Jesus left behind no books, he had no great armies to carry his message, yet His life has more impact than every king who ever lived combined.
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Good Evening, and welcome again to St. John’s Church. And, as you can tell, I love our Christmas Eve Service. The first one at St. John’s was in 1892, 130 years ago. This is only my 5th Christmas here, and I absolutely love how this service paints a picture. It really has a feel to it.
As we close tonight, Michelle will read a meditation called One Solitary Life. I think it was Roy who told me last year that it had been a tradition here for many years. I didn’t know that until last year but had used it myself on Christmas Eve in the past at another church.
The poem closes with these words: All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on this planet so much as that one solitary life.
And that’s an amazing thought. And to add to what Dr. Allen wants us to appreciate, it really shouldn’t be that way. It doesn’t really make any sense at all that the life of a country peasant who lived 2000 years ago could possibly be that influential, until you consider who Jesus is - GOD.
Lots of people who lived gave advice on how to live, Jesus isn’t unique there. The Romans crucified tens of thousands of people. Nothing special there either.
Yet Jesus is so much the central figure of human history, the world mark’s it’s yearly calendar by his birth, despite the fact he didn’t do any of the things people would normally associate with greatness.
Most of you have heard of Mohammed, the founder of Islam. When Mohammed eventually died after eating some poison food, he left behind parts of a book known as the Koran.
Much more importantly, he left armies of tens of thousands of experienced soldiers, most veterans of over 80 battles, and he sent these “armed missionaries” out into the world to “convert” people into his teaching. There is no doubt that Mohammed was an IMPRESSIVE man with a legacy of incredible Worldly Might!
When the Siddhartha, aka Buddha died, the followers who so enthusiastically passed on Buddhism, were the leaders and nobility of Nepal, right by Tibet. Nepal’s royalty took the lead to continue the work he had started. Buddha lived as a man of Worldly Status!
When Socrates died, he had an incredible legacy because of his amazing students. Among those students were Plato and Aristotle, two of the absolute smartest people who ever lived on earth. So, not only was Socrates a man of Great Wisdom, but he left behind a School of Worldly Wisdom unmatched in human history.
Jesus on the other did none of the things associated with greatness.
He wrote no book to pass on his teachings like Mohammed
He had no army to force conversion by the sword.
He enraged the princes, the leadership and nobility of the Romans and Judeans to such an extent that they murdered him.
He had no brilliant philosophers among his 12 disciples.
And when he died, his followers, who were peasants and fisherman, except Matthew who was a social pariah, were scattered. And that should have been the end of the discussion, had Jesus just been an ordinary man, – but He wasn’t. And that’s why we are here tonight.
His mission wasn’t to acquire Worldly Might, Worldly Wisdom, or Worldly Status, His mission was to bring undeserving Divine Love. Of course there are some good ethical teaching in Jesus words – but His real mission was to reconcile us to God
Saul of Tarsus was the worst enemy to Jesus that he could try to be, seeking death for any disciples of Christ. But the Risen Christ met him, and remade him as Paul. After his conversion, Paul wrote the Philippians a message that was an early Christian Hymn: Phil 2-
Though he was in the form of God, (He) did not consider equality with God a thing to be held onto, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Christ humbled himself to become like us to redeem us.
The Father exalted Him, and in exalting Christ, adopted all those who are brothers and sisters in Christ as His children as well. That’s the Good News. By Christ’s Blood, by repentance and turning to God, we are redeemed, forgiven, and made one with Him.
This morning, I gave a message that was really part one to what we have tonight. Isaiah was directed to bring comfort and peace to a people trapped in slavery for their sin, but his message began with “bad news.”
The bad news being, as the Lord told Isaiah, that All Flesh is Grass.
In summary, there is nothing in this life that we can cling on to.
Nothing that is trustworthy.
Nothing that is permeant. Not health, not wealth.
Isaiah explains that anything they can try to cling to will pass away. Only God, and his Word, and his Promises, can last.
The second person of the Trinity, for you, would not cling to, would not grasp onto His position but took our nature upon himself, Christ, who has no beginning and no end, humbled himself to be born as one of us, in a food trough, in a barn, so that we might receive salvation Again, does that make sense. What a way to be received!
So tonight, celebrate this free gift which he offers of himself. The Gift of Forgiveness and Redemption by His blood, and proclaim him as King and Lord, to the Glory of God the Father.