Christ Before Christmas
Dr. Jim Denison
It was the middle of the Christmas rush at the airport. One passenger, standing in line, asked the clerk, “Why is there mistletoe hanging over the baggage counter?” The clerk replied, “It’s there so you can kiss your luggage goodbye.” You’ve been there.
Welcome to the hurried, and holy, Christmas season.
Before there were holidays in Dallas, there were holy days in Bethlehem. Across these four weeks in Bethlehem, we will seek to experience Christmas the way they did. So that Jesus can be as real to us as he was to them.
We begin with a neglected topic: Christ before Christmas. What Jesus did before he chose to come to earth in a feed trough in a cow stall.
The early Christians knew what we will learn today. Because they knew about Christ before Christmas, the Christ of Christmas was even more special to them. I trust the same will be true for us.
Seek your Creator in Jesus (v. 3)
First, let’s think about Jesus Christ and creation.
Astronomers have determined statistically that there are about 10×25 stars (10 million billion billion) in the known universe. It is not humanly possible to count this number. If you could count even as many as twenty numbers per second, it would still take you at least 100 million billion years to count to 10×25. And who knows how many stars exist beyond the reach of our finite telescopes?
Now, our text is clear: “Through [Jesus] all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (v. 3). In other words, the Christ of Christmas, the babe of Bethlehem, made all of that.
Verse 1 is just as explicit. Here John calls Jesus the “Word,” which is the Greek term “logos.” To the Jewish mind the “word” of God related to the creative power of God. Remember that YHWH created everything that exists by his word; for instance, God said, “Let there be light” and there was light (Genesis1:3). To be the “word” of God is to be the creator God.
And the “word” or “logos” was not only the creating principle to the ancients, but its sustaining principle as well. The Greek philosophers saw the “logos” as the order, the reason, the harmony in the world. For Jesus to be the “logos” of God meant that he was holding the world together since it began.
And the rest of scripture agrees.
Hebrews 1:2 says that Jesus “made the universe,” and Colossians 1:16 substantiates the claim: “By him all things were created, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.”
Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus is “sustaining all things by his powerful word.” And Colossians 1:17 says that Jesus “is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
Think of it—a newborn baby created the mother who gave him birth; he created the manger in which he was laid, the cave where it all happened, and the shepherds who came to wonder and worship. He created the Wise Men who came eventually to celebrate his birth, and the star which guided them to him.
This is bold, and even absurd—a baby created the “hospital” where he was born. But it is true. At the beginning of the Old Testament and the beginning of time, Jesus Christ was creating and sustaining all that is.
And now, because of Christmas, the creator has entered his creation. We can know our maker, and his purpose for our lives.
You exist for a reason. Jesus Christ made you for a purpose. Ethel Waters was born because her mother was raped, but she used to say, “God made me, and he don’t make no junk!” That was the gospel truth.
You can know his purpose for your life. You can ask Jesus to give you direction and significance, to guide and lead you, and he will. Where do you need help with the “directions”? What questions would you like to ask your creator? Because of Christmas, you can.
And because of Christmas, you can have his power in your life as well. The creating, sustaining power of God himself. At Christmas the creator entered his creation, and he has never left.
Here’s another way of trying to describe the indescribable. If you could bore a hole in the sun and somehow put in 1.2 million earths, you would still have room for 4.3 million moons. And Jesus made that sun. Then consider the star called Betelgeuse, 880 quadrillion miles from us, with a diameter of 250 million miles—greater than the earth’s orbit. The babe of Bethlehem made that. And you. And he makes no junk.
Your life can have purpose and power. Just ask him.
Seek your Savior in Jesus (12)
Now John makes another astounding claim for the Christ of Christmas: that he is our creator and sustainer, and our savior. If we will “believe in his name,” meaning that we trust in him with our lives, we “receive” him as our Savior and “become children of God.” This baby can do that for us.
Jesus is God’s only plan for our salvation. And he has always been exactly that.
Revelation 13:8 calls him “the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.”
In Genesis 3:15 God said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Only Jesus was born as the “woman’s seed,” of a virgin. He was God’s plan to defeat the enemy and save us from our sin, from the very beginning of time. No wonder Charles Spurgeon called this verse “the first gospel sermon that was ever delivered upon the surface of this earth.”
From before time began, God knew that he would bring his Messiah (Hebrew for “Chosen One”) to die for our sins, to take our place and punishment, to purchase our salvation. And step by step, the Old Testament revealed who this Messiah would be.