Notes from a sermon: Sunday 5 December, Peter Comont, Magdalen Road Church
Because our need is very great.
Shame and glory: v18-20
The passage contains elements of both shame and glory.
Shame: Mary is found to be pregnant, and by the time the child is born, she is still not married to Joseph. Even in the (adulterous) relationship between David and Bathsheba, they are married by the time the baby was born. In the eyes of those looking on, this was a very shameful situation.
Glory: This child is not the product of an illicit relationship, but of a miracle of God. When Abraham and Rachel are promised a child, beyond their years, it is still conceived in the normal way. With Mary, the beginnings of this life are even more miraculous and glorious.
A new kind of salvation: v 21
‘…you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’
‘…he will save…’ – God will save? This baby will save? Or are they the same? Is this baby, God?
‘…from their sins.’ – Most people have Old Testament hopes of salvation, often centred around the political. “What’s wrong with the world?” Me. Sin. We make decisions. Some of them are wrong. We sin.
Saved from the penalty for sin. This morning I think I saw someone stealing a bike, which piqued my sense of justice – for the person whose bike was being stolen (the offended) to see justice brought to the thief (the offender). And on Friday we were a few minutes late getting back to our car in town, and I was worried that we would arrive to find a parking ticket stuck to the windscreen. The penalty would have been just, but I still didn’t want it. Sin doesn’t happen in a vacuum. There are consequences for sin. And the one who is most offended is God. Sin deserves just punishment. Jesus comes to save me from that penalty, by paying it himself.
Saved from the tyranny of sin. If your life is not changed, you have no right to be called Christian. Whilst we continue to sin, the Holy Spirit helps us to battle with sin, and to cultivate fruits of the Spirit.
Saved, finally from sin itself… “I have been saved; I am being saved; I will be saved.” James Akin
A new kind of saviour: v 22-23
These verses make absolutely clear… ‘Immanuel, God with us.’ God himself, made man.
This week, a leader of Oxfordshire County Council, Keith Mitchell, caused anger from a comment he tweeted about student protesters. Keith Mitchell wrote on his twitter feed: “County Hall invaded by an ugly, badly-dressed student rabble. God help us if this is our future.” Whilst Mitchell probably used ‘God help us’ in a sense of despair, it belies his conviction that, were he in charge, things would be different. The truth is, we need God’s help whoever is in charge. And the good news of Christmas is that God has helped us. He came to meet our deepest need.
Can you see that this is your most fundamental need? Have you sought Jesus as your answer? Is there a better analysis of the problem, or does Jesus get to the bottom of it?
When the Times of London once asked several of Britain’s leading intellectuals what they thought was the problem with the world, the celebrated Catholic journalist G. K. Chesterton sent back a postcard response: “I am.”