SERMON TITLE: GOD’S WAY OF SALVATION: THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS
SERMON TEXT: “ . . . He will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
Matthew 1:18-25 (Focal Passage)
SERMON THESIS: God’s way of salvation is through the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son.
INTRODUCTION: The story of Christmas is the story of salvation history. Matthew links the Old Testament with the New Testament placing the story of Jesus, as someone has written, “ ...in its world historical context.” He does this through his genealogy given in the opening chapter of his gospel verses 1-17. In the words of Eugene Peterson, in The Message, a paraphrase of the New Testament, the Psalms, and Proverbs, “He makes sure that as we read his account of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we see the connection with everything that has gone before.” Thus the birth of Jesus, in its historical context, as seen in Matthew’s genealogy, and the verses that follow vv. 18-25, show God’s Way of Salvation.
God’s way of salvation is seen in...
I. THE FULFILLMENT OF THE PROPHETIC MESSAGE - Please note that the operative word here is “fulfilled.” According to Peterson, “Fulfilled” is one of Matthew’s characteristic verbs.” This and that happened, in the words of Matthew, “That it might be fulfilled.”
The prophets before Matthew came on the scene foretold the birth of Jesus. For example, the prophet Isaiah wrote...
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9:6-7).
Then in Micah’s prophecy, we read...
“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2).
“Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, “GOD WITH US” (Matthew 1:22-23).
In the words of one commentator on Isaiah 9:6-7, “This great passage became the Messianic prophecy fulfilled in the person and mission of the Lord Jesus Christ,” as seen in Matthew...
“Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “THE LAND OF ZEBULUN AND THE LAND OF NAPHTALI, BY THE WAY OF THE SEA, BEYOND THE JORDAN, GALILEE OF THE GENTILES-- “THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING IN DARKNESS SAW A GREAT LIGHT, AND THOSE WHO WERE SITTING IN THE LAND AND SHADOW OF DEATH, UPON THEM A LIGHT DAWNED." From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:12-17).
Without a doubt, Jesus is the fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy. Now let’s take it a step farther. According to Paul, in his writing to the church at Clossia, as the agent in creation itself, everything is completed in Jesus. Paul writes...
“For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities -- all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Col. 1:16).
What do we see here?
1) Everything previous to us is completed in Jesus.
2) We are completed in Jesus.
3) God’s creation and salvation is completed in Jesus. - - Eugene Peterson
Jesus is the center of everything. It was Jesus Himself who said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, ‘says the Lord God,’ who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Rev. 1:8).
Is Jesus the center of your life?Not only was God’s way of salvation revealed in the prophetic message, God’s way of salvation can, likewise, be seen in...
II. THE MIRACULOUS CONCEPTION - I like the way Matthew introduces the birth of Christ in the NIV. He writes, “This is how the birth of Christ came about ...” (v. 18). Now let’s go to Luke’s gospel to see an expansion of this Miraculous Conception...”
“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:26-35).
Explain the miraculous conception if you dare. Making no attempt to explain the miraculous conception, Dr. Luke, summed it up like this, “For nothing will be impossible with God” (v. 37). Any attempt to explain the virgin birth is futile. We cannot explain it, but we can accept it by faith. This was nothing short of a miracle in the natural order of things. In the words of one writer, “The virgin birth was God’s chosen way to become incarnate: the invisible, spiritual God became human.” The evangelist John, said it like this...
It has been said like this, “The revelation of God took place in human flesh. The divine presence was experienced in its most unique manifestation, in the conception of a Child to Mary.”
As seen in John’s gospel, “We are to believe in miracles but trust in Jesus.” We are to look for the message in the miracle. What is the message in this miracle? Simply put, God kept His promise in sending us the Savior. Thus our salvation, like the miraculous conception, is nothing short of a miracle. You will remember the words Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again’”(John 3:7).
To be born from above means to be “begotten from above.” As in the case of Mary’s miraculous conception, that requires the work of the Holy Spirit.
The conception and birth of a baby is an amazing event. Physical life is a gift from God. Spiritual life, likewise, is a gift from God. This is called a spiritual birth. All of us have experienced a physical birth, but have you experienced a spiritual birth. Have you been begotten from above? If not, you can experience the new birth right now. God’s way of salvation is seen in the fulfillment of prophecy, through the miraculous conception, and in...
III. THE OBEDIENCE OF A MAN AND A WOMAN - The fact that God used men and women to accomplish His redemptive purpose is seen clearly in this passage–in the story of the birth of Jesus. Mary and Joseph are the key players at this point in history, in God’s redemptive plan for humankind. There are certain characteristic that standout about these two individuals–characteristics that best describe the types of people God use in His redemptive plan and purpose. Thus the question:
1. What were their characteristics? The Scripture describes Joseph as a righteous man. His righteousness is seen in his attitude toward Mary, the woman to whom he was engaged to be married, when he found out that she was pregnant...
Joseph was concerned for her welfare even though he thought that she had been unfaithful by engaging in sexual sin. Joseph’s attitude tells us a great deal about the kind of man he was. It would seem that God places a lot of stock, so to speak, in righteousness. You will remember what He said about His servant Job–he is the most righteous man in all the earth.
Mary, on the other hand, had kept herself pure sexually. Gabriel had found her to be in favor with God. He said to her, “Hail, favored one (lit. woman richly blessed)! The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28). To be found in favor with Almighty God, is indeed, a blessing and positions one to be used greatly of the Lord.
Both Mary and Joseph were OBEDIENT to the Lord. Hear Mary’s response to the angel’s announcement, “Behold, the bondslave (i.e., female slave) of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word”(Luke 1:38). Joseph, likewise, responded obediently to the angel’s command...
“And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife” (Matthew 1:24).
2. What does it meant to be obedient?
1) Trust. Both Mary and Joseph trusted the Lord fully. God had not revealed His full purpose and plan to them before hand, but yet, they trusted Him. Trust is a key factor in being used greatly of the Lord, in the fulfillment of His plan and purpose.
2) Wait. What can I say here? “True Love Waits!” Mary would be used greatly of the Lord, because she had kept herself pure sexually. Both of them waiting until they were married to have sexual relationships. Hear what the Bible says about Joseph...
Do you want to be used greatly of the Lord in His great redemptive plan and purpose. Then you MUST trust and wait.
CONCLUSION: Having heard this message, have you discovered the real meaning of Christmas? Has God’s way of salvation been made clear to you? As a believer, are you willing to obey God’s commands in every area of your life and be used to fulfill His plan and His purpose for your life? The choice is yours!!