Sermon December 25, 2016: The gift of Christmas - Glory, Peace and Joy for all the world

Posted in Sermons
[Dr. Roberto Miranda (right) with Gregory Bishop]
  • Presenter: Dr. Roberto Miranda
  • Date: December 25, 2016
  • Location: Congregación León de Judá, Boston MA

We are gonna turn to the Word of God now, we are going to look at a couple different texts from the Scriptures, first of all we are going to look at Isaiah chapter 9 verse 1 to 7, and then we will take a look at the Gospel of Luke chapter 2: “Nevertheless there will be no more gloom for those who are in distress, in the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Napthali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan”

2: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”

3: “You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder”

4: “For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.”

5: “Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be fuel for the fire.”

So we see in the prophecy we just read now a series of prophecies for humanity, promises that God is making that He will fulfill one day, and now we are going to get to the punch line that makes it all possible.

6: “For onto us a child is born, for to us a child is given and the governments will be on his shoulders”

7: “and he will be called wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, prince of peace.”

8: “Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end, he will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness;”

9: “from that time on and forever, the seal of the Lord almighty will accomplish this”

And now we are going to go forward to the chapter of Luke chapter 2 and I want you to notice the parallels, the way God has fulfilled promises that He made thousands of years earlier to the prophet Isaiah how they come true specifically in the birth of Christ.

Luke 2:8 to 10: “And there were sheperds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.” 9: “An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.” 10: “But the angel said to them: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” 11: “Today in the town a David a savior has been born to you, he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

Luke 2:12 to 14: “Then this will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger,” 13: “and then suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel praising God and saying,” 14: “glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace to those on who his favor rests.”

Luke 2:15: “When the angels had left them and gione into heaven, the sheperds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

And we see in these two passages written hundreds of years apart that they have the same message and the teachings, the specific details of the prophecy of what would happen with the birth of the Messiah, and these kinds of parallels just help me understand and believe all the more the historical authenticity of what we are reading when we read about the birth of Jesus.

It’s just amazing to see that the way things happen, the narrative about how Jesus is born so clearly fulfill what was prophetized hundreds of years earlier, it just seems so natural, it is just telling what happened but it’s clearly what God had promised would happen.

And there is a passage that speaks to us about the divinity of our Lord Jesus, both passages are talking about the birth of a baby but not just any baby, a baby that would have universal worldwide impact, and we see that promises are then fulfilled, and when this baby is born there would be effects, there would be an impact over the human race; we see wonder and amazement, we see a calling to the concept of peace. We see both passages talking about light that invades and pierces the darkness.

We see both passages talking about joy that will come to the heart of an humanity that is burdened in gloom and darkness, we see in both passages the prophecy that this son, this child just born, even though He is the son of David, His impact will be way beyond what everyone thinks, He will impact the whole world.

And we see in both passages this little baby, this fragile little human being is somehow at the same time God incarnated, how shocking and scandalous it all is that in a culture, the hebrew worship of Yahweh the Lord, that He is one, that He is the creator God, to see in that belief that one God that He would become incarnated in one being is an absolutely scandalous idea and is both in the prophecy of Isaiah and also in the narrative of what happened when Jesus was born in the Gospel of Luke.

Let me boil this down to five different points that I believe God is revealing in these passages.

Pastor Roberto: Now we see this idea that this Christ, this Messiah, this sent one is God, number one, but we see God through Christ who we know as Jesus manifested in these five different qualities of God, we see a glorious God, number one, He is a God of glory, then we see a God of peace as well, and thirdly we see a God of joy, fourthly we see a personal God, and finally we see an universal God. So a God of glory, a God of peace, a God of joy, a personal God and a God of universal accessibility.

So let’s take the first one, this glorious God who is awesome and all inspiring. In Luke’s text we see this glory that invades the darkness that these sheperds were surrounded by, the mystery and the wild where they are, the mountains, all of a sudden the shekinah, the glory of God invades this darkness and floods the entire surrounding accompanied by voices and praises of angels as well, and these sheperds would be invited later on to go to where this child is born and to worship him as well as the magicians who come from far away, also they will worship this God and there is no corrective, the Scripture doesn’t say: no it’s not appropriate to worship him because you only worship God as jewish theology would dictate, no, this child receives worship as only God could in the theology of the Old Testament.

You know, Isaiah is even more direct in aluding this glory of God, the awesomeness of this newborn baby, he’s fixed about this child being wonderful, and we know from the original hebrew that the word that is used admirable, marvelous is a word that is applied to God, so for example in the narrative of the father of Gedeon and Samson, this has specific meaning for a good jewish reader of this, because in the Old Testament when the angel of the Lord appeared to Samson and it was God appearing to these people they ask them: what’s your name, what should we call you? and he says: my name is wonderful.

And we see this concept of God’s glorous shinning in darkness, the prophecy of Isaiah says: “the people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” and we see that happens with the sheperds, the glorious light of God pierces forth into the darkness of this world.

I wanna dwell in that glory, in the glorious light of God’s face shinning on me because when God’s glorious smile is upon me and upon His people I know that when He makes a promise He’ll see to it that He fulfills it.

The Word of God is not just a theological concept, it is a personal expression of His smile upon humanity and that glory is with us as a Church, Jesus when He was risen from the dead and He was sent to His Father He said: all authority in heaven and in earth has been given to me, that’s the glory of God. All of that glory, all of that authority from the heavenly dimension is given to Jesus, He now imparts it to His people and says: go, therefore and make disciples of all nations. Wonderful, wonderful God, the God that shines on us, the God that shines through us whatever challenge we might face.

The second quality of this glorious God is that He is a God of peace. Throughout the Bible wherever the shekinah, the glory of God or an angel appears to a person, whether it be a prophet or whoever that God appears to the reaction is that the person is terrified because they are seeing a manifestation from the other side, from the heavenly dimension, it’s a scary thing.

In the middle of that fear, that anxiety the angels say some words that would stay with these sheperds: fear not. The Apostle Peter experiences the miraculous catch of fish and he knew that this Jesus was not just anybody, but He is the Son of God so he was terrified and again we her those words: fear not.

The glory of God will rock your world and cause fear and anxiety sometimes but along with that glory of God is a peace that passes all understanding and helps us to rest in Him. It says this in the prophecy at the start of Isaiah chapter 9: “But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish”.

Our God is our counselor, it’s good to know that, He has come to put an end to the wars and violence that is all destined to pass away, He is the prince of peace. “Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire” no more war, we are still waiting for it to be fulfilled that one day He will rule over the entire world and it will be a reign of peace.

It says that: “the extension of His Kingdom and of His peace, there will be no end” we are gonna see that there are no limits to how far the peace of God can change this world, not just stopping wars between nations but extending into human hearts that are anxious and helping us to be in peace and rest in Him.

Jesus is our reconciliation, He brings peace between men and women, between people, peace in families and in homes, our God is the prince of peace, the fruit of the Gospel is peace that is eternal life and is abundant. Romans 5 says: “justified by faith we now have peace in God and our Lord Jesus Christ” and I hope we can remember this Christmas that our God is the God of peace even in the middle of storms that we may be going through in our lives.

One of the most evocative and graphic illustrations of this Jesus who is peace in the middle of the storm is literally Jesus sleeping in the middle of the storm on the boat with a storm raging around him, His disciples are scared to death because they think they are going to drown, but Jesus is at peace because He is in control, as long as He is within that boat that boat can’t sink.

You know, God doesn’t ask us to ignore the storm around us, God doesn’t ask us to put our head in the sand and pretend no, I don’t have any problems, I don’t have any needs, I don’t have any additional things that I need to do in our lives to become better and better, He doesn’t ask us to be artificially innocent but He does ask us that even as we go through all these crisis in life He has good intentions for our life, He is in control and He will bring the storms into a stage of peace as He did with that storm, Jesus is using all of our storms to make us stronger, to make us better, and in this time He brings peace and brings reconciliation into our hearts as well.

In this crisis keep your eyes on that Jesus no matter what is going on around, He is the one that is with you through the storm, don’t take your eyes off Jesus and then look at the storm, keep your eyes on Jesus so even while the storm rages you will walk on the waters.

So we have this glorious God, we have this God of peace, and we also have a God of joice, not just peace, He is also joice, yeah. God doesn’t invite us just to drink juice, He invites you to drink soda, something effervescent, something that will just bubble up within us, you know, with the joy of the Spirit.

“Who believes in me rivers of water will flow from his inmost being”. You know I love these images of effervescence, of things that jump within you, you know the baby, Joan the Baptist, when he was in his mother’s womb, when he discerned that the savior was also in the room he jumped in joy at the fact that you know, his savior was there accompanying him as well.

What do the angels say? “I bring you good tidings of great joy for all the people” not just joy but overflowing, super abundant joy. With these people in the middle, these sheperds in the middle of the night going through their business sometime they knew that a new era had dawned, that they were no longer excluded, no longer forgotten, no longer just threading through life, that everything in the world had just changed because of this baby.

Isaiah 9:3 says: “You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder.”

A nation that grows and that is abundant, it is prospering and the people are multiplying, a harvest after a long struggle, God has come through once again and you are collecting and bringing all that food into the barn and celebrating, warriors after a tremendous battle on the other side they know that they have the victory in them dividing the plunder, that’s kind of a dark image for Christmas, but we can celebrate that our king has conquered the evil one and He forever will be victorious, and we can share and divide the spiritual spoils that He gives to us.

Apostle John says that: “For this reason the Son of man has manifested that He might destroy the works of the evil one”. And I wanna say this and this is so important, that joy is a decision, I challenge you this Christmas to make a decision, to say: no matter what, no matter how I know that my redeemer lives and I will choose to rejoice this Christmas because Jesus has come, make that decision and that is the strongest thing you can do.

We are celebrating the birth of a God of glory, a God of peace, a God of joy and now a God that is universal. Jesus had a big vision, this little baby wasn’t worth just for Israel, He says: “When I group up my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations”. No matter who you are, no matter where you come from, male, female, rich, poor, whatever country, whatever language, Jesus was born for you, for the youth and the elderly, he was born for the intellectuals and the people who haven’t had much schooling, when Jesus came He healed everybody that He touched.

Jesus came and He healed men and women, He touched little children, He raised young people even from the dead who would die, even people who were outcasts in society, at that time women marginalized made no difference to Jesus, He healed everybody that God brought to Him.

Jesus healed the syrophoenician woman, Jesus brought up a conversation with the samaritan woman who in the end became one of the first great evangelists who shared the Gospel with the whole region, and that’s the beauty of this message for the sheperds, that this good news will be for all humanity. The angels declared peace on Earth and good will for those on which God’s favor rests.

In the beginning of Isaiah it says that God will appear by the way of the sea in Galilee of the nations beyond the Jordan, that’s where the gentiles live, experts debate on what Isaiah wanted to say there, and the Old Testament puts emphasis in that Jesus’ purpose was for all nations.

You think of these wisemen that came from so far away, they weren’t jewish, they were coming from other nations, they were looking at the stars and just trying to sense what God would be revealing, and they came to worship Jesus and to recognize that He is the Lord of lords.

Let’s remember this Christmas that this Jesus came to save everybody, there is no one outside of His reach to come to Him, let’s make a commitment to live out that principle in Christmas, this Church to be a house for all nations, that’s why Jesus came.

It’s too small of a thing but this Church isn’t called to be just latin, it’s called to be more than latina, more than african american, more than asian american, that every nation under heaven comes and worships the Lord in this place.

In this New Year we renew our commitment to Jesus, our call that we have from Him, that we have a place where everyone can come from different nations, races, ethnicities and different social-economic situations, and we’ve seen that before us today, people from many different nations: korean, japanese american, latinos, all different types of styles honoring that king of glory who is born that we celebrate this day.

And we know that being a Church, to fulfill that mission is gonna be some discomfort, right? we are going to be out of our comfort zone in many different ways, and God is going to help us figure this out as we go along, amen? we are going to figure out what it means to fulfill this universal mission of the Gospel and we are gonna learn from God, and get out of our comfort zone, and little by little we are growing to be that Church that God wants us to be.

I love this verse the way it’s phrased in Isaiah 6 verse 9: “For to us a child is born” and not just any child, this is not just abstract or impersonal, this is a child born to us in our household, in our family, that possessive “my Jesus”.

It’s the exact same terminology used in the book of Luke and I think God is speaking that Word to the sheperds, “for onto you a savior is born in the house of David”, not just born, born to you, that’s intentional. What other philosophy could have cooked this up: a God that is transcended, who is awesome, who is awesome, who is majestic, the glorious God over the whole universe who makes Himself a little baby and small enough to dwell in the human heart, utterly majestic and universal but also intensely personal at the same time.

And that’s the thought I want us to leave with today, that awesome, glorious, majestic God who is also the God of peace and your personal savior who is born to you, who understands you and knows what you are going through, what an awesome privilege, what a thing to celebrate on Christmas.

This personal God, because He became human He understands us as human beings, all the complexity, the struggles and the temptations He understands them, He understands what we are going through.

Amen, “therefore brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the most holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain that is His body and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience, and having our bodies washed with pure water.

We will also read in Hebrews 4:15: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way just as we have, yet he did not sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”.

I’d like to invite you, let’s just pray in this time, lower your head and meditate on this God, this God of glory, this God of peace, this God of joy, this awesome universal God that is at the same time personal and reaches out to you, meditate on that. If you have not yet received the savior yet today is the day to do that, it’s Christmas, it’s the day to invite Jesus, let Him be born in your heart.

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