Skip to content
Dec 5 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

December 5, 2021

[Please read] Matthew 1:18-24

Intro: Because of my irrational need to justify myself at all times,

I want you to know I was not goofing off last Sunday
– I was invited to be a guest speaker in a church
• the people there were gracious and my talk went okay
◦ but something surprised me
• the worship team had prepared several Christmas carols
◦ although they were familiar, certain phrases hit me as if for first time
◦ I thought, “What have we been singing all these years? Why is it just now that I’m hearing this? And why am I so moved by it?”
– I will give you one example – “Hark, the Heard Angels Sing”
Hail, the heaven-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings, Risen with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by, Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth,
Hark! The herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born King”

• in the line, “born to raise the sons of earth” “sons” is, of course, generic
◦ this is what we are; physical beings drawn from the earth,
◦ made of same stuff as our planet – earthlings
• we would be earth-bound if God had not revealed more,
◦ if he had not shared with us his own Spirit, and life in the Spirit
◦ if not for Jesus, we’d have come from dust and returned to dust

So maybe I’m suffering from a bout of Christmas nostalgia

Here I am today, and don’t feel like talking about anything profound
– as much as I am enchanted at the concept of the Incarnation,
• I don’t want to talk the theology of Christmas
– so, from now to the end of the year, my talks will be devotional
• I want to reflect on Christmas with you
• so let’s unwrap this “gift” over the next four weeks

The story of Christmas begins in the Hebrew Scriptures

If we think about it, what comes to mind might be Isaiah’s words
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forever more.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this
(Isa. 9:6-7)
– or we could remember the prophecy in Micah
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days
(Mic. 5:2)
• but I am thinking of a passage written centuries before that
[please read] Genesis 3:1-19, 22-24
– if the first two chapters of Genesis tell us the universe exists because God “created” it,
• chapter 3 explains how evil entered the world
(the Hebrew word translated evil is rah and rarely refers to evil as a moral category. Rather, evil can be any sort of suffering or unfortunate situation including poor health, personal injury, loss of property or loved ones, and so on)
◦ the story begins when a new character is introduced and strikes up a conversation with Eve
• the snake wants to talk theology
◦ he begins as if he has a real interest in God’s word
◦ but he immediately questions God’s word, and then denies it

The strategy the snake uses is really this old
– there has always been someone willing to be the devil’s advocate
• “You think you know God, but you don’t, really. I’ve studied this, looked at its history, read it in the original languages. You won’t hear the truth from your priests or preachers”
• even if you walk away thinking, “What a creep!”
◦ that person has planted a seed of doubt
– the first man and woman were deceived
• they chose to ignore God’s word – to go against it
• what their enlightenment gave them was the curse – evil
◦ up till now they had only known one half of the truth

But it is within the curse that we find the first promise of Christmas

– the woman would bring a son into the world
• one who would put an end to the snake,
• and undo the evil that had been unleashed on the earth

This is the first promise of a Christmas

The first glimmer of hope that will shine over Bethlehem
– the first note of the song,
Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased
(Lk. 2:14)
– the two historic events are connected
• the story of Christmas is a response to the story of the curse
• I want to point out some of the parallels I see between the two stories
◦ then maybe you will be inspired to find some parallels of your own

Mary and Joseph were born into broken world of Adam and Eve

Hardship and suffering were not new experiences for Mary and Joseph
– they accepted misery as an unavoidable aspect of the human condition
• they did not expect life to be easy
• other than that, they were human persons, the same as Adam and Eve
◦ they shared similar emotional and relational dynamics
– it was revealed to Mary and Joseph that they would play a role
• as significant and world-changing as Adam and Eve
• they would be used to bring hope to the world
◦ to reverse the damage that came through the actions of first couple

Similarities between the two couples include the following:
– Adam and Eve instantly felt a new emotion–shame
• their nakedness had not been a cause for concern
◦ they had never felt the need to cover themselves
• but now they were afraid to be seen
◦ they attempted to hide themselves from each other and from God
– shame was also a factor in Mary and Joseph’s situation
• it was to spare Mary shame, that Joseph resolved to keep their divorce quiet
• but that shame was transformed into the greatest honor in human history
Mary sang, from now on all generations will call me blessed (Lk. 1:48)

– Adam and Eve were thrown into a world of fear
I heard the sound of your in the garden, and I was afraid
– the first word the angel spoke to Mary, Do not be afraid
• and to Joseph, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife

– Adam and Eve were thrown into a world of fear
• before biting into the forbidden fruit, they knew only intimacy
◦ with the world of nature, each other, and with God
• those relationships were fractured
– Mary and Joseph’s first challenge was the healing of a broken relationship

– in the original story, angels blocked the way back to paradise
– in the remake, angels directed Mary and Joseph to the way back

– in the original story, the perpetrators released evil into the world
– in the remake, the couple cooperated with God and brought the Savior into the world

These two stories combine to bring us to Jesus – and to Christmas

This week I came across an idea that had never occurred to me
– it is related to the curse of thorns and thistles
• further on in the Hebrew Scriptures, thorns are associated with punishment
– I read a portion of an ancient sermon
• the preacher was Hyppolytus, at second century theologian
◦ he said, “to banish every curse from the earth, Jesus was first crowned with thorns”
◦ this is the message of redemption
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (Gal. 3:13)
• there is nothing in your life that Jesus cannot redeem

Conclusion: What now? We carry forward the work of Jesus

We are agents of redemption in the world;
a redemption that includes the world of nature as well as humankind (Ro. 8:19-23)
The burden of redemption is not on us
all that is on us is the message of redemption as we live it
When another life is touched by that message,
a bit of redemption from the cross of Calvary enters the world

Leave a comment