Sunday, December 25, 2016

[Matt's Messages] "The Christmas Mission"

“The Christmas Mission”
December 25, 2016
1 John 4:7-12

Here’s why I picked this passage for Christmas Sunday: It tells us why there was any Christmas in the first place.

What is “The Christmas Mission?”

What was the mission of Christmas?

If somebody asked you that question this week, why is there Christmas, how would you answer?

There are a lot of great ways to answer that question.

And we’ve sung a bunch of them already this morning.

John’s got a really good way of saying it here in 1 John 4.

John says that Jesus, the Son of God was sent on a mission.

Now, those words “sent on a mission” should sound familiar to you.  Do they?

51 weeks ago, on the first Sunday of January, I preached a sermon called “Sent on a Mission in 2016."

Being a sent on a mission from God has been our theme as a church for all of 2016.

It’s come up again and again and again.

The moms might remember our Mother’s Day message, “Mission-Minded Moms.”

“Go therefore and MOTHER disciples.” We said.

And then our youth went to a little conference in Louisville, Kentucky called “Challenge,” and what was the theme of that conference?

“Live Sent.”

Because God is Father, Son, and Spirit, we are a family of servant missionaries.

We are sent on a mission.

Do you like to be sent on a mission?

A year ago, I said that I love that sort of thing.

I love it when someone has a mission for me to fulfill.

Those times when Heather says, “Matthew, I need some groceries. Here’s the list. Head over to State College and bring back these items or die trying!”  She never says that last part. But sometimes, it’s implied.

“I’ve got a mission for you.”

Of course, not all missions are the same. When Heather says, “Would you take out this stinky compost bucket out to the compost pile?” I don’t get the same exciting feeling.

Do you like to be sent on a mission?

“I’ve got a job for you. Here’s what I want you to do...”

Well, that first Christmas was a mission.

But it wasn’t a mission, first and foremost, for you and me.

It was a mission for the God the Son.

The Second Person of the Trinity.

And here was the mission: to take on flesh.

To become a human like you and me.
To be conceived in the womb of a virgin.
To be born a baby in Bethlehem.
To become God the Son Incarnate.

That was the mission that God the Father gave God the Son.

On that night, when the angels lit up the fields and sang to the shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest,” [Rejoice!] they were announcing that the Christmas Mission had launched.

God the Son had been sent.

Luke 2:10&11, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

God the Son had been sent on a mission.

God the Father is a sending God and God the Son is a God that’s sent.

And why was He sent?

John tells us here in 1 John 4.

Have you already opened your presents?

I’ve only have two points this morning. There is so much here in this paragraph, but we’re not going to study it all. [We did that a few years ago.]

Some of you haven’t opened your presents yet, so you’re just waiting for me to get done so that you can go home and share a meal and some gifts.

My family is planning to drive to Ohio after this.

So, I’ll make this quick.

I’m only going to point out the two major things about the Christmas Mission.

Why Jesus was sent among us.


In this passage, John is convincing his readers to love each other.

“Dear friends [beloved], let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

We’re going to say more about that in just a minute.

Love comes from God because God is the epitome of love.

And verse 9 tells us that God has shown or revealed His love among us.

How, when? At that first Christmas. Verse 9. “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.”

What other verse of scripture does that verse remind you of?

I can think of a couple, but one is the most famous verse in the Bible right?

The Gospel of John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave [the most amazing Christmas present ever] his one and only Son [same term, monogenes, often translated “only begotten”], that whoever believes in him [the Son] shall not perish but have eternal life.”

The Son was sent that we might live through Him.

That baby was born in Bethlehem so that we might have life.

What kind of life?

Well, John 3:16 says, “eternal life.” Life that starts now and goes on into eternity. And John 17:3 defines eternal life as a relationship with God. “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

Eternal life is a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ that starts now and goes on forever.

And it’s an abundant life.

Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come [I have been sent] that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Full life.

That’s what kind of life we get from Christmas mission.

But for us to get that life, Jesus had to experience death. V.10

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

We didn’t love God. We actually hated Him.

But He loved us. God demonstrates His own love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

V.10 “He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

A propitiation.

What’s this saying?

For us to have life, He had to experience death.

That baby born in Bethlehem was born to die.

The shadow of the Cross looms over the manger.

The Son of God wasn’t just sent to be sweet baby Jesus.

He was sent to give Himself as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

The Father sent His Son to His death.

Some missions are less desirable than others.

Some missions are less painful than others.

Let’s not forget in the sweetness of Christmas how painful this was.

Jesus not only emptied Himself of glory, but He took the form of a servant. Philippians 2.

“[Jesus] being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!”

That was the Christmas Mission.

A savior has been born to you, and He will die for you.

The Son was sent that we might live through Him.

Have you come to place your faith in Him?

If you have not, I invite you to do so right now.

Don’t let this Christmas go by without finding new life in the Son of God who was sent as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

And if you have put your faith in Him, rejoice and live your life in Him.

I think that also includes the idea of living your life for Him.

A life of discipleship, of obedience of doing what pleases the Lord.

He has given you a new life and wants you to live it for Him and through Him.

What did the choir sing this morning?

Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!
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.

New life.

The Son was sent that we might live through Him.

The second reason for the Christmas Mission:


Look at verse 11.

“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

I was surprised.

I was surprised that John doesn’t say, “Dear friends since God so loved us, we also ought to love God.”

That’s true!

But that’s not where John goes with it, is it?

He says, “Beloved, since God loved us by sending His Son on the Christmas Mission, we also ought to love ONE ANOTHER.”

He’s shown us how to do it.

Now, is that easy?

No, it’s not easy to love others.

Including Christians.

Just because we’re fellow Christians, doesn’t make us adorable.

But God’s kind of love is the kind of love that loves even enemies.

So you don’t have to be adorable for me to learn to love you.

I don’t have to be adorable for you to learn to love me.

We’ve been loved by God. So we can love one another.

Is that a line from a Christmas song?

How about “O Holy Night?”

“Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother.
And in His name all oppression shall cease.”

We won’t continue to oppress each other if we know how we’ve been loved.

We love because He first loved us.

How are you doing at that?

Did you expect to come to church this morning and be told that we need to learn to love better?

The Son was sent that we might love like Him.

Not perfectly. Love is hard for finite fallen people like you and me.

But we can love truly.

We can love others.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

Is that how you’ve been treated by God?

“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

Where do you need to grow? What aspect of love needs some work in your life?

Who are you having trouble loving these days?

Whom do you need to show love to this week?

That’s our Christmas mission.

Because we have new life in the Son, we are called to live lives of love like He taught us.

Not lives of hate.
Not lives of fear.
Not lives of indifference.

But lives of love.

Paul said, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2).

That’s not easy.

But that’s our mission because the Son of God accepted His mission to seek and save us when we were lost.

Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21).

Not exactly the same, of course. We aren’t all called to die on the Cross for other people’s sins.

But we are called to share the good news of great joy that comes from the Savior who has been born to us.

And we are called to love others in His name.

On the last Sunday of 2016, we are again reminded that we are sent on a mission of love.

But we are sent on mission of love because the Son was first sent on a mission of love for us.

And joy to the world...the Savior came!