Christmas Sermon: The Marriage of Heaven and Earth

Sermon: People of God, merry Christmas! On this joyful day Christians celebrate the birth of our Lord. We celebrate the humanity of Christ, and we celebrate our humanity. To be human is not to shelter an insignificant body, but a body that will become incorruptible at the resurrection.[1] In the end of the day, we are Christian humanists. Because of the incarnation, we are truly human. We do not despise our humanity. We recognize that in Christ we are better humanists. Stanley Hauerwas writes:

Christian humanism is not based on the presumption that our humanity is self-justifying. Rather Christians are humanists because God showed up in Mary’s belly. We are not an evolutionary accident. We are not bubbles on the foam that coats a stormy sea. We are God’s chosen people.[2]

We are the chosen ones to continue the work of making the world more christianly human. “We never escape the obligation to imitate the Incarnation.”[3] Imitating the incarnation means becoming more and more like our Lord and shaping the world around us with his truth. After all, the Word was made flesh for us and wherever the curse is found. We are made into the Word’s image, so that we can proclaim the Word made flesh to the world.

But where is the fountain of Jesus’ revelation to be found? Where is this revelation to be made known? Christians must not struggle with that question. After all, we are Bible-centered people. But to be a Bible-centered people in this culture means inevitably to be persecuted. When the Church says “thus says the Lord,” the culture is quick to interrupt our proclamation. Why? Because modern culture does not want a God who speaks; yes, they want a forgiving God, but a silent God.[4] The reality, however, is that God is not silent. And the proof of that is in the first verse of Hebrews: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets…”[5] The author, Paul, believes that God has spoken into history through his prophets, and by speaking to his prophets he also spoke to us. The prophets of old carried on their message of hope. And whether these prophets spoke “through dream or visions, all the preparation was looking forward to the coming of Christ.”[6] God has never been silent. He has always been in the business of communicating to us; of increasing our expectation throughout history. He used the prophetic word to accomplish this. Hebrews is making the argument that it was the prophetic word that pointed to the Word made flesh.[7] What is the other side of the story? Paul says in verse two:

2but 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.

We live in a word world. The word came to us, in order that we might expect the final Word. The Bible says, but now in “these last days.” What are the last days? The last days are the end of the Old Covenant Order; the end of the darkness of Israel’s history. The last days make way for the new day. The New Covenant, New Testament is the emerging of a new day. And what signals the beginning of this new day? The new prophet; the One who will embody all the prophets of old. In contrast to the continuous messengers of old who came again and again, this one messenger will speak decisively. He is the perfect revelation. The coming of the Son of God is the final declaration to man; His coming is God’s proclamation that what He needed to say to us as his people– his instructions and order and commands– are completed and fulfilled.. The canon is closed. This means that we are no longer seeking a new revelation, but rather we are seeking to better understand that once for all revelation that we already have.[8] As Douglas Wilson once put it:

“God is, in a very important sense, God’s last word.”[9]

But not only is this new word the final word, Jesus, the Word made flesh, is the authoritative word because the Father has made him heir of all things. He is the inheritor and possessor of all creation. Why? Because He sustains creation. He is the upholder of the entire universe. ‘Without him, everything around us would ‘vaporize” into nothingness.”[10] The glory of the incarnation is that every time Jesus cries as an infant his voice keeps the world from dissolving.

Sociological Point: “The grief of our era is that the church has fallen into the worship of a tiny Christ…”[11] who is powerless and entertaining to watch as all babies are, but he is not more than that. However, this babe is no tiny Christ; he is the One whom Hebrews says is the “radiance of the glory of God.”[12] This is why Hebrews is such good remedy to the miniscule worship expressions found in so many places today.

This little Babe, so few days old, Has come to rifle Satan’s fold. All hell doth at his presence quake Tho’ he Himself with cold doth shake. For in this weak unarmed wise The gates of hell he will surprise.[13]

Because infinity was dwindled to infancy does not mean that the infant does not possess infinity.[14] Jesus is the exact imprint; the exact image of God’s nature. God’s Son has all the brightness of God’s own glory and is like him in every way.[15] He is the sole expression of the glory of God [the Light-being, the out-raying or radiance of the divine], and He is the perfect imprint and very image of [God’s] nature.[16] He is the flawless expression of the nature of God.[17] He is God in the flesh! And his very breath sustains all creation.

Our passage concludes:

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

Hebrews summarizes for us the life and current position of our Lord. Christ’s birth had a purpose, and that purpose was to give him a body which he was capable of dying.[18] The virgin birth was necessary because death was necessary. The virgin birth only makes sense in the context of death. Life and death come together in Jesus Christ. But Paul makes the point that when Jesus rose from the dead he also sat down at the right of the Majesty of High. In other words, he received his proper honor. His name was exalted above all. Christmas is God the Father saying: “Listen to my Son! He is the heir of all things!” We do not wait for Christ to be King. Christ is King! Our role is to tell the world that they better submit to him.

He has become superior to the angels. There was superstitious reverence for angels that had begun to creep into the church. Paul says that angelic messengers, if they do speak truth, they will not subvert the authority of Christ, they will confirm the authority of Christ. In the end, the world is transformed not by angels, but by the ruling King. “We wrecked the human race in Adam, and God decided to renovate the house.”[19] And He sent his only son to accomplish this, since we could not accomplish it ourselves.

How Shall We Then Live in this Christmas Season?

We live knowing that the past matters, but the past pointed us to Jesus. “A single word through the Son is even better than the many and various forms the word took in the past.”[20] Christmas is not just a Word made flesh, Christmas is the Final Word made flesh. Jesus is God’s revelation to us. No other word can proclaim truth if not bound by His word.

Christmas is a call to what my former professor John Frame called Biblicism. Not the ugly kind of Biblicism that does not engage culture and prefers to live in isolation, but the Biblicism that says that everything will be formed and informed by God’s revelation.

In his word you will find comfort, encouragement, and renewal. In his word we know that the Word made flesh came for us. He came to disperse the gloomy clouds of night and death’s dark shadows put to flight. He came to be joy for you and the world. He accomplishes this by invading our sin-stricken world. As N.T. Wright says:

“The point of Christmas…is that heaven and earth come together.”[21]

In the incarnation heaven and earth are married and history gets a taste of what true love is. And Christ is that love, because He is heaven come to earth in human flesh.

In The Name of God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Amen.

[1] I Corinthians 15.

[3] Jerram Barrs. Found on Twitter under Jason Hood’s account.

[4] Jeff Harlow.

[5] Esv.

[6] Douglas Wilson, Commentary on Hebrews, 52. Athanasius Press

[7] John 1.

[8] Jeff Harlow.

[9] Wilson, 52.

[10] Wilson, 53.

[11] Ibid. 54.

[12] Verse 3.

[14] Reminded me of Father Edward Oakes’ book.

[15] Contemporary translation.

[16] Amplified Bible.

[17] J.B. Phillips’ Translation

[18] Wilson, 54.

[19] Ibid. 57

[20] 57.


About Uri Brito

I am the Pastor of Providence Church (CREC) in Pensacola, Fl.
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