Because He Did, We Do
December 24, 2019
By John Partridge*
Scripture: Isaiah 9:2-7 Titus 2:11-14 Luke 2:1-20
In case you somehow didn’t notice, this is Christmas Eve. But so, what? Why do we come together and retell the story every year? Why does it matter? Why do events that happened more than two thousand years ago matter to us in the twenty-first century at all? I mean, isn’t it just a nice story that we tell children? Why should a bedtime story be so important?
But it does matter. And yes, it does matter to adults and children alike. And what’s more, not only is it worth repeating, and not only is it foundational to our faith, this story demands something from us. Because we are the people who walked in darkness and saw a great light. We are the people to whom a child has been born. We are the people who have been rescued, by him, from sin and death. We are the people who have been put under his authority, and when we accepted Jesus as our rescuer and savior, we chose to follow him and obey his commands.
So, what is it that Jesus requires of us?
We all know that’s not a simple question. We read scripture at home, and we come to church every Sunday, and sometimes more, so that we can study together, and learn together and help one another to do understand and to do what Jesus wants us to do. But for tonight, let’s listen to the words that we find in Titus 2:11-14, where we hear this:
11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Salvation and rescue have been offered to all people. And because we are the people who said “yes” to Jesus’ offer of rescue, then we are called to say “no” to ungodliness and instead live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives even if, and even when, the world around us preaches that God is dead, and it’s okay to do anything that feels good.
Titus reminds us that Jesus came to earth, lived among us, died, and rose from the dead so that we could be redeemed from a life of wickedness and evil, and so that Jesus could be at work purifying us so that we would be eager to do good.
Although it is a beautiful story, we don’t just celebrate on Christmas Eve because it’s a beautiful story. We celebrate Christmas Eve because it is important for us to remember what he did and for whom he did it. The Christmas story is the beginning of God’s invasion of the earth as he works to reclaim his people and call them back to him. Jesus didn’t just come to save some random shepherds, a handful of disciples, and a few others. Jesus didn’t come just to fulfill the promises that God gave to the Jews through his prophets. Jesus came to rescue all of us. Jesus came to rescue humanity. Jesus came to rescue everyone. Christmas brings a message filled good news of great joy for all the people.
But the work of telling all the people about that good news isn’t finished yet.
If nothing else, Christmas should remind us of two things. First, that we are called to live as if our faith is important. To live the way that Jesus lived. To set aside the wickedness that is so common to the world and to live godly lives of purity. Simply put, we need to look like, and live like, Jesus. And second, because Jesus came to rescue all the people, and all the people haven’t yet heard his story, we must be in the business of making sure that they do.
Because Jesus did, we still do.
We love the Christmas story. It’s awesome. It’s far more than just a children’s bedtime story.
It is good news of great joy for all the people.
Every one of us should go out from this place and make sure that everyone, that all the people, hear that good news.
Merry Christmas everyone.
Reading 1 – Isaiah 9:2-5
2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined.
3 You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest,
as people exult when dividing plunder.
4 For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.
5 For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood
shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
Reading 2 – Isaiah 9:6-7
6 For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Reading 3 – Luke 2:1-7
2:1 In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Reading 4 – Luke 2:8-14
8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before 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; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
Reading 5 – Luke 2:15-20
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
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