Celebrating Christmas III
1. We are considering these days how we can celebrate the coming into the world of the Son of God, not just at Christmas time, but all year long. We are doing this by focussing on some texts that speak of Jesus coming into the world that we do not normally see as Christmas Scriptures.
Two weeks ago – Humility – The Christmas verse –
Philip. 2:5-8 – Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,  who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,  but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form,  he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Last week – Generosity – The Christmas verse –
2 Cor. 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
This morning we read from Hebrews 2:5- 3:6 and before we consider the Christmas verses in there we need to introduce ourselves to the Book of Hebrews.
2. Why the Letter to the Hebrews was written:
To encourage Jewish believers not to return to Judaism. It seems they are being tempted to return to their old religion and the writer wants to show them why that is not a good idea. See that theme in verses such as 2:1, 3:7, 12f, 4:1, 14, 6:4, 19f, 10 ;28f, 12:12, 14, 25, …
The method the writer uses to convince these people that they should not go back? Show them that Jesus is better. Chapter 1- better than angels, chapter 3 – better than Moses, chapter 4 – better than Joshua and the Sabbath, chapter 5-7 – better than the priesthood for Jesus is a priest like Melchizedek, chapter 8 -9 – Jesus is the priest of a better covenant, Chapter 10 – Jesus is a better offering for sin than all the offerings of the whole old covenant.
The Book of Hebrews – Jesus is better and since He is what you have why go back to lesser things?
The Christmas verse? – 2:14, 17. Note it well that the reference to the incarnation in these verses is in relation to the work of the cross. See it in both verse 14 and verse 17 … . It is an old saying but it simply must be said. The birth, life, death, resurrection … of Jesus Christ is one whole package. We an never talk about the birth without ending up at the cross and resurrection. But these are our Christmas verses today because they speak to us of Jesus coming into the world. So let’s have a look at them.
3. One of the things I scavenged from my father’s office when he died was a sign that he kept on his desk. I have it in my office on the wall facing me – it says “THINK”. Thinking gets bad press these days. It is considered wasted time. It is thought to be inactivity, laziness … . (People who think that, are people who have never really tried it.) We have substituted the word “think” for the word “feel”. Watch for this.
Question – “What do you think of the current global economic crisis?”
Answer – “I feel it is …” And no one even gives it a second thought. Just once I would like to hear the interviewer say “I didn’t ask what you felt. I asked what you thought.” And he would be greeted with a blank stare.
The reason I bring this up is because it relates to our response to the fact that the eternal Son of God left glory and came to earth … .
II The Practical Application of The Son of God Becoming Like Us
1. After saying what he said in 2:14-18 the author immediately says “therefore”.
V. 14 – Jesus partook of flesh and blood – this means he became a real human being. It supremely does NOT mean that He just looked human – see verse 17. See 4:14-16. The baby in the manger is a real human being. He will get hungry, thirsty, tired. There will even be things He does not know – all the while remaining fully God. This is a great mystery but we cannot conclude anything different about Christ because anything different would be to diminish Him.
What is the “therefore”. What is the writer to these Hebrew believers who are being tempted to give up on Christ going to say to them to help them not stray. He will say a lot to them in this Letter about remaining faithful to Christ but it starts here. Actually it started in 2:1 but what he says there is just about the same thing he says in 3:1.
Now then, before you take too close a look at 3:1 answer this in your own mind.
2:14 -Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,  and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
Therefore – now – what will you put as your “therefore” dear one? What do you think the practical application of this incredible truth will be?
Or take verse 17 – Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.  For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted
There are our two Christmas verses dear ones – what do you suppose the writer will say next when he says in 3:1 “therefore”?
Therefore – “tell others about what He has done”? – that would work
– “worship from your heart…”? – that too would be good and here are Scriptures that take us there. – “let us be humble”? That’s what Paul said in Phil. 2
– “let us give to others generously”? That is what Paul said in II Cor. 8:9
There are all kinds of good, biblical responses to the fact that the Son of God came to the earth. That is why we are considering the whole concept as we approach Christmas.
All I am asking you to do right now is answer this – what do you think the application is this time?
2. Well, let’s read it – 3:1. “…”
a.The application of 2:14-18 is for Christians to “consider Jesus”. NIV – Fix your thoughts on – this
gets the meaning across. THINK. This is not passing thought. This is having your thoughts glued to something. The word used is katanoeo (katanoew) – to consider fully, closely, to perceive clearly, to understand fully. We are being told here to come to an accurate understanding of Jesus Christ. Think, study, mentally wrestle with until you get it. Don’t gloss over knowing the person and work of Christ. Don’t gloss over the hard mental work it takes to feed your soul and prepare yourself for real Christian service. Mindless activity/ activity not thought through/ practical Christian service absent of real mental work – is domed to fail.
b.This would be seen by many as a waste of time, not very practical, too intellectual, cerebral … .
But it is essential if we are going to live for the praise of God’s glory, if we are going to use our gifts the way they are meant to be used, if we are going to worship God properly … This is not impractical instruction. Bad thinking, inaccurate thinking, Scripture misinterpretation will lead to the soul’s destruction, especially when it comes ot who Jesus is and what He did.
c.Dear one – if we are to properly celebrate the coming of the Son of God into the world as a real
human being to live and die and rise from the dead for our salvation we need to come to a fuller, deeper, understanding of Jesus Christ. It starts in the mind dear ones. Love God with all your mind. It starts in a mind transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit to think clearly, properly, accurately, about Him.
d.And note this well. If we are to be a people transformed by the power of God we are going to
have to be transformed in our heads. Romans 12:2-3 (ESV)
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Check out the value of meditation in the Scriptures – Psalm 1
e.The Bible is not shy about stressing to us the need to do the hard work of thinking.
Matthew 16:23 (ESV)
But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
Col. 1:21 (ESV)
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,
Philip. 4:8 (ESV)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
f.I took some time to bring to your attention this morning what the theme and purpose of the Book
of Hebrews are. Remember that this Letter is given to people considering going back to their old religion. What should they do?
Dear ones – you ever feel like chucking it all in? Do you know what will keep you from
giving in to those feelings? It begins with this – Consider Jesus.
But understand dear ones, this is not talking about thinking about a nice man who
cared for the poor, healed the sick and hung around with outcasts- Jesus did all that- and we would do well to do it as well – but the writer to the Hebrews says nothing about that at all. What has He said about Jesus so far that prompts him to tell his readers to consider? See 1f, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13;
And then after saying all that see what he tells us next – 2:5-8a, 9, 10, 11, 14f, 17
Dear ones – how much time have you spent considering the glories of the eternal Son of God as given us in Hebrews 1 and looked at them in relation to the humility that we have outlined for us in chapter 2?
Eg. One of the first Pastors’ Conference I ever went to the preacher was Howard Hendricks, who was a professor at Dallas Seminary in Dallas Texas – At one point in the conference he made the comment that every day a pastor should take a block of time to do nothing but sit and think. Not meditate, not pray, not read, …just think.
III What Does it Mean to “Consider” Jesus?
1.To consider Christ means to consider
i.1:2 – that Jesus is the last and most glorious way that God speaks to us
ii.1:3 – that He is God indeed
iii.1:4f – he is the eternal Son of God
iv.1:6 – he is the One whom God says angels should worship
v.1:8 – He is the One God has given an everlasting Kingdom to
vi.1:10 – He is the Creator of all that is
vii.1:12 – He is the eternal unchanging One.
viii.1:13 – He is the One who reigns now
ix.1:13 – He is the One who will have all the enemies of God bow at His feet.
But it cannot and it must not end there. It is fine to dwell on the glory of God, for our God is incomprehensible in His glory. But if you only deal with Christ’s pre-incarnate glory as outlined in Hebrews 1 then you miss the wonders of the glories of Christ. Hebrews 1 shows us the immensity of Christ in pre-incarnate glory. But here is where the mind warping-ness of Christ comes to us – we must also consider
x.2:7 – that God made Him who created the angels to be lower than the angels
xi.2:9 – that Jesus came from where He was to here to “taste death for us all….”
xii.2:10 – that Jesus, the Founder of our salvation, experienced in fullest measure, suffering for His people.
xiii.2:11 – that this Jesus is not ashamed to be called our Brother.
xiv.2:14 – that this Jesus became human in every respect (minus the sin) to destroy the one who had the power of death to wield against us
xv.2:15 – that Jesus delivered us from slavery to death thorough His becoming fully human and dying for us as our substitute.
xvi.2:17 – that Jesus, as our High Priest, bore the wrath of God for us.
All that, and even more, we are called to consider/think deeply about/know fully.
2.This command to deeply understand is NOT given to scholars, academics, the well schooled. It is given
to Christians. See Hebrews 5:11-14, II Peter 3:15-17. This is a I Cor. 1:26-31 church. But that does not mean that we should not strive to think deeply about the things of Christ. We must, if we are going to honour Him for coming into the world.
Note who it IS given to – “holy brothers/sisters”. That is – people made holy through the work of Christ on the cross and appropriated by faith in Him – Believers/Christians/disciples of Christ …
i.Understanding Christ is not a matter of brains. It is a matter of the work of the Holy Spirit
at work in those in whom He dwells. What is the work of the Holy Spirit? It is NOT primarily what we hear about all the time. It is to bring to remembrance, through our study of the Word of God, what Jesus taught – John 14:26. It is to glorify Jesus Christ by declaring the Word of Christ to us- John 16:14.
ii.You cannot excuse yourself from this commandment in Hebrews 3 b y saying you are
uneducated or illiterate, or too thick in the head. This is a command from God and you had better do all that is in your power to do to obey it. And the God who dwells in you will enable you to obey it if you will submit to Him. You may never be able to solve problems that “would cross a rabbi’s eyes”,
iii.Dear ones, to ignore this command to think deeply about Christ is to relegate oneself to a
mediocre spiritual existence. This is where the quest comes for signs and wonders. “Surely”, it is said, “there is more to the Christian faith than … … … .” Yes there is. But the more is NOT in the signs and the wonders. It is not in spectacular displays of excitement and rousing worship. It is found in coming to increasingly understand the wonders of Christ and being stupefied by Him.
3.This does not mean that we do not need teachers/preachers … God gives those people to the church to
help people think about Christ properly and then put it into action. See Ephesians 4:11-14.
4.This is a life long quest – for how can the mortal ever come to a complete understanding of the eternal
Son of God and what He has done and continues to do. See Paul in Philippians 3:8-11.
5.The mind does not naturally gravitate to the lofty things of Christ. This is a discipline. It demands self
control. It demands resolve.
6.How do we do this? How do we get to the point where we really are thinking deeply and coming to know fully – Christ?
a.The Word of God
i.Join a Bible study
ii.Come to the evening fellowships
iii.Start a Bible study
iv.Develop a proper perspective – Phil. 3:8f
d.Take this seriously. Do not become or continue to be a Christian who thinks that the practical
Christianity that is so valuable to you does not include the hard work of thinking deeply.
1.Dear ones, have you noticed a theme in our three looks at the three texts we have considered? Phil. 2:5 –
have this attitude that Christ had; II Cor. 8:9 – You know what Christ did … ; Heb. 3:1 – consider Christ.
2.This is my purpose in this church. To get you on the road to deep thinking about the things of Christ so that you can serve Him with great gusto.
How shall we celebrate the birth of Christ into the world? Consider Jesus. Dear ones, let’s do it.