The Scripture Reading
“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judæa, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
The year was 1809. The international scene was tumultuous. Napoleon was sweeping through Austria; blood was flowing freely. Nobody then cared about babies but the world was overlooking some very significant births. For example, William Gladstone was born that year. He was destined to become one of England’s finest statesmen.
That same year in England, Alfred Lloyd Tennyson was born to an obscure minister and his wife. The child would one day greatly affect the literary world in a marked manner.
On the American continent, Oliver Wendell Holmes was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Not far away in Boston, a baby was born who would grow to be a poet, and a writer of horror. Edgar Allan Poe began his eventful, albeit tragic, life.
It was also in that same year of 1809 that a physician in England named Darwin and his wife named their child, Charles Robert. He would one day go on a voyage aboard a ship named the Beagle, and return to promote the godless theory of evolution.
That same year produced the cries of a newborn infant in a rugged log cabin in Hardin County, Kentucky. The baby’s name? Abraham Lincoln.
If there had been news broadcasts at that time, these words might have been heard: “The destiny of the world is being shaped on an Austrian battlefield today. The Battle of Wagram has ended. Napoleon and his French army have forced Austria to sign an armistice (July 5-6, 1809).” And yet, the truth was that history was being shaped in the cradles of England and America.
In like manner, two thousand years ago, during the days of the Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus, everyone thought taxation was the big news of moment. But a young Jewish woman cradled the biggest news of all in her arms: the birth of the Messiah – Saviour. History was being made, not in Rome with a royal decree, but in a stable, in a place called Bethlehem.
The narrative of the incarnation of Christ is part of the greatest story ever told. Today, the gospel has captured the hearts of more than two billion people on planet earth who profess to be Christian.
As attention is turned once more to the Advent story, a fundamental question arises: “Jesus, why did you come?” The Bible records the answer.
First, the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ came to fulfill the promise God the Father made in the Covenant of Redemption. When Adam, acting as the Federal Representative of mankind, fell in the Garden of Eden, he condemned not only himself, but all of humanity to a godless state of existence. The Bible says, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, And death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, For that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).
Every person who is born into the world is born with the plague of all plagues clinging to the soul, and permeating every fiber of existence. That plague is sin. What does sin do to self and others?
Sin darkens the understanding.
Sin perverts the emotions.
Sin dominates the will.
Sin moves men to love darkness rather than light.
Sin creates chaos and confusion.
Sin destroys the moral compass of the will, while exalting pride, selfishness, and greed.
Sin causes the body to burn with illicit desires, while trying to silence the conscience warning of a certain damnation.
Sin defies God.
Sin destroys relationships.
Sin demands servitude, and gives only death as wages in return.
Despite all the wars that have been waged, all the tears that have been shed, all the promises that have been made, all the self-loathing that has been expressed, the power of sin is still present. Despite all the self-help programs on the market, despite all the professional counseling in the country, despite all the prisons that have been erected, despite all the personal shame that tormented souls carry in private, Sin is still alive and well on planet earth.
Because sin is so pervasive and strong, if any soul is ever to know redemption and forgiveness of sins, than the question of sin must be dealt with.
Because of infinite grace, in the same spot that sin was first conceived, God instituted a Covenant of Redemption with man.
In the Garden of Eden, God promised Someone would come to reverse the works of unrighteousness, thereby allowing souls to be reconciled and have fellowship with the Sovereign based on the righteousness of justice satisfied (Gen. 3:15). “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20). The long wait for the fulfillment of the Covenant of Redemption began with great hopes and many expectations.
Waiting for the Savior
The high expectation gave way to a patient waiting. During the waiting period, the Law came with all its rituals and ceremonies. These rituals and rites served a purpose which was to remind individuals that by the works of the Law no flesh can ever be justified in the sight of God (Romans 3:20). Moreover, the shedding of the blood of animals does not take away sin, for they are not perfect either, having been touched by the same plague that afflicts mankind.
Realizing this, religious men, like the Pharisees, grew desperate. They hoped against hope that somehow the righteousness of God could be appeased by the blood of bulls and goats, in association with many good works. And yet, “Every smoking altar, every bleeding victim, every ascetic privation, every priestly intervention was a testimony to the guilt of sin and the need of [a more perfect way for the] remission [of sins] ….” ~David Clark
Lest mankind utterly despair, the prophets appeared to remind the people of the Prince who was to come. He would make a Covenant with His people (Daniel 9:24-27).
Finally, “in the fullness of time,” at the appointed moment, the Messiah did appear suddenly in His holy temple” (Gal. 4:4). Later, He went and stood on the edge of the Jordan River to be baptized in order to be presented as “the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
Upon learning the Messiah had come, many people in Palestine rushed to receive Christ, though other people drew back. There were those who could not believe that Jesus was the Anointed One. “But to as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the sons of God, even to as many as believed on His name” (John 1:12).
A Modern Day Tragedy
Tragically, today, there are still individuals who cannot believe that Jesus is the Son of the Living God. They cannot believe that Christ is truly Emmanuel, or, God with us, despite abundant evidence that Jesus is who He claimed to be. There is the evidence of the virgin birth, the influence of His personality upon the world, and the personal testimony of many.
Regarding the Virgin Birth, it is a great mystery, but the Bible tells us that Jesus was born without personal sin, and without the imputation of Adam’s sin. How God could be both true deity and true humanity has occupied the conversation of theologians and Church Councils for centuries (Study, Chalcedon, AD 451).
The Bible simply records the facts, without explanation, and calls upon the heart to believe in the miraculous, because it is true. The baby in the cradle of Bethlehem, was also the Eternal Son, and as the Eternal Son Jesus had something to say to the Father on the night of His birth. And this is what Christ said when He came into the world: “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, But a body hast thou prepared for me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God” (Hebrews 10:5-7).
A Universal Expectation
Later, Roman historians would record that the world had been waiting for Someone as special as Jesus.
Suetonius noted, “There had spread over all the Orient an old and established belief, that it was fated at that time for men coming from Judaea to rule the world” (Suetonius: Life of Vespasian, 4:5).
Tacitus tells of the same expectation declaring “there was a firm persuasion … that at this very time the East was to grow powerful, and rulers coming from Judaea were to acquire universal empire” (Tacitus: Histories, 5:13).
The Jews had hope “about that time, one from their country should become governor of the habitable earth” (Josephus: Wars of the Jews, 6:5, 4).
In the fullness of time, God brought forth His Son (Galatians 4:4).
What a Son, Jesus would prove to be. The totality of His life was a constant demonstration of His deity. And by that life, Jesus became “The Man Who Changed the World.” Dr. Herbert Lockyer explains.
More than 2000 years ago there was a Man born contrary to the laws of life.
This Man lived in poverty, and was reared in obscurity.
Only once did He cross the boundary of the country in which He lived: That was during His exile in childhood.
In infancy, He startled a king.
In childhood, He puzzled the doctors.
In manhood He ruled the course of Nature, walked upon the billows as if pavement, and hushed the sea to sleep.
He never wrote a book, and yet all the libraries of all the countries in the world cannot hold the books that could be written about Him.
He never wrote a song, and yet He has furnished the theme for more songs than all the songwriters combined.
He never founded a college, but all the schools put together cannot boast of having as many students.
The names of the past proved statesmen of Greece and Rome have come and gone
The names of past scientists, philosophers and theologians have come and gone; but the name of this Man abounds more and more.
Though time has spread between the people of this generation and the scene of His crucifixion, yet He still lives.
Herod could not destroy Him, and the grave could not hold Him.
He stands forth upon the highest pinnacle of Heavenly glory, proclaimed of God, acknowledged by angels, adored by saints, and feared by devils, as the living, personal Christ, our Lord, our Saviour, and our God.”
“Jesus, why did you come?”
Listen to Jesus as He says,
“I came as the Son of the Living God to offer myself as the Perfect Sacrifice to honor the Covenant of Redemption first stated in the Garden of Eden.”
“Lord, is that the only reason why you came?”
“No, I also came to destroy the works of the Devil” (1 John 3:8).
Lying is a work of the Devil. Satan lied in the Garden of Eden. “Now the serpent…said unto the woman, … Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:1-5).
St. Augustine reminds us that, “When regard for truth has been broken down or even slightly weakened, all things will remain doubtful.”
A. W. Tozer warned, “The unattended garden will soon be overrun with weeds; the heart that fails to cultivate truth and root out error will shortly be a theological wilderness.”
Murder is a work of the Devil. We read of how Cain, motivated by Satan, rose, and murdered his righteous brother Abel. “And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, And his brother’s righteous” (1 John 3:12).
Moving men to pride is a work of the Devil, manifested in the Biblical narrative of how the Evil One moved David to number the children of Israel. “And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel…And God was displeased with this thing; therefore he smote Israel…. ” (1 Chronicles 21:1, 7, 9-14). The nation of Israel paid a terrible price for the pride of one man.
Someone has said that we are never more like Satan himself than when we are filled with pride.
Pride can make individuals unwilling to repent, unwilling to say, “I’m sorry”, and unwilling to tell the truth about things that all the world knows to be different. The Bible declares that God will always resist the proud, but He will give grace to the humble.
Betrayal is a work of the Devil, reflected in the fact that, for 30 pieces of silver, Judas betrayed the Son of God after the Devil had entered him” (John 13:23-30). There are many forms of betrayal such as, a marriage vow broken, children abandoned, a contract not honored, a friendship abused for selfish purposes, and a willingness to advance one’s own agenda at all cost. Christ has come to destroy all the works of the Devil. And where Christ puts forth His strength, He overthrows the Evil One as well as sin.
John teaches those who are born of God, sin not (1 John 3:9). This does not mean believers are endowed with angelic purity, though the Pelagians and the Cathari taught that, during the days of John Calvin in the 16th century. Nor does it mean that believers are entirely sanctified so that they are without sin, as some of the followers of John Wesley teach today.
What it does mean is that, “in the end of regeneration, sin will be destroyed and all who are begotten of God will live righteously and godly because God’s Spirit corrects the lusting of sin” (John Calvin).
“Jesus, why did you come?”
“I came to destroy the works of the Devil.”
“Lord, is that all?”
“No, I also came to seek and to save that which is lost, and to give eternal life to all who will believe.”
Because eternal life is a relationship with the Living Lord based upon faith in all that Jesus claimed to be, the content of belief is important.
George Whitefield was preaching to coal miners in England. He asked one man,
“What do you believe?”
“Well, I believe the same as the church.”
“And what does the church believe?”
“Well, they believe the same as me.”
Seeing he was getting nowhere, Whitefield said,
“And what is it that you both believe?”
“Well, I suppose the same thing.”
The coal miner lacked real content for faith. The content of faith is the gospel (1 Cor. 1-3).
The object of saving faith is Christ. But faith in Christ must not be in the abstract. It must be personal and real.
“The life of Christianity consists of possessive pronouns,” said Martin Luther. It is one thing to say, “Christ is a Saviour”. It is quite another thing to say, “He is my Saviour and my Lord.”
The devil can say the first, but only the true Christian alone can say the second.
“Jesus, why did you come?”
“I came to honor the Covenant of Redemption.
I came to destroy the works of the Devil.
I came to seek and to save the lost.
I came to give eternal life.
I came so that individuals might say,
‘Jesus is my Lord and my Saviour.’”
May the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit enable you to say that today for your good, and the glory of the Father.
One Reply to ““Jesus, Why Did You Come?””
AMEN. The simplicity of this message will surely confound those who think they are wise and full of knowledge believing “they can save their own souls the way they please”. I know a few for whom I pray. Thanks be to God for this timely message. My earnest prayer is MANY will see it, read it and be born of the Spirit from above. Driving back home from the celebration of Christ’s birth who was ‘wrapped in swaddling clothes’ there are many traveling doing the same perhaps not realizing the event that just occurred on their behalf not knowing also “we love Him because He FIRST loved us (them)..1 John 4:19. That has become an extremely important verse delivered through God’s Word to all in most recent of days and desire the ALL to know. The proper order of things is ‘first things first’ “ “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom..” Proverbs 1:7 sounds like a good place to start with the fear -reverence and trust. From a most recent reading of which I am indebted.