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December 17, 2021 3:00 am
It is true that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, but it is also true that the son of God, the Christ, the Lord who came into the world in human form did not begin at Bethlehem. Yes, there was a birth and the beginning of the God man, but the second member of the Trinity was around before Mary, Joseph, probably an angel. And of course a baby resting in a manger. That's the traditional nativity scene and at the very least it gives an idea of what was going on the night Jesus came to earth.
The question is ever gone beyond the circumstances of Jesus birth to the person of Jesus himself, and the response you should have, to the mysterious Jesus the miraculous Jesus the majestic Jesus who came to earth and will reign forever today on grace to you. John MacArthur helps prepare you for a Christmas of genuine worship will be approaching Christmas truth from some angles you might not expect. So stay here as he continues, is timely. Look at the Jesus of Christmas. That's the title of John's current series, the Jesus of Christmas. If you have your Bible open up today to the gospel of John. And here's the lesson I want you to turn in your Bibles to a text which may not on the surface, seem to relate to Christmas, but it does John chapter 8 John chapter 8 when you think of Christmas you think of a baby being born when you think of the birth of a baby you think of a beginning the baby born in Bethlehem was a beginning. The beginning of the incarnate God in human flesh, the God man, Jesus Christ. But here, would you please note that the very one, Jesus Christ, who was born at Bethlehem said before Abraham was born, I am is true that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, but it is also true that the son of God, the person, the Christ, the Lord who came into the world in human form did not begin at Bethlehem. Yes, there was a birth and the beginning of the God man, but the second member of the Trinity was around before Bethlehem, he just took on human form. So as you look at Bethlehem and think of the beginning you have to also realize that while there was the beginning of a life.
The life that began was the life of one who had no beginning, Jesus makes that abundantly clear in one of the most shocking statements he ever made before Abraham was born, I am when Jesus said that Abraham saw his day and was glad. In verse 56 the Jews were absolutely shocked what you mean. Abraham saw you. They know that Abraham could not see into the future, and so they rightly concluded that if Abraham saw you it isn't because he's alive now, it's because you are claiming you must've been alive then if Abraham saw you, you must've seen him. That shock registers their response in verse 57 you're not even 50 years old. How have you seen Abraham number 50 is around one commonly referred to reaching maturity or age.
In this, you're not even an old man you're not even mature yet physically, how could you ever make us to believe that you saw Abraham, who has been dead for millennia in the Lord's responding statement is monumental. Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am what a claim this phrase before Abraham was, I am harbors within it the most authentic, the most audacious and the most profound claim. Jesus ever made regarding his being and the Jews didn't miss it. They knew exactly what he was saying they knew he was claiming to be the eternal one, the timeless one. The God who is from everlasting to everlasting. They knew therefore that they must fall on their faces immediately and worship him as the creator God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The eternal God, or else they would stone such a claim because of its blasphemy. So they made their choice in verse 59 it took up stones to stone him any man who would stand in the personification of such a claim. Blasphemous like claiming to be the eternal God in the temple making such a claim should have his life crushed out so they attempted to do it and he escaped the temple at this time was under construction would've been plenty of stones for them to grasp Jesus left them there is no question what he was claiming he was claiming to be the eternal God. But when he said, before Abraham began. I am in that little two word phrase. I am Jesus opened up fast understanding for us, about who he is. The familiar Greek words are a go I Amy M familiar words, they are really the Greek equivalent of an Old Testament name for God that we call Yahweh. It's called the tetra graviton made up of four letters is the name of God in the Old Testament use 6800 times. I believe it comes from the Hebrew verb to be. And it is the Old Testament Way of saying I am the Jews knew the name of God to be, I am when Jesus said I am they knew he was claiming to be God. This is an honor name. This is an awesome name. This is a blessed name the Jews knew it. And when Jesus said I am they picked up rocks to kill him because the blasphemy overwhelming them because they knew exactly what he was claiming John loves that term. He tried to capture the essence of the I am in the words of Jesus when Jesus said I am the bread of life. When Jesus said I am the light of the world when he said I am the door.
I am the good Shepherd. I am the resurrection and the life I am the way the truth and the life I am the true vine John by quoting him in all those phrases is using those substances to fill out the content of who the I am is he is the bread of life. That is, he is the one who saving Lee feeds the hungry soul. He is the light of the world, the one who saving the leads the center out of darkness into light. Use the door or the one who saving Lee opens the way to the kingdom.
He is the good shepherd the one who in salvation protection guards and feeds his flock. He is the resurrection and the life the way the truth and the life. He is the true vine, through whom we can produce fruit under the glory of God. That's with the I am is all of those are saving titles and they fill out the content of the I am Jesus is saying. I came into the world as the IM to redeem because that's what I am means to bring to myself a people and then to blessed that people forever and ever. That's why he came to accomplish this redemptive purpose is the sovereign over salvation.
Our Lord had to exercise power over several elements to be the IM and accomplish redemption. He had to exercise power. First of all, over sin. Look at Mark chapter 2 Mark chapter 2. This is a very familiar story about four men who brought a paralytic to Jesus. The place was so crowded they couldn't get them in the door so they tore the roof off and Lord and down the roof in front of where Jesus was standing and you remember when the man finally landed at the feet of Jesus on this pallet or hard bed. Jesus saw the faith of these four men and also the paralytic in verse five of Mark to. He said my son, your sins are forgiven. This is astounding. This is absolutely shocking for anyone to say I forgive you your sins were sick.
Some of the scribes were sitting there and they were reasoning in their hearts. Why does this man speak that way he is blaspheming who can forgive sins but God alone.
And here again they're faced with the same choice is either God who can forgive sins or he is the worst blasphemer and course in verse eight we learn the Jesus reading their minds was immediately aware in his spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves. I said why reasoning about these things in your hearts must've been a shock when he said this, which is easier to say to the paralytic, your sins are forgiven or say horizon pick up your pallet and walk which is easier to for question easy to answer today which is easier is a lot easier to say, your sins are forgiven. It's easy to say it's impossible to do but easy to say priests all over the place every day, all my son, your sins are forgiven you do your confession, you do, your sins are forgiven.
It's easy to say I could say it, your sins are forgiven.
Is he said that's what Jesus said, which is easier to say that's easy to say verse 10, but in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins say the hard thing so I said, you rise, take up your pallet and go home. That's hard to say.
You know why because immediately want to find out whether your God, will you have any authority at all I can say to you, my beloved, your sins are forgiven and some of you might even believe that.
But if I go to the hospital and I say everybody rise up and walk. And nobody moves you know I don't have the power easy to say, your sins are forgiven because it can be verified. So Jesus said, I just forgave the man his sins because of his faith and just to show you that I really forgive his sin. I'll do the hard part. Get up and walk and he got up and walked in verse 12. They were all amazed that they went into some kind of fright panic and were glorifying God say we never seen anything like this.
You see, if he is the Redeemer God, then wouldn't we expect that he could forgive sin because you have to forgive sin to redeem would need and he did and to prove that he forgave sin. He did the hard part, he healed a man that could be verified, the forgiveness couldn't be. But once you verify the authority and the power that he demonstrated in the healing.
You can see the authority and the power that expressed in the forgiveness is the second thing is you think about Christ if he is to be the sovereign I am the Redeemer God. He not only must exercise power over sin, but he must also exercise power over spirits. Why because men are held in bondage to damning sin. They are held captive to demons and devils we must have power over them as well.
Look at Luke chapter 4 and let's see if he has such power.
Luke chapter 4 verse 31 came down to Capernaum city of Galilee. He was teaching them on the Sabbath, they were amazed at his teaching for his message was with authority. Now there was a young man in the synagogue, possessed by the spirit of an unclean demon. Here's a demon possessed individual. This all demons are sinful, wicked and unclean, but some are designated in the New Testament as unclean demons only to emphasize that they tend to produce deviant perverted behavior. There are white-collar demons. Also there are religious demons, you know, there are those clean sharp demons and a gray flannel suit. There are those kind that are more subtle.
This is the vicious wicked perverted kind of demon that has come to dwell in this young man and saw the spirit cries out with a loud voice, verse 34. That's interesting is that means demons have a motion feeling how this is panic.
What do we have to do what you Jesus of Nazareth will have you come to destroy us. I know who you are, the holy one of God. This is a demon talking you know that all demons are fundamentalists. All of their all evangelicals. They all have an absolutely accurate theology about Christ. No demon would join a cult, but denies the deity of Christ.
They know better.
That's for witless men and women they may work through those systems, but they know they're lying. They know is God they know is the holy one of God.
So the demon says is this our time have you come in. This demon is in fear as is the time is it now we got the pit forever. Jesus rebuked him, say be quiet come out of him that the demon was mad so he slammed the guy down one final time and left. This is amazing. And Jesus was saying the final doom is in yet, but for now get out of that the demons go say will why did God let him slam the guy down because he wanted it very apparent that something dramatic had just happened and everybody watching would've known and they did verse 36 there were all amazed, and they began having a discussion.
What is this message. What is this word with authority and power. He commands the unclean spirits and they come out in the report about was getting out into every locality in the surrounding district. Listen, this is the saving I am in the saving. I am going to do his redeeming work and gather a people whose God, he will be in if is going to pour out a blessing upon them for eternity. He's going to have to have power over sin that binds them and powers power over the demons of this world and hold them captive to satanic institution schemes.
He is sovereign over sin is sovereign over demons.
Yes, this is the I am no one else could do this. The third thing we noticed that he would need to be if you were going to redeem the sovereign over Satan himself over Satan himself couple of passages that are key. One is John 1430 very very important statement made by Christ in John 1430 Jesus of course in the Last Supper. The evening that he was going to be taken captive talking to his disciples, and in verse 30. He starts to feel the arrival of Satan.
Satan is coming. Satan is approaching. He can feel it and he says, verse 30. I will not speak much more with you.
This conversations about over for the ruler of the world is coming and feeling coming is moving toward me. It seen them before. Oh yeah, he'd been around trying to destroy the messianic line so no Messiah could be born, trying to destroy the Jews altogether.
So there would be no nation to redeem. He was there when the baby was born because he was killing all the rest of the babies trying to kill this one had been there trying to tempt Christ to abandon his obedience to God and follow him.
He had been around a lot, but here he came again, and this was the final major conflict is coming. Jesus can feel it this night, and then he says the most incredible thing and he has nothing on me what that's right, he has nothing on me. I live 33 years or so, and Satan does not have one single valid accusation against me of any wrong thought, word, or deed whatsoever. He has nothing on me. If he is the I am India's if he is the Redeemer God, he must have power over sin and he did exhibit that power over spirits and he did exhibit that power over Satan, and he did exhibit that there is one other over which you must have power and that is death or sleep. It was death. According to Hebrews 214 and 15, the fear of death that held men bondage and doom them to hell.
The power of death had to be conquered. He had a conversation he had to conquer spirits, conquer Satan conquer death back in John chapter 2 Jesus said verse 19 destroy this temple and in three days what always in these black kids, never understanding what he said that it took 46 years to build this temple to raise up in three days, but he was speaking of the temple of his body. You kill it will come out of the grave. Because Satan can hold me is nothing on me. There can be no punishment because there's been no crime in John 10 verse 17 Jesus said, I lay down my life that I may take it again. No one is taking it from me. I lay it down on my own initiative. I have authority to lay it down. I have authority to take it up again. I will die and I will live again. It is because of his voluntary devotion to this great work of redemption that the father loves him and we love him. When Jesus said, before Abraham became, I am they knew he was claiming to be the God of redemption. They should've also remembered he had shown them, his power over sin, to prove he was the God of redemption.
He had shown the Ms. power over spirits, over and over his power over Satan and if they hadn't seen that yet they would soon see it on the cross and through the open tomb.
They would see also his power over death. They should've made the right choice. They had enough evidence that this was the I am say what what what should be the proper response I give you an illustration. Chapter 18 theirs was the improper.
At least this is a partial illustration of the proper response to John's gospel chapter 18 Jesus in the garden.
They all come to capture him.
Jesus takes the initiative in verse four. Here comes the Roman cohort. The officers of the chief priests and the Pharisees and other lanterns and torches and weapons when they don't know whether there's gonna be a riot or what it whatever's going to happen. So there armed. Jesus takes the initiative is not hiding. He knows all things that were coming upon them went forth and said to them you seek. They answered him, Jesus the Nazarene, he said to them, remove the word in italics.
What he said I am this is rubbing it in. I am, and also Judas was betraying and was standing with them when therefore he said to them, I am they drew back and fell to the ground. The whole entourage collapsed in a heap. That's power. Just saying his name. I am trash goes, the whole crowd into the dirt and then in verse seven, who was a were seeking Jesus the Nazarene Jesus answered, I told you that I am what is the proper response to fall down. They did that they were sure terrorized they were crushed by the force of his name should've stayed down.
The proper response to the I am is to fall down perhaps in fear. Perhaps in terror, but ultimately in worship tragedy as they got up, took him prisoner killed the I am failed to honor the awesome name and were destroyed as a people. How will you respond this Christmas to who it is that we remember and worship you can cast stones at him and called him a blasphemer or you can worship him as God, the God saves his people from their sin and it's about more than a baby in a manger Christmas is about the Savior of humanity coming to earth.
That crucial reminder is from John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University in seminary. As he continued his current study on grace to you titled the Jesus of Christmas will with the weekend upon us in just over a week until Christmas for lots of people. John, I'm sure shopping is still on the agenda.
So for those who still haven't checked off everyone on their Christmas list. You have some gift ideas that can make a profound spiritual difference long after December 25. Nothing is as powerful as divine truth beats a bad sweater for Christmas. I think so, let me mention a few Christmas gifts truth for today truth for today particularly helpful for someone who may not be a Christian.
It is the start of a beginner. Basic level devotional book takes you through a series of devotions. One day at a time and that exposes the reader to a brief portion of biblical truth every day. That's truth for today. It's a small handy size devotional.
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In the book takes the four Gospels blends all four of them so they have one narrative telling the full story of Christ complete chronological narrative and that it includes notes from the MacArthur study Bible that explains some of the issues in the text as you read, you start at the beginning you read through the whole life of Christ is all the Gospels are blended and you see how they perfectly harmonize and then again to remind you of the MacArthur study Bible, flagship resource, it's in the new American Standard translation.
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Make sure to choose the express shipping option or number here again 855 grace or firstname.lastname@example.org, but also encourage you to visit the website TTY.org if you want to review any part of John's current series, the Jesus of Christmas. Our website has thousands of free sermons from John including any message you ever hear on grace to you.
If you have an iPhone or an android device. Download the grace to you at. It gives you access to all of John's sermons wherever you take your phone the app and all of John's sermons are available for email@example.com now for John MacArthur in the entire grace to you staff on Phil Johnson reminding you to gather with your family and watch grace to you television this Sunday and then beer next time when John looks at all that Christ gave up to come into this world in order to save sinners like you and me. It's another half hour unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Mondays.