December 24th 2017: Ian Middlemist

Ian - March 17Isaiah 9:1-7

The Saviour came into the world in obedience to the Father’s will. He sent His Son to save sinners. Praise the Saviour for His obedience.

We must consider other aspects of reasons for Christ’s coming. Sometimes we have a crisis in the business of it all, it can become all too much. The Saviour never once had such a crisis. His will was always united to the Father’s. The Saviour set His face towards the cross to save sinners and bring light to a dark world.

Why Christmas? Whys this glorious birth?

  • To redeem sinners
  • To bring light into a dark world.

‘The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.’ (1 Timothy 1:15).

In Christ’s first coming He is implementing a rescue plan conceived even before the world begun. Jesus was to come to save sinners. To do this He had to remove sin which came in, like an unwelcome virus, infecting mankind.

How can sin be eradicated? We need to begin with Old Testament. We see in Isaiah 9 the Lord was already addressing this through the Old Testament sacrificial system. One of the main themes in the epistle to the Hebrews is the numerous priests who, from generation to generation, placed burnt offerings as a sacrifice for sin, ‘The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.’ (Hebrews 7:23-24).

All of the Old Testament sacrifices would not put away a single sin, yet this was a God-given requirement for people of Israel, showing the enormity of the disease. A better sacrifice offered in a better tabernacle was necessary – a truly perfect sacrifice offered in the tabernacle of heaven. ‘For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.’ (Hebrews 9:24). Sins are crucified and buried in Christ.

Christmas is a time to remember past events but it is right to remember the second coming of Jesus Christ. It is wonderful that we can anticipate the return of the Saviour who was wounded for our transgressions. ‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.’ (Romans 3:23). We can thank God, as redeemed sinners, we can look forward to meeting Him who is to change all things. There is hope.

The apostle Paul says he is the worst sinner, guilty of blasphemy, guilty of persecuting the church. He sees his own sin in the light of God’s holy law and realises even if he were the only sinner in the world, Christ would still have had to shed His blood for his sin. If Christ can save Paul, He can also save you and me – hell-deserving as we are. We need to ask Jesus for the gift of redemption and grace.

Christ also came to bring light into a dark world, ‘I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.’ (John 12:46).

‘If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.’ (John 15:22).

Bright light is a mixed blessing. Switch a light on and it frees us from the impression of darkness which brings fear. But it also reveals ugly flaws and imperfections. Since the fall of Adam God sent prophets who exposed, with precisions, the darkness of sin. As powerful as these prophecies were, the prophets were still sinners. However eloquently they spoke, it was still on a hazy canvass. Christ exposes sin but He delivers us from sin. 700 years before Christ’s birth Isaiah says, ‘The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.’ (Isaiah 9:2).

It is so fitting the birth of Jesus Christ was heralded by bright light. The shepherds saw the glory of the Lord, the star directed the magi. There is still more glorious light, ‘Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”’ (John 8:12).

Just before His death Jesus said the light is among you for just a little longer. We are to walk in the light. When this light was lifted up to Golgotha, the light of God’s love shone brightly in the darkness. We take light for granted until we are without it. Praise God that the light has come and shone into our hearts.

 

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