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Matthew 1:18-21-18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about[d]: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet[e] did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[f] BECAUSE he will save his people from their sins.

The miracles surrounding the Christmas story are truly amazing.  Miracles were all over the birth of John the Baptist, the forerunner to Jesus, who was also his cousin. John’s father, Zechariah received a visit from an angel. The angel told him that he and his wife, Elizabeth, who up to this point were childless, he said that they would have a special baby now in their old age.  Zechariah didn’t believe it, and God struck him mute and then unmuted his voice on the eighth day of John the Baptist’s life, so that Zechariah could declare John’s name out loud.  Mary was visited by an angel who announced to Mary that she would be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and conceive a son even though she was a virgin. The amazing star that appeared to announce the birth of King Jesus stirred wise men from the east to travel a very long way to meet the baby in the manger. Shepherds got a supernatural telegram when angels filled the sky to tell them about the birth of the Savior. The timing of the birth event. and the place were miraculous in that they took place as had been prophesied hundreds of years earlier. 

Too many miracles were woven into the fabric of Jesus’ birth to deny that He was the Promised One, the one God promised in Genesis 3:15 would take care of humanity’s sin problem for all time, the One who would triumph over Satan’s attempts to keep humanity from having the close relationship with God that He desired.  

What the angel said to Joseph in the dream we read about was that Joseph and Mary were to name their baby “Jesus” because He would save His people from their sin. “Jesus” is the Greek form of Joshua, which means the Lord saves. Jesus’ very name speaks to the mission God sent Him to accomplish. Jesus was and is the Savior.  There is no other hope.  There is no other plan.  There is no other way to God except through Jesus.

We all need saving which means we all need Jesus.  We are all born with a problem that we can’t solve.  We are born with a sinful nature that causes us to want the wrong things and to do the wrong things and to make our own way in this world apart from God.  Sin is bondage.  Sin aligns us with Satan’s agenda rather than with the will of God.  Sin takes from us.  Sin robs us of the joy and peace that come from being in a right relationship with God.  Sin keeps us from that right relationship.

Jesus came to save us from the darkness, from the blackness, from the emptiness of sin. Salvation is the greatest gift that could be received by any of us.  Why Jesus? Why Someone who was fully human but also fully God at the same time?  Because only God could accomplish the work of salvation.  Only God has the authority to forgive sin.  Only God could create a way for sin to be forgiven.  God, alone, had the perfection and power to pull it off.  Jesus had to come because no person on earth could provide redemption.   

The book of Isaiah is often called the “Fifth Gospel” because it contains so many Messianic prophecies about the birth of Christ.  It was written 700 years before Christ was born and every prophesy recorded there was fulfilled by Jesus. Isaiah 61 details the job description of Jesus, the Messiah.  He would come to share Good News with us, news about the love and grace of God that are both greater than our sin. Is there any better news? No matter what you have done or how long you have done it, God’s love and grace are stronger than the worst possible sin.  That’s good news!

It’s good news because God has done something for us that we could never do for ourselves.  The shepherds were told “good news of great joy for all people” when the angels told them about the birth of Christ.  That’s good news.  God doesn’t operate the way the systems of the world do.  God doesn’t admit some and reject some.  God doesn’t expect us to work ourselves into His good graces or do something impressive that would cause Him to respond with grace.  Y’all, it’s good news because it is for everyone.  God hasn’t abandoned us in our sinful state.  That’s good news.  God developed and executed a plan to redeem all of humanity.  That is good news.  God would undo what sin had done to us.  That is good news. 

Isaiah 61 says Jesus would bind up our broken hearts.  That is good news because sin breaks sin breaks our hearts.  Sin infects our hearts.  Sin brings shame and regret into our hearts.  It beats us down.  Jesus, the Messiah has come to do the repair work needed. That is good news!  Isaiah 61 says Jesus would come to comfort those who sorrow.  That’s good news because sin brings grief into our lives.  It creates loss that just stays with us, that is always hanging over our head.  It’s not something we can “get over” or put behind us.  Sadly, many people just try to learn to live with the heaviness, to live with the weight of their sin. Jesus came to lift that burden entirely. That is good news.  Isaiah 61 says the Messiah would bring liberty to the captives because sin binds us. That is good news because sin makes us slaves.  Sin imprisons us.  Isaiah 61 says Jesus would proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.  That is good news because sin oppresses us.  It beats us down.  Jesus makes us acceptable to God through His sacrifice. 

I hope you got the Xbox or the jewelry or the kitchen or power tools that you wanted this Christmas, but I pray you have also received the gift of Jesus.  The Apostle Paul talks about Jesus as the “indescribable gift” in II Corinthians 9:15. It’s hard to put words around the gift of Jesus.

Have you ever unwrapped a gift only to find another gift inside of it?  You unwrap that gift, and there is another one inside of that?  It just keeps going.  You may start out with a big, heavy gift and you work your way down, gift after gift to something small and maybe even more costly than the bigger gifts you previously opened.  It’s like the gift that keeps on giving.  Y’all, Jesus is like that.  As you unwrap the gift of Jesus and begin to explore layer after layer, you find He truly is the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace.  Your everyday life is better because of Him.  It’s blessed because of Him. 

He is the Savior and Redeemer of the world.  He gives you spiritual breath that enables you to take in the Divine presence of God on the inside.  He is the Creator and re-creator of our souls.  Something new is always on the horizon when you walk with Jesus. 

He is the Bread of Life. You can take Him in every day, and you can live satisfied and steady! He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He bows to no one and one day every knee shall bow to Him. He is the Almighty God and the Living Lord.  Signs, miracles, and wonders become part of the life of the person who unwraps the gift of Jesus.  There is nothing He can’t accomplish.  He has even conquered death. 

He is our Master.  Doing things His way will create fulfillment and great joy. He is also our High Priest. He is the mediator between us and our Heavenly Father.  Because of Jesus we can be at home, at ease in the presence of God.  We can enjoy God because of Jesus’s priestly work.  He is our Advocate and Friend. No one can do more for you, and no one wants to do more for you than Jesus.

He is Immanuel, God with Us. You will never walk alone, and the presence of Christ is the protection you need to maintain peace in every trial.  He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He doesn’t just start something in us, He keeps it going to completion.  He is the Word Made Flesh.  That means He is someone you can know personally.  He is the Fountain of Living Water.  You won’t thirst for anything that can satisfy you more. 

He is the Rock upon which you can build your life.  You can be grounded and founded on the truth of Jesus.  You can live an established life.  There is no one like Him.  He is a one-of-a-kind gift and a one-size-fits all Savior that you can spend the rest of your life trying to unwrap and you will never explore the depths of a relationship with Jesus this side of Heaven.  “Good News” doesn’t really begin to describe how wonderful it is to know Jesus.

Is there anyone here today who needs some good news?  Anyone here who has worried that you could never be loved or accepted by God?  Anyone here who feels unwanted?  Anyone here who needs to be freed from the shackles of sin?  Anyone here who feels beaten down or oppressed?  I have Good News for you.  It is cause for great rejoicing.  Unto you has been born in the City of David, Savior, who is Christ the Lord. It isn’t the snow on the ground that makes this a white Christmas. It is the blood of Jesus, and through the sacrifice of His blood, His life, we can have the life God wants us to have.


Isaiah 1:18- “Come now, let us SETTLE the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as WHITE as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”


Come. Do you see the invitation? The gift is for us, all of us. Come, NOW!  Do you hear the urgency?  God is inviting you to come to the Christ of Christmas now, to come to the way of salvation, now.  Our sins stand out like a sore thumb.  Isaiah compares them to the colors of scarlet and crimson.  Our sins cannot be hidden. They can’t be denied.  They are like a stain you can’t hide.  Have you ever been out to a restaurant and spilled something colorful on you only to try to dab the stain with water just to rub it in and make it more defined and clearly seen?  What we do to try to cover our sins is useless and often only makes the situation worse.


But Jesus covers our sin like snow covers the earth.  When snow falls, what is beneath it is unseen.  All that remains is the pure, white, glistening snow.  There is a newness, a beauty to the covering of snow that reflects what happens to a person who has their sins forgiven.  What was is no more because of the covering.


Come now.  Let us settle the matter. Settle it. Settle things with God.  Stop wrestling.  Stop running.  Stop living bound up and choose the freedom God offers.  Open the gift of Jesus.  He will cover your sin. He has you covered.  Have you ever been wrapping a present and you misjudged the amount of paper needed?  You think you have a generous amount, more than needed but you come up short and there is a big gap?  What do we often try to do when that happens?  We try to piece the gap together with some extra paper.  We try to patch up our mistake. We try to cover what can’t really be covered because it is obvious when we hand the gift to someone that we botched the job.


Do we try to do that with our spiritual lives?  Do we try to cover our sin with good works?  Do we try to patch up the distance between us and God with church attendance or community service or by putting some money in the offering plate?  It can’t be done.  We can’t add enough human effort to outweigh the gap, to cover our sin. That is what makes salvation a gift!  We don’t do anything to earn it. Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works.  A gift is something someone purchases.  Jesus has purchased the gift of salvation with His very blood.  Jesus paid it all.  All to Him I owe.  Sin had left the crimson stain.  He washed it white as snow.  Jesus completely covers our sin.


When David made terrible, sinful, selfish, immoral, and illegal decisions to sin and realized what he had done, when he confessed his sin and brought his sinful heart to God to ask for forgiveness, he said, “Wash me, and I WILL be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:7 David knew the only way to be relieved of sin was to be cleansed by God. 


Jesus never came to condemn us.  He came to cover us.  God has always made a way for His people to have their sins covered.  When Adam and Eve sinned and sin came into the world, they felt shame.  They immediately regretted what they had done, and they tried to cover themselves.  They tried to cover their shame.  They sewed some fig leaves together to try to make themselves a covering.  That didn’t work, so they tried to hide from God.  That didn’t work because God goes where His people are.  The clothes Adam and Eve had put together weren’t going to work.  They needed something durable, something lasting, something that was the result of a sacrifice.  So, God, sacrificing the life of an animal, made them clothes of animal skins, Genesis 3:21.  God covered Adam and Eve in the garden. 


Both the Old and New Testament talk about this idea of being covered.  Galatians 3:27 tells us that when we are united with Christ, we are clothed with Christ, like you would put on new clothes. I’m guessing some of you are wearing new clothes this morning.  New clothes make for a great Christmas gift, but the best new outfit we could wear is to be clothed with Christ, to be covered by Him. Y’all, Jesus was wrapped in flesh so that we could be wrapped in His righteousness.  He willingly became the sacrifice for sin so that our sins could be completely covered.


If our greatest need had been for information, God would have sent us an educator.  If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist.  If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist.  If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer.  But our Greatest need was to have our sins covered, forgiven, so God sent us a Savior.  (Max Lucado)


For the wages of sin (what we earn from a sinful life) is death, but the GIFT of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.


As I said earlier, the miracles of Christmas are truly incredible.  I’ve personally witnessed a lot of miracles this year.  However, greater than an angelic visitation or a virgin birth, greater than a healing or hope restored is the miracle of salvation.  You can experience it today.  Make this a white Christmas because of what you will allow God to do for you on the inside.  Will you unwrap the gift of Jesus this year, the gift that undoes the damage sin has done, the gift that keeps on giving, and the gift that has you covered for time and into eternity in Heaven?

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