Sunday, December 20, 2015

Carol Service Sermon: Luke 1:35 Just Like His Dad

The assembly hall was full, the mums and dads were waiting for the performance, and the primary school nativity was underway. Everything was going great until the arrival of the magi, the three kings. The first stepped forward, said his line, and presented the gold. The second stepped forward, said his line, and presented the frankincense. The third stepped forward, and... silence.

He’d forgotten his line, stagestruck as he looked out over the sea of faces staring at him. From behind the curtain, the teacher whispered ‘Say something!’ But try as he might, his mind was a blur, his tongue was tied, and nothing came out. So the teacher whispered a second time, ‘Say anything!’

Now that’s a dangerous thing to say to a wee fella, but he thought about what people say when they see a new baby, and then with a smile declared: ‘He looks just like his dad!’

It might not have been the right line, yet he was spot on. As we’ve heard the story of salvation unfold tonight, as we’ve journeyed to Bethlehem with the shepherds and the wise men we’ve heard about the birth of a baby who looks just like his dad. He doesn’t look like Joseph, of course, but look into the manger and you find a Son who is the image of his father.

Think back to the message Gabriel brought to the young girl called Mary. ‘You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.’

Mary is surprised at the news, especially since she is a virgin, so she asks how will this be? Listen again to Gabriel. ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.’

Lying in the straw is the Son of God, the one John describes as ‘the Word’, the self-expression of God, the one who was in the beginning, the one who was with God, the one who was God. This Word became flesh, he became one of us. Why? Why did he do it?

Jesus came to reveal God to us, to show us what God is like - full of grace and truth. When we look at Jesus, we see God, when we listen to Jesus we hear the voice of God. He’s just like his dad.

But Jesus also came to save us from our sins, by growing up to live the perfect sinless life; to die on the cross; to rise again to life everlasting. He’s just like his dad.

As our final carol puts it: ‘Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; hail, the incarnate Deity, pleased as man with us to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.’

So this Christmas, take some time to look at the baby in the manger. Don’t just coo at the cute baby and then forget him. Take a good look. Follow the shepherds as they hurry into Bethlehem. Journey with the wise men. And bow before the one who looks just like his dad - the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth. This is God in the manger, come to save us. Let’s worship him, not just tonight; not just this Christmas, but with the rest of our lives and for all eternity, because he came to be with us, so that we might be with him. He’s just like his dad.

This sermon was preached at the Carols by Candlelight Service in Aghavea Parish Church on Sunday 20th December 2015. I'm indebted to Roger Carswell for the opening illustration.

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