Luke 2:1-20

Christmas Is Jesus For You

The Nativity of our Lord - Christmas Eve

December 24, 2014

Beloved in the Lord, on this most holy night in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus, who is the Christ, we do so with all the joy and happiness that the Lord has to give.  There’s a lot that goes into this holiday, expectations and preparations, family and friends, and of course, the presents.

So many times, especially as children, Christmas is viewed as a birthday party for Jesus but where we get the presents. This holy night is so much more than a birthday party.  Our true celebration, one that lasts for the next 12 days, is not a birthday party for Jesus, it’s not just remembering that Jesus was born.  Saving faith is not just believing in the history of the Bible.  The true celebration is the birth of Christ for you!

Consider Isaiah’s prophecy to Ahaz in the Old Testament reading, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”  Listen again to the message of the angels to the shepherds, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will bind a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” Notice, this is “for you.”  This Child is born for you. The Child is born to bring peace on earth for you.  The Child is born to suffer for you. This Child is born to die for you. This Child is born to be raised from death for you. This Child is the sign for you, God with you.

Christmas is best celebrated not only when our attention is focused on Him, but most importantly is it celebrated because His attention is focused on you, is for you.  The very Son of God came down from heaven and became man for you.  We all too easy brush off Christmas as soon as it’s over. After the presents are opened, the new toys have lost their novelty, when we go back to our everyday lives.  It’s not that every day should be like Christmas. But that Jesus for you doesn’t end in the manger.  Jesus left that manger, He is no longer in that stable.  He does not stay this little child of whom angels sing. This voice that cries out from the manger is the same that cried out from the cross, “It is finished.”

There is a young child at our school, Zion Christian School, who commented just a couple of weeks ago to his teacher, “So let me get this right. On Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus. And Jesus was born just so that He could die.”  Brothers and sisters in Christ, out of the mouth of children, the reason for Christmas is proclaimed.

Just as Jesus doesn’t stay in the manger, neither does He stay on the cross, nor in the grave.  For Christ is risen, He is risen indeed. Alleluia! So rejoice, O people of God, because the Lord is with you, and through faith in Him Jesus is for you. God’s grace and favor are yours in Christ.

Once again heaven comes to earth for you. Not as a child, but still just as humble, through word, water, bread and wine.  You don’t need an angel to bring you good tidings of great joy. You have the very incarnate Word of God speaking through the written Word of God. That’s why Jesus gave the church pastors. To announce God’s Word: The Lord be with you.  And He is because He lives. 

The Lord is for you in the waters of baptism, because the same Holy Spirit who hovered over the waters of creation and overshadowed the womb of Mary now overshadows the baptismal font where you are made a new creation. God’s word and promise make the font the womb of the church.

The Lord is for you in His Holy Supper. His body and blood are enthroned in bread and wine. The King enters the chamber of your mouth to forgive you and bring you tidings of great joy. “Take eat, take drink. This is My body for you. This is My blood for you.”

Through these means, Jesus is for you, but He isn’t offering you magic or quick fixes. He never tells you that the political strife, the ravaging diseases, the economic wreckage, and your personal struggles will all dissolve and blow away immediately because you believe in Him. But He comes with love and mercy for your wrongs. He promises to hear your cries. He helps you hold up under your burdens so they become more bearable.  He delivers Himself to you.

When you believe this, that Jesus is for you, then like the shepherds, you cannot help but go back to your everyday lives with the glory and the praise of God upon your lips for all that we have seen and heard.  Christ’s first coming means that now we live with an eye toward Christ’s second coming. And while we wait, we turn away from the pull of the world, which would pull us away from God and turn us in on ourselves. And by the Spirit of Christ, we are turned this evening first to Christ Himself, and then outward to the world, telling anyone that you meet that Jesus was born for you, that Jesus died for you, that Jesus lives for you. That Christmas is Jesus for you.