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James Merritt - Christmas Doxology

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    James Merritt - Christmas Doxology
TOPICS: Christmas

There's several things that you can always count on seeing during the Christmas season. There are houses that are covered up with Christmas lights and highways that are covered up with Christmas traffic and malls that are covered up with Christmas shoppers, take my word for that. There are fields that are covered up with Christmas trees and there are kids covered up with Christmas toys. But one of the most amusing things and you see it every single Christmas is you'll see this phrase, Let's put Christ back into Christmas. Every year you see it, whether it's a bumper sticker it's on a car, it's on a billboard, on a sweatshirt and I wanna be honest, I always kinda get a little bit amused by that slogan because if you truly understand Christmas, you can't take Christ out of Christmas.

Now you can take Christ out of Christmas if you don't really understand Christmas but if you really understand Christmas, you can't take Christ out of Christmas because then, it wouldn't be Christmas. I mean, we don't call it Santa-mas Or Frosty the Snowman-mas or Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer-mas. It's called Christmas. So when people say man, we gotta put Christ back into Christmas, that's like saying yeah, we need to put the tomato back into tomato soup. We need to put the bananas back into banana pudding. You absolutely can't do it, you really can't have one without the other and that's why we're in this series that we're calling "Christmas Unwrapped" because what we've been saying is, far too many people will unwrap Christmas gifts but never unwrap the gift of Christmas. And that's what I want us to do that's what we've been doing.

As a matter of fact, it's interesting how we make such a big deal out of the birth of Jesus and we should, I'm all for it, I love it but the early church didn't do that. As a matter of fact, the first recorded celebration of Christmas we ever find in history was three hundred years after Jesus died. But it was because of his birth and only because of his birth that Christmas became a holiday tradition but when you stop and you think about it, it really is kind of amazing that 2.4 billion people around the world in two days will stop everything they're doing to celebrate the birth of the son of a carpenter, born in a truck stop town that didn't even have a stoplight. Whose parents were a teenage girl and a young man and he wasn't even the biological father. And yet two and half billion people, businesses will shutter, doors will close and families will stop everything they're doing to celebrate the birth of this man who, by the way, never wrote one word in a book, never spoke to a crowd outside of his country.

As a matter of fact, never traveled more than 30 miles from his home town. And yet, the half of the world will say, we've got to celebrate this man. In fact at any moment, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, there are millions of people, all over the world, they're studying what he said, they're reading words that he spoke, they're worshiping him as God, all because there's more to the glory of Christmas than just the story of Christmas. You see, here's what we fail to remember. Christmas was just the beginning of a round trip. The trip starts in heaven, Jesus comes to Earth and then he goes back to heaven. But what we do at Christmas is, we just kinda go half way. We just take half the trip, you can't do that. In fact, I was thinking the other day, if we had a college and we were given a degree in Christmas, that'd be a cool thing to major in, right?

So if we had a degree in Christmas, there would only be three classes and we've been taking these classes over this month. The first class is Christmas biology. We took that two weeks ago and in Christmas biology we learn that Jesus was born of a virgin. Had an earthly mom, had a heavenly dad, the only child ever born without a sinful nature. I used to think, when I had my very first grandson, Harper, I thought my grandson is the first perfect grandson ever to be born, was I ever wrong, okay? The only child ever born that was totally sinless was the sinless Jesus, that's Christmas biology. Then we said, you gotta take Christmas theology. In Christmas theology we learn that baby that was born, who was born of a virgin wasn't just a baby, he was a baby but not just a baby. He was the son of God, he was like every other baby but he was unlike every other baby. He was fully human and he was fully God.

Now unfortunately, that's where a lot of preachers and a lot of teachers and a lot of Christians leave the Christmas story. We kinda leave that baby in the cradle but that's not where the Christmas story ends because the third class you have to pass and complete to get your Christmas degree is not just in Christmas biology, not just in Christmas theology but in Christmas doxology. Now that word doxology comes from two Greek words. One word means praise or glory and the other word means word. So a doxology is just a word or an expression of praise and glory. So to understand Christmas doxology we're gonna turn today to a man that you would think is unusual to even talk about Christmas, his name was Paul. And the reason why it's kind of unusual is because unlike the shepherds and unlike the wise men, he was not at the birth of Jesus, he had never even heard about Jesus.

As a matter of fact, as a biblical writer he never explicitly talks about the birth of Jesus. Unlike the disciples, he never physically met the physical Jesus, never. He did meet the risen Jesus and another interesting thing is even though he never really even mentions the biology of Christmas and he doesn't really dwell on the theology of Christmas, he does record the greatest doxology of Christmas in history and here's what Paul does. He shows us the full meaning of Christmas. He says, let me really unwrap the gift of Christmas for you. So if you brought a copy of God's word, we're at a book called "Philippians". It's in the "New Testament", go to the "New Testament", Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, keep going right, you'll run into the book of "Philippians". We're in "Philippians" chapter two. And what you're going to see this morning is this. It's something that most people miss every single year and that is, here's the story of Christmas, you ready? Here's the full story.

Yes, it begins with a baby in a cradle but that's just the beginning of the story. The middle of the story is that the baby in the cradle became savior on a cross but that's just the middle of the story. The end of the story is, the savior on a cross becomes a king on a throne and here's what I want you to hear. Christmas is more than a day. Christmas is more than a season. When you really understand Christmas Unwrapped, you realize it's something we do every day. It's something we celebrate every day. It's why every day, we oughta put our focus on Jesus and every day, we oughta place our faith in Jesus and every day, we proclaim our future with Jesus. Because what Paul is going to tell us now are three very beautiful, wonderful things we oughta kinda think about and practice every single day.

Number one, we oughta be thoughtful that Jesus identified with us. Jesus identified with us. Now as we're about to get into this passage, let me prepare you. Paul doesn't give any details about the birth of Jesus. He doesn't talk about the virgin Mary, he doesn't talk about the conception of the Holy Spirit, he leaves that to Matthew and to Luke. Here's what he does, he says look, if you wanna know what happened in Bethlehem, go read Matthew and Luke. If you wanna know what happened before Bethlehem, you come to me, because what Paul does is, he takes us behind the curtains of eternity and he shows us what took place before Jesus was even born. We're in "Philippians" two, verse five, Paul said, "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped".

And there's a lot to unpack just in that one sentence. The first word that jumps out is this word, form. He was in the form of God, now let me tell you what that word means. That word refers to a roman stamp. And here's what would happen 2,000 years ago if I were a king or I was a judge, or I was a magistrate or some kind of official and I was to send you a letter and I wanted you to know that letter was authentic and it came from me, I would write the letter, then I would have a ring. That ring would have the insignia of the emperor on it. I would put that ring in some hot wax, I would then press that ring into that paper and on that paper, there would be this insignia that would be the exact impression that was on the ring. What Paul is telling us is, that Jesus is the precise representation of God. Jesus is exactly God and then he says, he didn't count equality as something to be grasped.

How many of you by the way took in high school or college, you took geometry? Okay, how many of you are glad you never had to take geometry again, okay, okay, me too right? Well, you'll be interested to know that that word equality is the Greek word isos, it gives us the word for isosceles triangle. You remember your geometry. And isosceles triangle is a triangle that has two equal sides, that's what the word means. It means equal in size, equal in quality, equal in character. So Paul is saying, Jesus was equally God. When he came to planet Earth, he was equally God. But before he came to Earth, he was eternally God. So in every way, Jesus Christ was God and is God but then he says this, he didn't cling to that equality. He claimed it but he did not cling to it.

You say, what do you mean? Because he also became a man. He didn't just come as God, he came as God but he became a man. He never ceased being God, so in other words, when he became a man, there was no subtraction, he was God in all of his fullness. There was no division, he didn't give up his Godhood to make room for his manhood, he wasn't part human, part divine, he wasn't a mixture of deity and humanity, he was fully both but when he was born, even though there was not subtraction or division, there was addition, he took on human nature. He became something he had never been before. He became just like us and what Paul was describing is the greatest miracle that's ever taken place in the history of the world.

Now there's some great miracles in the bible. The bible is a miracle-filled book. The creation of the world, miracle. Parting of the Red Sea, miracle. Walking on water, miracle. Coming back from the dead, miracle. Shopping at Christmas and not going into debt, miracle. A lot of miracles, some in the Bible, some not in the Bible but the greatest miracle that has ever happened or ever will happen is the inconceivable. The God that spoke and a world came into existence, became just like me, became just like you. Flesh and blood and corpuscles and veins and see, that's why Jesus is not just a man among men. He's not just first among equals, he's not even the greatest of the great.

Let me put it to you this way. If you could've gone back 2,000 years and you could've met Jesus and you had taken the fingerprints of Jesus, you would have had the fingerprints of God. If you had taken the DNA of Jesus, you would have found the DNA of God. Think about a year ago, Therese and I did the ancestry test, how many of y'all done the ancestry test? How many of you have not done the ancestry test? Don't be afraid, really, you never know what you're gonna find. I found out I was part Scandinavian, I didn't even know that. But we took this ancestry test. If Jesus had taken the ancestry test, he would've had one ancestor, it was God. He was always fully God, he was not just a man among men but the other thing that jumps out about Jesus is this. Paul says, "Rather he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant being made in human likeness".

In other words, here's what happened. Jesus not only came and said I tell you what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna get on the ladder of humanity just like you. But I'm gonna start out on the lowest rung. I'm gonna go as low as I can go. I'm gonna take the form of a servant and we kind of cleaned that word up because the Greek word there is the word for slave. And see, one of the things the disciples never really got figured out until after the resurrection, they finally came to believe, you know what? We believe you're the guy, we believe you're the messiah we believe you're the guy the prophets have been talking about. We believe you're the one that we've been looking for but here was the problem. But lord, you're just like us.

As a matter of fact, you're poorer than we are. You didn't come as a conquering, reigning, honored king. You don't have royal blood flowing through your veins evidently. We thought that when you came, you'd be surrounded with servants but you are a servant. He said that's right, I took the form of a slave. What did he mean, because slaves own nothing. One thing's sure about a slave, a slave doesn't own anything. Have you ever thought about this? Jesus never owned anything. Think about it, he borrowed everything. He borrowed a place to be born. He borrowed places to sleep. He borrowed a boat to cross the Sea of Galilei. He borrowed a donkey to ride into town. He borrowed a room to have his last meal. He even had to borrow a tomb to be buried in. He didn't have anything at all and yet we're told, even though he became a slave, he was made in human likeness and that word, likeness means to be exactly like what it appears to be.

So in other words, Jesus was not a clone, Jesus was not God in disguise, he was not a facsimile of a human being, he was a real flesh and blood human, just like you and just like me but all of this begs a big question that I would think you oughta be asking yourself at some time or another: Why did he do that? Why in the world would Jesus, the son of God, leave the glory of heaven to come to Earth as the son of man? Why would he do that? Why would he leave a throne as a king and come to Earth as a slave, why would he do that? Why would he leave a place where he is exalted and worshiped to come to a place where he would be executed and worked over.

Well that's the second part of the doxology of Christmas. Because not only should we be thoughtful that Jesus identified with us, we ought to be thankful that Jesus was crucified for us. Because I want you to notice what Paul does. Jesus, I want you to think about this. Jesus is the only person that's ever been born that didn't have to die. I've got news for all of us in this room. Number one, you're gonna die. I know that's not news to some of you but just in case, I'm not trying to be morbid, I'm just telling you the truth, you are going to die. And it's even worse, you don't have a choice. You're gonna die, I'm gonna die, sooner or later, some sooner some later but sooner or later unless Jesus returns first, we are all going to die. We have to die, we don't have a choice, we're gonna die. Jesus didn't have to die. He's the only human being who came to planet Earth and it was born so he could die.

So Paul says this, And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient not to life but to death, even death on a cross. Now when Paul says he humbled himself, you see that little phrase? When I read that, I go, you talk about an understatement. Yeah, he humbled himself. He went from sitting on a throne to lying in a manger to hanging on a tree. He went from being a king with a crown to a baby with diapers to a falsely accused criminal on the cross. So I'm asking you the question again: Why would he do that? Nobody made him do it, you're gonna see this in a moment, he wasn't forced to do it, nobody paid him to do it.

Why in the world did he do that? Let me tell you why, because your soul was more important than his life. Because your eternal life was more important than his earthly life. Because your place in heaven was more important than his place in heaven. In other words, he gave up his place so you could have your place. He gave up his place, so you could have your place. He gave up his life so you could have life. There's no other explanation for that. The one person that had the right to demand his rights gave up his rights for us and not one time did he ever play the God card, not one time did he ever say, I can't believe you're treating me like this. I can't believe you just slapped me in the face. I can't believe you put that crown of thorns on my head. I can't believe you've beaten me black and blue. I can't believe you're about to nail me to the cross. Do you know who I am? Not one time did he ever play the God card. Not once, he humbled himself, now listen, by obeying God to the point of death.

I want you to understand this, this is so important. It says he became obedient, well what does that mean? He died out of obedience. God the Father never said to him, you're gonna die for the world. God the Father never commanded him. God the Father never compelled him. God the Father never forced him, here's the way it worked. The Father goes to the Son and he says, son, would you leave the glory of heaven and go to the grief of Earth, he said yes. God the Father said son, will you go to Earth and die for the sins that they committed? He said yes, he didn't force death, he didn't coerce death. It was the Father's will that he died but it was his decision to carry out the Father's will. Listen, people think, well the Roman soldiers forced him, the Roman soldiers overpowered him.

Let me give you a thought. The Roman soldiers didn't overpower him. He said no man can take my life from me, my life belongs to me, no man can take it from me. Listen, you know why Jesus went to the cross? Listen, this is one I've never even heard before, so I hope it's right. The Roman soldiers didn't overpower Jesus so he would go to the cross. Jesus overpowered the Roman soldiers and allowed them to take him to the cross. He did it voluntarily, he did it willingly, he did it sacrificially but here's the point that Paul was making. You cannot separate the cradle from the cross. You cannot separate the birth of Jesus from the death of Jesus. In other words, without the incarnation, the crucifixion would have been meaningless, he's just another guy that died and the resurrection would have never happened. But God becomes a human being, not just to live with us but to die for us. It was as a man that Jesus died but it was as God that he died for us.

So in other words, the cradle without the cross is ineffective or incomplete and the cross without the cradle is ineffective. So Paul says listen, I want you to understand something. Yeah he died but he didn't just die. Then he adds this, he died even the death on a cross. He wants us to understand, when Jesus died, he wasn't in some nice, soft hospital room, surrounded by his friends and family, weeping and crying, telling him what a great man that he was and how sweet he was and how great it was that they got to know him, he said no, no, no. He died on a cross, which to this day experts in dying will tell you is still the worst form of torturous death you could imagine. It is still to this day the most cruel, excruciatingly painful and shameful form of execution we've ever come up with in the mind of man. It was such a low form of death, it was reserved for slaves and the worst of criminals.

If you are a Roman citizen, you wouldn't be crucified. You might be stoned to death, you might be beheaded. You wouldn't be crucified because you know what, we don't care what you've done, we don't care if you've raped, we don't care if you've murdered, we don't care what you have done, you're a Roman citizen, we're not gonna even subject you to this and yet the son of God died even the death on a cross. And the reason again why that's mind boggling is before you and I were even created, before the sun ever shined or the moon ever glowed, or one wave ever hit a beach, Jesus was at the top of the organizational chart of the universe. He was God but at the end of his life, he wasn't just a servant, he was a savior dying on the cross and yet even on the cross, when they said to him, come down and save yourself. I can't because if I come down, you won't be saved.

Even on the cross, never pulled rank. Even on the cross, never asked to be first in line, never demanded his rights. Right, he leveraged what he was and it leveraged the power that he had for the good of others and the glory of God. That's when you really begin to unwrap not Christmas gifts. When you really begin to unwrap the gift of Christmas, you start realizing, wait a minute, it hit me. Christmas is not just what Jesus did for us. Christmas is also what we can do for him. Because what Christmas tells us is this. You know the way you live your life is the way I need to live my life. And by the way, that's why Paul starts all of this passage off with this verse. He says In your relationships with one another, so let me stop right there, think of all the relationship that you have. Your family, your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers, your enemies, people who like you, people who don't, strangers, he said in all of your relationships, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.

What was that mindset? Jesus spent all of his life doing two simple things. Just two, obeying God and serving others. That's what he did, every morning when he got up, lord I'm here today to obey you and serve others. Obey you, serve others, obey you, serve others and so should we. No, we're not God but we can be gracious, like God. No we're not heavenly but we can humble like Jesus was. No we're not sovereigns but we can be servants like the son of God. And if you unwrap the gift of Christmas and you begin to see the Christmas doxology and you really understand what Christmas is all about, you know what will happen to you? You'll start thinking like Jesus thinks and living like Jesus lives, talking like Jesus talks. Walking like Jesus talks, treating other people the way Jesus would treat other people. That's why Christmas is not just a season where you get gifts.

Christmas, if you understand it, is a life-changing day. It is life-changing event because here's the last thing I wanna share with you. When you are thoughtful that Jesus identified with us, man he became one of us, he became just like me. And then you're thankful that man, he didn't just come to live like me, he came to die for me, I'm thankful he was crucified for me. But that's not where the Christmas story ends. We still have to be mindful that Jesus is magnified over us. He identified with us, he was crucified for us but he's magnified over us. This is my favorite part of this whole deal. It's great that we celebrate the baby in the cradle, I wanna make sure you hear that, okay?

I love Christmas, you should love Christmas, I thank God for Christmas. Jesus is probably talked about more, maybe except for Easter but he's certainly talked about longer, Jesus is probably talked about and sung about more at Christmas than any other time of the year. I love the baby in the cradle story, I thank God for it. We oughta be grateful for the savior who died on the cross. We oughta rejoice that Jesus came back from the dead, that's all great, that's all wonderful but if you really wanna unwrap the gift of Christmas, you can't leave Jesus in a cradle, you can't even leave Jesus on a cross, you can't even leave Jesus in a cave. You've gotta get him off of one, out of the other, you've gotta put him back on the throne, where he belongs. And that's why Paul reaches the climax of everything he says with these words, he says, Therefore, that word's important, we'll come back to it in a minute, "therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name".

Now I've told you this before, whenever you come to the word therefore, there's a question you should always ask, remember what that question is? What is that therefore there for? let's say that together, what is that therefore, there for? Okay, got it, so therefore, stop right there. Whenever you read the word therefore, the biblical writer's saying all right, wait a minute, before you read anything else, what did I just say to you, what did you just read? What did I just tell you? Okay, all right, therefore. In light of the fact that God left heaven, came to Earth and he didn't just go low, he went to the lowest. He will wind up elevated to and exalted as the highest and then Paul says, here's what God the Father has done for God the Son. He has given this man Jesus, he's given him a name which is above every name.

Now, it's not the name Jesus that's above every name. I've told you before, there are a lot of little boys running around with the name Jesus, it was a common, every day, ordinary name. The name that's been given to Jesus that is above every other name, is the name Lord. Jesus is his earthly name, Lord is his eternal name. Jesus is his human name, Lord is his heavenly name. As Jesus, he is our redeemer but as Lord, he is our ruler. He was born as a human, so he could relate to us. He died as a savior so he could redeem us but he was raised as a lord to rule over us and then kind of to drive the point home, Paul says by the way, do you wanna know how the whole world, one day is gonna respond to Jesus? He said okay, here we go, "That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth".

So Jesus, this is what Paul says, he says one day, you're gonna do something that none of us really want to do or like to do but we do occasionally. When you bow to someone, you're surrendering to them. When you wanna honor someone or exalt someone, or elevate someone and lift them up, you bow before them. When I proposed to Theresa, almost, it's been 42 years ago. When I proposed to Theresa, she's only three but when I proposed to Theresa 42 years ago, I remember where I was. I got on my knee and I proposed to her. I was elevating her, I was lifting up her, lifting her up, I was really, I was surrendering to her, I didn't realize at the time but I surrender, okay? Really, I was elevating her, I was lifting her up and Paul doesn't mince any words, he says every knee in heaven, whether it be angels or spirits, every knee around us, every knee above us, every knee around us, believers, unbelievers, every knee beneath us, devil or demons, every knee is going to bow and they're going to surrender to the lordship of Jesus.

And then to really put the nail in the coffin he says oh, by the way, it won't be done in a closet, it won't be done secretly, it won't be done silently, he says, every tongue will acknowledge that "Jesus Christ is lord to the glory of God the Father". Now every tongue, you know what that means in the Greek language, can I tell you? It means every tongue. it means every atheistic tongue and every agnostic tongue and every Muslim tongue and every Buddhist tongue and every angelic tongue and every demonic tongue and every human tongue is going to confess four words, Jesus Christ is Lord. So let's just practice, since we're gonna be doing it, let's just rehearse, okay, everybody ready? Jesus Christ is Lord.

Now let's say it like we really mean it. Jesus Christ is lord. You better get used to that. You may say well I don't believe it. That's okay, one day you will. You may say well I don't like to say it. That's okay, one day you will. You may say but I'll do it against my will. That's okay, you will, doesn't matter. Every knee's going to confess that Jesus Christ is lord and at that point and only until that point the round trip of Christmas will have been completed. That baby, I get chill bumps right now thinking about that, that baby that was crying in a cradle, that man that was dying on a cross will be back where he was always should have been in eternity reigning on a throne, just where everything started. But then Paul adds something that we kinda blow over. He said it will be done to the glory of the Father.

Now you say well, doc, why's that such a big deal? I mean okay, it's gonna be done to the glory of the Father, to the glory of God the Father, so what's your point? Here's where the drum roll comes in, okay? If you're in a movie, this is the climactic scene. The purpose of this entire universe, the purpose of all of history, the purpose of the entire world, the purpose of your life and the purpose of my life is to bring glory to God the Father. Yeah, go ahead and clap. I really don't care how much money you make. I really don't care what kind of a house you live in I really don't care what kind of a car you drive, I really don't care what kind of a title you have, I really don't care if you've got so many degrees from so many schools you look like a thermometer, I really don't care.

If you're not living your life for the glory of God the Father, you're living a wasted life. The only purpose you were born, was to bring glory to God the Father. The only purpose you're here right now is to bring glory to God the Father. The only real purpose of Christmas is to bring glory to God the Father and when you fully unwrap the gift of Christmas, then you'll understand Christmas is not primarily about giving Christmas gifts to each other, it is primarily about giving God the glory for his gift of Christmas to us. See, I'm gonna tell you something I bet you didn't know, go ahead, clap again. I tell you something I bet you didn't know, it's kinda interesting.

My son Jonathan's here by the way, one of my best friends in the world, a son I'm so proud of but one of the things you don't know, he edits all of my sermons, okay? And I love him but he's ruthless. No mercy, he forgets I'm his Dad, no respect, I'm Rodney Dangerfield, no respect and he really helps me out, he really, really does. But the reason I say that is, I said something in the message and whenever I say something he goes, huh I didn't know that, I thought that's gonna be cool, 'cause he's a brilliant guy. Well I didn't know what#s the last story of this message. When you read the bible, you'll come to the birth of Jesus.

After you leave Matthew 1 and Luke 1 and 2, it's interesting. There are no other recorded births in scripture. You don't read about any other baby being born. Tell you something else, you read Matthew 1 and you read Luke 1 and you read about the genealogy of Jesus, the family tree of Jesus, right? Not unusual, the Old Testament's full of 'em. You can't go like five chapters in the Bible before you start reading about this guy beget this guy, just all this begetting was going on. But once you get past the genealogy of Jesus, guess what? No more genealogies, no more family trees.

You say why is that, I'll tell you why. It was the biblical writer's way of saying you better really study this birth, because there's never been a birth like this birth. There's never been a baby like this baby. There was never a birth Him like His, there will never be a birth like his after his birth. He was unlike any other baby, unlike any other birth because this birth brought the creator who created the world into the world he created so he could become just like us. So we put our faith in him, we could become just like him. What a Christmas gift, what a Christmas gift that one day, I'm gonna be just like the one that created me.

So, I close with a story you're gonna find hard to believe. In fact when I read it, I still find it hard to believe. There was a great plastic surgeon who lived many years ago, his name was Dr. Maxwell Maltz. And he tells this true, remarkable story about a man who was injured in a fire while attempting to save his parents. His parent's house caught on fire, he was trying to save his parents, unfortunately he was not able to do it, they died. But in the process, his face was totally, permanently disfigured by the fire. It was so terrible, it was so bad that not only did he not want anybody seeing him, somehow he got it in his mind that because of the life he lived in the past, it was God's way of punishing him.

And so when he got out of the hospital, he went home, locked himself basically in his bedroom door. He wouldn't let anybody, not even his wife, he wouldn't even let his wife see him, nobody. He was going down and he was depressed. Basically, he'd become a hermit. So his wife had heard about this plastic surgeon, Dr. Maltz, world renowned plastic surgeon. Happened to live in the city where he lived and so she made an appointment and went to see him and when she walked in he noticed, "Well ma'am, you don't need plastic surgery" she says, "Well that's not why I'm here" and so she says, "Let me tell you what happened" and so she went in and she said, "can you help my husband"? And he said, "Well I think I can, as a matter of fact" he said, "I work with people like this all the time and I think I can restore his face or he'd be willing to see you and see other people".

Well, she said, "No that won't work" and he says, "Well, why not?" she said, "Well he won't see you, he won't see me he won't see the children, he won't see his neighbors, he won't see anybody, I have to push his food under the table, I mean under the door. He never comes out of the bedroom, he will not see you". He said, "Well okay, why did you come see me?" she said, "Well I hear you're the greatest plastic surgeon in the world". He said, "Well, I'm good". She said, "Okay, I wanna ask you to do something for me". "So well sure, what can I do for you?". She said, "I want you to disfigure my face" and he said, "What"? She said, "I want you to make my face to look just like his, because if I will look like him, and hurt like him, maybe he'll let me back into his life".

Well Dr. Maxwell Maltz, he was stunned and of course he refused, he said, "Ma'am, I'm sorry, I can't do that" but he said "You really love your husband that much"? she says, "Oh, I really do". He got a piece of paper, said, "Where do you live"? she says, "Why"? He says, "Where do you live"? he wrote down her address. He said, "Do you mind when my officer hours are over today, can I come by your house"? Well why, well I wanna see your husband. Well he won't, lemme just see your husband. So sure to his word, as soon as his office hours over, he drove to her house, he walked in, she let him in, he walked to the bedroom door, he knocked on the door, he said, "Sir my name is Maxwell Maltz, I'm a plastic surgeon and I want you to know I can restore your face, I can fix you where you'll be able to see people again and people will not be bothered and it will be a wonderful thing".

There was no response, he knocked on the door again, he says "Sir, look, I've driven all the way out here, just at least let me talk to you, just as a doctor to a patient". Wouldn't come out, so the doctor thought about it for a moment and he said, "Sir, let me just tell you what your wife has done". he said, "She wants me to disfigure her face to make her face like your face so you'll let her back into your life. That is how much she loves you. Would you just come out and talk to me"? And after a few seconds of silence, the doorknob began to turn and the man came out.

And I read that story and I thought to myself the love that woman had for her husband was just a fraction of how much God loves us. Because God didn't just make the offer, he did it. He disfigured his face, he got down in the mud and the slime and the dirt and the filth of life that we are in every single day. He took the slings, he took the arrows, he took the beatings, he took the ridicule, he took the betrayal, he took the denial, he took the disappointment, he took the hurt, he took the heartache and he became just like us. He said, I'm gonna suffer just like you suffer and I'm gonna die just like you have to die because I love you so much and I wanna live with you forever so badly, I'm gonna take on your life so you can live with me. That is Christmas doxology, that is Christmas unwrapped. Merry Christmas.
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