Dear radio friends,
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
Why did Jesus come into this world? Do you know the answer to that? Do you know the answer because He came for you? Is Christmas all about weary shoppers and hung-over party-goers and excited children and weary sales clerks? Why did Jesus Christ come into this world?
Only those who belong to Him by a true and living faith, God’s precious gift, know the answer to that question. Only those whom He saves from sin, their sin, know why He came. Jesus came to save me, they say. That is true and living faith.
Jesus appeared long ago in that night in Bethlehem, born of a virgin, and laid in a manger because He was sent of the Father, the living, true God, to save me, the chief of sinners. That is the confession of true faith.
Is that what you see as you think of the birth of Jesus Christ? Do you see the exceeding abundant grace of God? Is that your comfort? Then, child of God, you have hope; you have perfect hope; you have invincible and conquering hope. Then your life will be changed and you will live as a child of the King in the midst of this world. And you will say, “I cannot put a price upon this gift, this infinite gift, this all-sufficient gift. God loved me and gave His Son for me! Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. That is my comfort. That is a sufficient comfort for all of life.
Knowing yourself, then, as a sinner whom Christ has saved, there will be two spiritual realities to be seen in your life. Those spiritual realities were seen also in the shepherds who had come in that night to behold the Christ-child in the manger. In verse 15 of Luke 2 we read that they were commanded to go to Bethlehem and see this thing (or this word) which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
The two spiritual realities that were in the shepherds and will be in you and in every child of God as we consider the birth of Christ will be: 1) an overwhelming wonder of the grace of God, the exceeding abundant and wondrous grace of God to give His Son for me, a sinner. 2) praise. You will say with the apostle Paul in I Timothy 1:17 , “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever.” When you know why Jesus came, your heart will ring with overwhelming wonder and everlasting praise.
Jesus came to save.
The birth of Jesus Christ was completely unique. He came into the world, we read in I Timothy 1:15 . Now, children, that tells us that Jesus’ birth was unique. There was no birth like His. And I am not referring now to the poverty and to the lowliness that could hardly have been worse—where He was born in that smelly stable, amid the straw and the smells, and was laid in a feedbox, wrapped in the torn clothes that were His bunting. I am not referring to that! But the uniqueness that I refer to is found in those words, “He came into the world.” He came into the world. That means that He existed before He was born. And that is utterly unique.
Jesus was and is the eternally existing God. Read Proverbs 8 . Read Colossians 1 . He is the One who, as God and with God, created all things in the beginning. He is the eternally existing God who had no beginning and shall have no end. He is the glorious, magnificent God who lives forever, and, in the words of Deuteronomy 32 , lifts up His hand to heaven and says, “I live!” That one who existed eternally as God the Son now appeared to fulfill God’s promise and was born of a virgin in a lowly manger. He came. He existed before, consciously with the Father and the Holy Spirit—the triune God. And He was sent into the world. The hymn puts it this way: “Mild He lays His glory by; born that man no more may die.” Mild in that He was willing.
But not just mild. There was a great stir among the angels in heaven when Jesus was born. For they saw Him, heaven’s darling, God’s eternal Son, who is brighter than 10,000 suns, now humbled and wrapped in rags that He might redeem dust sinners. He who made the world now humbles Himself that He might save His children in their sins.
While He remained God, God of God, Jesus Christ came into the world and was in diapers, needing to be nursed and taught. The Holy Son of God is born.
He came into the world because He had to walk a path called the Calvary road. He came to travel that road. That road began with a sign. As all roads have a sign, the road that Jesus came to travel on earth also had a sign at its very beginning. It read: “No vacancy.” There was no room for Him, we are told.
In Luke 2:1-7 , the record of Jesus’ birth, we are told that God had arranged everything just so. Two people (Joseph and Mary) had traveled from the north in Nazareth south to Judea’s Bethlehem because Caesar Augustus, the mighty monarch and king, had decreed that everyone must go to their natural city to be registered for a tax. God moved the heart of the king to bring Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem at just the right moment. And, when they come, there is no room for Him. Mary is in labor. And Joseph is able to find only a shelter of a stall of a barn, of a lowly cattle shed, where Mary brings forth her firstborn son. Jesus now has come in the lowliness of His humiliation. He is covered with our sins and death. He is under the shadow of death for our sakes. He has become poor.
God ruled over where He was born to teach us the gospel: the gospel that His Son had come to take upon Himself that which was not His—our sins, in order that we might have what was not ours—everlasting righteousness. For He came to save. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. His message was to deliver us from the greatest of evils and lift us unto the highest of all good. He is our Savior. The angels sounded it out to the shepherds: “Unto you is born this day a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
Jesus Christ has come not simply to be among men. He has not come as the Son of God to take away the problems of human society. He certainly has not come to give everybody what they want of the earth. But He came to be a Savior, to bring you out of a dunghill of sin and darkness and bitterness against God, and to bring you into God’s own bosom of blessing. He came for no other reason. Throughout His life He focused on one thing, and one thing only: our sin.
He could have been the savior that men wanted. He could have been the redeemer that men cherished and that men still want Him to be. He could have been the one to provide food for the masses. He fed 5,000 at one time with five loaves and two fishes. He could heal from every conceivable disease. He was a magnificent arbitrator, a problem-solver. He would have been a wonderful champion of social causes. But all of these, throughout His ministry, he rejected. That is not why He came. He did not come for those reasons. He came for the root problem—your root problem. You see, all of those other problems can be solved: food, diseases, problems, peace, social injustices—all these can be wiped away. But unless your sin is removed, you have nothing.
He came to save us from our sins. And He could do that because He is Christ Jesus, the Lord. He is Christ: the One assigned of God to do God’s work. He is Jesus (Jehovah-Salvation). He is the Lord, the Lord of all. On that night God sent His Son into our flesh, born of a virgin. God transferred all our sin, the sin of all of God’s chosen, upon that little baby. He laid upon Him the iniquity of us all.
But you must not make it distant. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.
That faithful saying is made by every child of God. He came to save me. You say, He came to save those given to Him of His Father’s gracious election? Yes, that is true. II Timothy 1:9 tells us that we have been called according to God’s own purpose and grace, which was given us before the world began. Jesus comes to save His people from their sins. That is the word that the angel tells Joseph, the very meaning of the name “Jesus”: Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.
But, you see, faith is personal. And every child of God in whom dwells the Holy Spirit by wondrous grace will respond: “Jesus came to save me, a lost sinner, no better than others. Of sinners I am the chief. I am the chief sinner.”
Notice that, in I Timothy 1:15 : “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” the “faithful saying” does not stop with the word “sinners.” But the faithful saying, worthy of all acceptation, is: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. That is part of the faithful saying. Those whom Jesus came to save are those who, by grace, confess “I am the chief sinner.”
Did Jesus come to save all sinners? No, He came to save sinners who, by His wondrous grace, would know their sins and would know themselves as the chief sinner. He came to save sinners of all sorts. Some obvious sinners. Little children would look at them and say, “Dad, that’s a sinner.” But most sinners appear in nice garb with many good works as jewels. He came to save sinners who see themselves, by God’s grace, as the chief sinner.
A saved sinner is not self-righteous. A saved sinner is soul-burdened.
I can put it this way: A saved sinner knows how to spell the word sin: s I n! A saved sinner does not spell the word sin: s U n. You, you are a sinner! When the word sin is mentioned, the saved sinner does not say, “You. You. You.” But he says: s I n! If there is one place where the letter I should be capitalized, it is in the word “sin.”
It is only by grace that we come to see our sin that way, come to see ourselves that way—as the chief of sinners. You can listen to us. You can listen to us as we visit. We talk about other people. We take care of that person, and that church, and that brother, and that sister, and we talk about them. And we are always spelling the word “sin”: s U n. But then there is no gospel for us. There is no Savior for us if that is the way we live. The grace of God is to bring to us a self-awareness, a self-burden: my sin. And no one’s sin can be greater than my sin. A saved sinner does not look at someone else and say, “I could never do that! What gets into him? What were they thinkin’!” Saved sinners say: “I am the chief sinner. There is no sin that I have not or could not commit. But Jesus is my righteousness. Christ Jesus came to save me, the chief of sinners.”
This is a faithful saying, says Paul. How do I know that Jesus came? I know this by faith. By faith we are given ears to hear the good tidings of great joy. By faith we join the angels today as we say “Glory to God in the highest! I know that Jesus Christ has come.” By faith, I know that it is no myth. By grace we lay hold of our Savior. And none who come to Him in a true and living faith will ever be cast away. He draws us, draws us personally, unto Him. And we come and we follow Him. Then there will be a change in your life. There will be fruit. “Don’t be afraid,” says the angel. “Fear not. For unto you is born a Savior—Jesus Christ, the Lord!”
No more fear. No fear of death. No fear of tomorrow. No fear over job-security. Fear not, for I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed. God has cast all of our sins behind His back. The Lord is our Light and our Salvation.
Not only will there be no fear, but there will be joyful humility. We will be of all people the most humble and the most joyful. And we will praise the Lord. Not living in pride, we will praise the Lord for His wondrous gift.
The birth of Jesus proclaims God’s utterly free and gracious salvation. It means you will end your life this way, with these words: “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever.” You will join the millions of angels and you will say, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing forever, Amen.”
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for the birth of Thy Son, and we thank Thee that Thou hast taught us why Jesus came: to save me, the Chief of sinners. Amen.