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. What would Jesus desire for Christmas?

WHAT WOULD JESUS DESIRE FOR CHRISTMAS?

 

Introduction.

Christmas is a time of giving and we all picture little children drawing up that list of what they want. Now, some might not give and receive Christmas gifts, simply because they cannot afford it or because they choose not to. Christmas is the time in which we remember the coming of Christ to this world, and may I remind you that Jesus was not born on the 25th of December, but it was an existing public holiday that the ancient church chose to use to celebrate the coming of Christ. It does not matter which day we choose as we do not know when Jesus was born. The real issue is however, how we celebrate Christmas.

I would venture this morning as we approach Christmas next Sunday to change our emphasis and to ask a simple question. What will Jesus desire for Christmas? Let’s pretend it is actually His birthday. We don’t normally give gifts to others on somebody else’s birthday, do we? So maybe it is important to ask what Christ desires, rather than what we desire. And sure, Jesus most probably desires nothing for Christmas, but He does desire something.

Well, I am going to venture into a text which shares the heart of Christ, and what He desires from His Father. Well, maybe not for His earthly birthday, but for all eternity.  Turn with me to John 17:20-24 (ESV) “20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”

There are at least three things that Christ expresses here that He desires, and He prays to His Father expressing that request.

1. He desires the unity of the church.

I am not going to belabour this point as the impact of the whole of chapter 17 lies in verse 24. But let’s look at what Christ desires in verses 20-23 which is something He asks from the Father, but you and I are in a position to contribute to this gift.

In verse 21 He prays: “That we may all be one”

In verse 23 He prays: “That we may become perfectly one”.

In verse 23 He prays: “That the world may know that God the Father sent Christ and that we may know that God loves us as He loves Christ.” This part is a byproduct of Christian unity.

 

Last week we looked at the Greatest Commandment which is to love our neighbour as ourselves, but we also looked at the New Commandment which is to love one another, with the byproduct of the world knowing that we are His disciples, because we love one another. In verse 23 before us, Christ has the world in mind again. So, Christ desires to see three things accomplished through Christian unity. One, that the World will know that we are His disciples.  Two, that the world will know that the Father sent Christ. Three, that the world will know that the Father Loves us just as He loved Christ.

Christian, are you getting a sense of why love and unity in the body is so important? Let me just say this. Unity is not uniformity. Soldiers might wear the same uniform but in their hearts, they are divided. We can dress the same, we can act the same, we can love the same Christian music, we can worship the same, but these are all externals. What matters is true Christian unity, which is born from the heart. It is us knowing that we are family, that we are the household of God, that we are the people of God, that we are a royal priesthood chosen to declare the praises of Him who has called us from darkness into His marvelous light.  Unity is also not being tied together by force, by coercion, by manipulation, by rules, by traditions, by constitutions. Too often that which binds believers together in a body, is their constitution, and if relationships go sour, we change the constitution to establish unity. You can tie two cats together by their tails but I promise you that is not unity.

Christ is not praying for some kind of progressive, external unity of behaviour, He is praying for a perfected, instantaneous unity of being. It has to be part of our spiritual DNA.

Church family, Christ paid with His blood for this unity. That is why we sang this morning, ‘may the cross be my glory.’ That is why Paul can write in Ephesians 4:1-3 (ESV) 1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

That which will produce Christian unity are attributes like humility, gentleness, patience and tolerance. And to this purpose we must be eager. Is that you, is that me? If you want to give a great gift to Christ over this Christmas season, give Him you your heart, give Him your soul, but more than that, be united with your brothers and sisters, walk humbly, be gentle, be patient, be tolerant, be forgiving, and make it your life goal to let the world know that we are Christians by our love, and that the world will know that we are loved by God, and that He sent His Son. That is ultimately what Christmas is all about. It is about the Father sending Jesus, so let’s honour Him through our appropriate gift of unity.

2. He desires that we will be with Him.

“24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”

This is a glorious text and we can spend hours on it. So, the first gift that Christ desires is our unity, and to that we can contribute. But, now He desires that we will be with Him.

We know that Christ has gone to prepare a place for us and He will come to fetch His bride and we will be with Him forever. That is the promise to everyone who is redeemed, everyone who is justified, everyone who is Christ’s.  But in reality, we live our lives so earthbound, that it’s very difficult for us to experience real anticipation for heaven. Let’s be honest; how often do we think of heaven, how often do we think of our final glory? Do we actually desire to be with Christ in Glory? Paul captured the right mindset so well when he wrote to the church in Colossians 3:1-3 (ESV) 1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” We are called to keep seeking the things above. It is not just an aha moment the moment I am born again. All of us as believers need to look forward to it, as that is where we are heading. It is like looking forward to a long-awaited holiday.

Do you realise that this world is not your home, you are just a sojourner, you are just passing through? Our desire should be heaven, our desire should be to see Christ glorified. I do not know in what great ways we will experience God the Father, but Biblically speaking, God is Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is Spirit, but we will see Christ glorified and we will be with Him, and His inheritance will be our inheritance. We will enter into love and joy and satisfaction and fulfillment that is beyond comprehension.

Something that excites me is the knowledge that everything that is great, that is complete, that is perfected is there. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are there. Our friends and family who passed on are there. A perfect state is there and my name is there, written in the book of life. In spite of the struggles on this earth Jesus can say to us in Matthew 5:12 (ESV) 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven,..”

One of the things that excites me most about heaven is the joy of finally being sinless. We know that we are saved from the power of sin, we are saved from the penalty of sin, and one day we will be saved from the presence of sin. I hate sin, but it entangles me, but one day in heaven, I will be sinless and perfect and you all can finally like me.

God’s purpose in salvation was to bring us to heaven for that final moment of perfection. Hebrews 2:10 (ESV) 10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.” Christ suffered so that you and I can enjoy Glory.

While Jesus prays for us to be with Him in heaven, Paul acknowledges the same in prayer. Colossians 1:3-5 (ESV) “3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,”

Something that amazes me in this first part of Christs prayer in verse 24 is this: “24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am...” It makes sense that we desire to be in heaven with Christ, but that Christ will desire for me to be with Him in heaven is astonishing. Now, Christ does not desire for everybody to be with Him in heaven, but those the Father has given unto Him. No, wonder the wages of sin are death, but the gift of God is eternal life.

Christ knows that all whom Father calls will come to Him, but it is a critical statement. Look at verse 2: “All whom You have given Me.” Verse 6: “The men You gave Me.” Verse 9: “Those whom You have given Me.” Verse 12: “Which You have given Me.” We are God the Father’s chosen love Gifts to the Son, and in the spirit of Christmas, that is what Christ desires. Oh, that we will be with Him. David had an understanding of this in Psalm 23:6 (ESV) “6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Let me end this point with some food for thought. If you at this moment love the things of the world more than Christ, then looking forward to heaven will be a disappointment and loss. Now, I realise we cannot totally love the world, but we need to take this serious. 1 John 2:15-17 (ESV) “15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

3. He desires us to see His glory.

It is in a sense like a child expressing that all they want for Christmas is for Oupa and Ouma to come and visit so that Oupa and Ouma can see the child again, and celebrate the child’s report card, and achievements, and growth and the neatness of their room. Miracles do happen. That is Christ’s desire. John 17:24 (ESV) that they: “may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”

Do you desire to see His glory? Church family, we are only seeing a glimpse of it now. John 1:14 (ESV) “14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” This glory was seen in the flesh. His true glory was veiled, but His attributes shone through. The disciples had a glimpse of His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration in Matthew 17, but they ain’t seen nothing yet. In our salvation, we have seen the light of the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ according to 2 Corinthians 4. What we are looking forward to is what John writes in 1 John 3:2 (ESV) 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”

Let me give you a glimpse of what you will see. Revelation 1:12-19 (ESV) 12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”

Now remember that earlier I mentioned that we have seen the Glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus, but let me show this to you in its ultimate shekinah fulfillment. Revelation 22:1-5 (ESV) 1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”

Oh, what a day that will be, when we see his face because His name is written on our foreheads, and He will be our light forever and ever. Christ’s glory on full display, and He desires for you to see it.  And when we see that Glory, then Christ says in verse 24 that we will know that the Father had loved Him. Christ will demonstrate to us how much the Father has eternally loved the Son to give Him such infinite glory.

The Father loves the Son, and all of redemption is to get us to heaven so that we can see how much the Father loves the Son.

So, if you want to define heaven, you have to define it as all glory and all love. God is love and eternally loved His Son - He infinitely loved His Son, He intimately loved His Son; and eternally, infinitely, and intimately loves all of His sons, which is all of us. And His Eternal Son wants to bring us all to glory so that we can see the manifestation of how much the Father loves Him, and so that we can also experience it ourselves. God cannot love His Son any more than He does; He cannot love us any more than He does. His mediatorial work, to bring us to glory, is to bring us into that incomprehensible love; and He will get us there.

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church: 18 December 2016