CHRISTMAS DAY 2018†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Hebrews 2:14-18
14Since the children
have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he
might break the power of him who holds the power of deathóthat is, the deviló 15and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by
their fear of death. 16For surely it is
not angels he helps, but Abrahamís descendants. 17For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in
every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful
Christmas Cancels Satanís Checkmate
ďCheckmateĒÖif you are a chess player those are dreadful words to hear from your opponent.† Checkmate means your king is trapped with no way out and no available cover from opposing game pieces.† It means game over.† You lose.
Shortly after the creation of the world a cosmic chess game was initiated when Satan and legions of evil angels turned against God.† They attempted to overthrow God but were defeated.† Since he is a just God, the Lord banished Satan from heaven and created the gloomy dungeons of hell for him and his followers.† But Satan wasnít ready to throw in the towel in his struggle against God.† He turned against mankind.† Adam and Eve, along with the whole earth were pure and free from sin.† They existed in harmony with God and therefore in harmony with each other.
Cloaking himself in the form of a snake, Satan, challenged the truth of Godís words. †He seeded doubt in the minds of Adam and Eve, and succeeded in turning their hearts against God.† The fruit of the forbidden tree between their teeth was proof of it.† That was Satanís checkmate moment.† He had succeeded in winning a victory against God.† There was no way out for mankind or God.† ďIn the day you eat of it you will surely dieĒ (Genesis 2:16). Those were Godís own words.† If God were to ignore them, he would deny himself and become corrupt like Satan.† If God remained true to himself, Satan would take all mankind to hell with him as a trophy of his victory against God.
Adam and all his descendants would live hopelessly in the fear and dread of death, of being fully and permanently cut off from God and every form of his love.† The sunshine is a form of Godís love.† In hell there is only darkness. †On earth we have moments of happiness with family and friends.† In hell there is only weeping and gnashing of teeth. †There was no way out for Adam and Eve.† There was no other option for God but to condemn themógame over.† Right???
Not so fast.† God still had one move in mind.† One that would turn the table on Satan and flip our destiny from death to life and darkness to light.† So, what was Godís brilliant, strategic move?† ďI will put enmity between you and the woman, between your offspring and hers.† He will crush your head and you will strike his heelĒ (Genesis 3:15).
The writer to the Hebrews puts flesh on the bones of Godís grand strategy for us.† ďSince the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of deathóthat is, the devilÖFor this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way.Ē† The seed of the woman God promised Adam and Eve and the one our lesson says ďshared our humanityĒ are the same personóJesus.† Both verses are speaking of Jesusí conception and birth.† Godís plan was to have his eternally begotten Son in whom all the fulness of the deity lives take into his person our human nature.† He took on flesh and blood.† He shared our humanity.† He became fully human.† He did it to cleanse our filthy, scummy records of sin.
On the farm your nose and your eyes will tell you from a safe distance the chicken coup needs cleaning.† But if you actually want to clean the chicken coup, you will inevitably end up wearing some of what youíre shoveling.† In order to cleanse humanity of sin, our Savior had to wear our sin.† He had to wear all the blame, all the shame and all the pain. †But God canít wear sin any more than an adult elephant can wear your shirt and pants.† Jesus became fully human, so as our high priest he could wear all the guilt of all humanity and make atonementóthat he might satisfy Godís death sentence against sinners and give God the holy life he expects from us all.† At the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden, Satan shouted his checkmate at God.† At the tree on Golgotha where Jesus died, God shouted the victory is mine.† This was Godís genius strategy. In this way God could be true to himself and not lose you and me to Satan. Christmas cancelled Satanís checkmate along with our slavery to the fear of death.
But for us who are still alive on earth the chess game isnít over.† Jesus has already worn our sin and satisfied Godís just demand for holiness and payment.† But this gift, this victory is only ours through faith in Jesus.† ďWhoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of Godís one and only SonĒ (John3:18).† Satan knows this.† So, the only move left to him is to keep those who donít believe locked in unbelief and to tempt believers to doubt Godís victory and give up their faith.
Satan tempts us to abuse Godís promises by putting him to the test.† When life is sailing along smoothly, Satan tempts us to think the credit is ours, not Godís.† When we suffer the earthly consequences for our sins, Satan whispers you are so evil, not even God will forgive you. †How can we win this chess game against Satan?† ďBecause he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.Ē† Since, Jesus shares our flesh and blood he knows hunger, physical pain, and pleasure.† As the One who successfully countered all of Satanís moves, Jesus is able to help us counter all of Satanís temptations.† In his word he assures us, ďas far as the east is from the west, so far he has removed our transgressions from usĒ (Psalm 103:12).† In our baptism and the Lordís Supper he impresses this truth on our hearts.† Through the examples of the thief on the cross and the conversion of the apostle Paul recorded in Scripture, Godís love for all sinners is clear.
Some of you may remember the Minnesota Miracle from this past January.† The Minnesota Vikings were down by one point to the New Orleans Saints.† The final seconds of the game were ticking off the clockt as Case Keenum threw a deep pass to Stefon Diggs.† But the pass wasnít to the end zone.† With two defenders near him it appeared he would surely be tackled or pushed out of bounds to end the game.† But the defensive player missed.† What looked like a sure defeat became a surprising victory.
We have something better than and more improbable than the Minnesota Miracle.† We have the Christmas miracle. †Godís Son sharing our humanity is proof Godís game is superior to Satanís.† Christmas means Satanís checkmate is cancelled.† In Christ we are not Satanís pawns in his struggle against God.† In Christ we are examples of God wondrous love and unsurpassed wisdom.† Because Jesus shared our humanity and atoned for our sins, we are literally brothers and sisters of the Son of God.† We are sons and daughters of the Most High.† That adds up to victory for God and everlasting life for you and me.† Merry Christmas!!† Amen.