Holding On To Christmas (Message following our Senior Adult Musical by the same name)
Folks, I’ve got to tell you, it’s a nice sentiment, and I understand what Marty Parks is talking about (Senior Adult Musical), but sometimes it just seems that it is impossible to hold on to Christmas any more than you can hold on to light or life. It just kind of slips right through our fingers, and the harder we try to hold on, the faster it just slides right on out. We talk about it every year, don’t we? Let’s hold on to Christmas. Let’s live it out every day, and we can hold on to the memories for a little while, but then something happens. It’s almost easier to hold onto the fondest memories of our childhood. As I listened to this music this week, I couldn’t help but think about:
But as the years go by, even those precious memories fade. Every now and then, a certain smell will take you back to that special moment, but those come fewer and farther between. So how is it possible to hold on to Christmas? It just may not be, but what if I were to tell you that Christmas could hold on to you? That even though you can’t hold on to life, that Life can hold on to you? That even though you can’t hold on to light, that Light can hold on to you? That this is the very reason that Christmas came to Earth.
Look with me at the most dramatic of all of the Christmas narratives in the gospels. Every time I read it, I imagine dramatic music playing in the background. The sound of the tympani swelling dramatically. Pregnant pauses at just the right places. I hope that you can imagine just such music as I read these verses to you this morning. (Read John 1:1-14). Did you hear it?
Isn’t it amazing that in John’s version there are no angels, no shepherds, no wise men, or stars shining in the East? There is only the pre-incarnate Christ, and that is more than enough. There is only Jesus, in heaven, from before time began, waiting to come into the world as the Word of God. And before I go any further, let me give you a word about the word, Word – LOGOS in the Greek. The Jews thought about the Word of God as having power. The truth is, for the Jews, all words had power, but this particular Word was the power of Creation. The Gentiles, on the other hand, looked at the LOGOS more philosophically, but they still considered the Word as the way that they connected with whatever they considered to be God. So John grabbed both ideas and combined them – the Logos, the Word – the power of Creation connecting them with God — that which became flesh was the very expression of the Creative Power of God who would bring Life and Light to man.
Now why is that so important. Because Jesus’ purpose in coming, His purpose in bringing Christmas, His purpose in Christmas taking hold of us is to bring Life to the world. In Genesis, before the Word was spoken, there was no life. Only darkness and void. Nothingness. Then the Word of God came forth and life came into existence. Physical life, yes. But today, my friends, Christmas is about God wanting to fill the darkness and the void of empty hearts with the spiritual life that comes from knowing the baby born in the stable that first Christmas morning.
Do you know the interesting thing is that every Jewish man, woman, boy, and girl was praying for, looking for, and hoping for the Messiah to come? They were desperate. Their lives were miserable under the oppression of the Romans. They had not had a prophetic word from God for 400 years, but they knew the prophecies:
Numbers 24:17 (NKJV)
17 “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob.
2 Samuel 7:16-17 (NKJV)
16 And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.” ‘ ”
17 According to all these words and according to all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David.
Isaiah 11:1 (NKJV)
1 There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
Isaiah 7:14 (NKJV)
14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
Hosea 11:1 (NKJV)
1 “When Israel was a child, I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son.
Micah 5:2 (NKJV)
2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”
The Messiah would come from Bethlehem, from the house and lineage of David. They understood all the prophecies, and when it happened right under their noses, only a handful of people recognized the significance of the miracle – some shepherds, Anna, Simeon, the Wise Men. How sad that the one who came to give them Life, the Life-giver, was unknown by His own people.
But His purpose was not just to bring Life into the world. Jesus came to bring Light into the world as well. Look again at vv. 4-9. Isn’t light amazing? Did you know that if you take crayons of every different color and add them together, you would come up with – what color? Black. That is correct. But if you take every different color of light and bring it together, you would come up with what color? White. That is correct. Add to that the fact that just a tiny flame can dispel the deepest darkness, and you have the miracle of Light. John says in these verses that the Life that came into the world was the Light of men. I think it is very significant and it is important that we understand that the first act of creation is God speaking the words, “Let there be light” because darkness is the enemy of life, and it has been overcome. The moment that light came into the world, it flooded the darkness. When you go back to the first chapter of Genesis, God called the light good. Did you notice that? He doesn’t call the darkness good. Only the light. And then, He had to divide the Light from the darkness so that we could have night because when light enters the picture, darkness disappears.
What is true in the physical realm is also true in the spiritual realm. When the Light of Christmas takes hold of our lives, spiritual darkness is forced to flee. They cannot coexist in the same life at all. That is the miracle of Christmas. I want you to look at something for just a minute. Turn to John 8:12. This is the verse right after the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery. You remember the story, don’t you? When the Pharisees brought the naked woman before Jesus, He stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, then He said, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” Then he stooped and wrote some more. They all dropped their stones and walked away. Then he asked the woman, “Where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord?” He responded, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” But then look at v. 12. John 8:12 (NKJV)
12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
Do you see it? Darkness is very real in Scripture. It’s the world of men and women who do not know Jesus Christ, the world of those who walk in ignorance, stumbling around searching for something to fill the void, the emptiness, the nothingness that life holds for them. For some, it’s a world of sexual immorality. For others, it’s a world of religious rules and regulations where they hope their good deeds will earn them a way to heaven. But for both, it’s a place where evil deeds are done by men, and that’s why men hate the light – because it reveals their sin nature so they fight against the Light of God’s Love, but they cannot overcome it.
Look at what Jesus says in v. 12. “He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” It really is that simple. Just to follow the path of the Baby Born in Bethlehem. It’s not an easy path because it leads to the Christ Crucified at Calvary. But the promise is true. To all who receive the Christ child, who believe that He died on Calvary’s Cross for their sins, was buried but on the third day rose again from the grave, to all who claim the shed blood as the price for the forgiveness of their sins and proclaim Him Lord of their lives, to those who believe on His name, to them He gives the right to become the children of God.
And just maybe as Christmas holds on to you, you might just be able to hold on to Christmas this year.