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Jack Graham - The Christ of Christmas Past

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    Jack Graham - The Christ of Christmas Past
TOPICS: The Christ of Every Christmas, Christmas

Hebrews chapter 9 describes, and I want you to help me watch for three words, or three usage for the word appear in your Bible. Verse 24, chapter 9 says: "For Christ has entered not into the Holy Place made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to", there it is, "appear in the presence of God in our behalf". So circle that word appear in verse 24. That's His appearance as Priest in the presence of God. Verse 25: "Nor was to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once", circle that again, that word appeared, "appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself".

That's the second appearance of Jesus talked about in these verses and this is His appearance as Prophet or Messiah; Savior. Verse 27, here's an important verse: "And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes the judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear", there it is again, "a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him". So that His appearance as King. Prophet, Priest and King! He comes as Messiah, He comes as mediators, He comes as Majesty! The Christ of every Christian, the savior of all seasons: Christmas past, that's Prophet. Christmas present, that's Priest. Christmas future, that is King. Today's focus in these three messages is Jesus the Prophet.

Now we've already learned in the book of Hebrews that Jesus is greater than the prophets. We have learned that He is superior to Moses, and even superior to the angels. Christ above all! None greater than Him! So when we say Jesus is the Prophet. We're not suggesting that He is a prophet in the line of succession of other prophets. He's not just another prophet. He is not just another Old Testament prophet. And He's certainly not a false prophet. Mohammed claimed to be a prophet. And others have come along and said they were prophets. Matthew 24:11, "Jesus said in the Last Days there will be many rise up, false prophets in the world".

So Jesus is not a prophet. Jesus is The Prophet! This is a synonym for Messiah, the one who is promised, the Promised One. This is Prophet with a capital P! The Prophet: the One who came and with His works and His Word would fulfill all of the promises of the Bible, both Old Testament and New Testament. Jesus the Prophet would fulfill all the prophecies of the Bible. The Bible says that Jesus is the key to understanding prophecy. Revelation chapter 19, verse 10: "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy". So who Jesus is and what Jesus said is the spirit of prophecy. He said, "I've not come to destroy the law of the prophets but to fulfill it". He is everything the Bible promised in the coming of the Messiah, the Prophet, into the world.

When Jesus was walking with those disciples after the resurrection on the road to Emmaus, it says that "He began with Moses and the prophets and showed them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself". Jesus is throughout the Bible. And all of the prophecies, all of the testimonies, all of the words of the Bible point to the Prophet! So let's focus on that. How is Jesus the Prophet? He fulfilled prophecy. And that's why in verse 26 of Hebrews 9, as we read it earlier, note it again, underscore it in your Bibles. He came "to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself". This is the First Coming; this is why Jesus came. Later on in verse 28, it says that "He came as an offering", the Gift, "He came as an offering to bear the sins of many". Matthew 1:21, "You shall call His name Jesus for He will save His people from their sins"!

He is the sin-bearer! And His purpose as Prophet, as Messiah was not a military victory for Israel, but a spiritual salvation victory for the whole world! That includes you and me! So He is the Prophet! And He came and he lived and died. When He was born at Bethlehem even the cradle touches the cross, and ultimately the crown. Jesus lived under the shadow of the cross from His boyhood upward. Speaking prophetically the psalmist said, "I was afflicted from My youth". Jesus was afflicted with death and suffering even from His youth. Isaiah the prophet said, "He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief". Jesus was born under the shadow of the cross and He bore, imagine that! His entire life, He saw a rose bush, He saw the thorns. He saw crucifixions along the side of the road, He knew that one day that would be Him.

I mean, it's one thing to know that we're all going to die, "It's appointed unto man once to die", but, I mean, to know how and when! Jesus did. And He bore that suffering and that pain, that emotional burden, the physical pain of the cross. No use today describing the agony of the cross, what Christ did in dying on the cross, the pain; the suffering. But the fact is the cup of suffering, the cross was always before Jesus! Never out of His mind, because you were never out of His mind. He came for you. And the cross, of course, stands as a perpetual reminder of His blood and His body that is given for us.

The Scripture says, "You have prepared a body for Me". And the body of the Lord Jesus Christ prepared in the womb of Mary, was given as a sacrifice, the pure Lamb of God, on the cross! That's the role of the Messiah, the Prophet. Not as a conquering King yet, but as a suffering Servant. Shows us the seriousness of our sin, and He is the Sin-bearer. He's also the Satan-slayer. Hebrews chapter 2, verse 9. (We're in Hebrews. I hope you're loving it as much as I am.) Let's go back and look at these verses: "But we see Him (Jesus) who for a while was made lower than the angels (That's His humanity), namely Jesus, now crowned with glory and honor because of (why?) the suffering of death so that by the grace of God He may taste death for everyone"!

What was in that cup that He drank? The bitter dregs of man's sinfulness! He tasted death for you and me! He suffered and died for all of us! And then in verse 14: "Since, therefore, the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise partook of the same thing, that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil". He is Sin-bearer; He is Satan-slayer! He is the Prophet of God, the Messiah who has come! When He died on the cross, He did it just once. That's the theme of Hebrews. He did it once. He suffered once for our sins; He suffered once and for all! Aren't you glad that He only did it once? It was terrible, it was tragic. He did it one time. But in that one time the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, covers us and cleanses us from all sin. That's why the color of Christmas is red, the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ!

But how could we speak of Jesus the Prophet without speaking of His words, the magnificent, powerful words! Not only His work that was finished at the cross, but His words that are enduring to this generation and beyond! W. H. Griffith Thomas said this about the words of Jesus: "Christ's words are a permanent value because of His person. They endure because He endured"! No one has ever spoken words like Jesus. In fact, Jesus is the Word, "embodiment of the Word, and He speaks the Word. He is the Messenger; He is the message"! Even when He was a youth, twelve years of age, in the temple when He spoke His words astounded the scholars and the scribes and the priests in the temple! And then His words that the common people, people like you and me, heard gladly.

There was something so winsome about His words and the way He communicated. People came from everywhere just to get a glimpse of Him, just to touch the hem of His garment, and yes, just to hear His words! Because He came preaching the words of the kingdom of God! The Prophet, the (capital "P") Prophet! His first recorded words of His ministry were (Matthew 3:2), "Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand"! Pretty important! God had one Son and He made Him a Preacher, a Prophet, bringing words that changed the world! Common people heard Him gladly. Little children gathered up around Him, formed around His robe and looked into His eyes, because even the words of Jesus to a child. A child could understand Him! And yet a hardened, Roman soldier, at the end, when Christ was dying on the cross, looked at Jesus as He died, and said, "Surely this Man was the Son of God!" because no one had spoken like Him! The words of Jesus! The words of Jesus.

One thing you might consider doing at this Christmas season: at this Advent. Many of us are reading devotional books. I have one out called The Cost of Christmas, and you can read them online. Wonderful devotional books. Read that as supplementary. But read the Word. And one thing that I'm doing, that I would encourage you to do at Christmas, as I've been thinking about this passage, is read the red. You know what I mean, read the red? I have in my hand not only a red Bible, but a red-letter edition of the Bible. You may not know it, but the red-letter edition of the Bible did not come into being until the end of the 19th century. There was a man who was editor of a magazine by the name of Klopsch (strange name), but he thought it would be a good idea to put the words of Jesus in a different color than the black and the white, the black on the white, so the words of Jesus would stand out.

So what did he do? He put the words of Jesus first in the New Testament that was published in 1899, and then in the words, put it in the entire Bible, a new red-letter edition of the Bible in 1901. And since that day we've had red-letter editions of the Bible. Now, let me be clear, very important. All of the words of the Bible are pure, all the words of the Bible are the words of God; inerrant and infallible. Not one single word, Old Testament, New Testament! All of it! 2 Timothy 3:16, "All Scripture is breathed out by God". So there's not one word that is more vital. The words of Jesus are not more inspired in the Bible than the words of Paul. Say, "Amen" to that because it's true!

But, I like the fact that you can read the words of Jesus, read the red. The color of Christmas is what? Read the red. And when you read the red, as I'm doing at this Christmas season, some of the verses, of course, some of the words of Jesus. How long has it been since you just read the words of Jesus? Sermon on the Mount, Lord's Prayer, Matthew 24, the ends of time and the end of the ages. But just think about these words. Can you imagine a world in which the Word of God, the words of Jesus were never recorded? He spoke them, but the Holy Spirit preserved them. They were written down and given to us. Thank God for the red! John 3:16 Words in red. Jesus said, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life".

And in that same chapter 3, written in red, "You must be born again". No one will see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. The Baptists didn't make that up. Billy Graham didn't make it up, to be born again. Jesus said, it's in the red, "You must be born again". He said in John chapter 10, verse 10: "The devil comes to kill and steal and destroy, but I have come", He tells us unequivocally why He came, "that you might have life and have it more abundantly". Life with a capital "L"! It's in the red. At the graveside of one of His dearest friends Lazarus, He gave these words in John chapter 11, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me though he be dead, yet shall he live". Written in red. He taught us to pray, "Our Father who art in heaven". He said in Matthew 11:28: "Come to Me all you that labor and are heavy laden; I will give you rest".

Hear Him speaking to you today. It's in the red. Jesus is saying, "Come to Me; I will give you rest"; rest for your souls. How do we know the words of Jesus are real? How do we know that they're not just red, that they're real? What did Jesus say about His own words? He claimed divine authority. He said, "I'm not making this stuff up. I'm not quoting the prophets. I'm speaking with divine authority. I speak the words that the Father has given Me". He said, Jesus said you can read the red because "My words lead to eternal life"!

Now if someone tells me that my words lead to eternal life, I'm all ears! Jesus said that! And He also said, "My words", He said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My word will never pass away". He declared His word would never pass away! He also commanded that His words would be delivered and declared to the ends of the earth. Always at all times. He challenged His disciples, He commanded all of us to "go into all the world and preach the Gospel and teach them to observe all these things that I've commanded you", all these words. We are His witnesses. We are to take His words, the Gospel, it's in the red, to people all over the world.

You know, the Gospel is good news but it's only good news if it gets there on time. "Now is the time"! We have an opportunity to take the Gospel to our neighbors and to the nations. So He commanded His word would be proclaimed throughout earth. And then He said, "The destiny of the human soul, your destiny and mine, is dependent upon what you do with My words, whether you believe them, receive them, or reject them". So every person has to decide because Jesus is a teacher, but more than a teacher, He's a prophet, but more than a prophet. He is the Prophet! He is the Messiah! He is the Savior of the world.

C. S. Lewis, and I'll close with this, Great man, of course, intellect. English professor at Oxford, an agnostic who came to faith in Christ and became a radical follower of Jesus, he said this. I believe it's in his book "Mere Christianity". Often quoted, but here it is again:

"I am trying to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people say about Him (Jesus): I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God. That's the one thing we must not say. A man who is merely a man and said the sort of things that Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher! He would either be a lunatic-on the level with a man who says he's a poached egg-or else he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a mad man or something worse! You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher! He has not left that open to us; He did not intend to. Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God".

The Prophet. When we go to Israel one of our first stops is Nazareth, the boyhood home of Jesus. And we go out to the edge of town where there is a cliff overlooking, a very steep fall and valley beneath, and it is a place where many believe that a very powerful event took place in Scripture. It was on the heels of Jesus announcing Himself as the Messiah in His hometown of Nazareth. He goes into the synagogue, He opens the book of Isaiah, says, "The Lord has anointed Me to preach Good News to the brokenhearted, the bound, the bruised, the blind, and He declared Himself to be the Prophet, the One Israel was expecting".

He declared Himself, announced His Messiah-ship. It stunned everyone in the synagogue, and someone said, "Wait a minute, wait a minute! I recognize Him! Isn't that... I know Him! That's the carpenter's son! Isn't that Joseph the carpenter's son? Who does He think He is, coming here declaring that He is the Anointed One! The Prophet, the Prophet, greater than Moses"! And they became so angry that they grabbed Him and took Him to the edge of town. This was when Jesus said, "A prophet has no honor in his own country". I mean, "We saw Him as a little boy. We saw Him sweating in a carpenter's shop. Just a common carpenter! We saw all of that! Jesus, the Messiah? Jesus, the Prophet? No way"! - "A prophet has no honor in His own country".

And they took Him out to throw Him over the cliff. But something miraculous happened. We don't know exactly how it happened. I just have in my own imagination what happened: but as they're wrestling there, it was mob violence, they were taking Him out. Because that's what they do with false prophets, is kill them. They considered Him a false prophet! So they're going to throw Him over the cliff to die. And somehow He just walked right through them and walked away. I mean, they just, I don't know if they were stunned, if they were stopped, what happened.

A similar thing happened in the Garden when all the soldiers fell down when they came into the presence of Jesus. Just His very presence. Somehow I believe the royal, regal presence of Jesus was so strong at that moment that He just walked right through them and out. But something happened that day, He never came back to Nazareth. They rejected Him. John 1:11, "He came unto His own; His own received Him not". They rejected Him. He left. As far as we know in the Bible He never came back.

And to this day when we visit Nazareth, Nazareth is not a Christian town; it is a Muslim town. There are a few Christians there, a few strong believers there, but to this day it rejects the Prophet of their own town. It's a dangerous thing to reject the Lord Jesus Christ. He may leave and never come back. The Bible says, "My Spirit will not always strive with a man". The Holy Spirit is working in your heart today, watching online, right here in this room, and you have a decision to make: Is He Lord? Is He liar? Is He a lunatic? I say He is Lord! He is Prophet! The Savior of the whole world and the Savior of my life. And you can make that same choice today.
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