Christ Must 2: “CHURCH, IT’S TIME TO TAKE JESUS OFF THE BENCH”
“Let us remember that the Christmas heart is a heart that thinks of others first. The birth of baby Jesus stands as the most significant event in all history, because it has meant the pouring into a sick world of the healing medicine of love which has transformed all manner of hearts for almost two thousand years. Underneath all the bulging bundles is this beating Christmas heart.” George Matthew Adams
THIS IS MY BIBLE AND TODAY I DECLARE IT TO BE MY FINAL AUTHORITY I AM WHAT IT SAYS I AM AND I CAN DO WHAT IT SAYS I CAN DO
Forward Thinkers, I have looked all through my bible and I could not find one mention of “St. Nick or Santa Claus” and to my surprise even though there is a talking donkey in the Old Testament, I could not find one word about a flying reindeer with a red nose.
Luke 2:8-20 New International Version (NIV)
12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
Forward Thinkers, this season, I’m challenging the church to become more “Christ-like” (Christian).
Forward Thinkers, notice that despite the humble birth and lowly beginnings of Jesus, God still brings glory and honor to Jesus, though once again, not in the way most people would expect or imagine. Jesus’ birth sparks joy, surprise, and wonder but, there were no big parades or CNN reporters with breaking news stories. I believe, this next big move of God will not occur in a fashion the church is used to or expecting.
Forward Thinkers, God is getting ready to rise up a powerful nation of people who have been humbled by life and restored by Jesus.
In the region around Bethlehem, there were shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. The presence of shepherds around Bethlehem indicates it could not be December (celebrating the birth of Jesus on December 25 is for American comfort but that date is not historically accurate) since flocks were not kept in the fields during the winter. Forward Thinkers also, understand Joseph was traveling to pay his taxes and the King would not risk people traveling in the winter to pay their taxes because the travel would be too difficult for many and he would lose money.
Forward Thinkers, critics will use this American tradition to attack the reality of Jesus but notice the bible never mentions Jesus being born on December 25. I don’t focus on the traditions of man, so instead of debating when Jesus was born I choose to have faith in the fact Jesus was born. And because Jesus was born, I have a chance to win in this thing called “life”. Forward Thinkers, don’t let the hype of Christmas overshadow the hope of Jesus.
During the time of Jesus birth, shepherds were viewed as dishonorable outcasts in Israel. Their work not only made them ceremonially unclean, but their work also kept them away from the temple for weeks at a time so that they could not be purified. Forward Thinkers, the only shows that God uses is the downtrodden and despised to accomplish his will. By announcing the birth of Jesus to the shepherds first, God was “exalting the lowly” as Mary had proclaimed (Luke 1:52). Remember, before Moses became the leader he was a shepherd and before David became King he was a shepherd and God is looking to find men and women in this generation to lift up the name of Jesus so he can do something amazing with their lives also.
While the shepherds were watching over the sheep in the still of the night, suddenly, an angel of the Lord stood before them. Around the angel shines the glory of the Lord filling the night with brilliance. Forward Thinkers remember God had shut up and removed himself from mankind during the Dark Ages due to our disobedience but when the focus is on Jesus the glory of the Lord will show up. Now the glory had returned, but not in the temple, and not to priests and prophets, but to shepherds in the fields.
The bible says as a result of his appearance and the bright light, they were greatly afraid. Forward Thinkers, this is not the time to be afraid this is the time to declare the name of Jesus and release our faith to become world changers.
The angel declares do not be afraid, I have come with good tidings. The term good tidings in Greek is often translated “gospel” and means “good news.” Forward Thinkers the angel was declaring to the shepherds the good news about Jesus and letting them know Jesus has come for all people.
I know church folk want to put a stronghold on the gospel of Jesus but the bible clearly states Jesus came for all people and Jesus’ actions on earth demonstrated this. Forward Thinkers, the good news was first told to the shepherds and Jesus then walked with the sinners, the poor, the sick, and the lost. I’m so glad Jesus was willing to also walk and talk with an ex-sinner like me. Forward Thinkers, the bible says Jesus came for whosoever will believe.
The angel reveals that this child will be a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Forward Thinkers, this is the only place in Scripture where all three of these terms are found together. Up until now Caesar Augustus had given himself all three of these titles but Jesus was coming to claim all the titles. As a Savior He was expected to deliver Israel from their bondage, and lead them forth to world prominence. The term Christ is the Greek word Christos and means “Messiah”. Finally, the term Lord indicates that He would be King and Ruler.
Forward Thinkers remember, the shepherds were in the backyard of King Herod receiving the announcement of a new born king. The birth of Jesus would be a “game changer” for all.
The angel tells them that this King will not be found in the palace, but elsewhere. He gives them a sign for how to find this newborn King. Forward Thinkers signs were a way given to the Jewish people as a way to verify the truth of what a messenger had told them (Exod 3:12; 2 Kings 19:29; Isa 37:30). The sign for these shepherds is that they will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. One reason Luke put so much emphasis on swaddling clothes and the manger in verses 1-7 is that they serve as a sign for the shepherds. But beyond that, the location of the Messiah, not in rich robes, but in swaddling clothes, and not in a palace, but in an animal feeding trough, revealed to the shepherds that this Messiah, though a King, would be for people like them, the poor and humble, and not just the rich, powerful, and mighty.
Forward Thinkers once the shepherds experienced Jesus notice they rejoiced and reported to everyone the good news about Jesus. Forward Thinkers we must get Jesus off the bench and tell everybody everywhere we go about the good news of Jesus. Jesus is the answer to today’s misguided world but we as Believers must commit to sharing Jesus with the world.
Pastor E. A. Deckard is the Senior Pastor/Founder of the Green House International Church now located, in both Houston, Texas, and the Woodlands, Texas. To contact Pastor Deckard for speaking engagements contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Periscope @ Pastor E A Deckard or the church website www.ghic.net.