Christmas Day 2017

The Epistle – Hebrews 1:1-12

The Gospel – St. John 1:1-14

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, [2] but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” (Hebrews 1:1-2a, ESV)

 

During the time leading up to this glorious Christmas morning, we have heard all through out the season of Advent about the coming of the Messiah.

John the Baptist is probably our best example and the most prominent. 

 

Twice John appeared in our lessons as the figure that would introduce and usher in this Messiah.

 

Now this morning our lesson from the book of Hebrews begins this way, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets…”

 

This was the issue with John that the leaders of his day wanted to know. Are you one of those prophets that came before or are you another prophet?  Who are you?

 

Long ago, even for the Jews, God spoke to His people through the Prophets. God had a mouthpiece on earth that would speak to His people.

 

The prophet would be a mediator or a go-between. He would utter what God intended him to say.

 

The message was pretty much always the same. Repent. Turn back to God. Stop the idolatry. Stop mingling with foreign nations. Stop worshiping like they do. Turn back to the LORD God and be saved.

 

But they would not.

 

Many times….more times than we can count maybe, God spoke to His people by the Prophets.

 

The prophets spoke in many ways but always incompletely. Their message was clear in one sense in that the people were to repent.

 

But in another way, the message they spoke was incomplete. In a similar way, the repetition of the animal sacrifices in the Temple was a reminder that what their function was was incomplete.

 

But, the writer this morning says, “…but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”

In these last days, he says.  These last days, are the final days of this New Covenant. This new age.

 

It began with the birth of Christ and it has continued as “last days” until this day for us.

 

But at the time of the writing of the Letter to the Hebrews the last days had just begun.

 

And in those last days, God spoke in a new way.  He came and spoke to them in the person of His Son…the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

This was God’s final word to the people. It was their last opportunity.

It was their last chance to accept the speaking of God.

 

This too in fact is a truth for us today. Acceptance of Christ as Lord and Savior and God… is the final opportunity all men will have in their lives as well.

 

This is one of the titles John attributes to Jesus in the Gospel lesson today. Jesus is the Word. God has spoken to us…to them…by His Word.

 

This is not just words coming from God’s mouth. They are the living words of God set forth in the living Son.

 

He is the Word of God.

He is the Word made flesh.

This Word came and dwelt among us.

And by this Word, God has spoken to us in these last days.

 

So at Christmas time, we glory in the Word that has come and will come again.

 

God’s Son Jesus Christ, it says, has been appointed the heir of all things.

 

Not only because of His obedience unto death, but also on account of His immeasurable willingness to lay aside His glory, come to earth, be born in the likeness of men….suffer all of the same things men suffer.

 

So His Nativity, His birth is also rewarded….. by Him receiving an inheritance. 

Colossians 1:16 says that all things were created not only by Him, but for him. Created for Him.

 

The Son says to the Father, “I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son;     today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.” (Psalm 2:7–8, ESV)

 

All things in heaven and earth have been given to Christ as an inheritance. All of the nations, means peoples from all nations and tribes and tongues… all throughout history have been and are sill being called to partake of Christ’s inheritance.

 

He inherits us, in other words.

Paul says in Galatians 4:6–7

“And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

[7] So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (ESV)

 

So as part of being Christ’s inheritance, we are no longer slaves to sin.

We are God’s children by adoption and grace.

God’s Spirit dwells in our hearts by faith and witnesses to our hearts that all of these things are true.

 

And we are heirs…joint heirs with Christ.

 

Paul says in Romans to further this point about us, “Romans 8:14–17

 

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. [15] For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” [16] The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, [17] and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (ESV)

 

The latter part is what is to notice.

 

Galatians covered the first part. Now, he says in Romans that we are children and heirs of God. Fellow heirs with Christ.

 

But part of being an heir includes even suffering.

 

So, we are an inheritance that Christ gets, given to Him by the Father on account of His faithfulness in redeeming us.

 

And we become heirs of something as well. We become heirs of God’s Kingdom.

We become heirs of being in the eternal presence of God…enjoying Him forever.

 

We are heirs of never ending joy.

 

And then the writer to the Hebrews is in sync with John’s Gospel today.

 

The Son, Christ, appointed as heir of all things, “is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.”

 

Being the radiance of God’s glory means that all that is glorious about God is shared by the Son…and He reflects that radiance to us.

 

He is the exact imprint of His nature.  All that it means to be God is borne in the Son.

He has all of the attributes of the Father and the Spirit regarding their nature.

He is not mixed or confused with the Father, but He certainly shares the title “God” with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

 

His mission is mentioned next. “After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, [4] having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.”

 

Now that Christ has risen from the dead, paid the penalty for sins for us and by His rising has opened the door of everlasting life to us, He sat down on His throne.

 

From there He will rule and reign until the last of His enemies is put under His feet.

And then as we confess…from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead…the living and the dead.

 

This is our inheritance.  The child born this day brings with Him treasures and gifts for us that are immeasurable and unsearchable. 

 

The perishable gifts we will find under the tree this morning that we will exchange should be seen as reminders of the imperishable gift that God has given us in Christ Jesus.

 

The gifts will be opened today and talked about and treasured but the meaning they have will fade. The excitement they bring will settle down.

 

But they are just reminders and pointers to the greater and more perfect gift that is given this day to us….coming down from the Father of lights, as James says.

 

The greatest gift we receive is the inheritance with the rest of the saints in light.

 

Paul in his letter to the Ephesians 1:11–14…reminds us….that in Christ, we have already “obtained an inheritance, having been predestined [so this is long before the foundations of the world were laid]

according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.”

 

According to His purpose. So this inheritance we have in Him is not something we chose, or fell into.

 

This is the foreordained plan of God to call us to share in this inheritance. It was His purpose and will to do so.


All, so that when we believed in Him, we were “…sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, [14] who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (ESV)

 

Who will be able to separate us from such an inheritance?

Who will be able to separate us from such a promise…ordained by God, unchanging from the foundation of the world….

 

An inheritance that was sealed in our baptism by water and the Holy Spirit…who is the guarantee of all of this.

 

The Holy Spirit, by sealing us, guarantees our inheritance NOW, so while we await our final taking a hold of it, we await in hope and assurance, because it was made long before we were even created.

 

And finally it is all, (says Paul) to the praise of His glory.

 

We will only know what even that means in its fullest sense when we inherit the Kingdom.

 

All of the things that God works to His Glory and His Praise will be fully known when He reveals them to us and we are shed of the limitations of the Fall and we are brought to perfection in His Kingdom.

 

The message of Christmas is most glorious. Its images of trees and presents and decorations are only a pale representation of the beauty and the joy that we will finally see and understand and enjoy in the Kingdom of heaven.

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.+