Printable PDF: 12-24-2020 Christmas Eve Sermon
Pastor Jacobson ~ December 24, 2020 ~ Romans 8:32
32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
THE GREATEST GIFT
Two years ago, on Christmas morning, a 7-year-old boy living in Canada called 9-1-1. The reason that boy called 9-1-1 is because he opened a Christmas gift and it was snow pants. Evidently the 7-year-old boy wasn’t happy about receiving snow pants for Christmas and thought someone else in authority should know what an unpleasant experience this was for him. Obviously, none of you 7-year-olds or any-year-olds should call 9-1-1 because you are disappointed in a gift you have received, but I think we can all relate to that 7-year-old boy. It’s been a disappointing year. So many things canceled. So many things were not what we wanted or expected. Even on this Christmas Eve night, it’s kind of hard not to be disappointed like that 7-year-old boy.
I wonder if disappointment is a word that could be used with the first Christmas. There was so much promise leading up to that first Christmas. We heard some of those promises in our Bible readings tonight. In Genesis 3 Jesus was described as the Head-Crusher of Satan. In Isaiah 11 Jesus is the Great Restorer of Israel. In Micah 5 Jesus has Ends-of-the-Earth Greatness. What promise! But had someone peeked into the stable that night and seen a tiny baby with two poor parents, they might very well have thought to themselves like that 7-year-old boy, “That’s it? How disappointing.” On this particular Christmas, a Christmas many will look back on as disappointing, let’s look at the manger through the lens of Romans 8:32. Even in a disappointing year we have nothing about which to be disappointed. This child is the greatest gift – a testimony of God’s love and an assurance of God’s promises.
- A testimony of God’s love
The angels saw the baby for who He was. The baby in the manger was God’s Son from all eternity. Think of all the experiences God the Father and God the Son shared. They worked side-by-side creating the world. Then they went through the world-wide flood together. They went through the days of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, promising them a great nation. They served that nation together as they rescued God’s people from slavery in Egypt. Together they received honor and glory from the Psalms of King David and the worshippers in Solomon’s temple. With all these shared experiences, imagine how close the Father and the Son were. And yet, the Father did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all.
It used to be a Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary tradition that the professors would share their “Most Memorable Christmas” stories with the students. At one of those gatherings Professor Siegbert Becker shared a heartbreaking story about his newborn son. On his baby’s first Christmas morning, Professor picked up his son only to find that his son had died. Professor Becker shared this story with his students not to make them feel sad or weird, but to make this point, “It was then that I knew how much God loved me, that he was willing to give up his Son for me.”
The baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger is the greatest gift – a testimony of God’s love. He was born for us. He died for us. Between those two events, he lived for us. He experienced all our hardships and disappointments, but not in the same way that we do when we so easily and repeatedly break God’s holy will for our lives and then fear his eternal punishment. Instead the sinless Son of God shouldered the sins of a broken world and suffered hell in order to become the only way to a better world, a heavenly world. Even in a disappointing year, we have nothing to be disappointed about this Christmas. We have the greatest gift – God’s Son – a testimony of God’s love and an assurance of God’s promises.
- An assurance of God’s promises
Next year in 2021, Lord-willing, we will get the 2020 Olympics. Some of those events are decided by the stopwatch. Other events are decided by degree of difficulty. Yes, the top gymnasts may all stick the landing and the top divers might not make a single splash, but who had the greater degree of difficulty? The triple back flip twister has a higher degree of difficulty than a single summersault in the air. When Paul writes Romans 8:32 he writes about two events with different degrees of difficulty. Not sparing his own Son from coming into our world had the higher degree of difficulty. Giving us all things through Jesus has a much lower degree of difficulty. Giving us all things is like an Olympic gymnast doing a summersault.
Because of Christmas, you can be sure God will send his angels to guard you (Psalm 91). Because of Christmas, you can be sure God will be with you wherever you go (Joshua 1). Because of Christmas, you can be sure God will work out all things, including this Covid Christmas, for your good and that nothing can separate you from his love (Romans 8). Because of Christmas, Jesus will come back for us and take us to be with him in heaven (John 14). You may have lost a dearly loved believer this year, but in the manger is the baby who will take you to see your lost one in heaven. You may be hurting for money this year, but in the manger is the baby who owns heaven and earth and he is by your side and your help in every need. You may be nervous about your future, but in the manger is a baby who came for you and will never leave you nor forsake you.
Look in the manger. Humanly speaking, the Gift looks small and fragile, and maybe even disappointing. You might even ask, “That’s it?” But look again in the manger through the lens of Romans 8:32 and you will say, “That’s it! That’s the Gift I need. God loves me. God forgives me and God takes care of me. That’s the Greatest Gift and I have it in the baby lying in a manger. Amen.