"How Christmas Began"

December 3, 2017
Genesis 3:1-15
Jesus became a man to enable men and women to become children of God.

(Read Genesis 3:1-15)

Christmas is a very important event.

Christmas is so important, so significant that we ask the wrong question when we ask “What does Christmas mean?”

The question we should ask is “Without Christmas, what would anything mean?”

The birth of Jesus does not revolve around history.

But history revolves around the birth of Jesus.

Would there be any real meaning in our world today without Christmas?

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Satan hates Christmas.

He hates everyone and everything that is involved in setting men and women free.

He hates God.

              He hates the Bible,

                    He hates the church,

                         He hates us.

From Genesis to Revelation (12:13) this hostility is:

            Declared in prophecy,

                  Dramatized in history, and

                       Demonstrated in human experience.

It explains the “conflict of the ages” from its beginning in the Garden of Eden until the final victory when Jesus comes back as King of kings and Lord of lords.

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Satan doesn’t hate the methods that are used to celebrate Christmas.

In fact, he is delighted with many of the ways Christmas is celebrated.

No, Satan doesn’t hate the methods used to celebrate Christmas but his hatred is directed against the true meaning of Christmas.

Satan gets very, very nervous around Christmas.

The reason he gets so nervous is that he is afraid that people will discover the true meaning of Christmas.

You see, God seeks to save the lost but Satan seeks to destroy the lost.

God seeks to save us.

We are a blessed people.

We are blessed when we receive something from God.

And what we receive from God is Himself, in the person of Jesus.

The glory of Christmas is His because the story of Christmas is His.

It’s the story of Jesus!

The story of Christmas has to do with the problem of sin and God’s gracious remedy for sin.

I. THE GOOD LIFE

When we turn to the first pages of the Bible, we see God at work creating the heavens and the earth.

God liked what He saw.

He saw that it was good.

Before God, stands Adam and Eve.

They were His representatives who were to rule His creation.

In a perfect relationship they stand before God reflecting His holiness.

Happy as they can be, they share God’s own immortality and thoroughly enjoy life with Him.

Life doesn’t get any better than that.

Adam and Eve have all that they need.

They lack nothing.

What more could anyone want?

II. THE TEMPTATION

Well, Satan came along making his rounds like he does on a regular basis.

He made a suggestion like he always does.

“Why be satisfied with just being created in the image of God?”

“Why not be a god yourself?”

“After all, God has not told you everything or given you everything you would like to have.”

“Didn’t he tell you not to eat of the tree in the middle of the garden?”

“God told you that you would die if you ate from that tree.”

“But I’m telling you that you will not die if you eat from that tree.”

Satan continued to tempt Eve by saying “God is holding out on you.”

“He is holding out on you because He knows that if you eat that fruit you will be like Him.”

We have here an account of the temptation with which Satan assaulted our first parents.

They fell into sin which proved to be fatal for them.

When Satan fell sometime way back, many other angels fell with him.

But this fallen angel that attacked our first parents was the prince of fallen angels.

He was the ring-leader in the rebellion against God.

The game that Satan played was to draw our first parents into sin to separate them from God.

He appeared in the form of a serpent.

Whether it was only the visible shape and appearance of a serpent or whether it was a real living serpent possessed by the devil, we are not sure.

But this I know, Satan is a real snake in the grass.

He tries to cloud the commands of God making them appear uncertain or unreasonable in our minds.

Through this uncertainty he hopes to draw us into sin.

Satan tries to bring us to the place where we will doubt the Word of God.

After he brings us to the point of doubt, he tries to move us to a point where we will deny the Word.

He makes skeptics first and then brings them into some degree of atheism.

Satan told Eve “You will not surely die but instead your eyes will be opened and you will be like God.”

Satan promised them that they would be omniscient and omnipotent, all-knowing and all-powerful.

They would be sovereign and no longer in submission to anyone for they would be like God.

They would be self-sufficient and no longer dependent on anyone.

Satan was saying that when you eat the fruit from that tree, things will be better.

Still today, he stirs up discontentment convincing us that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.

Satan ruined himself by desiring to be like God and he is out to ruin others.

Satan is going down and he knows it.

He wants to take as many people to Hell with him as he can.

Not only is Satan the accuser of the brethren before God, but he accuses God before the brethren.

He tried to sow discord in the lives of our first parents.

God tested the obedience of Adam and Eve by forbidding them to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Adam and Eve, who knew so much, did not know this: They did not know that they knew enough.

III. THE SIN

Genesis 3:6 = When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.        

It says she took some.

Satan did not take the fruit and put it in her mouth.

Satan may tempt but he cannot force.

Satan may tempt us to sin but he cannot force us to sin.

When it was too late, they saw the foolishness of eating the forbidden fruit.

Genesis 3:7,8 = Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  

They lost their joy and became fearful and tried to hide from God.

This is where the game “Hide and Go Seek” began.

Can’t you just read the minds of Adam and Eve?

“God, we’re going to hide and we are going to see if you can find us.”

They probably thought “God will never find us in this heavily wooded area.”

If you are running from God, God will find you.

Thank God  that we have a God who pursues us and goes after us because He loves us.

It is not His desire that anyone perish but that all would come to repentance.

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Before Adam and Eve sinned, if they had heard the voice of God, they would have run to meet Him.

How sad that now they try to hide.

Sin will do that!

Sin often makes us want to hide from God rather than run to Him.

If we are going to play “Hide and Go Seek” let’s not play it with God because God always wins.

God always finds us and usually gives us another opportunity to repent and come to Him.

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After Adam and Eve sinned, they felt a disorder in their spirits that they had not felt before.

If God had had no desire to reclaim Adam and Eve, they would have been as desperate as the fallen angels.

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God in v.11 asks Adam Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?

I think God was looking for a “yes” or “no” answer.

But notice what Adam says in v.12:The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.

Adam not only blames his wife but also tries to blame God.

So the seeds of doubt and pride and rebellion were sown in the hearts of Adam and Eve.

What did they lose through their disobedience?

Look at the loss report in vv. 16-19.

[Read Genesis 3:16-19]

Satan did his work well.

A sinful nature would be passed on to the children of these first parents, to their grandchildren, their great grandchildren and so on through the years of time.

What other nature could Adam and Eve pass on to their offspring but one like their own, a nature now corrupted by sin.

Their children would be literal “chips off the old block.”

IV. THE CURSE

As Adam and Eve stand before God in the garden, they hear God’s curse upon their tempter, the devil.

Genesis 3:14 = So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.”

But also in that curse and judgment upon Satan, Adam and Eve hear wonderful words of comfort and hope, Christmas hope.

V. THE CHRISTMAS HOPE

Genesis 3:15 = “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head and you will strike his heel.”

The promise was that someday a coming deliverer would crush the head of Satan which Jesus did at the cross through his death and resurrection.

Colossians 2:15 tells us that Jesus having disarmed the powers and authorities . . . made a public spectacle of them, triumphing  over them by the cross.

The statement in Genesis 3:15, you will strike his heel, refers to the suffering that Satan would bring upon Jesus when Jesus was beaten and finally crucified.

The Christmas story began in the Garden of Eden as a vague, mysterious, humanly impossible promise.

Humanity had just collapsed.

All its hopes and dreams were shattered.

The promise of deliverance was somewhat obscure, and almost meaningless.

Yet it was the first promise that someday, somewhere, somehow God would send a Deliverer.

God does not name Him or describe Him or even indicate when He would come.

Many years of silence followed that promise.

Then God spoke to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3:

Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.

I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you.

I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.

I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse;

And all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

Jesus was a descendant of Abraham.

It is through Jesus that the people would be blessed.

The promise was then given to Abraham’s son, Isaac.

And then to Isaac’s son, Jacob.

And then to Jacob’s son, Judah. (Genesis 49:10)

The Deliverer, the Messiah was coming and He was going to be born into the family of Judah.

But when? And where? And how?

The prophet Isaiah saw the Deliverer and yet did not know His name or the date of His birth.

Isaiah says there is a brighter day ahead.

He predicted this 700 years before Christ came. 

Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah chapter 9:

V.2 = The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.

V.6 = For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

This coming Deliverer would be a Counselor, a Prince.

                                                              

He would be God.

Even more bewildering was Isaiah’s statement that this God was going to be born just like any other baby.

And yet different from any other baby.

He would be born to a virgin.

He would be born in an obscure little village called Bethlehem says the prophet Micah.

In his birth He would be worshiped by some and hated by others says the prophet Jeremiah.

Brighter and brighter the promise became as God revealed more and more details of that coming Messiah.

Satan tried to prevent the Christmas event, by the persecution and destruction of God’s prophets.

Although the prophets were destroyed in some cases, the promise of the Messiah lived on.

And the Savior came right on schedule.

Galatians 4:4 = When the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman.

A little baby is born to a humble and God-fearing Mary and Joseph in the little town of Bethlehem.

Even then, the enemy tried to destroy the baby Jesus by prompting Herod to take the life of the young child.

But he failed.

This baby Jesus eventually grew up to be a man.

He came face to face with Satan and his temptations and yet did not sin.      

Willingly Jesus took the pain that Satan inflicted upon Him as He was being crucified.

Very likely, Satan and his gang cheered as the nails were driven into the hands of Jesus.

They thought that they had finally pinned God down.

But Satan’s victory was short-lived.

On the 3rd day, Jesus rose from the dead.

Romans 5:19 = For just as through the disobedience of the one man (Adam) the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man (Jesus) the many will be made righteous.

God sending His only Son to this earth at Christmas was no small thing.

And Jesus giving His life for us and our sin was a great sacrifice.

What is our response to such a gracious God?

C. S. Lewis summed up Christmas in one sentence:

“The Son of God became a man to enable men to become the sons of God.”

Jesus became a man to enable men and women to become children of God.

It was a cold Christmas Eve in Korea.

A young woman who was expecting a child began to feel the pains of labor.

Her husband had been killed in the war.

She decided it was time to go to the mission clinic a couple of miles away.

As she walked to the clinic the pains came faster and became more intense than she expected.

Crossing a bridge, she could go no further.

She took shelter under the bridge and there, without help, gave birth to her first-born son.

The next morning a missionary nurse was on her way to attend Christmas services in the village church.

As her Jeep crossed the little bridge the engine suddenly died.

As the missionary stepped out to take a look, she thought she heard a faint cry from below.

Under the bridge she found the baby boy lovingly wrapped in his mother’s clothes.

Her lifeless body lay beside him, naked and frozen.

The nurse was overcome by what she had found and by the significance of a newborn boy on Christmas morning.

The nurse decided to adopt the little boy as her own.

She named him Kim.

On the Christmas Eve when Kim turned 12 years old, his adopted mother decided she would tell him the unusual circumstances of his birth.

The next day as they made their way to the village church for the Christmas service, Kim asked to stop by the graveyard where his birth mother was buried.

The missionary watched as the boy walked up to the grave.

Slowly he began to take off his clothes.

First his jacket, then his shirt, then his pants.

He lovingly and carefully laid his clothes on his mother’s grave.

When his adopted mother came up behind him to wrap her own coat around him, she heard him say “Mother, you did it for me, you did it for me.”

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When we look at the Christmas story we see an even more profound demonstration of love.

We see the Son of God stripping Himself of all His visible majesty and power.

He does this in order to be born into humanity in a dirty animal shelter.

Then 33 years later, He hung on the cross, spilling His blood that we might live, abundantly and eternally.

Our only response to such amazing love is to take all that we are and have and like the Korean boy, lay it down and declare, “Lord, you did it for me.”

As our banner states: “For us . . . the Son”

Are you experiencing hope?

Have you experienced the hope of Christmas?

Have you accepted what Jesus has done on the cross for you?

Our God is a God of hope and that hope is found in Jesus.