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The Meaning of Christmas

SERMON SUBJECT: THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS

SERMON TEXT: Isaiah 9:1-7

SERMON THESIS: “With God the future is bright . . . for to us a child is born, to us a son is given . . .”(v. 6).

INTRODUCTION: We live in a world in which time is measured in terms of past, present, and future. The past is just that - passed. The present is manageable. The future, however, for most of us is a major concern. Why is that so, you might ask? The future lies in the realm of the unknown. And as you, perhaps know, fear of the unknown produces our greatest fear. Thus Christmas becomes a kind of pivotal point that launches us into a new year and into the unknown zone, out of which all kinds of fears emerge. Fears of a failing economy . . . fear of a terrorist attack . . . fear of losing one’s health . . . fear of failure . . . fear of losing one’s job . . . fear of death . . . the list goes on. Therefore Christmas takes on many different meanings for many different people, producing all kinds of emotions within. The meaning of Christmas for the Christian, however, is that with God the future is bright. The future is bright because . . .

I. GLOOM IS DIMINISHED - This poem of Isaiah the prophet was written, originally, to celebrate the birth of royalty, but in the words of one writer, “ . . . it sends a message beyond its time.” The people to whom this poem was written during Isaiah’s prophecy was this . . .

But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles” (Isaiah 9:1).

     What was the message for God’s chosen people? “No more gloom!” And the future springs forth with promise. “ . . . in the future He will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea.”

       What was the message for God’s chosen people? “No more darkness!”

 “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who will live in a dark land, the light will shine on them” (Isaiah 9:2).

“Then your light will break out like the dawn, and your recovery will speedily spring forth; and your righteousness will go before you; the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard” (Isaiah 58:8).

This reminds me of a song I have grown to love and appreciate, titled: When Jesus Comes. It goes like this . . .

One sat alone beside the highway begging. His eyes were blind - the light he could not see. He bruised himself and trembled in the shadows. Then Jesus came and night was turned to day. Then the chorus . . . When Jesus comes the tempters power is broken. When Jesus comes the night is turned to day. He takes the gloom and fills the life with gladness. When Jesus comes to take me with Him to stay.”

        The New Testament writers did not fail to pick up on this message given by Isaiah, which sent a message beyond its time; bringing it right into a present day context. One writer saw the transition like this, “Matthew used vv 1-2 to make the transition from John the Baptist, the last of the old, to Jesus the first of the new . . .”“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 to those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, upon them a light dawned” (Matthew 4:15-16).

        What is the message and the meaning of Christmas for us?

         1. No more gloom! Gloom is diminished.

         2. With God the future is bright. Thus we can sing with the song writer who wrote...

            I know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future. It’s a secret known only to Him. What does your future hold?

              The Psalmist said . . .

“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in Thee” (Psalm 56:3).

         3. The future is bright because the darkness of sin has been removed.

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:11-12).

What does Christmas mean to you? With God the future is bright because gloom has been diminished with the coming of Jesus. It is Jesus, who “ . . . takes away the gloom and fills the heart with gladness.”

Secondly, not only is gloom diminished . . .

II. GLADNESS IS INCREASED - The prophet continues . . .

“Thou shalt multiply the nation, thou shalt increase their gladness; they will be glad in Thy presence as with the gladness of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil” (Isaiah 9:3).

       Speaking of Joy and gladness, the Psalmist wrote . . .

“Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than when their grain and new wine abound” (Psalm 4:7).

       Isaiah, the prophet, likewise, wrote . . .

“And it will be said in that day, “Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation” ( Isaiah 25:9)

       Concerning the joy of our salvation, one writer put it like this, “Christ is the one who brings us joy and increases our joy. Salvation fills us with greater joy than any festival or victory.”

       It was the Psalmist who wrote . . .

“Thou wilt make known to me the path of life; in Thy presence is fulness of joy; in Thy right hand there are pleasures forever” (Psalm 16:11).                                                            

       Jesus said . . .

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:11).

       1. Gladness is increased when Jesus is present. You see, the whole meaning of Christmas is that Jesus is present. Isaiah wrote, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given . . .”(v. 6).

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

“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” (Matt. 1:23).

           Have you noticed that there is more joy and gladness during the Christmas season than at any other time of the year?

       2. What does Christmas mean to you? Has it increased your joy and gladness?

      Not only is gloom diminished; gladness increased . . .

III. GOD’S KINGDOM HAS COME

“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).

        Concerning His kingdom rule and reign, Luke wrote . . .

“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” (Luke 1:32-33).

        The representative kingdom was seen in the house of David. This was an earthly kingdom in the Old Testament. The earthly kingdom would give birth, in time, to the eternal kingdom that would come in the birth of Jesus. This would be the messianic kingdom. This kingdom would bring about the reign of God and the redemption of His people. One writer said it like this, “Jesus fulfilled the teaching of the Old Testament concerning the righteous reign of God.

         1. What did this mean? It meant that David reigned for a few years on a throne in Jerusalem.

         2. What does it mean? It means that Jesus will reign in the lives of His followers forever and ever. It also means that when he comes again in the clouds of glory, He will then establish His kingdom fully and openly. The Psalmist said . . .

“The Lord has established His throne in the heavens; and His sovereignty rules over all” (Psalm 103:19).

         3. How are we to make application of this teaching?

               1) Trust Jesus as your Savior. How?

“From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17).

               2) Allow Jesus to rule and reign in your life. How?

“But seek for His kingdom, and these things shall be added to you” (Luke 12:31)

“...Nor will they say, “Look, here it is!” or “There it is!” For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst” (Luke 17:21).

CONCLUSION: What does Christmas mean to you? Does it mean that 1) Gloom is diminished? 2) Does it mean that gladness is increased, and 3) Does it mean that God rules and reigns in your life? If not, then you do not know the real meaning of Christmas, but you can discover the real meaning of Christmas today. Will you?