Scripture: Luke 1: 67-80
The music of Christmas often brings back happy memories. But instead of only looking back, we should also be looking ahead. Looking forward to all of God’s promises fulfilled.
Through the four weeks of advent – or waiting, we are exploring a Christmas Playlist from the familiar Gospel of Luke. These may not be the songs we regularly sing, but these first songs of Christmas are meant to make us think. They are meant to change us as they ask and answer four important questions about Christmas. Last Sunday in Mary’s song we asked What is God like? Today, In Zechariah’s song we will ask Why do you need God? In the Angel’s song we will ask How did God come? And in Simeon’s song, How did God do it?
A Visit with A Purpose
When the Father sent his Son the Messiah to the world he visited with a purpose. God, the creator, came to the earth He created. He didn’t just come to look around and see what was going on. He didn’t come for the good food or fellowship. He came to redeem his people. Redeem means to pay for something to be freed. Back in Israel’s history, when they were slaves in Egypt, God provided a way for his people to be saved and redeemed. When each family sacrificed a perfect lamb all in the house were saved from the judgment of death. And they were redeemed or bought from Egypt. They were free from slavery.
That redemption was a picture of the future lamb of God – the promised Messiah. In verse 77, Zechariah speaks of the Lord coming to bring salvation and forgiveness of sins. The Lord was not coming to free his people from Rome but to free them from sin. Today, we are still in the same need of freedom and forgiveness of sin.
“Sin is essentially me putting myself where God deserves to be – in the place of authority and majesty, running my own life, charting my own course.”
– Alistair Begg
Spoiled and Separated
Sin is not just a few bad habits we are trying to kick. If I asked you for the main problems in the world today, or even in our country. You might say extreme poverty. Lack of education. Racial injustices. Or maybe lack of self-esteem and worth. If those are the main problems, then why do the wealthy, prosperous and famous still feel empty? Why are suicides rising? Why haven’t we solved all of these problems with more government program and of course with all the science?
Sin is our greatest problem. When we choose our way instead of God’s way, it causes alienation from others. It causes brokenness and abuse. It causes conflict between nations, between people, and even in our own hearts. The lies we tell. The anger we display. The envy and bitterness that eat us up. Sin spoils me and everyone around me. And it separates us from each other.
But while this spoiling and separation is devastating personally, the most serious affect of my sin is that it cripples my ability to know God and to live with God. I am separated from God – today and for eternity.
Our sin separates us from God with the result of an eternity of suffering under God’s righteous judgment of sin in hell – a place of darkness, pain, and evil.
Someone has to Pay
God does not wink at sin or ignore the spoiling and separation it causes. He cares about the devastation effects sin has on his people and his creation. He cares when people reject his authority and choose to do whatever they want. His perfect justice calls for payment for all sin. Just like loving caring parents will not ignore their children’s willful disobedience and the harm it brings to themselves and others, God, as our perfect heavenly Father, must address and punish sin.
The problem is we cannot pay the price for our own sin. God’s word says all of our good deeds amount to a pile of dirty rags compared to his righteousness. We simply can’t measure up to his standard or do anything to remove our own sin. But someone has to pay. Who can do this?
Again, in verse 77, Zechariah sang the Lord will come to forgive their sins. He has visited us to redeem us – to pay the cost of our sins and free us from God’s just punishment. We can know God, we can be at peace with him, we can live with him forever.
A Question of Definition
The heart of the Good News of Christmas is understanding our predicament. Unless we properly define sin we won’t understand why we need God or why Jesus came to earth. We have to define sin in God’s terms not our own. In his book, Begg refers to a survey asking Americans to define sin. Only seventeen percent of us said anything about God in that definition. Eighty-three percent saw sin as something negative that had an impact in their life. It’s something they need to clean up. With that definition of sin, people will not see a need for a Savior. They will not understand the need for Jesus to come to earth at that first Christmas. Sin is missing God’s standard of righteousness. Even though my sin may impact others and hurt me, my sin is against God first and foremost.
Now can you answer the question “Why Do You Need God” ?
Why do we need God? Why do we celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas?
God was visiting his people. He came to live in the neighborhood. To free people from their sin. To redeem them from slavery to sin. To bring peace on earth between people and their God. I need God because I can’t pay for my own sin.