We say we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and we accept Him as Lord and Savior. Who is this Jesus? Christmas is right around the corner, and that means the World is about to knock on your door and ask you that question: “Who is this Jesus?”
To be honest, we aren’t certain what day Jesus was born, or even exactly what year. The early church used ancient Winter and Spring holidays to spread the gospel. They used the Winter holiday to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and the Spring holiday to celebrate His resurrection.
As a result, we can reap where we have not planted. We can use the holiday to share the story, the whole story, of faith in Jesus Christ.
Each Christmas, the world peers through a frosted window at a cute baby snuggled in a warm manger with two loving parents and gentle animals. And some of them wonder, Who is this Jesus?
We know they are coming. They come every year, to this very church. And they bring with them five basic longings that are shared by all modern humans. We long for power, the power to change, and to change the world. We long for hope, hope of healing and recovery, hope for tomorrow. We long from freedom, from our own self-destructive behaviors and from the constant worry of modern life. We long for love, to be accepted and valued as we are. And, we long for purpose, asking for ourselves and for the world, what is the meaning of this life.
Now maybe we can’t give these things to people. But we know someone who can. We know Jesus, and the best we can do is to use this holiday, this festive, nostalgic party, to introduce people to Jesus. The World is looking for a baby in a Manger. They don’t know that the baby can also fulfull their deepest longings. And now, from John chapter 4, a Christmas story:
The Pharisees heard that Jesus was winning and baptizing more disciples than John. (Actually, Jesus himself did not baptize anyone; only his disciples did.) So when Jesus heard what was being said, he left Judea and went back to Galilee; on his way there he had to go through Samaria.
In Samaria he came to a town named Sychar, which was not far from the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by the trip, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
Away in a Manger, no room for His bed, The Little Lord Jesus Lay down His sweet head. The stars in the sky look down where He lay. The Little Lord Jesus Asleep on the hay.
The world knows all about that baby in a manger. But does the world know this tired Rabbi? He gets tired. He feels hunger, thirst and weariness, just like we do. And who would see the power in this tired, thirsty rabbi, resting at a well in Samaria? Could they see His power to change the world? Can they see it today? Our mission is to tell the world about the Power of Jesus.
A Samaritan woman came to draw some water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink of water.” (His disciples had gone into town to buy food.)
The woman answered, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan — so how can you ask me for a drink?” (Jews will not use the same cups and bowls that Samaritans use.)
Jesus answered, “If you only knew what God gives and who it is that is asking you for a drink, you would ask him, and he would give you life-giving water.”
“Sir,” the woman said, “you don’t have a bucket, and the well is deep. Where would you get that life-giving water? It was our ancestor Jacob who gave us this well; he and his sons and his flocks all drank from it. You don’t claim to be greater than Jacob, do you?”
Jesus answered, “Whoever drinks this water will get thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring which will provide him with life-giving water and give him eternal life.”
What child is this who lay to rest
on Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels keep with anthems sweet
While shepherds watch are keeping.
This, This is Christ the King
Whom angels guard and anthems sing.
Haste, Haste to bring him laude,
The Babe, the son of Mary.
Who are you, Jesus? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who dug this well? At least the shepherds had Herald Angels singing, and the wise men had a star. What did this woman have to know who Jesus was? What about these longing, seeking people who will come through our doors? What do they know about who Jesus is? At least the woman at the well could talk to him face to face. Today, those who would meet Jesus face to face come here looking for him. For every person who walks through the church this Christmas, our mission is to show them the face of Jesus.
“Sir,” the woman said, “give me that water! Then I will never be thirsty again, nor will I have to come here to draw water.”
“Go and call your husband,” Jesus told her, “and come back.”
“I don’t have a husband,” she answered.
Jesus replied, “You are right when you say you don’t have a husband. You have been married to five men, and the man you live with now is not really your husband. You have told me the truth.”
Oh, come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant!
Oh come ye, oh come ye, to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him,
born the King of Angels
Oh, come, let us adore Him.
Oh, come, let us adore Him.
Oh, come, let us adore Him.
Christ, the Lord!
Yes come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant. They have reason to celebrate! But what about those who are not so faithful? Those who have messed up. Those backsliders. Those outsiders. People like us. That babe in a manger grew up to get close to the outcast and the lost. He wasn’t content to leave them adoring Him from afar.
The Christmas story is more than the story of a miraculous birth. It is the story of a miraculous forgiveness. Mary loved her boy child, but God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son. Jesus accepted people in their sinful, fallen, unlovable state. While we were sinners, Christ died for us. Have we given up on anyone? Did Christ give up on any of us? Our mission is to bring lost sheep into the fold, to love the unlovable, to include the outcast. Our mission is to set the captives free with his mercy and forgiveness.
“I see that you are a prophet, sir,” the woman said. “My Samaritan ancestors worshiped God on this mountain, but you Jews say that Jerusalem is the place where should worship God.”
“Believe me, woman, the time will come when people will not worship the Father either on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans do not really know whom you worship; but we Jews know whom we worship, because it is from the Jews that salvation comes. But the time is coming and is already here, when by the power of God’s Spirit people will worship the Father as he really is, offering him the true worship that he wants. God is Spirit, and only by the power of his Spirit can people worship him as he really is.”
Go, tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere.
Go, tell it on the mountain,
That Jesus Christ is born.
Jews go to synagogue. Muslims go to mosque. Christians go to church. Isn’t that how it works? You go to your church, and I go to mine? But Jesus shows us God unfettered by buildings, or by prejudice, or by human tradition. The world knows how we segregate ourselves for church. But our savior went into an unclean land, and shared food and water with an outcast race. Does the world know the savior who isn’t afraid to be seen with “that kind of people”? Does the world know that Jesus loves in spirit and in truth, not in creed or color? Our mission is to love others as Jesus loves them, and as Jesus loves us.
The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah will come, and when he comes, he will tell us everything.”
Jesus answered, “I am he, I who am talking with you.”
At that moment Jesus’ disciples returned; and they were greatly surprised to find him talking with a woman. But none of them said to her, “What do you want?” or asked him, “Why are you talking with her?”
Then the woman left her water jar, went back to the town, and said to the people there, “Come and see the man who told me everything I have ever done. Could he be the Messiah?” So they left the town and went to Jesus.
We three kings of Orient are,
Bearing gifts we travel so far
Field and fountain, moore and mountain
Following yonder star.
Oh, star of wonder, star of light,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us with thy perfect light.
Ah, now we have a miracle, a guiding star. Jesus convinced the woman, face to face, that he is the Messiah. Has he convinced you? Is there a miracle you can share to gather the villagers out to meet this man named Jesus? We will do all we can this Christmas season to help you share the story. There will be cookies, decorations, music and children. But it is your testimony that brings them in. Do you have a miracle? A changed life? The joy of salvation? The villagers will come to see Jesus because of what you say. Share the good news. Our mission is to bring the villagers here, to meet Jesus.
In the meantime, the disciples were begging Jesus, “Teacher, have something to eat!
But he answered, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
So the disciples started asking among themselves, “Could somebody have brought him food?”
“My food,” Jesus said to them, “is to obey the will of the one who sent me and to finish the work he gave me to do. You have a saying, ‘Four more months and then the harvest.’ But I tell you, take a good look at the fields; the crops are now ripe and ready to be harvested! The man who reaps the harves is being paid and gathers the crops for eternal life; so the man who plants and the man who reaps will be glad together. For the saying is true, ‘One man plants, another man reaps.’ I have sent you to reap a harvest in a field where you did not work; others worked there, and you profit from their work.”
Many of the Samaritans in that town believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I have ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they begged him to stay there two days.
Many more believed because of his message, and they told the woman, “We believe now, not because of what you said, but because we ourselves have heard him, and we know that he really is the Savior of the world.”
Joy to the world, the Lord is come.
Let Earth receive her King.
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing.
And Heaven and nature sing.
And Heaven and Heaven and nature sing.
Yes, brothers and sisters, Joy to the World! Heaven rejoices over each and every lost sheep that returns to the fold. Bring them in, introduce them to Jesus, and let Jesus Himself convince them of the joyful good news of God’s Love.
This Christmas Holiday celebration like a precious gift that is beautifully giftwrapped. It has ribbon, and bows, and bells, and garlands, and it looks so beautiful under the tree, you want to leave it there forever.
But the real present is inside the wrapper! We all loved Christmas as children, but don’t you love it even more as a celebration of your savior? Wasn’t it wonderful to finally unwrap the present, to find that this faith is not just beautiful, but also fulfilling?
Jesus is the answer to those deep longings in the heart of Modern humankind. Jesus is the source of Power, of Hope, of Freedom, of Love, and of Purpose. Jesus really is the answer for the World today.
This Christmas, the world will knock at our door, as it does every year, to peer through that frosty window at the snugly baby in the manger. Let’s invite them in. Let them smell cookies, and fresh coffee, and hot cider. Let them hear old familiar carols and decorations of red and green.
And while they’re here enjoying the decorations, let’s take them one step further. Let’s introduce Christ through our love, and acceptance, and consideration. Let’s help them unwrap the present, to see that this Jesus is more than a baby in a Manger. He’s our brother, our savior, our teacher. He shows us a loving God who can fill the longings of our heart. Advent begins next week. Let’s us all work together to give the world the greatest gift anyone can give. Our mission this Christmas is to give our world the gift of Jesus.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Tropical Sands Christian Church – November 25, 2001