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Jack Graham - The Christ of Christmas Present

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

If you will, begin finding in your Bibles, Hebrews chapter 9. The Scripture says, in fact, in the book of Hebrews, that "Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever". Always and forever: past, present and future. Jesus is Lord; Lord of life and Lord of all! At this season of the year we talk about the Advent. Maybe you're not familiar with the term Advent; the Advent season or an Advent devotional. Well, the Advent is actually on the church calendar leading up to Christmas and the opportunity for us to celebrate in Advent. And the word means appearance. The word Advent simply means appearance. And we're about to see once again in our passage that the writer of Hebrews points out three appearances of Jesus, three Advents of Jesus.

Three times Christ has appeared: once as Prophet, always as Priest, and forever as King. He is Prophet, He is Priest and He is King. So, beginning in verse 24 of Hebrews chapter 9: "For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands (that is a human temple) which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear", that's our word-appear or appearance, Advent. This is really the daily Advent of Christ. "Now to appear", Christ presently to appear, "in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all", and this is the first appearance of Jesus, "he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages", this is the incarnation, "to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself".

Jesus was born to die, to sacrifice His life for us! "And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, (And here's the third time) will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him". Jesus is coming again! The next appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ is Christmas future. We'll be talking about that the next time.

He comes as Priest, He comes as Prophet, but one day, and one day soon He is coming again as King! It means that God is with us-that's the Incarnation, and it means also that God is for us-that's the intercession of the Lord Jesus Christ today; what He is doing today. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah. We learned that the last time. He is the Promised One, the Prophet, who fully and completely revealed the word of God. He is the Word. He proved His words by His resurrection. He then ascended into heaven, before the eyes of His disciples, and disappeared into eternity, to serve as our eternal High Priest. That's what we're learning in Hebrews. That Jesus is superior to the priest, He's superior to religion, He's superior to the angels, He's superior to Moses and the Patriarchs. Jesus is the superior Savior!

So today the Christ of Christmas is in the midst of the throne of the universe! But the question is: What's He doing? What is Jesus doing now? It's interesting, the sacred books of other religions do not address what their dead leaders have been doing. I mean, no one has clue as to what Mohammed may be doing, or Buddha, or Zoroaster! All these dead religious relics from the past. Nobody knows anything about why they're gone or where they have gone. But the New Testament, the Bible is very clear to tell us what Jesus, our Lord and our Savior is doing! And that is that He "ever lives to make intercession (that is to pray) for us". To make intercession for His saints. Though in heaven and on the throne of the universe, He has not forgotten us!

You may have forgotten Him, but Jesus never, not one time, has forgotten you! If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, He knows your name, He knows your need, and He is praying for you, pleading for you! A priest, a high priest, or really any kind of a priest is an advocate; an ally, providing access between men and God, women and God. An advocate. As the priest our Lord Jesus represents God to man, and He represents man to God. As the pure and perfect God-Man, He is uniquely and totally qualified for this role, as our Counselor, Advocate, as our Comforter, as an earthly perfect Deity. On earth He was perfect Deity and in heaven He is also perfect Humanity. He is still touched by the feelings of our weakness and He still understands. And that's what the Scripture says. In fact, I want to show you a few more verses about Jesus, the High Priest.

Turn in Hebrews, back to chapter 4, verse 14 through 16. Very important! "Since then we have a great high priest who has passed into the heavens (that's His ascension), Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession". That is, don't give up; keep persevering. Don't ever quit, don't ever go back, because we have a High Priest in heaven for us. "We do not have a high priest", verse 15, "a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses". The King James puts it: "who's not touched by the feelings of our infirmities". Very picturesque language. Here simply: "to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who is in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin".

Watch this, verse 16, "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace in time of need". That's the ultimate access. Talk about a friend in high places! We have a Friend, our elder Brother, the Lord Jesus Christ, "who sticks closer than a brother"! He is our Man in heaven! Our Lawyer, our Advocate! And He understands what we're going through. He saves us and He sympathized with us. When it says that Jesus understands and sympathizes with us, Jesus did not come to earth as the Savior so that He could figure it out and find out for Himself what we were going through. He already knew that! He knows what is in the heart of man; He knew that in eternity-past; He knew it in His lifetime. Certainly Jesus did not come to this earth so that He could understand what it was like to be a man; He already knew!

But you know why He came and why it's so important that He understand? It's important that He come to earth and be a sympathizing High Priest so that we would know He understands! So that we would understand that He understands! What a blessing, to know that He knows what you're going through! When it speaks of weaknesses here, this is not sin, because Jesus, though tempted to sin, never sinned. But he's speaking of weakness, infirmity, hurt, pain, suffering, loss. Did Jesus experience suffering and hurt and pain and loneliness, and loss? Sure He did!

We love the Christmas carols. So many of them are great lyrics and great songs, both new and old. One of our favorites, of course, that we've sung since childhood, many of us, is Away in a Manger. Beautiful song; it was a lullaby song, written by a dad for children. But there's a huge mistake in that song, and that mistake is: "the little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes". That's a ridiculous statement. When Jesus was born as a Baby, He cried like every other baby. "No crying He makes"? Of course, He cried. As a baby He cried, and even as a man He cried, when He saw great loss or pain or suffering. He wept over the city of Jerusalem, He wept at the grave of His dear friend Lazarus, He wept, He suffered. He was a Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. And anything you're going through in terms of suffering or pain or loss, Jesus has been there, done that! And so our High Priest is not some distant deity.

You're thinking, "When Jesus left He just left us". No! He never left us! He lives for us! The Bible says, quoting our Lord, "I will never leave you or forsake you". And it's written in an emphatic. I always think of the story of the young preacher-boy. He went out to this country church and he would often afflict the saints with things he had learned in seminary class the previous week. And in that week he had learned in the Hebrew that when it is said: "I will never leave you or forsake you," that it was actually the Hebrew intensive; it was an emphatic, and it was actually to be read or understood, "I will never, no never, no never, no never, no never leave you or forsake you, no never"!

Well, he thought he would share that little bit of knowledge with his country church, and so he go up there and he's waxing eloquent or waxing an elephant, I'm not sure what, but he quoted, he said, "It means in the Hebrew, 'I will never, no never, no never, no never leave you or forsake you... no never!'" And he was so proud of himself. And after the service one of the little ladies came up to him who'd believing that truth all her life, and she said, "Well, young preacher, I don't know how many times God has to say you young preachers, but once is enough for me"! "He will never leave you or forsake you"! And He has said it, and He has done it!

Chapter 7 of Hebrews, verses 24, 25, 26, "but he holds this priesthood permanently", the ancient priests, the Old Testament priests, they turned over and over as they died, and there was a succession of priests, coming and going. But Jesus is the permanent Priest "because he continues forever. Consequently", as a result, don't you love verse 25? "He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens". Love this! He is able to save to the uttermost! Do you know what that means? All the way! The old street preacher used to say "He'll save you from the gutter-most to the uttermost"! All the way home, all the way to heaven! He will save completely!

This is how we can know as believers, because of the intercession of Christ for us, that though we may sin, and we do, we can never lose our salvation. Because Christ is interceding; He is praying for us. And in praying for us, just as He prayed for His disciples in John 17, you can look it up, In John 17 He prayed that God the Father would keep these from the devil; that He would secure them and grip them in His hand. In that same prayer it says "And I pray not only for these but those who will believe their word". That means you and me! So Christ is praying! He's praying right now and He's praying as He prayed for Peter that their faith fail not. Do you believe Jesus always gets His prayers answered? Sure He does! And because Jesus is praying that you're going to make it. Even though you think "I'm not going to make it; I fail, I stumble, I fall, I sin", yet because of the prayers and the pleading of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are going all the way! We are secure in Christ!

On Christmas Eve in 1914, the First World War was beginning and had been, I guess, going a year or so. Our boys were in Europe fighting the Germans But it was Christmas Eve in 1914 and the Germans, some of the German army sent a message over to suggest a cease-fire for Christmas. The Americans didn't know if it was some kind of a trick, but they chose to observe the reconciliation, and for one day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, the German army, the American army came together. They had some fun together. They enjoyed one another. These were the same people that were shooting and killing one another a day previous. But it was the message of reconciliation that Jesus came, and that brought them together. And for at least a brief portion there the war was put on hold; the war was ended.

Now God has declared for the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ an eternal armistice! The war is ended! And the way that that has happened is through reconciliation; that God is now reconciled with man. How! The cross! The resurrection! And this intercession where with one hand the Lord Jesus Christ takes Holy God and the other hand He takes sinful man, and He brings us together! And so at this Christmas season we are so grateful for this peace that God has declared in the Lord Jesus Christ! We now have peace with God, and we can have peace with one another. We draw near to God who saves us to the uttermost.

When Jesus went back to heaven, can you imagine the scene? When He left, the angels sang and celebrated His arrival, though they must have wondered as to what would happen to the beautiful Son of God. When it happened, when Jesus came and was rejected and died, angels were ready to rescue Him but the call never came. Angels ushered Him into the presence of the Lord at His ascension, and can you imagine the celebration in heaven when God's dear and darling Son came back home! The angels roared, the saints cheered, because now the mission has been accomplished. Jesus has finished the work that He came to do, but He continues the work of saving and securing and strengthening all of us. Our Comforter, our Counselor.

Again, don't think that Jesus came and then He left and you don't even know what He's doing for you! He's doing everything for you! Forgiving and cleansing and saving and keeping and holding and waiting, and, yes, He's coming for you! This is our High Priest. The psalmist said, he ever, the psalmist said that "He is our ever present help in times of trouble". Before Jesus left to go back to heaven, He looked at His disciples and through His disciples spoke to all of us. He said, "I go to prepare a place for you". He also said, "Go into all the world and make disciples", and when I go, "I will never leave you or forsake you".

I'm always there. He's always near; He's always dear; He's always perpetually present. He's given us His Spirit, the Holy Spirit within us. And God is with us, and He intercedes at the throne of God. He is always for us! Too many people don't understand this great truth: that God is for you because of what Christ has done! Many people are very lonely at Christmas. Some of you are already feeling the hurt, the pain of loved ones lost, of memories of Christmas past together. I don't think you ever get over some of those memories that are painful, regarding the past, though God can heal our hearts.

Christmas is lonely for some because they're older and family has gone and friends are no longer present. Many are in nursing homes or senior adult living homes, and no one hardly ever comes to see them. Children have moved away and taken the grandkids with them, and you don't see the kids that much. There are a lot of lonely people at Christmas. And we do need the human touch, there's no doubt about that. It's one of the great values, isn't it, of the church. This is a family, and I hope if you are a part of this church, or whether you are just a friend of this church, that you will feel loved and friended and favored in this place, among this people. We do need the human touch.

But know this: though you may be lonely, you're never alone. He is always for you, always with you. He is ever-present. He is praying, He is pleading. He is with you, He is near and He is dear. He is praying for your concerns and He is pleading your case before the throne of God. You have settled your case out of court by trusting Jesus as your Lord and Savior. And He is always advocating, He is always our Ally and our Friend. Mediator, Intercessor, Counselor, Advocate and Ally, Jesus our heavenly Priest, our High Priest. That is Christmas present! A few days, I mean Christmas is right on us, a few days, Christmas will be over. You'll be paying the bills and throwing out the trash. But the Christ of Christmas-that's never over! It's never over because He's the Savior for every season, He's the Christ of every Christmas and beyond to every day, eternally and forever. Amen?
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