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Christmas According to Jesus

Part 1 - I Have Come to Serve and to Sacrifice

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(12/2) A while back, I was with the pastors that I pray with each week and one of them said that he had a hard time trying to come up with new Christmas sermons. How many ways can you present the story of Jesusí birth? I think that there are lots of ways and the way we are going to look at Christmas this year is the Christmas story according to Jesus. We have spent this whole year and will until Easter looking at the teachings and commands of Jesus, mostly but not exclusively in the gospel of Matthew. These are Words in Red because, in many of our Bibles, the words of Jesus are printed in Red. These next five sermons, starting today, will be Jesus stating in His own words, why He came to us. He doesnít talk about the plan of the Father, of the angelís announcement, or wise men, or much about His mother or Joseph, or a manger, or the days of His childhood. But He does tell us why He left heaven and became one of us and then died for us. So, this is Christmas According to Jesus, part 1.

I. The Situation - Our story picks up shortly after where we left off last week. Jesus and His disciples are in Judea and headed for Jerusalem and the final Passover when He will die and rise again. The rich young ruler had just, sadly, gone away from Jesus unwilling to give up his stuff to follow Jesus. Our Lord said it was hard, but not impossible with God, for a rich man to be saved. The reason is that the rich tend to trust in their stuff and not on God. Though we didnít look at it, but might after the first of the year, Peter asked what they would receive for leaving everything to follow Him. Jesus said, they would get a lot including 12 thrones to sit and judge the 12 tribes of Israel. He then gave the parable of the laborers and how those who only worked a short time would get as much as those who worked a long time for the master when they enter the Kingdom. The point being that the last would be first and the first would be last. Iíll explain that after the New Year

II. The Revelation (vv. 18-19) -Then, for the third time He plainly says to the 12 Apostles, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, 19 and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again." He reveals the plan, Godís plan to these guys, but there are no questions from them, and He offers no explanation. However, He will do that several times after He rises again, but not now. We know that the first time He revealed it in chapter 16, Peter says, "Unh uh, no way, ainít gonna happen, not on my watch." But Jesus rebukes him and any of us who seek our will and manís ways over Godís will and Godís ways. But this time there is no recorded response.

III. The Requisition (vv. 20-21) Ė The Mother of Zebedeeís children comes to Jesus with a request. This is James and Johnís mother, you know, the loud and boisterous Sonsí of Thunder boys. These are the guys who want to call down fire on Samaritanís, and want to keep people from ministering in Jesus name unless they go to the same church. Mom steps in to ask for what they had now discussed also for a third time and it wonít be the last. How will they rank in the Kingdom? What tribes will each of them judge? Judah was probably the top pick. Who would get it? They will argue about this again on the evening of the last supper, which is why Jesus washed their feet. Iíll come back to that. But letís not be too hard on these guys and give them some credit.

1st, they firmly believed the promises of God especially that there was going to be a Golden age called the Kingdom of God or of Heaven here on earth. By the way, God is going to keep His promise and there will be a Golden Age and hopefully in the near future.

2nd, they were respectful and honored Him, they knelt down before Him. They believed He was destined to be the King of Israel and the world. And in an honoring, worshipful, and respectful manner they present their request.

3rd, they believed Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah. They saw the Kingdom miracles. They did kingdom miracles, therefore, they knew that Jesus is the Anointed one. They were singing Isaac Watts, Joy to the World. Itís just a matter of when He is going to make His big move and claim the Kingdom and show the world His power. To this there was no doubt. To pray, "Thy Kingdom Come," was most likely a daily heart cry. They believed and they were anxious. It was so close they could taste it. Jesus had been preaching that it was at hand, as did John the Baptist.

But why Mom? I think I know. I think she was Jesusí aunt Salome, His motherís sister and that James and John were His first cousins. I canít say conclusively, but I think I am right and it makes sense. Why do I think this? All four gospel writers tell us that there were women who watched Jesus die. These were women who had ministered to Jesus, and followed Jesus from Galilee. You see, it wasnít just Jesus and the 12 who traveled all over Israel, it was Jesus and a small church. He poured Himself into the 12, but there were lots of people who followed Him. Remember when Judas died and they chose a replacement (Acts 1:20-26) they chose one who had been with them from the beginning. A lot of women followed Jesus. And some of these women ministered to Him. Probably gave money, and food, and fixed meals, and darned socks and whatever. Matt. 27:55 says, And many women who followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him, were there looking on from afar, 56 among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedeeís sons. Mark 15, There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome, 41 who also followed Him and ministered to Him when He was in Galilee, and many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem. Luke mentions them but doesnít name them. John 19 says, 25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His motherís sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. I think her name is Salome and she is Maryís sister, Jesusí aunt, and she was talking to her nephew on her sonís, His cousins behalf. Notice they were with momma. Blood is thicker than water. Sometimes, itís not what you know but who you know. Havenít you heard these things before? Itís hard to say no to your auntís request.

Letís pause here for a moment. Ambition is a good thing. I believe in setting goals and then shooting for those goals. I have a hard time with people who have no ambition, who are lazy or just want to drift through life. I still dream about what I want to be when I grow up. Do you? What are your goals? Every January 1st, people determine to make some changes in their lives. I challenge you to make a bucket list, set some goals and then determine what it will take to reach those goals and then do it. Start a project; finish a project; write that book; contact the travel agency; sign up for that course, etc. But in that planning add one ingredient, Honoring God. How can I honor God in this project? I can bless my family; give to charity; use it as a testimony; I can fulfill my calling and purpose.

The problem with ambition is when it becomes self-serving. I want the power, the position, the prestige, the possessions, and the praise of people that come with the goal. This I fear, was the motivation of Zebedeeís family.

IV. The Inquisition (v.22), "But Jesus answered and said, "You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" The cup and baptism refer to the sufferings that He had just told them He would experience. He would have to drain the cup of suffering that being our substitute would bring Him and to feel the pain of a world that rejects truth. The baptism is to be immersed in suffering and together they imply that it hurts to follow Jesus because you will be rejected and maybe lose your freedom, your health, your family, your job, and possibly your life. Itís similar to what Policemen, Firemen, and Soldiers must consider when they sign up.

They said, "We are able". And notice what Jesus says, (v.23a) "You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with." By the way, this is for every Christ Follower to consider. The faith gospel might try to tell you that God wants you to be healthy and wealthy, but Jesus says throughout the gospels and the other writers agree, if you follow Jesus you should expect no less than what he received. If the world hates Him it will hate you who love Him. What they did to Him, you can expect the same; that is, if you truly follow Him.

V. The Clarification (vv. 23b-26) "Öbut to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father." 24 And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant."

Notice several things

1. God has already determined, & predestined each personís role in His kingdom. Because God is God and we are not, He knows the beginning from the end and has determined who is going to fit where. He doesnít have to wait and see, He already knows. I have often wondered how some guys end up in mega churches and the majority end up in small churches, or how some guys write books that become best sellers and others canít get published. Peter once asked in John 21 what would happen to John and our Lord said, itís none of your business. God has a plan for each of us and it is different. But itís His plan.

2. Pride and arrogance and self- centeredness always results in division, dissension, and dis-unity. The other ten were upset with the audacity of these guys to play the family card and get momma to intercede for them. When you finagle and manipulate to obtain something, it is because you are operating outside of the will of God and trying to make things happen yourself and that almost always results in trouble, and division, in families, at work, school or wherever. How much better to let God take care of you and work it out. People who must finagle and manipulate often find that what they get is not what they thought they would get; their expectations are disappointing.

3. Power hunger is a Non - Believerís thing. Its how the world operates. Strive for power so you can have people do your bidding and wait on you. Most companies and governments have more perks the higher up the ladder you go. Cars, offices, assistants, bonuses, etc. You do less and get more. You get the people under you to do the work and you reap the benefits. Thatís the worldís way. But that is not the Jesus way.

4. The Jesus way is the way of humility; it is the way of always seeking how you can serve others; it is the way of hospitality. Jesus said, "Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave." Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly,[a] not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; 4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away (1 Peter 5:2-4) I have shared with you over the years that there are over 30 commands in the new testament that are about one another. The second greatest commandment is that we love one another as Jesus loved us and as we want to be loved. Loving others is all about seeking the best for others not ourselves. Sadly not all Christ Followers are about serving others. Many of us are like what Wilbur Rees wrote about called $3 worth of God, "I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.

Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep,

but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk

or a snooze in the sunshine.

I donít want enough of God to make me love a black man

or pick beets with a migrant.

I want ecstasy, not transformation.

I want warmth of the womb, not a new birth.

I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack.

I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.

VI. The Demonstration (v. 28) Ė It is at this point that Jesus introduces us to His version of the Christmas story. 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." The story of Christmas and Easter is sometimes so wonderful that I canít really comprehend it. How many of you would be willing to become a fly or an ant or any insect to rescue the insect world? Yet Jesus, the creator, the author of life, the Holy and offended Deity would leave heaven to become one of His own creation to show and tell how much He loves us and to rescue us from the danger we all face in an eternal hell, even though He knew His very creation would use and abuse and hurt Him beyond our comprehension and then kill Him in the most inhuman way imaginable. Does that leave you in Awe of Him? He did not come to say kiss my ring, and wait on me, fix my meals and run my bath, and wax my car. He didnít hire servants to care for Him. He lived to care for His mother and siblings and then to demonstrate love and grace to sinners. He got up early and stayed up late to minister to people and to pray for people. He served the rich and the poor, the religious and the sinners, the Jews, the Samaritans, and the Gentiles. He never said, that anything was beneath Him, or that someone else should deal with that problem. He ministered. The argument that the 12 had over greatness would be repeated at least one more time on the evening of the last Passover as Luke tells us. John doesnít speak directly to it but says that Jesus having loved His own to the end, took a basin and a towel and washed all of their feet because no one else had. Look at John 13:12ff, "So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one anotherís feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them." Our Lord is telling us that the secret of happiness is in serving others and not what we can get from others. His example was for us to follow. Let me ask you a question, "In what way are you involved in serving people?

The Church at Philippi had a few people problems. People were arguing and Paul writes this to them, look at Philippians 2:1-11, "Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He ihumbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

For our Lord, the issue was not whether we deserved it, the issue was did we have a need. If there was a need, the love of God wanted to give to meet that need, whatever it took. For us it took the Humility of our God, the Grace of a King, and the hands and heart of a man who would give His all to rescue us. Christmas according to Jesus was for Him to come to serve and sacrifice Himself for sinners who were not seeking Him. He never asked for anyone to care for Him. He came to show and tell us about the Love of God and the chance for reconciliation with a Holy God, and He wants His followers to do the same. They didnít get it until after the Resurrection. Some have never gotten it. A little Albanian school teacher and Nun got it and dedicated her life to caring for the poorest of the poor in the streets of Calcutta. George Mueller got it dedicated himself to caring for the orphans of Londonís streets, William Booth got and dedicated himself to caring for the poor of London and started the Salvation Army. Charles Colson got it and started Prison Fellowship. Rescue Missions get it and care for the drug users and alcoholics of every city. Samaritanís Purse and World Vision gets it and cares for the victims of the worldís natural disasters and those without clean water or enough food. This is the Christmas story according to Jesus and the reason for the Season. Remember the words we all say we want to hear someday, "Well done thou good and faithful____(What)________? Servant!

Want to experience happiness this Christmas and all year. Volunteer, teach, serve, pick up a basin and a towel, a rake, a paint brush, a hammer and saw, a wrench, a broom, a bag of groceries, and go serve.

Your exultation will be when we stand before the one who came to serve and sacrifice Himself for us. There will be a commendation, a crown, and a castle, for all you have done in His name.

Let me ask you do you know the one who died and rose again for you? The one who is willing to forgive and adopt you as His own? Why not give your life to Him today?

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman