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The Power of Christmas Truth

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
November 9, 2022 3:00 am

The Power of Christmas Truth

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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His name is Jesus because He saves us from our sins. His name is Emmanuel because He is our sympathizing strengthener. He is God with us.

His name is King because He's our sovereign and the sovereign of the universe. And His name is Christ because He is the source of our life. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. Whether you grew up going to church or not, you're probably familiar with the basic facts of Christmas, that Jesus was born in a manger, angels announced His birth, shepherds visited the baby. But if someone asked you what makes all of those details so life-changing, would you know what to say? For some overlooked yet profound Christmas truth that will help you prepare for the holiday season. Stay here for a message John calls the power of Christmas truth.

Follow along now as John begins the lesson. I want to speak to you this morning on the theme, the power of Christmas truth. I would pray that somehow, even in our society, there would be nothing that would distract us from the awesomeness of Christmas, although such a prayer I admit I find almost wishful thinking. Christmas has become so complex, so chaotic, so confusing with all the stuff that the reality of the simplicity of the birth of Christ has been blended into the fantasy and lost its significance. Christmas should be simple, not complex, very simple. Christmas should be stripped of all of its trappings so that all that is left is the simplicity of God becoming man.

That is the only element in the Christmas seasonal celebration that has in it any lasting power to effect life. When life reaches its moment of desperation, the only hope is Christ. But what is it about Christ that gives this hope? What is it about Christ that gives this joy and deep sadness? What is it about Christ that provides comfort and loneliness?

What is it about Christ that gives peace in fear? One simple look at the birth of the Son of God should tell us the answer to that question. And if I might, may I draw you to our passage in Matthew 1 and 2 and point you to four titles given to Christ, each of which gives us insight into why He was so sufficient for us and the only real power in Christmas. The four titles, verse 21, He is called Jesus. Verse 23, He is called Immanuel. Verse 2, He is called King. Verse 4, He is called Christ. First of all, let's consider the name Jesus. Verse 21, And she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.

Why? Because it is he who will save his people from their sins. He gives salvation to his people.

He saves them from their sins. Down in verse 25, when he was born, it says that Joseph called his name Jesus in obedience to the divine command. The name Jesus, by the way, is the sweetest name the Savior knows, at least from an earthly viewpoint. It is used over 700 times in the New Testament.

It is a form of the Hebrew word Yeshua, Joshua, Jeshua, Jehoshua. It means Yahweh or God will save. Luke 2, 11 says he would be born a savior. Mark 10, 45 says the Son of Man has come to save. Luke 19, 10, He has come to save. He shall save his people from their sins.

That is a glorious reality. The Apostle Paul writing in Ephesians chapter 1 and verse 7 says, In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses. Now the implication here is that men are sinners and that sin is a damning reality from which man needs to be saved or delivered or rescued. And Jesus came into the world to save you from your sins, in what sense? To save you from the ultimate consequence of your sins, namely eternal damnation. To save you as well from even the present domination of your sin. But primarily and ultimately he came to save you in the sense that he delivers you and he delivers me and he delivers all who believe in him from the ultimate damnation that sin requires. You might say, and I think fairly so, that forgiveness of sins is the primary result of salvation as presented in both the Old and the New Testament.

Salvation is by definition a rescuing from the consequence of sin. At the Last Supper, as Jesus gathered with his disciples the night before he was to be taken prisoner and then crucified, it says he took the cup. And he said regarding that cup that that cup was representative of the blood of the covenant, his own blood, which is poured out, he said, Matthew 26, 28, for the forgiveness of sins. In Acts 13, 38 and 39, the Scripture says through him, that is Jesus, forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you and through him everyone who believes is freed from all things.

You see, he was a child born to provide forgiveness for sins. Israel's great holy day is a day called Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Annually, the ancient Jews celebrated that one day in which a great offering was given for all the sins of all the people through the previous year. And on that day, according to Leviticus chapter 16, the high priest would select two goats, two sacrificial goats. One of those goats was killed, slaughtered, and his blood was splattered all over the altar as a sacrifice for sin, as a symbol of the need for death with regard to sin.

But the other animal was not killed. The high priest would go to the other goat and put his hands on that goat, symbolically transferring the sins of all the people onto that goat, and then that goat was taken into the wilderness so far away that it could never find its way back or be seen again. Symbolically, God ordained that simple and graphic ceremony to show that where there was a sacrifice for sins, there was a removal of sin so that they would never, ever be brought to attention again. Now, that goat that was slaughtered couldn't really pay the price. It could only symbolize the one who could. And that goat that carried sin out into the wilderness symbolically couldn't really carry away sin, but it symbolized the one who could. And it didn't take two, it only took one, Jesus, who both gave the sacrifice for sin and carried our sins away. In fact, the word to forgive, a fiume, means to send away, to dismiss.

It is used in legal terminology to refer to canceling a debt or granting a pardon. So through His death on the cross, Jesus took the sins of all of us on Himself and died our death as a blood sacrifice for our sins and then carried them away an infinite distance from where they will never return again. The Bible speaks of this in Psalm 103.12 it says, as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgression from us.

How far is the east from the west? That's infinite. That's a Jewish expression for infinity. Listen, no matter what deprivation a man or a woman might experience, no matter how lonely your life might be, no matter how sad it might be, no matter how painful your situation, no matter how bleak the Christmas season, no matter what dungeon or prison cell you might find yourself in, no matter how strong your fears and how terrifying the prospects of the future to you might be, if you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you can see through to the one who has forgiven all your sins. And in that there is fullness of joy. You do not need to fear that your difficulty is God's way of making you offer full atonement for your own iniquity, not so.

You no matter what goes wrong in this life, no matter what is not the way you would like it, no matter how much unfulfillment you face, know this. You have complete and perfect forgiveness for all your sins through Jesus Christ if you place your faith in Him and you will never pay for your sins. Christ has done that. Christ has done that. Second title given to the child of Christmas comes in verse 23. This is one of the great, great titles that he bears. "'Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel," which translated means God with us. He is not only Jesus, he is Immanuel.

What does Immanuel mean? Means God lives among us. Means God became a man. God will be present with his people. The child of Christmas is Immanuel, God with us. That child that was born that day, though fully human, was also fully God. In the Old Testament, the presence of God was in the tabernacle. The presence of God was in the temple. And now in the New Testament, the presence of God is in a body, in the person of Christ, God with us. That's a Christmas truth, and like the term Jesus, Immanuel is a powerful Christmas truth. What does it mean?

Listen to what it means when you extrapolate its significance. Listen to Hebrews chapter 2, verse 14, since then the children share in flesh and blood he himself, that is Christ, the Lord, also partook of the same. We have flesh and blood, so he took flesh and blood. We share, we coinonia in the same common physical elements, and he partook.

He was hungry, he was thirsty, he was tired, he slept, he learned, he was glad, he was sad, he was angry, he was indignant, he was grieved, he was troubled, he was disappointed, he was tearful, he was overcome by the prospect of future events, he exercised faith, he read the Scripture, he prayed, he sighed with an aching heart, he felt everything. You say your life is in danger, his was always in danger. You say you've been mistreated and misjudged, so was he. No, this is not a cosmic God who is utterly indifferent. He knows our hurts and he knows our weaknesses, and he's not only the Christ of salvation, but he's the Christ of sympathy.

This is a Christmas perspective. Yes, we cast our care on him because he cares for us, but it says here in Hebrews 2, 18, he is able to come to the aid of those who are tested. God with us. What does it mean to come to our aid? What does he do? I'll tell you what he does. He gives you the courage to face your cares. He gives you the wisdom to understand your cares. He gives you the strength to endure your cares, and he gives you the faith to trust him for the rest.

No tree is going to give you that, no Christmas card, no Santa Claus, no person, just Immanuel. God with us, not only to understand us, but help us. If all we needed was understanding, we could ask another man, we need more, we need help. He gives us supernatural help. Jesus, for he saves us from our sins, Immanuel, for he's God with us to help us in our struggle. Third title, when the wise men arrived and confronted Herod, verse 2 of chapter 2, they said, where is he who has been born king of the Jews? Here he is introduced as king. He came not only to save his people from their sins, he came not only to sympathize and succor and help his people, but he came to rule the world.

He came to rule the world. Down in verse 6 it says he will be a ruler, a ruler. It is now many months after the birth of Christ when the wise men arrive.

Chapter 2, verse 11 says the family is in a house by now, and the wise men have come on a long journey. They go to King Herod to find out about this other king, and of course King Herod is paranoid. King Herod is a maniac of the worst order. King Herod isn't even a king, and that's why he was so nervous. He was an Idumean who was put into that position by the Romans. He was a political king.

He'd been in a long time by now, but he was paranoid about losing his position. So paranoid was he that if he didn't like somebody, he got rid of them. If he felt them threatening him, he killed them. He drowned the high priest for one. He murdered his wife. He murdered his wife's mother, and he murdered three of his sons because he thought they were all threatening to his throne. Then when he heard there was a little baby king born, he set out to murder all the male children under two years of age and massacred babies all over. He was paranoid.

He was a maniac. He wasn't even a true king, and set against that fake king, who wasn't a king, who didn't come from a royal line, and who wasn't even a Jew, is the true king of the Jews. Jesus, where is he who has been born king of the Jews?

There's something to focus on when you look into the Christmas scene. Jesus, Savior, Immanuel, sympathetic high priest, king, ruler, monarch, sovereign. That child was born a king.

The wise men brought fitting gifts for a king, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. He was a king, not a very auspicious beginning for a king, not for the king, the king of kings and lord of lords, and even through his life, it didn't appear that he was the kind of king that they wanted him to be, and even the disciples were wondering, when is he going to take his kingdom? When is he going to assert himself? And Pilate confronted him and said, are you a king? And he said, yes, I'm a king. But he said, my kingdom is not of this world.

If it were of this world, my servants would fight. He said, I'm a king, but my kingdom is a spiritual kingdom. But he also demonstrated in his transfiguration that someday his spiritual kingdom would come to earth in the great future millennium when Christ reigns on the earth.

Yes, he was a king, not just a king like other kings, but a king unlike any other king. And we see him as he comes to his kingdom in Revelation 19, heaven opens up. He comes on a white horse. His name is faithful and true, verse 11, and in righteousness he judges and wages war, and his eyes are a flame of fire, and upon his head are many diadems, and he has a name written upon him which no one knows except himself, and he is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called the Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven clothed in fine linen white and clean were following him on white horses, and from his mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it he may smite the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, and he treads the winepress of the fierce wrath of God almighty. And on his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He will come. He is king in the spiritual kingdom.

He will be king over the world and the universe in the future. Finally, verse 4 gives us one more very familiar term. It says that he began to inquire of them where the Christ was to be born. The Christ is just a term that means the Messiah, the anointed, Messiah, Christ, same thing. And it reflects his right to rule, his right to have authority and sovereignty as the promised Messiah of God. There's so much in that term that we can't focus on at all, but let me just capture one element that I believe is inherent in that. When you have the great prophecy of Isaiah chapter 9 introducing the coming Messiah, it says that there will be a child, a son, and he will be wonderful counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, or the Father of eternity, or the eternal Father.

You could translate it a number of ways. The Messiah is the eternal one, and he is the eternal Father in the sense that he is the eternal generator of life. He is the life giver, and that is certainly the intent of John 1.

In him was what? Life, all things were made by him and without him was not anything made that was made. When you see the word Christ, think of him in this way as the generator of life, the giver of life, the originator of life, the creator of life, the giver of life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. Jesus' Emmanuel King is the one who gives life, sustains life. He is the one of whom it is said in Psalm 36.9, for with thee is the fountain of life. You who were dead in trespasses and sin, has he made alive together with Christ.

And so I say to you, friends, that no matter how bleak the cell, no matter how lonely the life there, no matter how painful the situation, no matter how stark the scene, no matter how mistreated, rejected, scorned, and unjustly treated you are, no matter what life is dishing out to you, no matter how unfulfilled you can live in the hope of life to come. His name is not Jesus, Emmanuel King Christ, because He's our example. His name is not Jesus, Emmanuel King Christ, because He's our teacher. His name is not Jesus, Emmanuel King Christ, because He's our guide. His name is not Jesus, Emmanuel King Christ, because He's our friend. He is all of that. But His name is Jesus because He saves us from our sins. His name is Emmanuel because he is our sympathizing strengthener. He is God with us. His name is King because He's our sovereign and the sovereign of the universe, and His name is Christ because He is the source of our life. And when you know all that, and when you believe all that, and when you confess all that, then you have seen through the trappings, through the simplicity of the birth of Christ.

That'll make your Christmas significant, really significant. If you'll do what Hebrews 12.2 says, fix your eyes on Jesus, King, Jesus, Christ, Jesus, Emmanuel. That's John MacArthur. He's been Grace to You's featured Bible teacher since 1969. He's also a pastor, author, and chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. And his sermon today showed you the power of Christmas truth. It's part of John's study called The Best of Christmas. Now while it may seem unusual to hear John MacArthur talking about Christmas when we're barely into November, there is good reason for that. John, you've often said that there is a heightened receptivity to spiritual things at Christmas, which translates into a wonderful opportunity for our listeners between now and December 25th. Yeah, there's no question about the fact that this is a God-given, government-authorized opportunity for evangelism, because even the most pagan person in our culture is faced with the birth of Christ, the reality of Christ. And so it's not as if you're introducing something alien to the moment, and this just gives us a great opportunity to be gospel witnesses at Christmas. So we also want you to be reminded that we provide a lot of resources that you can use. You may feel like you have some things to say, but you'd like a little more help to be able to communicate the gospel to someone at this time.

And we have those resources available, and today I want to mention one of them which would be Ideal for You to Get. It's a book titled God's Gift of Christmas, beautiful, beautiful kind of gift book. The important issue of Christmas isn't so much that Jesus came, but why He came.

He came to deliver sinners from their sin and death and judgment. That is the gift of Christmas, and this book examines that great gospel truth, Jesus is the only Savior, the only Redeemer, the only hope of salvation from hell and eternal suffering. So it's the kind of book that you can give.

It can become a part of family tradition. You can read it in the days leading up to Christmas, and you can pass them out at Christmas as a gift. You can even use them as kind of an advent calendar, reading a section of the book each day leading up to Christmas.

So it's a resource to use in your family to give to unbelievers. Hardcover 120 pages available from Grace to You, and if you'd like to get some of these, you can order them by contacting us and asking for God's gift of Christmas. Yes, friend, I edited this book, and it changed my whole view on Christmas. So do what John suggested, and read it with your family as the holiday approaches, or give it to a friend who doesn't yet understand the miracle of Christmas. To order John's book, titled God's Gift of Christmas, contact us today. Call us toll-free at 800-55-GRACE. You'll reach our customer service staff Monday through Friday, 7.30 a.m. to 4 o'clock p.m., Pacific Time, or pick up a copy of God's Gift of Christmas anytime at our website, There you will also find John's entire sermon archive, more than 3,500 messages total, all of them free to download, our website again,

And thanks for remembering it. It is the generosity of listeners like you that help us take the truth of God's Word to people around the world. And a special thanks, if you're a Grace partner, to Express Your Support, mail your tax-deductible donation to Grace to You, Box 4000, Panorama City, California, 91412. You can also donate online at or speak to a staff member when you call us at 800-55-GRACE. That's our toll-free number one more time, 800-55-GRACE. Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace to You staff, I'm Phil Johnson, reminding you to watch Grace to You television on Sundays, check our website to see if it airs in your area and then join us tomorrow when John looks at Four Truths About Christ that can transform the way you celebrate Christmas. It's another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
Whisper: small.en / 2022-11-09 09:15:41 / 2022-11-09 09:21:32 / 6

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