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Sermon Notes Slide Key:
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OPENING ILLUSTRATION: One of my favorite parts of getting new glasses is bringing things into focus.
I can remember as a kid the first time I got glasses I was riding in the back of our station wagon, looking out the window. I could see for the first time what the street signs said, I could see every detail in the leaves, the veins, and the colors. I could read the stop signs. It was incredible. It was before seat belts and I just laid down and looked out the windows being amazed at the world I saw for the first time.
I would like to try, today, to bring Christmas into focus in a way you may have never seen it before.
Paul makes this statement in the book of Galatians
Galatians 4:4-7 (ESV)4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
When the fullness of time had come…
ILLUSTRATION: We never had the experience with any of our kids of having Jenni’s water break and us having to rush to the hospital to have them. All of them she was induced – we chose the time and day. But I still remember when those days came. I can remember walking into the hospital to fire alarms going off and no one acting like anything was happening. I can remember driving through a blizzard just to get to the hospital. I can remember so many details from each of their births. I remember the night before, the anxiety of everything changing, and the moment they entered the world that all the anxiety disappeared as you held this beautiful life in your arms.
That’s what the fullness of time is like. Everything in all of history, ready for God to enter the world.
“oh really Kent, like what?”
Well, I’m glad you asked… Let me just tell you a few of the things that were poised for this moment in history…
The Pax Romana
September 2, 31 BC Octavian – who would become the emperor of Rome and assume the name of Augustus. On that date, he won a decade-long rivalry with Mark Antony & Cleopatra.
From this point on Rome begins to move towards an unheard of 200-year long peace that officially begins in 27BC
For 200 years before this period – the Romans had constantly been at war.
Now, as all of history turns towards this one moment – Peace rules…
The Viae Romanae
Have you ever heard the phrase, “All roads lead to Rome”-That’s because, during the time of Jesus, they did…
The Romans managed an unheard-of feat during their time. They created a road system 113 provinces were interconnected by 372 roads. That’s 250,000 miles of roads, with 50,000 miles of it being stone-paved.
ILLUSTRATION: My great-grandma Streeter came to Kansas when she was a little girl on a covered wagon. There were no road systems – there were only the tracks from the wagon that had gone before you. I’ve ridden in a covered wagon. It’s a terrible way to travel and without real roads, it was dangerous and full of peril.
What the Romans did with their road system was incredible. It allowed for the transport of goods and ideas in a way that had never been known before in the ancient world
Now, as all of history turns towards this one moment – the way has literally been paved for the message of Jesus to travel on.
But that’s not all
You’ve surely heard of Alexander the Great
When Alexander was 20 years old, he began a series of wars that would last for 13 years (from 336-323 BC)
Alexander was undefeated. He would take on unheard-of feats and conquer them. At one point he chose to intentionally take his men through a desert on a 60 day march because no one had ever successfully taken an army through it. His casualties were high, but he did what no one else could do. When he conquered Tyre, which was built on an island and thought to be impenetrable because when you approached from the ship, they would fire flaming arrows onto your boat and sink it. So, what did Alexander do? He had his men begin putting boulders into the Mediterranean sea to build a landmass out to Tyre so they could just walk up and conquer the city of Tyre.
Alexander conquered most of the known world and in doing so, spread/created a universal language – Koine Greek
This is the language the New Testament was written in.
Now, as all of history turns towards this one moment – the entire world spoke the same language.
And Paul says…
Galatians 4:4 (ESV) 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son…
When the fullness of time had come, the world was at peace, the entire world could be easily accessed by roads, the entire world could understand one another through Greek
In this fullness of time, God brought Christmas…
God chose the perfect moment in history to execute His rescue plan to bring about redemption for all…
All of this was so the message could be spread – so it could reach down through the ages to this one perfect moment for you…
This moment where you would be in this church, on this day, to hear this message to realize that God loved YOU
John 3:16-17 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Get this, all those prayers you prayed asking “God where are you? if you exist, why don’t you just come down…”
He did…He came down to answer the pain, to retrieve us from the personal hells we live in. He came to free us from the mess we’ve made of life and to give us new life… To free us from the clutch of death that sin has placed on us…
For God so loved you, that He gave His only son…God.. came for you… At just the right moment, when the message could spread and infect as many people as possible…
This year, what if you slowed down to remember that Christmas isn’t about feeling good, or about giving gifts, or even really “love” in some amorphous sense. it is about God giving the gift of himself to love you and reach you…
CLOSING ILLUSTRATION: I’ll never forget the moment my son Peter was born. It was the first time I felt like a father. Jenni had labored with him a long time, I doctor literally went home in the middle of Jen pushing because she was tired. The doctor that took over wanted to use forceps because that’s what he always did and he was convinced that if we didn’t that Peter might not make it. So, he pulled Peter out and as he did, Peter came out with the umbilical cord around his neck. His whole body was blue and my heart stopped. I’ll never forget looking at the doctor, holding my little boy in his hand, rubbing him with a washcloth, everything in my wanting to grab him by the throat and say, “fix this…” and then it happened, Peter took a deep breath and let out a most beautiful cry in the world. What Paul was saying, what John was saying is that God grabbed the world by the throat and said, “I’m going to fix this” Paul says it this way, that by Jesus dying to save you from your sins, he made a way for God to become our Father, so we could say, Abba, Father. Like saying, Daddy.
Don’t miss the fact that God wants to be your Abba this Christmas. He wants you to slow down and return to Him, to come to Him as your good and faithful daddy…