“The Miracles of Christmas”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

2ND SUNDAY OF ADVENT

DECEMBER 9, 2018

Title: “The Miracles of Christmas

Text: “Now the birth of Jesus was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 1:18).

Scripture Reading: Matthew 1:18-25

When Pope Julius I authorized December 25 to be celebrated as the birthday of Jesus in A.D. 353, who would have ever thought that it would become what it is today.

When Professor Charles Follen lit candles on the first Christmas tree in America in 1832, who would have ever thought that the decorations would become as elaborate as they are today.

It is a long time since 1832, longer still from 353, longer still from that dark night brightened by a special star in which Jesus the king was born. Yet, as we approach December 25 again, it gives us yet another opportunity to pause, and in the midst of all the excitement and elaborate decorations and expensive commercialization which surround Christmas today, to consider again the event of Christmas and the person whose birth we celebrate.

The real story of Christmas abounds with miracles.  The star we talked about last Sunday, the Magi; the angelic appearances; the annunciation by Gabriel to Zechariah of the birth of John the Baptist; the annunciation of the birth of Jesus to Mary, to Joseph, and to the shepherds; the anthem of praise sang by the angelic choir; the magi warned in a dream not to return to Herod; Joseph directed by an angel into the land of Egypt and told to depart from Egypt, and warned in a dream about Archelaus, Herod’s wicked son and successor; the birth of John the Baptist when his parents were advance in age; the birth of Jesus, who had a human mother and not a human father.

The birth of Jesus Christ is the most meaningful and unique birth in the annals of time.  Christ existed from all eternity; he was in the beginning with God (John 1:1). He said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).  The miracles of Christmas are manifold, and they have a message for us.  Let us hear what they have to say to us.

The miracles of Christmas speak of the miraculous conception.  There are many Scriptures to support the miraculous conception of Jesus’ birth: (Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 7:14; Luke 1:26-27;  Galatians 4:4,5). Galatians 4:4 tells us, “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman…”

The angel Gabriel told Mary that the Holy Spirit would come on her and the “power of the Highest” would overshadow her (Luke 1:35).  The figure is that of a cloud. The cloud of glory represents God’s power. The miraculous conception is plainly set forth in the gospels of Matthew and Luke.  The fact that Luke was a physician gives added meaning to the miraculous conception of Mary by the Holy Spirit. It is a miracle. It is the power of God acting in ascend with his laws.  “For with God nothing is impossible.”

This is something I want us to fully understand.  In Jewish culture, the Spirit of God was specially connected with the works of creation. It was through the Spirit that God perform His creating work.  Genesis 1:2 explains to us that in the beginning, the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, and Chaos became a world. By the words of the Lord the heavens was made. Psalms 33:6 tells us that all the host of the earth came into being by the breath of God’s mouth.  The Greek word for Spirit is pneuma meaning breath or spirit.  The Psalmist says in Psalms 104:30, “When you send out your Spirit they are created. This is what Job says, “The Spirit of God made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4).  

The Spirit is the Creator of the world and the giver of life.  So, in Jesus, there came into the world God’s life-giving and creating power.  That power, which reduced the first chaos to order, came to bring order to our disordered lives.That power, which breathed life where there was no life, has come to breathe life into our weaknesses and frustrations. We are really not alive until Jesus enters our lives. The conception of Jesus is a miracle.  What does this miraculous conception tells us?

The miraculous conception declares Jesus to be God.  Matthew 1:23 tells us that “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.  Doctor Luke puts it this way, “And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that Holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

The miraculous conception declares Jesus to be sinless. Jesus was born without an earthly father.  He lived without experiencing sin. He declared himself to be sinless when he said, “Which of you convicts me of sin” (John 8:46).  They could not lay one sin to his charge. Not one blunder, not one mistake, not one error did he commit, for Jesus was sinless.

The Miracles of Christmas speaks of the glorious incarnation.  The apostle John wrote of this glorious incarnation in John 1:14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth.  This speaks of the humanity of Jesus. He became flesh and live among us. He became our neighbor. He was God in human flesh. Here, Jesus is God and man combining in one personality the two natures of God and man.  This incarnation of Jesus shows humankind capacity for God. We can know God as he reveals himself through Jesus Christ, the God-man.

The miracles of Christmas speak of wondrous salvation.  Jesus Christ came to save sinners.  In the annunciation of Jesus birth, it is written in Matthew 1:21, “And she shall bring forth a son; and thou shall call his name Jesus; for it is he that shall save the world.”

Many of you believe in a physician when you put your case in the physician hands to cure you. You believe in a lawyer when you leave your case in his hands and trust him to plea for you.  You believe in a banker when you put your money in the banker’s hand to keep it for you. It should also be the same when you take Jesus to be your Savior. When you put your helpless case into his hands and trust him to do what you can not do yourself, that is save you from your sin, you should trust Him.

The story is told of one of the most notoriously bad characters that ever lived in New York.  He was Orville Gardner. He was the trainer of prize-fighters and companion of all sorts of hard characters. His reputation was so thoroughly bad that he was called “Awful Gardner.”

He had a little boy, whom he dearly loved, and this boy died. A short time after his boy’s death, he was standing at the bar in a New York saloon, surrounded by a number of his boon companions. The night was sweltering, and he stepped outside the saloon to get a little fresh air. As he stood out there and looked up between the high buildings at the sky above his head, a bright star was shining down upon him, and as he stood looking at the star, he said to himself, “I wonder where my little boy is tonight?” Then the thought came to him quick as a flash, “Wherever he is, you will never see him again unless you change your life.”

Touched by the Spirit of God, he hurried from the saloon to the room where he knew his godly mother was. He went in and asked his mother to pray for him. She did pray for him, and she led him to Christ. He went home to where he kept a jug of whiskey. He did not dare to keep it and did not know what to do with it. Finally he took it down to the river, got into a boat and rowed over to an island. He set the liquor on a rock and knelt down, and as he afterwards said, “Fought that jug of whiskey for a long time,” and God gave him perfect deliverance. But what should he do with the jug? He did not dare break it, lest the fumes set him wild. He did not dare leave it, lest someone else get it. Finally he dug a hole in the ground with his heel and buried it. He left the island a free man. He became a mighty preacher of the gospel. It was through listening to him preach that Jerry McAuley (a convict turned preacher and founder of the McAuley Water Street Mission) was set to thinking, and that thinking afterwards led to his conversion.  Jesus came to save us.

This is one of the most wonderful miracles of Christmas: Jesus Christ came to save (Matthew 18:11).  Jesus Christ came to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:13). Jesus Christ to save bearing away our sins (John 1:29, 1 john 1:17). Jesus Christ came to save by his own blood (Ephesians 1:7; Col 1: 14).  Jesus Christ came to save because no one else could save us (Acts 4:12).

The miracles of Christmas speak of the miraculous conception.  The miracles of Christmas speaks of the glorious incarnation. The miracles of Christmas speak of wondrous salvation. Let the miracles of Christmas speak to your heart.  Let the Christ of Christmas be your Savior and your Lord. God bless you.