Christmas is when Jesus came on a mission from God, but Christmas means different things to different people. For some it’s a time of joy, a time to spend with family and good friends. For others it is a time of loneliness. For some it’s a thing of wonder, lights and magic, while for others it’s just a chance to take a few days off work, eat a bit and drink a lot.
In the middle of all this, you might be forgiven for thinking that the central figure of Christmas is a old, fat jolly guy in a red suit. There’s a lot of fake in Christmas… fake elves, fake snow, fake stars, fake trees, fake smiles at family gatherings, to the point where as adults we are conditioned to believe nothing but play along with the façade. But those of us who are Christians have something more than the fakeness, something that makes this season one of true joy and genuine thankfulness.
His name is Jesus, and at this time we celebrate His coming to earth. You’ll see pictures of Him as a baby, but that’s not the end of the story… it’s not even the beginning of the story! But why did He, being God, become a man, a person born in a lowly stable, to a working class family who lived in a working class town? This is one of the great mysteries of Christmas, that Christ...
Philippians 2:6-11 (ESV Strong's)
who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
He did not come randomly, He didn’t come to set up a religion. Jesus wasn’t just a good person, or a world class prophet. He was and still is God Himself, and He had the end game in mind.
Jesus came on a mission from God.
“WE’RE ON A MISSION FROM GOD”
I remember seeing the movie “The Blues Brothers”, where John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd played Jake and Elwood, who get the original band back together to raise money to save a Catholic orphanage… hence they told everyone there were on a mission from God.
While that mission is debatable, Jesus definitely was on a mission from God. His birth was no accident, it was a very specific moment when God’s Son stepped into time for a specific, God ordained purpose.
This purpose involved Him becoming a man, being conceived supernaturally but being born just like you or I, growing up as a man, living life as a man of that time and finally, choosing to lay down His life. This mission was planned for centuries, and meticulously fulfilled by Jesus Christ.
WHAT ARE THE ODDS?
According to Jewish teaching, the Messiah must fulfil specific descriptive words that were written about Him centuries before, (which we call prophecies) and fulfil them 100%... every single one of them!
Matthew 5:17 (ESV Strong's)
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
There are over 300 references to 61 specific prophecies about Jesus in the OT. Failure to fulfil any single one of these would discount Jesus as the promised Messiah.
These prophecies are very specific, such as the town He must be born into, Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), being born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) even down to things like being betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12-13), where it even predicts that the 30 pieces of silver are given to buy the potter’s field. Not 29 pieces, and not 31. That’s how specific many of these predictions were.
So, 61 prophecies written 500-1000 years before Christ were all totally fulfilled in one man… Jesus Christ!
Mathematics Professor Peter Stoner calculated the odds that 8 of these prophecies could be fulfilled in one man, and discovered that the odds were 1 in 10 to the 21st power. What does that mean? Well, imagine if you covered the entire earth land mass in 20c coins to a depth of 36 metres, marked one coin and asked someone to travel the world and select that one specific coin first go. That’s the odds.
Forensic scientists match a DNA profile and say the odds of having the wrong person is one in several billion… well that’s the same for having these prophecies fulfilled in one man, and that’s only 8 of the 61 needed.
Jesus came on a mission from God, a very specific mission. Before we examine that mission, let me explain to you what Jesus’ mission from God was not…
WHAT JESUS’ MISSION FROM GOD WAS NOT
People being people, read the Word of God and twist and turn it to suit themselves, but when we examine why Jesus came to earth, we have to take the entire Bible into context, not just the bits that suit us. Contrary to popular belief, these things were not Jesus’ mission from God…
1. HE DID NOT COME TO BRING WORLD PEACE
When the angels announced the arrival of Jesus, they didn’t say peace on earth to all men. They said,
Luke 2:14 (ESV Strong's)
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Yes, Jesus came to bring peace on earth, but not for all men, only those with whom God is pleased, those who accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Until He returns again, we will always have war on earth because people are selfish and nations are militant.
In fact, Jesus said this…
Matthew 10:34 (ESV Strong's)
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
He said this because He realised that when he came to save men’s souls, that this would cause conflict between believers and those who refuse to believe. I’ve experienced that at times, and many times people we love are against our beliefs and what inspires us.
But in the midst of all the terrorism, war, family conflict, divorce and pain, in a sea of arguments over money, things, relationships, gender, children and prejudice, Jesus can make you an island of inner peace. He did not come to bring world peace, but to allow you and I to have the inner peace that passes all understanding, and live a life of joy and fulfilment.
2. HE DID NOT COME TO MEET YOUR NEEDS
Almost every religion or belief system I have seen emphasises “what’s in it for me!” People turn to religion to get God to do what they want. People turn to atheism not because it makes sense, (it clearly doesn’t) but because it gives them the right to behave the way they want.
I’m so sick of hearing people ordering God around, thinking if they can only say the right prayer, or do the right things they will get what they want. That, my friends, is paganism, it's not Jesus' mission from God.
We are consumers, you and I, and we always make choices based on what is best for us. But Jesus’ mission was never to come and give us what we want. It was never to make us feel comfortable and happy. The symbol for Christianity is a cross, not a cushion, and yes, I will be the first to tell you that God has given me so many wonderful things in life, and unbelievable joy, but that’s a fringe benefit, it was never the main mission!
Philippians 4:19 (ESV Strong's)
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Blessing comes to those who seek God first, but never lose sight of the fact that Jesus came with a greater mission that making your life joyful, happy and fun.
3. HE DID NOT COME TO MESS UP YOUR SUPPOSEDLY PERFECT LIFE
Many people resist coming to Jesus not because they don’t believe He is real, not even because they do not believe His mission from God, but because they are worried that He will want to change the way they live, and they quite like how they live, sin and all!
Ephesians 4:22-23 (ESV Strong's)
put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
Jesus did come to change your life (part of His mission from God), but He did not come to rain on your parade! People say to me, “If I become a Christian I will have to stop smoking, swearing, drinking, doing drugs, sleeping around, driving a nice car or partying, right?”
Ok, let’s have a look at that… Smoking? An expensive, dirty habit, and one that almost every smoker I know would give anything to stop. Drinking? It’s ok when you’re drunk, but how much fun are hangovers or alcoholism? Drugs? Expensive, ruins your life, ruins your career, ruins your relationships. Swearing? That’s an embarrassment. Sleeping around? How many diseases or disastrous relationships do you need before you figure out that sex with multiple partners is never as fulfilling as having God’s choice as a wonderful wife or husband? If sex brought fulfilment, the most fulfilled person in the world would be a prostitute! Partying? Well, you look cool when you are 18, sad when you are 28, embarrassing when you’re 38 and downright tragic when you’re 48 and still trying to party. What a waste of a life!
People tell me they don’t want to give up the things they like doing to become a Christian. Listen, coming to Christ doesn’t mean you stop having fun… in fact you have more fun, a fulfilled life, family, careers, and blessing others! And when you know Jesus, you recognise how shallow and destructive those old behaviours are. When you come to Jesus, you don’t give up the lousy life you currently lead, you throw it away. I don’t give up my garbage, I throw it away.
John 10:10 (ESV Strong's)
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
Any so called restriction placed on your life when you come to Christ is for your own protection, and it allows you to live the best life ever! I’ve been married to the same girl for 33 years last week, and I know guys who pick up girls in bars regularly. The world thinks their life is more exciting than mine, more fulfilling than mine, but all of them envy me and the relationship I have with one woman.
Jesus’ mission from God is not to restrict or mess up your life, it’s to fulfil it and make it abundant!
So now we know what Jesus’ mission from God wasn’t, let look at what His mission from God was. Why did Jesus come to earth as a baby that first Christmas Day?
First, we need to understand the situation we find ourselves in, the condition of mankind. God created us perfect and without sin, and He gave us a garden to enjoy, but the devil tempted Adam and Eve away from God and towards sin.
WE LIVE IN SIN CITY?
What is sin? Is to murdering, or stealing or getting angry at people. Those are some of the many symptoms of sin, but what is the cause of sin.
Sin is defined by the Bible thus…
1 John 3:4 (ESV Strong's)
Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.
Sin is doing anything, saying anything, even thinking anything that is contrary or against God. I have people say to me, “I’m a good guy, I’m honest, I try and do the right thing, so I don’t think I sin.”
Really? Have you ever been selfish? Ever envied your friend? Ever hurt someone you love? Clearly, according to the Bible, we are all guilty as charged. We all live in sin city. We are all lawless, obeying our laws and desires, not God’s. This sets up Jesus' mission from God.
ALL HAVE SINNED, AND ALL MUST PAY
The Bible says,
Romans 3:23 (ESV Strong's)
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
And that is clearly true. The Bible says that God is holy, and that He, and indeed Jesus is without sin. Any sin. And God is so holy, He will not even look upon sin. The penalty for sin is separation from God, separation in this life from Him, and in eternity separated in hell.
Romans 6:23 (ESV Strong's)
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We are all destined for eternal death in hell, every one of us, because clearly we are all sinners! You might cry to God that it’s not fair, but it is extremely fair and just.
And this is why we can do nothing to redeem ourselves. Every religion in the world says that, if you live a good life and your good outweighs the bad, you might just be saved. It’s salvation by works, by doing everything from being a good person, handing out watchtower magazines or murdering non believers!
Every religion is man’s attempt up to reach God, but only Christianity is God’s attempt to reach down to man in the person of His Son and draw man to Himself.
MISSION FROM GOD 1- JESUS CAME TO SAVE YOU
But because of Jesus’ mission from God, Christianity is completely different. The Bible teaches that you and I are destined for hell, and nothing you can do will stop that. Even if you’re a nice guy, you won’t get to heaven, you’ll just get to be the nicest guy in hell!
Jesus’ primary mission was this… God knew we couldn’t become good enough to be saved, and that we deserve to die, so God sent His only Son to die in our place.
John 3:16 (ESV Strong's)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
That’s the good news of the gospel… you don’t have to be good enough to be saved, because you can never be good enough, you just have to be willing to accept Jesus.
Romans 5:8 (ESV Strong's)
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV Strong's)
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
This Christmas, look beyond the baby in the manger and see the Saviour hanging on nails dying in your place! Nails didn’t hold Him to the cross, love did! His love for you is the very reason He became that baby, lived as a man and died the death we should have died, to open the door for us to come back to God.
John 10:17-18 (ESV Strong's)
For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
Accepting God’s gift of eternal life is available to you this Christmas, free of charge. Just repent and receive, it is that simple.
MISSION FROM GOD 2- JESUS CAME TO SHINE IN A DARK WORLD
You probably don’t need me to tell you that this world is a dark, dark place! There’s pain, sickness, selfishness, war and prejudice. It seems mankind can’t help themselves, they just hurt each other.
Pause right now and look around at life… there’s the threat of war in North Korea, there are famines we can’t control, there are sicknesses we cannot heal, let alone control, there are evil regimes that operate unchecked. Today there’s more terrorism, more mental illness and more drug abuse than ever before. Mankind doesn’t know where the next terror attack is coming from, we don’t know how to act kindly, how to care properly for the poor, how to eat properly ourselves, how to relate properly. We’ve no idea how to stop envy, greed, prejudice, exploitation, divorce, separation, and mankind is so smart we don’t know the difference between a male and a female anymore! More than ever we need someone on a true mission from God today!
This world is a mess. What sort of world are we leaving to our children? If we really love our kids, the best thing we can do is to come to Jesus and lead them out of this horrible darkness and into His light.
You see, into such a world God sent His Son on a mission from God to shine a light, His truth, His grace and compassion into our lives, a ray of hope that started at Christmas and grew to completeness hanging on a cross for you.
The second part of Jesus’ mission from God was to shine His holy light in the darkness of the world…
John 8:12 (ESV Strong's)
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 12:46 (ESV Strong's)
I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.
But here’s the thing… the Bible says mankind hates it when the light shines into their darkness, because they are ashamed of what they do. Men love darkness because it kind of covers up their faults and sin. Ever wondered why evil things like prostitution, drug taking, drinking, gambling, wife beating, pornography, murder and most other sins, mostly occur at night?
John 3:19-21 (ESV Strong's)
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
MISSION FROM GOD 3- JESUS CAME TO HEAL AND SET CAPTIVES FREE
Jesus’ mission from God was summarised in Isaiah, used by Jesus in Luke to describe Himself
Luke 4:18-19 (ESV Strong's)
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”
If you are feeling like someone or something holds you captive today, Jesus has come to set you free. If you’re a slave to destructive habits, Jesus has come to set you free. If you feel bound, overwhelmed, hurt, if you feel like you are struggling against insurmountable odds, Jesus has come to set you free.
Jesus mission includes healing the sick, binding up the hurt and broken hearted.
MISSION FROM GOD 4- PROVIDE POWER FOR LIVING
Jesus didn’t just come on a mission from God to save us, and to heal and restore us, but His coming opened the way for us to have real power for living. He died in our place on the cross, but death could not hold Him, and 3 days later He conquered death and sin and rose again, showing us that we too can have eternal life!
John 11:25 (ESV Strong's)
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,
Eternal life is not some pie in the sky when you die by and by, it starts right here. Jesus’ mission was to give us life for here and now, as well as eternity. The power to live a triumphant life, every day, no matter what circumstances throw at us. Life to the full, starting now.
Jesus died, rose to life again and then went back to be with the Father, but before He went He gave us this gift…
Acts 1:8 (ESV Strong's)
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
The Holy Spirit is the deposit of God, living within us. I can’t live a righteous life, and either can you, but God’s Spirit living in you can slowly transform the way you live to empower you to live a righteous, triumphant and blessed life. When Jesus came that first Christmas, His mission was to bring salvation to mankind, to shine in a dark world, to heal and set men free and to empower you to life life to the full. But He has one more mission objective…
MISSION FROM GOD 5- RAISE AN ARMY TO WIN THE WORLD
Jesus came that first Christmas on a mission from God as a meek and mild baby, born into poverty, raised in obscurity, but He has promised to return, and it will not be as a baby! He’s coming back again in triumph, as the rightful King, and to this end He is raising an army of believers to win the world!
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (ESV Strong's)
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
CHOOSE THIS DAY
This Christmas, we remember Jesus coming as a baby. He came on a mission from God, He came and died a horrible death because He loves you. You don’t deserve it, either do I, but God loves you so much He wants to save you for all eternity, and empower you to live for Him, starting right now.
This Christmas you face a choice… go your own way, or turn to Jesus. Stumble in this dark world or come into the light? Give Him the flick, or give Him your life? There are consequences to every decision. What will you do?
Deuteronomy 30:19 (ESV Strong's)
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,
If you come to Jesus, you receive life, and your children are led into the light. Yes, you can save generations by making the right decision now.