we start throwing the crowd out like the chief priests and Pharisees did? Let's ask ourselves to the people we love. Do our neighbors, to our coworkers. Have they had the privilege that you and I have had to learn straight from the words of Jesus himself?
[00:32:57] I find that so many people these days right now in America, they have second hand information about Jesus.
[00:33:04] Hey, where'd you hear about Jesus? Well, when I was in high school, my history teacher told me a lot about Jesus Christ.
[00:33:09] He didn't really like him. He expressed some very skeptical views about Jesus. Well, where did you hear about Jesus? Well, actually, I watch this stuff on the History Channel one time, and he told me a lot about Jesus Christ.
[00:33:21] I mean, a lot of people, they're getting their information about Jesus from people who are completely missing the point of Jesus. And therefore, they're getting mis information and it's going to mislead them straight to hell, my friends.
[00:33:35] So before we write the world off, what do they know now? Let's consider how have they been able to hear Jesus speak? When was their firsthand experience? Everybody needs an introduction to Jesus Christ. Of course, people don't believe in him. They need to be introduced to him. Who's going to introduce your loved ones to Jesus Christ? This is how we started the Gospel of John.
[00:33:58] Does anybody remember this very simple phrase we kept saying over and over? Come and see anybody. Remember us talking about that? Hey, let's just keep it simple here at this church. Let's just try to do one thing. Let's try to give everybody that we know and love a first hand introduction to Jesus. Well, we try to get them to read the Gospel of John. We try to get them to come to church and hear the gospel of John preached. Of course, people don't believe in him. They haven't been properly introduced. Let's go properly.
[00:34:27] Introduce people to Jesus Christ. Here at this church. How we doing on that?
[00:34:33] I mean, are you regularly, actively praying and searching for opportunities to give more people a firsthand interaction with Jesus Christ? I mean, are you going to go to Christmas gatherings that are gatherings of your family where no one there is going to talk about Jesus Christ and we're just going to act like Christmas is about something else other than Jesus entirely?
[00:34:58] Are we going to just do the giving and the Thanksgiving, the friends and the family, or is somebody in here going to say and the incarnation people?
[00:35:06] I mean, who's gonna be bold?
[00:35:09] I mean, our our savior's name is in the name of the day. Why would we choose to be silent on that day of all days?
[00:35:17] Say we should be bold, we should be speaking up, and we should start saying to people that I want you to hear from me.
[00:35:24] I know you don't believe and I know you hate it when I bring it up. And I know you think religion is all just fake. Well, have you ever actually heard Jesus out for yourself? I'm not talking about what people say about Jesus. I'm talking about. Have you ever read the Bible of Jesus? I have much more respect for a skeptic or a hater who's actually done some investigation into the source material on Jesus than people who have just written him off without really considering him.
[00:35:51] And I'm not going to let anybody that I love, that I know keep live in their life without saying to them, I think you should investigate Jesus and hear from him yourself.
[00:36:02] You need a first hand experience.
[00:36:04] Now go to Luke, Chapter 20. No, I just want you to see that what happened in the day of Jesus here was eventually the Ferris's got tired of this Luke Chapter 20, just a few pages over here in another gospel. Now, this picture we get in our text in John Seven is fascinating because it's like we're let inside the bad guys room. Basically, here's the chief priest, the Pharisees, and John gives us a glimpse to what they're talking about among themselves. And I think the way that John got that information was his source was Nick Demus, who told him later about this conversation. So John actually tells us what the Pharisees were thinking in their kind of controversy and war with Jesus Christ. Now, a lot of the other gospels, the way they tell us about the chief priest and the Pharisees is when they come to challenge Jesus. Eventually, when the when you send men to arrest Jesus and they come back with no Jesus. Eventually you have to go and get Jesus yourself. And that's what the chief priest and the scribes and the Pharisees, the religious leaders, they start to go and challenge Jesus. It's like they sit in their little cave or that a little dark room and they say, OK, how are we going to stump Jesus? It was like the first reality TV show that was ever created was stumped Jesus. Let's ask him a question. He can't answer a question. There is no answer to. Let's trap him. Let's get him in a play on words and let's let everybody see what a fool he really is. And we'll show where the smart guys around here.
[00:37:39] They can. All right. And so one after a time, a scribe, a chief priest, they would come and they would try to stump Jesus episode after episode. They would ask him questions and you can read about it throughout. Matthew, Mark, Luke here. And Luke, they're like, I got him. Let's ask him about.
[00:37:56] About giving taxes to Caesar. And if he says anything bad about Caesar, that'll be insubordination. And then we can turn the Romans against him. And then there'll be some kind of revolutionary we can come down on. So let's stump him with the taxes. Caesar. Question. And Jesus throws out the answer in verse 25 of Luke 20. Hey, why don't you render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God. And here they are. Yes. Let's go stump Jesus. And then he throws that out and they're like, Oh, you silenced.
[00:38:29] He silences the skeptics. Time after time. Every hater. Shut up and look what it says here. This is the verse I want you to see Luke 20, verse 26. And they were not able. The smart people, the liberal elites of the day, they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling in awe at his answer. They became silent. How many people have we heard this story that they went into this book because they wanted to prove once and for all that the Bible was wrong. And it was filled with contradictions. And they're so tired of religious people like us believing in that nonsense of Christmas that I'm going to be the guy to go into the Bible and I'm going to study the Bible and I'm going to disprove it once and for all. What happened to a lot of those people that went to do that? Anybody know what happened to them? They started worshiping Jesus as the one way of salvation. That's what happened to. I mean, you hear that testimony stick around church long enough, you hear that testimony over and over and over, that the skeptic who actually started to engage personally with the source material became a believer in Jesus Christ.
[00:39:41] And you hear people say, oh, well, the Bible is full of contradictions. Have you heard somebody say that before to you? Well, the Bible's full of contradictions.
[00:39:48] I just like to say one thing. Whenever somebody says that to me and I've heard it a lot, my friend, I smile. First thing I always do is I smile and I say, really? And if I have a Bible, I hand it and I really enjoy that. But if I don't, I just smile and I say, just tell me one.
[00:40:03] Can you just show me one of them right now? Well, there's Web sites full of them, yeah. Yeah, I've heard about the Web site. Can you just show me one contradiction in this book right now? Not too many people grab the Bible and open it up and show me a contradiction.
[00:40:18] In fact, usually they kind of end up a backtrack, backtrack, rewind. Right.
[00:40:23] They don't know what they're talking about. Well, I heard there's a Web site out there that completely does look like the Internet is a great source of information. I've heard there's a Web site out there that completely exposes the Bible with all its contradictions. Have you ever checked those Web sites out? There's actually Web sites that go through every one of those contradictions and show how they're not really contradictions at all. Sorry. And fail. All right.
[00:40:45] Stump Jesus. Actually, no. Booyah. Jesus wins again. Again. We're still playing this show, right? One day they had him. They had him this time for sure. We're going to ask him what's the greatest commandment out of all the commandments? How could you pick one of the commandments above the others?
[00:41:02] Oh, busted. Can't wait for this one. Hey, what's the greatest commandment?
[00:41:06] Jesus comes back with, well, the greatest commandments to love the Lord, your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And hey, let me tell you the second one, too, because it's like you should love your neighbor as yourself.
[00:41:15] Boo yah. Silence. They've been trying to shut Jesus down since he was here, and they haven't done it yet. No one speaks like Jesus Christ. And there is power in the words of Jesus.
[00:41:34] The words of eternal life do not give up on your loved ones. Give them a first hand encounter with Christ. Maybe even this Christmas, if you're a part of a Christmas gathering, I think you should make it very awkward and you should read the Christmas story even if people don't want to hear it. That's what I think. I think they need to hear it. I think there's no other way for them to be saved. But to hear the story of Jesus Christ.
[00:42:04] So start bartering with your family members now. We will eat your disgusting meat loaf. We will we will take the fruitcake off of your hands. We will do whatever it is that you want to do to celebrate Christmas. We just make one one humble request.
[00:42:21] Will you come to my church on Christmas Eve? Then we'll go do whatever you want to do. Talk about what you want to talk about.
[00:42:27] But how about you come with me five o'clock this Thursday night to church. That's it. Then we'll do whatever you guys want. I'll bring big gifts and I give good gifts. Right? I mean. Right. Can you barter with your family? Would that work on anybody's family? See what a lot of people have not done.
[00:42:43] They have not sat down and they have not read the Bible and just tried to take it for what it is and considered it. It's amazing to me how many people already know all about the Bible and they haven't really investigated it for themself. Now, I can see that if I handed somebody on the streets today a book that's 66 books Over to Testaments, written over thousands of years by 40 different authors or so, I could see how that might be a little much to handle for our reading capacity these days in America.
[00:43:14] Right. So what we do and I love that the publisher of the English standard version, Crossway. I love that they just print a little version of just the Gospel of John. Have you seen one of those around this church? It's just this little thin paperback. Just the gospel of John.
[00:43:31] And what if for Christmas we started by and people just this little gospel of John in along with our gift?
[00:43:37] I'm not saying this should be the only gift that you give to somebody, but what if you just kind of snuck it in the wrapping paper or you put it in the card and you wrote something like, Hey, all I really want from you this Christmas is to read the Gospel of John.
[00:43:52] I know you hate it, but if you love me, you'll do this for me. Smiley face X X. OK. Merry Christmas. Right. I think you have some relatives that just might fall or something like that. Right. I think you've got some people that you know that if you really tried to, you could use the leverage of your relationship and love for them to strongly urge them to beg with them, to plead with them, to read this book and give it a chance. Let Jesus speak for himself. And by one of these little gospels of John is only one dollar and ninety seven cents. And I went on the Web site and I was trying to figure out how we could do this. And unfortunately, at this point, you to get it there by Christmas. You got to do two day shipping. And that's twenty three. Twenty five for a little one dollar and ninety seven cent book. Twenty three dollars of shipping. So fortunately if we have any left after the first service, we've got a whole box of gospel of John's out there that you can grab if you could take them for free here. If you're going to give them to a loved one and try to get them to interact with a firsthand account of the life of Jesus Christ, go back to John Chapter seven with me and look at what Nicodemus says.
[00:45:07] See if his words don't make sense. See if this is a kind of logic. It may not work on everyone, but clearly a kind of logic that we could try with everyone that, hey, shouldn't you at least listen to Jesus? Shouldn't you at least hear Jesus out before you write him off? Look what it says here in verse 50, Nicodemus, who had gone to him before. More on that in a minute. And he was one of them. A ruler of Israel said to them, does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does? And then they said, hey, are you from Galilee? And they and they write him off. They reject him. But I think the logic that Nicodemus presents there is something that you and I can use with our loved ones this Christmas. Hey, if you're gonna say you don't believe in Jesus, don't you think you should at least give him the benefit of the doubt of hearing him out? I mean, even in the courts here in America, right. Isn't someone innocent until they are proven guilty? Shouldn't we at least hear the case for Christ before we just go ahead and just say dismiss it and say we're not interested on a strongly encourage you to be bold with that kind of reasoning with your loved ones to invite them to Christmas Eve service on Thursday night, where we're going to preach that Jesus is the light of the world and whoever follows him will not walk in darkness but have the light of life. I mean, that's a firsthand encounter with the words and claims of Jesus Christ himself. Or maybe you could read the Christmas story to them. Maybe you could try to get them to read the Gospel of John and talk it through with them. But this is our time. This is our season. We need to make sure that we keep the focus on Christ this Christmas. Now, the great thing about Nicodemus is he actually had the integrity to do what he suggests here. Go back to John, Chapter three. Everybody turn back there with me in case you missed it. When we talked about it earlier in the Gospel of John, it was our night that we did on a Wednesday night. Jesus Saves. And we looked at how Nicodemus, a Pharisee, came to Jesus. And he came by night maybe because he didn't want everybody to know that he was actually talking to Jesus or Vestine gating, that maybe he was so proud and so superior that he didn't want people to think that he was actually interested in Jesus. But he did investigate Jesus read about about it with me. John, chapter three, verse one. Now, there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. And this man came to Jesus by night and said to him, Rabbi, we know you are a teacher from God. There's something going on with you, Jesus. I can't deny it. The miracles, the teachings. No one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him. So here's a man who is a religious leader, a proud man involved in a in a group of corrupt leaders.
[00:48:07] And he humbles himself to the point of I'm going to go and find out what this Jesus guy is all about. Let's all be praying that our loved ones will do that at Christmas this time of year.
[00:48:19] And Jesus says to him, something that shocks Nicodemus, something that changes his life for ever. Jesus answered him truly, truly. I say to you. Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. In one statement, Jesus turn's Nicodemus is world. And he flips it upside down and he says, Nicodemus, you're doing it all wrong.
[00:48:43] You're trying to get it all right. On the outside. And you need a whole new life. You need to be born again. Or another way you could say it is born from above. You need a new life inside of you, Nicodemus. You can be as good of a person as you want on the outside. You can be goody two shoes, but it won't save you from your sin. You need a new life. You need to be born again.
[00:49:07] And Nicodemus, who is a man who studied the scriptures, who is a leader of God's people, he doesn't understand it.
[00:49:15] He can't get it.
[00:49:17] Many any you can see by his response here, that confusion, Nicodemus said to him, how can a man be born when he is old, which I think is a way to say, how could I change my life now when I'm so set in my ways? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born and Jesus from there begins to explain to him what it means to be born again. It means to be born of water. And the spirit Jesus is referring to a Xiqing 36, which he expects Nicodemus to know that you get cleansed from your sin.
[00:49:49] Not like you're trying to clean up your act on the outside. Now you get cleansed from your sin on the inside and the spirit of the living God comes to andwell. You like rivers of living water flowing out of your heart and you have this rebirth. We call it regeneration or salvation where you get a new life inside of you.
[00:50:10] That's what Nicodemus needs. That's what every single person needs. And here's Jesus from his own words, saying that to him and Nicodemus. His response looked down at verse nine. Nicodemus, he's blown away. He doesn't know what to think. How can these things be? He says.
[00:50:26] And Jesus answered him. Are you the teacher of Israel and you don't understand these things? And you're supposed to be leading the people of God and you don't even know what I'm talking about. And eventually Jesus says something that's been spread around pretty good. Maybe you've heard it before. Great Christmas passage. John, chapter three. Verse 16. For God so loved the world, Nicodemus, that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
[00:50:57] God so loved the Christians. Is that what it says right there?
[00:51:01] God so loved the people who already believe. Is that what it says right there? Who did God love? Everybody.
[00:51:06] Hey, is it Merry Christmas to all or is it just Merry Christmas for those of us who believe in Christmas?
[00:51:12] See, it's Merry Christmas for all people. It's good news of great joy for all people. And the problem with our nation right now and the day and age that you and I are alive is people aren't here. And the good news, the Christian people are keeping it to themselves out of fear of what the world might think of us when they're the people that God loves so much to send his son for. See sinners like us. Everybody here at some point in your life, you didn't believe in Jesus. Can I get any men on that from anybody? And then what? Did you have a firsthand experience with Jesus Christ? Nobody ever gets saved by a second hand experience. You got to interact with Jesus on your own. You got to hear his own words. I mean, when Jesus makes you born again, this is what we should get so excited about, when Jesus makes you born again. Your life is brand new. From that point on, you're no longer yourself.
[00:52:07] In fact, we look at your life like you had an old life, but then you became a new creation in Christ. And behold, the old his gone and the new has come.
[00:52:16] Does that happen to anybody in this room right now where there was an old way that you used to live and then you had that first hand encounter with Christ and boom, you're live in a new way. It's like you got born again. And the reason that we celebrate Christmas this time every year, it's because the birth of Jesus is the only way that anybody here will ever have been born again.
[00:52:39] Let's get that down for point number two. We celebrate Christ because his birthday makes your birthday possible.
[00:52:47] The birth is just the beginning. The baby in the manger is just the start of the good news. The great story that he would live. And here's why he had to be born as a baby and why he didn't die till he was a man 33 years old is because he had to that entire time live a perfect life.
[00:53:05] That was the point of Jesus Christ life. He didn't just come down from heaven. Die one day and then go right back up. No.
[00:53:11] For 33 years, he lived as a man and he encountered all the same temptations and all the same challenges and trials and tribulations that we all do in life. That temptation to talk back to your parents. That temptation to lie. That temptation to just make yourself look a little better than the facts actually are. And he endured every temptation without sin.
[00:53:34] And he lived a righteous life. See, there's a standard of holiness that God has. See, God doesn't care about people being good. That's that's what we say. But the Bible says, no, no one's good in what it means by that is no one is perfect.
[00:53:47] All of us have fallen short of the glory of God except for one man who ever lived. And that's why we celebrate his birthday, because he lived a perfect life and he wants to have a gift exchange with you. If you're not saved, Jesus wants to have a gift exchange with you this Christmas. And here's what he offers you. One hundred percent righteousness is what he wants to give you.
[00:54:06] He wants to give you his perfect record. He wants when you stand before God for God to not see you in your sin. He wants God to see you. One hundred percent holy and righteous, like his own son, Jesus Christ. And here's what Jesus wants in exchange at this little white elephant gift exchange that Jesus is set up. He's ready to give you one hundred percent righteousness. That's a gift worth stealing. Here's what he wants from you.
[00:54:33] Your sin. That's what you've got to give to. I mean, how is that not the best news that anybody's ever heard?
[00:54:39] Wait, you're telling me that if I just confessed my sin and admit to Jesus Christ that I've fallen short of God's standard for my life, and if I'm willing to leave that sin behind and I come and ask Jesus for a new life, he will take and pay for my sin on that cross. He will have paid for it in full and he will give me 100 percent his righteousness. That's the gift that Jesus wants to give me.
[00:55:05] That's exactly what we're saying here. Is that good news to anybody here at this church? I mean, that's a trade worth doing right there. That's a gift exchange worth being a. That's what Jesus is offering.
[00:55:15] He's saying I the life that you were born into is not going to work for you. You were born into this world. One way you need to leave this world a different way. You need to be born again. You need to get righteousness on your account and not sin on your account before God.
[00:55:32] Now turn to First Corinthians, Chapter six, and you'll see here a passage that I think really describes this well, that there are all kinds of people that are here at this church. And we talked about this tonight. If you if you were here the night that we started our Jesus Saves series, we got really into this that I know people at this church that are all kinds of different people, at least in their old life, they would have labeled themselves all kinds of different ways.
[00:55:58] I've had people tell me at this church that they used to be addicted to drugs and that's how they would define their old lifestyle was a drug lifestyle. That's what it was about. And people tell me that before they met Christ, they were alcoholics, that drinking was really their their their lifestyle, their course. We have people at this church who were criminals at one time in their life. We have people who identified themselves as homosexuals who attend this church.
[00:56:27] And now what they say universally, no matter what kind of person they were before, and maybe the worst of them all is the person who's like you. I was one of the good people.
[00:56:36] I was the church person. And I was the one looking down on all you drunken druggies. And I was thinking I was so much better than you. That's what I was thinking. That's my old life, and now they would say it's like I have a new life. It's like I've been born again because that scene no longer defines me anymore. Jesus Christ now defines my life.
[00:56:58] And you see that here in First Corinthians six, nine to eleven after it lists all kinds of different sins that defines people's lifestyle. It says in verse eleven and such were some of you. All of us were born into sin. Doesn't matter what sin it was, we were all born that way. But you were washed. You were sanctified. You were justified, declared 100 percent righteous in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the spirit of our God man. Because Jesus was born on Christmas, you can be born again.
[00:57:28] That's the good news we've got to offer the world. And I hope that when the time comes, you will not just do what the world's doing and try to blend in and try to BPC and try to just move past Christmas without creating any controversy, without raising any ruckus.
[00:57:45] Let's just keep it friendly with the family as we all kind of ignore the reality that this is supposed to be about Jesus Christ. I hope you'll be one of the people who's so bold that you will be a regear after this Christmas. Ori gifter. We've all been given the greatest gift. There is nothing that we could give our loved ones that is better than the good news of Jesus Christ. They can be born again. Anybody with me on that? Well, let's go give it to people. Let's leave here today and let's start a whole new gift list. Yeah, maybe we figured out. And I hope at this point, because you only got five shopping days left. My friends and belet terrorist crazy. I hope that at this point you have some kind of give this some kind of strategy, some kind of Amazon wish list of what you're getting everybody. Hopefully a hit click on that a while ago. Right. Maybe we need to new and do a new gift list as we get ready for Christmas.
[00:58:33] How are all my loved ones going to get a first hand experience with Jesus this Christmas?
[00:58:38] How can I take it to.
[00:58:40] And won't it be tragic if people you and I love, people that are our family, people that we celebrate these special times of the year with? Wouldn't it be sad for them to someday meet Jesus and never have had a firsthand encounter with him before that? Because we were afraid to be bold enough at Christmas and speak up in the name of Jesus.
[00:59:02] And I hope that this Christmas we will go tell it on a mountain, the good news that there has been born a savior who is Christ the Lord. Let me pray. We thank you so much for this passage. Not a Christmas passage of what we would think, but here we see people arguing about where Jesus was born. And the truth is, they don't know the truth. And they're just basing it on where he came from or what they think about him or what they heard somebody else said about him. And they don't get into the source material of the scriptures. They don't let Jesus speak for himself. Such a massive controversy could have been cleared up with just the simple idea that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, just like you prophesied about 700 years beforehand through Majka through. When you spoke to David a thousand years beforehand, causing Caesar to go and make that census so that those two descendants of David, Joseph and Mary and she was great with child would be in Bethlehem when the time had come. Now we worship you for the miracle that is Christmas, for the sovereignty that you show and having your son born at that place in that time. God, it's tragic to us that people we know are going to miss Jesus celebrating him this Christmas and they're not even going to give him the benefit of the doubt to hear him out or to or to learn from him or to see what he has to say. God use us to be the messengers this Christmas to take this good news to our loved ones and God, we pray that people will come to this church on Thursday night. We pray that people will read these gospel of John's. We pray that people will read the Christmas story together as they celebrate Christmas and that people will come to see that Jesus really is their savior, their lord, that he is the God who was born as a man. And we give him the glory and we say that there is no other name but Jesus by which we can be saved. And we pray this according to his name. A man.
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