Christmas 1
December 31, 2000
Hebrews 2:10-18
"There's No Other Way"

 +++

Introduction:  In our Epistle lesson for this morning we come to the heart of the Christmas message, which is the doctrine of the Incarnation. The Incarnation is not some dusty old doctrine. It has meaning for each of us every day. It is important for us as we say farewell to 2000 and as we will greet a New Year tomorrow. What does the Incarnation at Christmas mean for us today, December 31, 2000? Christmas means that God has identified Himself with us. The author of the Hebrews tells us why this was all necessary. There was no other way for God to reconcile the world to Himself unless His Son was to step into time and space.  This morning the author of the Hebrews reminds us that there was no other way, except becoming fully man, for God in Christů

1.         To overcome death for mankind. V. 14  "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood he also himself likewise took part of the same that through death he might destroy him that has the power of death, that is, the devilů

We are each born a sinner. As sinners we will each leave this world in death. "The soul that sins it will die" the Bible tells us.  "For the wages of sin is death" We all know this. In the past year we have stood at the open grave of many near and dear friends of ours. The miracle of Christmas is that Jesus came into this world taking on our flesh.

He is the eternal God, yet He chooses to become human. He willingly took up His life and laid it down only to take it up again. Jesus came into this world as a human at Christmas because it was a human who would have to die.  He died in our place. His death was a real and physical death. Because of Christmas we will not have to face death alone.

Christ has already died for us. Death is no longer a punishment. It is now our entrance from this world into the world that has no end. Our entrance into heaven was all made possible when Jesus broke into time and space to take on flesh.  He came to our world with the expressed purpose of laying down His life for you and for me. As we have celebrated Christmas this year we have the assurance that if death would come to us in the next year it will not be a condemnation but an entrance to life. Because of Christmas we have the guarantee that death is our entrance into glory.    Jesus became humanů

2.         To remove sin from mankind V. 17  "In all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

Jesus came as our great high priest. The priest was essential for the very life of the people of the Hebrews. To approach God you needed a priest. To have your sins forgiven you needed a priest. To hear God's voice you needed a priest.  And now comes Jesus: "Draw nigh and take the body of the Lord, and drink the holy blood for you outpoured offered was He for greatest and for least. Himself the victim and Himself the priest" {TLH #307 stanza 1}

Understand these words! "In things pertaining to God to make reconciliation for the sins of the people" Jesus became our great high priest! To approach God you have Jesus - your great high priest!  To have your sins forgiven you now have Jesus - your great high priest!  To hear God's voice you now have Jesus - your great high priest!  "In all things" Jesus was a faithful great high priest.  There is now peace on earth a good will to men. God and man are reconciled! In Jesus Christ all sin is forgiven - period! Throughout this past year and every day of the New Year your great high priest Jesus will be offering Himself for you and for many to bring your life and salvation. This is His guarantee to you and it all happened at Christmas when Jesus entered our world when He entered time and space!  Jesus became humanů

3.         To help mankind in his temptation V. 18 " For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted he is able to succor them that are tempted."

We are still tempted by the devil, by the pull of the world, and by our own sinful flesh.  Christmas was last week. Does that mean that you won't be tempted any more?  Do you think that the devil will talk a sabbatical in the year 2001?  Hardly!  The same temptations we faced this past week, we'll face next week.  The same temptations we faced in 2000 will be there, waiting for us in 2001. The greatest of intentions, the sincerest of New Year's resolutions will not be sufficient for us to fight the devil, the world and our flesh.

For this reason we need someone who's faced temptation and conquered.  Jesus, He's been there, He's done that.  He was tempted and He came out victorious. He was approached by the Devil and succeeded. He withstood every temptation and came our victorious. Because of His victory He is able to comfort and strengthen us when we are tempted.  That's the assurance we have entering a New Year no matter what circumstances we will face. We'll face those temptations together with Christ going before us, fighting our fight, winning for us, giving us the spoils of victory.

Conclusion:  For what reason did Jesus become human. He became human at Christmas to conquer death, the remove our sin, and resist temptation. And what's more He hasn't left us!  He's still here. He remains with us in His Word and Sacraments to sustain us. We might not be able to see Him with the naked eye but He is just as near and just as real as He ever has been. At Christmas Jesus came to this earth and He has chosen to stay!  May He continue to abide with you today, tomorrow, and for the rest of your life.