First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (11:00 p.m. Christmas Eve Service ~ December 24, 2019)
Rev. Dr. Mouris Yousef, Pastor
For my Meditation on our Christmas Eve Services this year, I chose to focus on Jesus being “a light for revelation.” This is a profound statement that was made by Simeon the Elder. When Simeon, the righteous and devout Elder, saw Jesus for the first time at the temple in Jerusalem, he was moved by the Spirit and said these words in Luke 2:29-32, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”
Jesus is “a light for revelation to the Gentiles.” But the question I am asking tonight is: What did Jesus reveal? What was needed to be revealed? What does the light of Jesus reveal to us?
Have you heard the expression “familiarity breeds contempt”? The saying means that we no longer value what we think we know very well. I believe that the Christmas story is an example of that familiarity that breeds contempt. Yet, the more we look at this old story, the more God reveals to us amazing things. No wonder that Simeon declared that, Christ is “a light for revelation to the Gentiles.”
In the earlier service, I pointed out that in the birth of Jesus, God revealed humanity’s greatest need. Our greatest need is not for a bigger house; it is not for a better income; it’s not for a newer car; it’s not for more education and knowledge. But our greatest need is for a Savior. When the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream in Matthew 1:21, the angel told Joseph that Mary “will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name (Yeshua) Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
In our earlier service, I also pointed out that the birth of Jesus revealed that in our dark places, God’s light breaks through. In our sin and sinfulness, Christ’s righteousness covers us. In our spiritual poverty, God’s generosity overwhelms us. Luke expresses this in the image of the good news of Christ’s birth being announced to the shepherds, non-religious, impure, and the likely least recipients of Christ’s birth. Luke 2:9 states “An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them.”
John 1:9 says that Jesus Christ is the “true light that gives light to everyone.” I know that some of us are in a dark place right now, let Christ’s light breakthrough. When Christ was born, it was such a dark time for the nation of Israel. Their land was occupied by the Romans; the Romans imposed heavy taxes; the religious atmosphere was so corrupt; and on the top of this, God was silent for over 400 years. 400 years passed between the last prophet in the Old Testament, Malachi, and John the Baptist. Remember that when it gets too dark, dawn is near. When you feel the thickness of darkness, God will show up. He will be there with you. Let me add to that a couple more thoughts as we think about Christ being “a light of revelation.” What does Christ reveal?
Third: God Keeps His promises
But the birth of Christ also reveals to us a faithful God; a trustworthy God; a reliable God; a God who keeps His promises. Yes, God’s timeline may not be consistent with ours, but He will do what He exactly says. Hear what the Lord said to the Prophet Habakkuk in Habakkuk 2:2-3 “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it lingers, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”
God keeps His promises. Once upon a time, there lived a man and a woman in the Paradise, in the Garden of Eden, where they were terrifically happy. Their names were Adam and Eve, and God made them. He made them in His image—like little mirrors to reflect His glory. And like everything else God made, He made them good.
But things didn’t stay happy and wonderful for long. One terrible day, Adam and Eve sinned. They ate from the only tree in the garden that God had declared off-limits. Adam and Eve had disobeyed God’s word; they believed the lie of the devilish Snake instead of the truth. Sin became human beings’ default. After sin entered the world, everything fell apart. Nothing was the way it should be. God made Adam and Eve go away from the Garden of Eden. It wasn’t possible for people so bad to live in the presence of a God who is so good. But the story is not over yet.
God made a promise. He promised Adam and Eve that one of their children would someday crush the head of that nasty Snake. The Snake Crusher would put things right. In Genesis 3:15, the Lord said to the serpent these words, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” This is the first promise of a Savior and the first great act of God’s grace towards humanity after our tragic act of rebellion. Through the ages, prophet after prophet, confirmed that promise. Yes, it took a few thousand years to see the fulfilment of the promise, but at the end, Christ was born and won the battle against Satan.
And so we come to a manger in the little town of Bethlehem. This is where we meet the Snake Crusher—born as a baby, with animals and stinky shepherds and singing angels all around. No one understood it completely at that time, but when Mary gave birth to baby Jesus, God was giving His people a new beginning, just as He promised.
Friends, when God says in Hebrews 13:5, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” When we read this, we should take God at His word. When God says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Often times, our minds may not comprehend how in all things God works for the good of His children, but He said so. In Numbers 23:19 we read these words, “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?”
Fourth: God’s Ways Are Higher than Our Ways
Christ revealed that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are our ways His ways. Isaiah 55:9 says, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Who could’ve imagined that a helpless child would be the Savior of the World? Who could’ve imaged that this baby is God in a human form? Who could’ve imagined that the Savior of the world will be born in Bethlehem not Rome? Who could’ve imagined that the Savior will be born in a stable not in a palace? Who could’ve imagined that water will be gushing out of a rock in the wilderness quenching the thirst of God’s people? Friends, what is impossible for people is possible with God. Friends, often times, God’s help comes to us in unexpected ways and at unexpected places. As we celebrate Christmas tonight, let’s remember that Christ is “a light for revelation to the Gentiles.” He revealed that our greatest need is for a Savior. He revealed that in our dark places, His light breaks through. Darkness doesn’t have the final word. Sin doesn’t have the final word. He reveals to us that God keeps His promises. He reveals to us that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are our ways His ways. Merry Christmas, friends.