Over at Christian Apologetics Alliance I had the pleasure of blogging my church's Christmas sermon series, called "He Came to Us". There were four sermons in the series preached by Jim Applegate at Redeemer in Modesto, each sermon taking one Gospel's approach to Jesus' birth.
12/2: He Came to Us: In our brokenness. Matthew.
12/9: He Came to Us: To all of us. Mark.
12/16: He Came to Us: Knowing we are skeptics. Luke.
12/23: He Came to Us: For all eternity. John.
Week one: Matthew
"He Came to Us: In our brokenness." Jim explains that Jesus came from a broken genealogy, was conceived by an unwed mother and "born in a barn". The original nativity scene stunk of animal droppings, and it wasn't long before babies died because the king wanted to kill Jesus. Jim says this shows Jesus steps into our broken families, politically incorrect, messy lives, knowing things will get worse before they get better. Santa keeps a naughty and nice list and only gives gifts to nice kids, but Jesus comes to us before we are nice, dies for us and and erases the list--only then setting out to fix us. Our lives do not need to look like a Hallmark card, or even be merely functional, for Jesus to accept us.
Week two: Mark
"He Came to Us: To all of us." Jim talks about clues supporting the conclusion that Mark was writing to outsiders. Mark uses the Greek translation of the Old Testament, and translates cultural differences, because Jesus did not only come for insiders (Jews) but for outsiders as well (everyone else). Jesus came for outsiders so that we can ALL discover and understand (not just blindly accept), and ALL delight (find true satisfaction, not just deal with surface issues).
Week three: Luke
"He Came to Us: Knowing we are skeptics." Jim shows that Luke used eyewitness accounts in writing down the facts so that we can have certainty, not just blindly accept. He explains that both Zechariah and Mary were skeptical and couldn't believe at first, but that God gave them the answers and evidence they needed. He points out two main reasons we are skeptical: we are pridefully overly protective of old wounds, or we are overly needy of filling that God-shaped hole and are chasing after alternatives by which we are easily duped. Luke includes the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies because God doesn't expect us to believe any old person who shows up claiming to be him. Resting in the certainty provided in the case Luke makes, we don't have to protect ourselves from questions.
Week four: John
"He Came to Us: For all eternity." Jim compares the moral of A Christmas Carol to the Gospel. Uncle Scrooge goes from greedy worldliness to the moral superiority of religion, skipping right past the point of Christmas: That Jesus comes to us, not we to him. The world and our own moral superiority will fail us, but John affirms that Jesus is Lord over our past, present, and future.
In conclusion: Jesus came to all of us in our brokenness, knowing we are skeptics, and dying once to demonstrate his acceptance for all eternity.
When considered in the light of Carson Weitnauer’s 6 Easy Ways to Add Apologetics to Your Sermon, Jim’s sermon series does a good job of touching all 6 ways, explained in more detail if you click on the links to each sermon above. It is so encouraging to be a member of a church family that speaks to both heart and mind. This is a gift I’d like to thank God for giving us this Christmas, which was made possible by the gift of his son. If you are a pastor or elder, I pray you consider giving this gift to your church, if you are not already. If you are a member of a church whose pastor/elder employs any of Carson’s 6 Ways, would you please comment to this article and tell me all about it?
Happy New Year!