. The Truth of Christmas

THE TRUTH OF CHRISTMAS

 

John 18:33-38 (ESV) 33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him”.

Introduction.

The reason John wrote the Gospel is found in John 20:30-31 (ESV) 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

According to John, all that He wrote about the words and deeds of Jesus is so that we can believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. That will be my aim this morning. Being a Christmas sermon, I will make it short, but wish I had the time to unpack the verses before us. We will focus on one verse and I cannot even do justice to that. I pray that you will leave the place this Christmas morning loving the truth of Christ more deeply and more assured of eternal life.

We would expect to find everything about the birth of Christ right in the beginning of the Gospels, and everything about the death of Christ at the end of the Gospels. But here we find through the mouth of Christ one of the most profound statements about His birth.

Our text for this morning is found in 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose, I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.””

In the text before us you would think that Jesus is on trial. The Jews brought him to Pontius Pilate and he is trying to get Jesus to say something that will be worthy of a guilty verdict. He asks Christ a very simple question in verse 33: “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answers this question in verse 36-37. But in the end, it is Pilate who is on trial, whether he believes the claims of Jesus or not. John writes so that we would believe, and here Pilate stands before the same challenge.

This was in the providence of God that Pilate should put Jesus on trial, and I believe it is in the providence of God that you are here today. God’s providence is seen in God being at work bringing about His plans through the everyday affairs and decisions of life, and He also brings people face to face with the choices that will one day prove to be to their salvation or their shame.

 

I want to use this Christmas service and simply highlight three observations from the text. Together we will look at the uniqueness of the birth of Jesus, we will look at the purpose of the birth of Jesus and we will look at our response to this purpose. These points simply jump out of the text.

 

1. The uniqueness of His birth.

“You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world ”

Do we ever consider the uniqueness of Jesus? Do you realise that Jesus existed before He was born. He was older that His mother. He even created His mother. Just two weeks ago, Pierre and Debbie van Zyl became a baby richer when Jordan was born. Now, even though the material substance from which Jordan’s body was made already existed, the personhood and soul of Jordan has never existed. Jordan is part of God’s creation. Jesus however was not created, He was incarnated. He did not come into the world as a new person, but He came into the world as the ‘ancient of days’. Micah 5:2 (ESV) 2 But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”

By the way, Micah’s prophecy also makes Christ unique. There is nobody in this auditorium today who had their birth foretold 700 years before they were born.

Do you realise that even Abraham had a glimpse of the coming of Christ. John 8:56-59 (ESV) 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.”

Standing before Pilate is somebody who is so unique that He claims to be the GREAT I AM, and the Jews understood this, as they wanted to stone Him for saying that. This is the very reason John writes in John 1:1 (ESV)1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” He is the Great I am, because He is the Living God, the Logos who became flesh. That is why Thomas could exclaim: “My Lord and my God.”

I want to say to you today that there is no greater story in History than the incarnation of Christ. On the contrary, History is HISstory. But due to the commercialisation of Christmas the value of the story has dimmed. People sing songs like Jingle Bells, but what has it got to do with the Christ of Christmas? Something must be done to help us once more feel the awe, the fear, the astonishment, the wonder of the Son of God, begotten by the Father from all eternity, reflecting all the glory of God, being the very image of his person, through whom all things were created, upholding the universe by the word of his power.

Paul reminds us in Philippians 2:5-8 that He was in the form of God, but emptied Himself. God emptied Himself and subjected Himself to parental authority, He was born of a virgin. Even though He was God He had to borrow a stable for His birth, later He had to borrow a donkey to ride on as He the King of Glory entered Jerusalem, and still later He had to borrow a grave for His body. He who owns the heavens, the wealth in every mine had to borrow.

The one standing before Pilate reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power.

O, how I pray for a breaking forth of the Spirit of God into my experience of the incarnation in a frightening way, to wake me up to the unimaginable reality of God.

2. The purpose of Christ's birth.

For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world — to bear witness to the truth.”

Twice you see the statement: “for this purpose”.

Jesus did not come into the world to give you a public holiday, Jesus did not come into the world so that we can have Easter and Christmas off. He came to bear witness to the truth, and based on His uniqueness there is no one who can more reliably present the truth than God. For God is the author of all truth and wills to make it known reliably.

And how better to reveal the truth about God than to send His Son, the very image and reflection of God, into the world? He is the way the TRUTH and the life. God could have sent an angel, but that would still have been imperfect. Jesus is the truth because he is the image of the true God. 1 John 2:23 (ESV) 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.” Pilate tried to extract truth out of Christ, not realising that he is confronted by the very TRUTH himself. Outside Christ there is no real truth and there is no life. John 17:3 (ESV) 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

Besides many other statements, the great purpose of Christ was to reveal the ‘truth’. And this He did. Look at His claim in John 17:4 (ESV) 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” Satan the father of lies thought he killed the truth by nailing Him to the cross, but three days later the TRUTH rose, and today that truth is proclaimed throughout the world.

So, the purpose of Christ's coming into the world is to testify to the truth of God, so that man might glorify God for who he is and might thereby come to have eternal life.

3. Our response to the truth.

John 18:37 (ESV) 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

Do you realise that not everyone hears and believes the truth? Those who are of the truth however will listen to Christ. The world is packed with people in churches this morning, all celebrating Christmas, but who do not believe in the uniqueness of Jesus, neither do they understand His purpose. They are all within the sound of the Truth, but only some hear His words as truth.

When Pilate asked the question whether Jesus is the King, what was his heart motive, because that heart motive is what makes the difference between death and life. Pilate was standing as judge before the great judge, the one who will either be his saviour or your judge. John 3:19-21 (ESV) 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

Today there are some who sing Christmas carols and they know who Jesus is, they have come to the truth to have life, and others are just mouthing the words, looking forward to getting out of the building to enjoy their Christmas lunch. They are the ones who love darkness rather than light.

Are you of the ‘truth’ this morning? John 10:26-27 (ESV) 26 but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” To be "of the truth" or to be sheep of the Great Shepherds means to love the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10, 12), to hunger for it and rejoice in it (1 Corinthians 13:6), and to be humbly surrendered to following it no matter where it leads. And who are these people who are open and humble enough to hear and love the words of Christ? They are his sheep.  John 8:47 (ESV) 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

In closing this morning. We have seen that Christ is unique, there is nobody like Him because He is God incarnate, Immanuel – God with us. His purpose was to be the light to the world by bringing truth into the world. The purpose is that you and I might know that Christ is the Son of the living God.  Are you ‘of the truth’, if not I invite you to come to the one who is THE TRUTH this morning and to celebrate Him and Him alone this Christmas.

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church: 25 December 2016