MERRY CHRISTMAST EVE!
As of tonight, millions of people in the world have been writing notes, sending messages, and talking a lot about a very old man who will drop from the sky and enter our homes to bring us celebratory joy with his extravagant generosity.
- You might be unbelieving and skeptical.
- You may be unprepared.
- You might be undeserving.
- Yet, tonight’s message is to help you overcome all those fears and experience assurance that he is actually coming.
- It may or not be tonight.
- It may or not be soon.
- So, what is the difference from the return of Jesus vs the coming of Santa?
- Santa makes a naughty list but Jesus is merciful to sinners.
- Jesus entered this world to be born unto us and for us.
- Just like a doctor offering a cure, Jesus came for the sick and not those who think they are too perfect, popular, or wealthy to ever get the sin virus.
Isaiah 9:6-7 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”
Tonight we look at a fourth name for Jesus. Of these four names, this one likely has the most curb appeal and attraction.
- Wonderful Counselor: Who has time or patience for one of these?
- Mighty God: Stay in my corner and only come out when needed.
- Everlasting Father: Big Poppa hasn’t updated with the times.
- Prince of Peace: Prince? Hmmm! Peace? Yes, please.
“Sar Shalom” is the phrase in Hebrew, where shalom is one of the most prominent theological themes throughout the OT. It means peace but it also means more than peace. It carries the idea of being whole, full harmony or completeness. It’s peace from head to toe, inside and outside of your life. In the NT it is additionally understood, only the gospel of Jesus brings connection and confidence with God.
But our world is lacking peace – around the nations and in our neighborhoods.
- Isaiah looks forward to a day when God will correct injustice and settle disputes, so that people shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; and nation shall not war anymore (Isa 2:4).
- Isaiah also promises “the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf with the lion, and a little child shall lead them” (Isa 11:6)
- In Christ – and in the new heavens and earth, the old curse of earth will be removed so that Eden is restored for creation to be at peace.
Even personally, peace is absent. It is far too easy to disguise as if we have peace on the outside but on the inside is hurt and rage.
- Isaiah promises “perfect peace whose mine is stayed on God and trusting in the Lord” (Isa 26:3-4, 12).
Ultimately, peace is not just the absence of difficulty but the presence of divinity. It is recognizing that life is lonely and incomplete without being united to God. Only Jesus brings shalom – full healing and wholeness.
- Isaiah 53:5 “But he was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
- Isaiah 41:10 “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
All this talk about peace is nice in theory, but how do we experience it in practice?
Pray. God hears and cares. You can pray any time and in any amount of words. If we fail to draw close with God, then we will eventually fall apart with gripes and groans.
- Isaiah 43:2, 4 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel… you are precious in my eyes and I love you”
- Isaiah 59:1 “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save, or his ear dull that it cannot hear.”
Empathize. Life is not a competition. We’re all going to end standing before God and short of perfection, in need of grace. Our world needs a little less “hey look at me” and a bit more humility.
- Isaiah 66:2 “But this is the one to whom I will look: one who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”
Act. Christianity is doctrine and deeds. Our beliefs transform our behaviors so that we do not just give lip service but walk our talk. One of the actions that God rebukes the most is hypocritical faith.
- Isaiah 58:3-8 “Why have we [sought God intensely] and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it? [The reason is because] you seek your own pleasure and oppress other people. You quarrel and fight… [instead of…] [being set free from] bonds of wickedness, undoing straps of oppression… Are you not to share your bread with the hungry; be hospitable toward the homeless; and care for the underprivileged? THEN shall your light break forth like the dawn and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your guard.”
- Why should the Christmas spirit of compassion and generosity be limited to a season?
Connect. If we want to experience peace in this world, we need to connect with others. Isaiah describes people from different backgrounds and ethnicities coming together in the house of the LORD.
- Isaiah 56:6-7 “everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant, these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer, their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar, for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
- One step for you at SPBC will be to participate at a new member orientation to believe & belong (Jan 30, 9:30am)
Evangelize: The best way to promote peace is to speak much about the Prince of Peace. Can you imagine having the cure for a virus but hoarding and hiding it from others who are sick? That is what Christians do who do not share the good news of Jesus with others.
- Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation”
And so… we close our service by receiving the light & love from Jesus Christ. When we ready for candle-lighting, the unlit candles bend to lit candles. This is a symbol of our humility to bow to Jesus in need of His forgiving grace & fueling light. Then share w/ others.
So, before we light candles, will you pause/bow in faith to Jesus?
God, my life is dark without you. I’m a sinner in need of salvation. In your grace, I bow to you for forgiveness and light.
I believe your salvation with the perfect life of Jesus and He taking my punishment with His death on the cross.
I believe Jesus offers hope over darkness & death with His resurrection.
Jesus, enter my life and help me to shine bright for others to see.