Matthew 1:21 (ESV)
21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
In this week’s message, Pastor Chris asked, “Where are you looking for Joy, this Christmas?” He challenged us to discern the difference between the secular and sacred Christmas celebrations around us. He inspired us with the idea of believers discovering deeper meaning in the birth of Christ, and those searching for truth responding to the message of the nativity. Are we simply enamored with the baby Jesus the way we fawn over a newborn? Or, are we astounded and humbled that God came in the flesh as an infant to live a sinless life, embody the good news, die a torturous death, and rise from the dead, so that we might have a restored relationship with our Father in Heaven?! That is the audacity of the message of Bethlehem’s holy child!
The consumerism of Christmas has a strong agenda, pulling people away from its true meaning. Getting wrapped up in the material gifts can bring pleasure, but blind us from seeing pure Joy in God’s gift to the world. God’s design for Christmas is for all to have an encounter with Christ that will fill us with His Spirit and bless us with everlasting life.
At Christmas, worship and praise songs are piped-in all around us – in commercials, elevators, radio stations, department stores, and malls. Consider the theology of this beloved carol, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, which answers vital life questions with theological aplomb:
- Who was Jesus? “Christ, by highest heaven adored, Christ, the everlasting Lord. Hail! the heaven-born Prince of peace!”
- Why did he come as an infant? “Offspring of a Virgin’s womb, Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail the incarnate Deity, Pleased as man with man to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel”
- What did Jesus come to do? “Mild He lays His glory by, Born that man no more may die, Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth”
- How can this life be ours? “Light and life to all he brings, Risen with healing in his wings”
Where we are looking will be the level of our Joy this Christmas. Like the wise men seeking the newborn king by looking intently at the brightest star in the heavens, there is a direct correlation between our focus and our joy.
Isaiah 9:6–7 (ESV)
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Five Thoughts on How Jesus’ Name Impacts our Lives
1. His name is WONDERFUL. That takes care of the DULLNESS of this life.
Psalm 8:3–4 (ESV)
3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
2. His name is COUNSELOR. That takes care of the DECISIONS of life.
Psalm 73:24 (ESV)
24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.
James 1:5 (The Message)
5 If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it.
3. His name is MIGHTY GOD. That takes care of the DEMANDS of life.
Philippians 4:13 (ESV)
13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Philippians 2:12–13 (NLT)
Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
4. His name is EVERLASTING FATHER. That takes care of the FUTURE.
Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
5. His name is PRINCE OF PEACE. That takes care of the DISTURBANCE of life.
Philippians 4:7 (The Message)
7 Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
Luke 2:14 (ESV)
14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Philippians 4:6–7 (NLT)
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experienceGod’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
1. What is it that you want to get out of this Christmas season?
2. What would make your Christmas wonderful and satisfying?
Does it have anything to do with the worldly pleasures?
3. How might you be putting your hope in something that will bring fulfillment?
Could you be putting your hope in something that brings disappointment?
4. What series of single-words comes to mind when you ponder the true meaning of Christmas?
1. What will you do to experience Jesus in his fullness this Christmas!
How will He be your Mighty God, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, and Everlasting Father?
2. How will you find and experience true peace (shalom) during this Christmas season?