A Christmas Sermon

"A Christmas Sermon" is a textual sermon preached on December 24, 1882 by George Harris; edited and revised by Mark Hollingsworth on December 3, 2009. I hope you have a wonderful, blessed and Christ-centered Christmas remembering the birth of Jesus Christ.

Galatians 4:4-5

4. But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
5. To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

Introduction:

(A Christmas Sermon)

Here is one of the most comprehensive statements of Christ's mission to the world to be found in so brief a compass on the pages of the New Testament. It is well suited to guide our thoughts when we are so near the day which celebrates the birth of our Lord, because it speaks of the peculiar conditions under which Christ was born. It carries us to the very point of time when he appeared on earth, and finds in the circumstances of his birth an explanation of his great work of redemption.

The idea in this passage with the expression " made of a woman, made under the law," is the more significant expression, born of a woman, born under the law. Observe how much is included in this single sentence. God sent forth his Son. Our redemption originated with God who sent his Son into the world. He was sent in the fulness of time, he was born of a woman, he was born under the law.

Here are the human and earthly conditions into which Christ entered. He was sent and so sent that he might redeem them which were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. Here is the object of his coming, our redemption from sin and our development in a new life.

(A Christmas Sermon)

I. God Sent Forth His Son.

(A Christmas Sermon)

I dwell but a moment, fruitful though the thought is, upon the statement that God sent forth his Son. All the meaning, or nearly all of it, would be taken out of Christ's birth, and life, and sorrows, if he had not been one sent forth from God. The joy of Christmas is that the infant Jesus is the Son of God, that he is not the product, even the fairest product of human nature, but that he is Emmanuel, God with us, that he came down from heaven to do his Father's will.

The sacred historians, beginning their accounts of Jesus with his birth, are careful to describe first of all the supernatural aspects of it. We have the songs of angels proclaiming that this is Christ the Lord, before we are conducted to the stable where the new born infant lies; we first hear what the angel Gabriel says to Mary the mother, that we may know who is born in the city of David.

(A Christmas Sermon)

"We behold the star which guides the wise men from a far country to Bethlehem, a token given by God to direct them to the infant King who was sent by God and whom they fell down and worshipped. The starting point of all our knowledge of Jesus from which alone we can comprehend the human and finite conditions of his life, is the fact that he is truly divine, that such a being was in the world to bear its burdens and suffer for its sins, because God sent forth his Son.

From this vantage ground of knowledge the apostle directs us to certain remarkable conditions into which the Saviour was sent, conditions which pertain to the temporal and human life of Christ, and which throw additional light on the meaning of his mission.

(A Christmas Sermon)

II. When the Fulness of the Time Was Come.

(A Christmas Sermon)

We are told that Jesus appeared at precisely the right point of time in the history of the world, not too soon before the world was made ready, not too late when the fitting period had passed by. But when the fulness of the time came God sent forth his Son. It is an interesting study to trace the various movements and tendencies in the history of the nations, which reached their culmination at the beginning of the Christian era, and which indicated the ripeness of the world for divine redemption.

Even those outward conditions which pertain to forms of government and to facilities of intercourse, prepared the way for Christ's coming. The Roman Empire had extended its borders far and wide, until nearly all the kingdoms of the known world had become its tributary provinces. Highways had been opened from one metropolis to another, that the armies of Rome might be speedily transferred from point to point, and these military roads became also the arteries of commercial intercourse, and of extensive travel.

(A Christmas Sermon)

By these and various other improvements many of the barriers which had separated the nations were broken down. All roads led to Rome. Common interests bound the peoples together. Gentiles, Jews, Arabians and Romans jostled each other in the streets of the capital, and traded with each other in the open marts of the chief cities. Scholars and artists of every province entered into friendly competition. In a thousand ways, cosmopolitan took the place of provincial tendencies. The different parts of the world became mutually acquainted.

Thus the way was opened for the gospel to spread abroad even while Jesus was alive. Greeks were in Jerusalem desiring to see him. One of his twelve disciples had a Greek name, Philip. Simon, the son of Jonas, received from his hand a Greek appellative and became Peter, the little rock, who followed the big rock on which the church was founded. Roman soldiers were familiar objects in Jerusalem. Jesus was tried before a Roman governor. The inscription on the cross was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin, because tho population had become so mixed that people speaking these various tongues were in the multitude that surged up to the very foot of the cross.

(A Christmas Sermon)

The first proclamations of the gospel spread rapidly through the consolidated empire as they could not have done a thousand or even a hundred years before. Paul easily found his way from Jerusalem to Ephesus and Athens, and Rome and perhaps to Spain.

Then when we look beneath the surface of outward political conditions to tendencies of thought, we find that Jesus was born at a time when the intellect and heart of the world were ready to receive him. We are permitted in holy scripture to trace clearly the education of the Jews up to the point when their law and ritual had become inadequate, and they were hungry for some higher revelation. The last book of the Old Testament describes the emptiness of accustomed forms, and is a cry for the new messenger God will send.

(A Christmas Sermon)

Through the intervening four hundred years dissatisfaction had deepened till all eyes were turned toward the expected dawning of a better day. Some of the arguments of the Epistles prove that Judaism was a preparation for the gospel, a schoolmaster to lead to Christ. But among all the nations the way had been preparing for the coming of the Redeemer. Rome at that time was as sceptical as she was powerful. Loyalty to the ancient gods had been practically forsworn. The entire system of worship was acknowleged to be an empty shell.

Priests made grimaces at each other in derision of the religious rites they practised. Statesmen defended the national forms of worship, only because they were impressive to the common people. It was not unusual in the plays performed at the theatres to caricature the popular religion while the crowd of spectators relished the humor of it. In a word, the ancient religion was utterly breaking down in the light of advancing knowledge, and the way was thus prepared for Christianity.

(A Christmas Sermon)

In Greece, philosophy had so undermined the supports of religion that sacrifices were offered only from the force of custom, or the veneration of what was ancient. The drift of thought was away from polytheism to belief in one God, or else to pantheism. The speculations of the schools were chiefly religious, concerning the supernatural, immortality and the soul.

Beneath these changes was a turmoil of unrest. An inner conflict was raging, which some of the Persians so distinctly recognized that they formulated a theory of a double self, an inner dualism between evil and good. In this spiritual disorder or disunion, beginning to be recognized by the few and profoundly felt by the many, was a preparation for the atoning work of Christ, which brings harmony to the soul by securing reconciliation with God.

(A Christmas Sermon)

It is generally admitted that at no previous time had there been such a ferment of religious and philosophic thought, such a falling asunder of ancient beliefs, so eager a longing for new light and new life as at the precise period in history when God sent forth his Son. It was the fulness of the time; the time was filled with those tendencies and changes which prepared the world for Christ.

We sometimes wish that Christ's coming had not been so long ago. We have some difficulty in wandering back through the centuries to that remote time when the babe was born in Bethlehem. And before he came the world wondered why he so long delayed his coming. The dreary centuries before Jesus was born were long in the passing. Those centuries were needed to prepare the world for his redemption; but he came none too soon. It would have been almost cruel to keep the world waiting longer. When the fulness of the time came, God sent forth his Son. Christ's place in history was chosen by Him who sets the bounds of men's habitations and turns their hearts as the rivers of water are turned.

(A Christmas Sermon)

III. Born of a Woman.

(A Christmas Sermon)

The apostle, having stated that the gospel instead of being a proclamation from the skies was woven in with history, an integral part of the facts and relations of this world's history, advances a step farther to speak of the human nature of Jesus. "God sent forth his Son, born of a woman."

Christmas day celebrates the human birth of our Divine Redeemer, the birth of Jesus Christ. Because Jesus was born into this world as an infant we can never lose our sense of the reality of his life upon the earth. How fully he gave himself up to the lot of humanity, how deeply he subjected himself to the sorrows and sufferings of human nature, how truly he became one with us, we can never fail to understand when we remember that he was, first of all, a helpless infant; that he was bom of a woman.

(A Christmas Sermon)

Coming into the world by the way of a real human birth, he was so vitally identified with humanity that he could escape its limitations and woes only by the disruption of death. Being in with us he must go on in a truly human life till death should come to separate the spirit from the body.

That God's Son could be born of a woman is a living proof how near God is to us. We are like God and made in His image, sadly as the image is marred, and when we see God's Son an actual man, born an infant, growing to man's stature, suffering as a man and dying as a man, we know that the sphere of the Divine love and the Divine glories is not inaccessible to us, since He who was in the bosom of the Father and who declares the Father could be made in all respects like his brethren.

(A Christmas Sermon)

We are greatly helped in this thought of God's nearness to us by knowing that Christ was an infant, that he was a little child before he was a man; for we are accustomed to think that God is very near to little children. A mother, bending over her young child, feels that the little existence there has a close relation to what is above the earth, and that God has come near her through the life of her babe. It does not seem strange to her that the Son of God could assume the form and take the soul of an infant. Where could he find a more fitting entrance into the human state than in the life of infancy?

Painters have never succeeded in producing a picture of Jesus as a man which does not excite a little repugnance; but there are many pictures of Jesus as an infant, resting sweetly on his mother's shoulder, which are lovely, and only lovrely. The reason is, because the innocence and purity of infancy are familiar and can be portrayed. There seems to be an affinity between childhood and the Divine Being; but genius is not able to think nor portray a man upon whom some of the contaminations of this world's evil have not left a trace.

(A Christmas Sermon)

It may be almost indistinguishable, but it is there; and the fact that it is called the face of Jesus does not remove the worldly expression. If such a thing were known as sinless youth, if all the eagerness, the courage, the beauty of youth were unalloyed with sin, and we were in the habit of seeing young life perfectly pure, the difficulty of imagining Christ as a youth would disappear.

If the mature man, strong in the exercise of manhood's powers, gentle in the unfailing courtesy of a brave, loving heart, and without any of the comminglings of sin were familiar, and we could thus imagine what the magnanimity, the unselfishness, and the clean purity of a holy man are, it would not be difficult to understand that the Son of God could best show forth his Divine glory in such a form. But this is precisely what Christ did. He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. He was holy, harmless, undefiled.

(A Christmas Sermon)

As superior as the knowledge of a man is to the knowledge of a child, as superior as the skill and strength of a man are to the powers of a child, so much more admirable and beautiful would the goodness of a man be than the goodness of a child if evil could be wholly kept out. And while now it is easier to associate Jesus with infancy than with manhood, then it would be easier to associate him with manhood than with infancy. In the possibilities of a perfect, holy, human life we should see the best sphere for the manifestation of the Divine glory. Because Christ could become so thoroughly a man, we comprehend how near God is to us all.

We also understand how deeply grounded redemption is. It is not an abstract theory, a mere plan or system, but it was wrought out in the actual throbbing, suffering, sympathizing, human life of God's Son, who was born of a woman and who took his place among the processes of this world's history. Redemption is in a historical framework; it is in a human, tempted, victorious life.

(A Christmas Sermon)

IV. Born Under the Law.

(A Christmas Sermon)

In still another respect the apostle characterizes the person of the Redeemer. He was born at the fitting juncture; he was born of a woman into a real human life, and he was also born under the law. This can mean nothing other than to designate the sphere into which Christ entered and in which his work finds its place as the moral and religious sphere.

It means more than that he himself conformed to the law and fulfilled all righteousness. It means that he found us in that relation which is embodied in the demands of law; that he came to extricate us from the difficulties which surround and entangle us there; in a word, that his mission has a moral, an ethical, a religious significance; that he came to be a Redeemer and placed himself irrevocably with us in those conditions which make redemption necessary.

(A Christmas Sermon)

He was not here to explain how the universe was made, by teaching science, nor to establish a system of philosophy, but solely to readjust moral and spiritual relations; to clear the way to a holy life by removing the condemnation of the law. Law to the Jew signified moral and religious duty; even the law of ritual had an ethical meaning. Christ was under law, in the sphere of law; he complied with it so perfectly that the sinless character rose before the world in all its majesty and beauty and rebuke.

He made clear and strong those principles which underlie all morals and all religion. He brought in those forces which make law operative and efficient. He did not avoid the evil which transgression of law has brought upon men. His humanity was so real, he was so truly formed in fashion as a man that he suffered on account of sins; from the evils which wicked men inflicted upon him; from the pity which wrong-doing of others awakened; from the enmity towards his beloved Father into which all men had come; from the cruel death which sin visited on Him, the Holy One. Yes, he was born under the law, and he lived under the law, and he died under the law; that law through disobedience to which sin entered into the world and all our woes.

(A Christmas Sermon)

V. To Redeem Them Under the Law.

(A Christmas Sermon)

Here, now, are the characteristics of the Redemption which originates with God. The Redeemer took his place in history, joined his work in with the acting, thinking, longing of the nations; he took his place as human, a real man, emerging into manhood out of the unconsciousness of infancy; he taught, acted, lived, suffered in the moral sphere, was with men on the side from which they know themselves sinners, on the side from which they turn towards God, on the side from which they can be brought into a renewed moral and religious life, when, in the fullness of time, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law.

And now we can see the fitness of Christ thus circumstanced for the work of redemption. He comes into the world of history, into the human condition, into the moral sphere, in these actual, living, sympathizing ways for a purpose, in order to accomplish that which could be accomplished only by the Divine Saviour actiug under such conditions, "that he might redeem them which were under the law; that we might receive the adoption of sons."

We here see the result of Christ's work on all sides of it. We see what we are saved from and what we are saved for. Paul does not drop into that narrow view so often taken, even in this enlightened day, of looking on the work of Christ as our salvation from sin, and as nothing more; as rescuing us from a danger, laying all the emphasis on that. He says that Christ did indeed come that he might redeem them which were under the law; that he might deliver them from bondage and penalty; but that he does vastly more.

(A Christmas Sermon)

VI. The Adoption of Sons.

(A Christmas Sermon)

He came that we might receive the adoption of sons; to bring us into the positive, joyful, productive life of sonship with God. And is it not true that Christ redeems us from our sins by bringing us into the adoption of sons? Does he not deliver us from the restraints and condemnation of law by opening to us the freedom of sonship? He reconciles us to God so that we are no longer enemies and no longer servants, but in the filial relation of sons and daughters of the Almighty.

It is not true in Christ's way of saving us that the life is first emptied of sin so that it is in a perfectly negative and colorless condition, but that the love of God as revealed in the life and cross of Christ, pours in and fills the soul and forces sin out by its resistless, rising tide. Now we see why Christ meets us in the moral and religious sphere. We find him in and down among those conditions where we are estranged from God and are under the mastery of sin, because this is where we need Divine help.

(A Christmas Sermon)

It is the law of God which accuses us and gives us unrest, it is violation of God's law which makes life a discord and a disappointment, and we must look for help from One who puts Himself in this sphere, yet is not enslaved in it, as we are.

We live in a period of advanced civilization, enriched on many sides by education and wealth and luxuries and art. The coarseness which characterized the vices of antiquity is refined away or covered up. The sharp distinctions by which believers and unbelievers were separated in former times have almost melted away. Even scepticism is courteous, cultivated, intelligent.

(A Christmas Sermon)

A distinguished naturalist, from whose writings and conversation it is evident that he has no belief in the supernatural or the Christian heaven, was a guest recently at a festival of churches in a New England city; nor was it thought strange that he should be there and be heard with respect and interest.

In this age of the world it does seem as if the principal distinctions are not of moral character, but rather of culture and refinement; as if we are to meet our Christ only in those moods of devoutness in which all at times find themselves, only among those forms which elevate the spirit by their beauty of melody or rhythm or plaintiveness; as if pungent convictions, sense of sin and guilt, need of renewal, had lost their place; as if custom, civilization, a religious atmosphere, gradually educate us into such religious principle as is required, and we scarcely need that penitent, whole-souled, personal surrender to Christ, the Saviour, which was frequent in earlier times.

(A Christmas Sermon)

But this is a superficial view. While it is true that the influence of the gospel is felt in society so that those who do not personally accept Christ conform in a measure to customs which have a Christian origin, it is also true that we go astray from God and sin against him even in this advanced period of Christian civilization.

We might pursue another line of reflection and find abundant reason to believe that our times are exceedingly fruitful of temptations to sin, that our civilization is loaded down not only with great advantages, but also with great evils, that insidious, corrupting forms of wickedness entice on every hand, that our cities are full of resorts so iniquitous that we have to call them dens of vice and roads to hell, that the atmosphere is laden with an evil malaria infecting custom, language, manners, so that a young man is not safe among the influences of the world.

(A Christmas Sermon)

It is no less true now than it has been in former ages that when wealth increases luxuries and makes life soft with refinements and indulgences and multiplies appliances for amassing more wealth, vice becomes easy and moral decay lurks under the fair outward appearance. It is quite as easy now as it ever has been to be brought captive under the bondage of sin till one feels that it is hopeless to try to release himself. Some say that a fatality binds them and they cannot break loose from bad companions, from worldly habits, from corrupting vices.

What is true is that the human heart is not different now from what it has always been, that neither one's own aspirations nor the world about him help him into a pure and reverent life, that evil is still mighty enough and plausible enough to take captive every soul that so much as listens to the voices of the world.

(A Christmas Sermon)

Now as at the first and in all the ages since the glad tidings came, Christ meets us sinners, makes us feel by the rebuke of his own holy presence how deep and dark our sin is, meets us with a pain and grief in his eyes which the sin of men has brought there, meets us with the prints of the nails in his hands left there by the cruel blows of sinners, stretches forth his hand that we may take it and be led back to God in penitence, and may find in him, who endured so much because he was born under the law, one who can produce in us the new life of sonship with God.

We do not go to Christ for knowledge about natural law, for we can get that ourselves, nor for instruction in philosophy, for we can explore that realm ourselves; but in the moral sphere we are helpless, as helpless as the old pagans of Rome, as helpless as fetich worshippers of Africa, as helpless as children; and still in that realm where the voice of conscience resounds, where the inroads of sin create disease and threaten death, where we meet our God, our duty, our destiny, Christ is to be found.

(A Christmas Sermon)

It is He who was born under the law, and there "by the mystery of his holy incarnation, by his holy nativity and circumcision, by his baptism, fasting and temptation, by his agony and bloody sweat, by his cross and passion, by his precious death and burial, by his glorious resurrection and ascension, and by the coming of the Holy Ghost, he delivers us from all evil and mischief, from all inordinate and sinful affections, from all the deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil, in all time of our tribulation, in all time of our prosperity, in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment.

He who meets us in our sins because he was born under the law, is also human, so human that we can comprehend him and attach ourselves to him. As we open our hearts to the infant Jesus, so we open our hearts to him who was found in fashion as a man and who is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. When we think deeply we find that the true and proper humanity of Christ gives much of its meaning to the atonement and makes the atonement possible.

(A Christmas Sermon)

His union with us makes his sacrifice an offering to God in our behalf. He is one with us in a vital union, which on its physical side can be unlocked only by death, which on its spiritual side is perpetual since he is forever the Son of man. He is one with the human race, and when his soul was made an offering for sin, we offered our best, our purest, our holiest before God. He appears before God,representing humanity into which he had merged his very life, and pleading those his sufferings which were the bitter consequence of his having been a man.

He is the Mediator, in his divinity acting for God and so making God known that we are reconciled to Him, and in his humanity acting for us, bringing us into vital union with himself by winning our personal trust and thus going with us to the Father, and reconciling Him to us. Because God's Son, whom He himself sent forth, was born of a woman, was really a man, he becomes the point of union between man and God, bringing us to God, and bringing God to us by that love which led him to pour out his soul even unto death, and to give his life a ransom for the many whose griefs he had borne, and whose sorrows carried.

(A Christmas Sermon)

Conclusion:

(A Christmas Sermon)

As we read today the story of our Lord's birth, and sing the sweet hymns which re-echo the angels' song on the holy night, we are again brought before that which is the deepest mystery and the surest reality — the incarnation of the Son of God. We stand beside the manger, but we look down through the three and thirty years of the sweet and merciful ministry, and upon the cruel cross on Calvary, and upon the sepulchre from which he rose and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. Again the holy, solemn, tender truth stands out real and clear that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.

The littleness of our paltry affairs dwindles out of the great place it has usurped into nothingness as we look on Him who is the way, the truth and the life, who speaks to the conscience and the immortal soul. We know once more what is deepest in our hearts.

(A Christmas Sermon)

How superficial and needless our worriments over trifles when Christ is near. When the heavenly world is thus opened to us and the Saviour of our souls stands near, we know we should not take our most anxious thought, saying, What shall we eat or what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed, but should seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.

Jesus came not merely that we might contemplate the beauty of his infancy, the mystery of his incarnation, the sublimity of his work. He came and suffered, and died, and rose again for one and only one reason — that we might receive the adoption of sons. When we know the difference between the pollution of sin and the blessedness of sonship, when we think of ourselves changed from enemies of God into his loving, trusting, thankful children, we do not wonder that Christ humbled himself to be born of a Virgin, and endured the sharpness of death.

(A Christmas Sermon)

History moved on in its courses an enigma, yet whispering of a hidden meaning, while men sinned, and struggled, and blindly groped for the light, until when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, into the sorrows and weariness and groanings of humanity, born under the law, sharing with men its penalties, that he might redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

These great facts move across our thoughts today as they have so often before. Do we make them our own? Christ offers himself to the sinning, heavy laden world. Are we bringing our sins to Him and consecrating our lives to Him? He is the Saviour of mankind. Is he my Saviour? Let the Christmas dawn find us on our knees worshipping him at the heart's secret shrine and saying: My Lord and my God.

(A Christmas Sermon)

Prayer:

(A Christmas Sermon)

Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son, Jesus Christ, came to visit us in great humility, that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal through Him who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever, Amen.

(A Christmas Sermon)


Leave A Christmas Sermon and go to "Free Sermons" page.

Leave A Christmas Sermon and go to "Your Sermons" page.

Return from this page to Preachology Home Page.

"The Preaching Ezine"

Click Here!

Subscribe to my free newsletter for monthly sermons and get a free book right now. Just follow the link above and get the details!


YOUR PAGES:


Your Web Page:
Want your own sermon web page? You can have one!
Your Outlines:
Share YOUR skeleton outlines.
Your Illustrations:
Share YOUR Illustrations.
YOUR SERMONS:
Encourage other ministers
by sharing
YOUR great sermons!
YOUR POEMS:
Encourage us all
by sharing
YOUR great poems!