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Listen in as JP discusses the interruption of hope in our lives. Hope interrupts the lives of sinners. This hope, the anxious anticipation of what you most want, is available to all of us in light of Christmas and the birth of Christ.
The Valley Between The Christmases: Hope Has Come and is Coming
The Coming: Part 1
"Long lay the world in sin and error pining." I wonder how many of us would answer correctly on a quiz what pining means. It's a word synonymous with longing or hoping. In sin and error we're longing and hoping for an interruption, something to course-correct this thing. That song was written by Placide Cappeau in France in 1847, and it was banned in all of France shortly thereafter when he left the faith, but the song did not die because of its intense message of hope, a hope that all of us long for deep within.
It continued to carry on. People would sing it even year round. So much so that over 20 years later, in 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War, German and British soldiers faced each other, aiming to kill each other. It was cold. In a lull of gunfire, one of the soldiers began to sing "O Holy Night," and it caught on and spread throughout the foxholes. It led to an interruption of battle, an interruption of hope, a cease-fire for 24 hours.
We love this song because of this message of hope. In fact, did you know that the union soldiers sung this song year round, specifically this line, "Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother, and in his name all oppression shall cease"? Did you know that in 1906 one of Thomas Edison's colleagues was experimenting with a machine, one that would later go on to be called the radio, and he had interrupted the airwaves…
Now no one had a radio, so what specifically did he interrupt? The ships that were passing by, their Morse code machines. Over their machines, the first song ever in the history of the world played over the radio was "O Holy Night." These were the first words anyone would ever hear over radio waves:
Truly he taught us to love one another,
His law is love and his gospel is peace.
Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother,
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise his holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise his name forever!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
And he ended with a reading from Luke, chapter 2, verses 10-11. "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord." The first message that ever interrupted radio waves was the Christmas message of hope.
When soldiers were aiming and hoping to kill each other, hoping to win, hoping to survive, hoping to endure the cold, hoping to go home to see their families, a hope interrupted them, the real hope that is within all of them, and the war was interrupted. The radio waves were interrupted with this message of hope.
Two thousand fifteen years ago, thousands of years of prophecy, 400 years of silence were interrupted by the sound of a crying baby in a manger, and that baby was our Savior, Jesus Christ. Some of your lives have been interrupted by the hope he offers. As you came into this room this morning, some of your lives have been interrupted, changed forever by the hope he offers. That's what we're talking about this morning: the interruption of hope.
We're starting a new series called The Coming, which is just based on Advent. Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, which means coming. I don't know if you knew this, but Advent has a double meaning. We celebrate when Christ came for the first time, the first Christmas in Bethlehem, and we wait, we anticipate, we hope, we pine, we long for the second coming of Jesus.
That's what we should have in common this morning as we gather in this room: a longing, a waiting for the second Christmas when Jesus comes back and puts this all back together. At Advent we remember the first Christmas, the first coming of Christ, while we wait for the second coming. We celebrate Christmas past and hope for Christmas future. In this time, I know there are a lot of magical sensations. There are a lot of things going on.
You go by the mall and you see all of the beautiful lights and all of the people and the hustle and bustle that makes this season special, but there is also coexisting with all of that hope and all of that fun and all of that magic, if you will, stress and anxiety and angst and travel plans and asking off. "I'm going to go with my family, then your family, and then we'll get the kids and we'll do this." The interruption of Christmas.
We prepare for the interruption of Christmas, but you can't prepare for an interruption. That makes it not an interruption. An interruption is not something you plan for. An interruption is something that breaks your plans. It changes your plans. This is the interruption of hope we're talking about this morning, and we must get this as followers of Jesus Christ. This is the basis, the very foundation of our faith.
This morning I want to talk about how hope interrupts the lives of sinners like you and me, how hope interrupts the lineage of sinners (the things behind us), and how hope interrupts the legacy of sinners (the things we leave behind). We're going to be in the most exciting text in all of the Scripture. I want you to think about where that is. Am I going to go Luke 2?
The most exciting text in all the Scripture. Maybe Romans 8? Maybe Romans 5? Maybe Philippians 2? Maybe Revelation 19? The most exciting text in all the Scripture. We're going to go genealogy of Jesus in Matthew, chapter 1. All of those names you skip over every year when you begin to read the New Testament. It really is. This is laced with great stories.
Have you ever been on a bumpy road? I'm from the country, so there are a lot of bumpy roads. You have your coffee on your console, and it's bouncing and spilling everywhere because the road is bumpy. The genealogy of Jesus is a bumpy road that leads to Christ. It is filled with these bumpy characters along the way, so we're just going to stop and look at some of those characters. Matthew wrote this, and you must understand why.
This is the only genealogy like it in ancient history. I don't mean the only genealogy of Jesus. The only genealogy like this in ancient history because of what he does. He does some scandalous things. First, he includes women. That would have been unheard of in this time. Second, as he's trying to prove the royalty of Christ, that he is the Messiah you've longed for, he adds all of these shady characters to his genealogy.
He could have chosen anyone in Christ's path. He obviously skipped over a few of them, and he highlights some of the shadiest characters. Why would Matthew do this? Understand his audience. His audience is here, some of you. The older brothers, if you resonated with the message two weeks ago. His audience is a group of self-righteous Jews, people who think they can get to God by their own works, people who think they don't need a Savior, people who are trying to work their way up to God, people who have rejected Jesus because of who he associated with: sinners and tax collectors.
Matthew writes to them and goes, "Hey, let me show you who this Jesus is. Oh, the King you've been waiting for? Let me just show you some things about his family. Really interesting character." Now why would Matthew do that? The answer is in Matthew 9. This happened. It was a real-life occurrence. It happened before Matthew wrote chapter 1. Jesus gets off a boat in Capernaum, and he's walking along the way, and he heals a paralytic man.
He says, "Your sins are forgiven." The Pharisees say, "You can't tell somebody their sins are forgiven. Who do you think you are?" He goes, "Okay, check this out. Get up and walk. How about that?" The man gets up, and with joy he walks. When you get off a boat, there's going to be a tax collector's booth there. You would pay a port tax. The Jews hated the tax collectors. We have to understand why.
These tax collectors would steal money from them and give money to the Roman government, which would fund the killing and torture of their peers and neighbors. They had seen their friends hanging on crosses, lit on fire, that this tax collector helped fund. Jesus walks to one of the most hated men in that area in this tax collector's booth and says, "Follow me." That man's name was Matthew.
Have you ever wondered why Jesus hung out with tax collectors? Because his best friend was one. The tax collectors hung out with each other. The reason Jesus was always with tax collectors is because Matthew, his boy, is a tax collector. Jesus goes up to this man who has this great job (meaning, he's making a lot of money) and says, "Follow me." Do you know what he says? He says, "Okay, I'll follow you." I'll read it to you.
Matthew 9:9: "As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. 'Follow me,' he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him." Parenthetically it says, "He said, 'Okay.'" No, it doesn't say that. "While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples."
Why? Because there's a celebration. There was repentance. Matthew is like, "Okay, I'm going to follow you. You're giving me hope. Hey, everybody gather around the table. All my tax collector boys, come on. Let's hang out. I met a man who gave me hope. I want you to meet him." He came and ate with his disciples.
"When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, 'Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?' On hearing this, Jesus said, 'It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'"
Jesus came into the world to interrupt the lives of sinners with hope. Matthew's life, as he sat in his tax collector's booth and made all this money… He had a lot of things, but he lacked hope. Jesus shows up and gives him hope, and he follows him, and the whole entire trajectory of his life is changed. What did this look like for Matthew? Did he just start going to church then? He's like, "Okay, I met hope. I guess on Sunday I'll go to church. I'm going to buy a Bible, and I'll read it some mornings." No. Who he followed changed. Where he went, what he did, how he talked changed.
1._ Hope interrupts the lives of sinners. Jesus came to interrupt the lives of sinners. Said otherwise, he came to save us. Matthew, though he made good money, lacked hope. Hope interrupts the lives of sinners. What is hope? How would you define it? _Hope is the anxious anticipation of what you want most. It's such a great word for Christmas. I love Christmas. I've always loved Christmas.
I was the youngest of four kids. What that meant is Christmastime… We couldn't even wait till Christmas. We opened presents on Christmas Eve. Every Christmas Eve morning, that was our family's tradition. Being the youngest of four, what that meant for me is I didn't sleep that night. I don't know if you have kids like this or have seen kids like this or you were a kid like this. I didn't sleep that night.
I would get up out of bed at 5:30. I would run into the living room, and I'd see the glowing lights of the Christmas tree. I'd see the presents that had been set there that night, and I would wake up all of my siblings at 5:30 in the morning. "You've got to get up! Santa came! You've got to get up! Hey, get up! Hey, it's time to open presents." That usually meant I'd take a pillow to the head a couple of times. They were throwing pillows at me and whatnot.
On this one particular Christmas morning, what I had hoped for, what I had wanted most in life was a Transformer bike. I loved Transformers, and I wanted a bicycle. I had never seen a Transformer bike. This wasn't necessarily a real thing, but I went to my parents, and I'm like, "I want a Transformer bike. That's what I would like for this Christmas," which really put them in a predicament.
Christmas came, and there are presents under the tree. I went through that whole routine of waking up all of my siblings, and I sat there patiently as they went back to sleep. I just sat there in front of the tree and waited. Could it be my Transformer bike? They eventually got up. You hear stirring, and you're like, "What is that? Oh, it's just mom getting coffee. Hey, everybody get up. There are presents. Who could sleep at a time like this?"
They get up, and we would eventually go to open presents. I would open one, and I'd be grateful, but it wasn't a Transformer bike. I'd open the next and be grateful and thankful, but it wasn't a Transformer bike. As this went on, I grew discouraged. I remember this. I opened the last present and tried to fake gratitude but really was angry. My mom saw this on my face, and she said, "Go look in the garage." Oh man. My eyes got this big. The garage!
I got up, ran to the garage, opened the door, and there it was, glowing. A Transformer bike. I remember I grabbed it by the handlebars, and the grip was still sticky with black. I looked at my hands, and there were these black lines. They tell me it's still wet. It's fresh from Santa's workshop. I was like, "Wow, he did it. It's a Transformer bike." I later found out it was my brother's bike that had been transformed into my bike. A couple of cans of Krylon. I had no idea.
I'm like, "Man, a Transformer bike." It didn't say "Transformers" anywhere. "It's a Transformer bike." That transformation, the way that object brought me joy and hope, is the transformation that happens in the lives of believers. Something old, something broken, something useless or no longer used is repurposed to bring joy and hope in the lives of other people. That's what we do. That's what Matthew did. That's what Matthew is doing as he writes this.
"I have to show you that the King of hope is here. My self-righteous friends, you cannot miss this. You're so busy judging everyone you do not see who he is. Can I show you who this King who is here is? He changed my life. You think it's funny that he eats with sinners? He came from them. His family is full of them. Some of the most scandalous, outrageous sinners sit at his table."
Matthew 1: "This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham…" Matthew starts saying, "Hey, guys, my Jewish friends, remember the Davidic covenant, that this King will come from the line of Judah and the line of David? He's here! Remember the Abrahamic covenant of land, seed, and blessing, that he's going to come from Father Abraham?" He's starting wide. He goes, "He's here! He is before you. He has arrived."
"Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar…" Got some bumps along the way. I'm not sure why God chose Judah. He could have chosen Joseph. Remember good Joseph? He chose Joseph's bro, Judah, the one who threw Joseph in the well. Judah, a real character.
How about Tamar? Do you guys know who Tamar is? Do you mind if I tell you the story? Bear with me here, because this is a great one sitting at Jesus' table. If you have kids here, you might want to earmuff them on this one. Tamar is the wife of one of Judah's sons. Judah has several sons, and one of them gets married to Tamar, but that son dies. In this time, if a son dies, then his brother would have to marry her so the legacy could continue, the lineage could continue.
Well, the problem with that is Judah's sons are dropping like flies, because it says in the Scripture they were wicked. So they're dying off. He has one son left, so what Judah does, being genius… He says to Tamar, "I want you to dress up like a widow, and I want you to wait, and I'm going to see how it goes with this son. He might die too, but we'll see what happens with him. I just want you to go and live your life as a widow the rest of your life. No husband, no kids, unless I say so later on."
That's her lot in life. She dresses up like a widow, and she stays at Judah's house, waiting. Well, Judah's son grows up and leaves the house. Tamar wants what a lot of women want. She wants a family. She longs to have a family, so she does what a lot of us do when there's something we really, really, really want. We pray. No, that's not what she did. She took matters into her own hands. Do you know what she did? Do you guys know the story?
She dressed up like a prostitute and sat on the side of the road. She takes off her widow clothes, puts on the clothes of a prostitute, covers her face, and waits. Not just for anyone. She waits for Judah. Do you remember who Judah is? That's her father-in-law. That's the father to her dead husband. He comes along the road. She seduces him. He says, "Hey, let me sleep with you."
She says, "What are you going to give me?" He says, "How about a goat?" She, being the keen negotiator that she is, goes, "You don't have a goat here. Until you get me a goat, why don't you give me your seal," which would have been a necklace, "and your staff." He said, "Okay, I'm going to give these to you, but I want them back when I bring you a goat."
He gives her a seal and a staff, and he sleeps with her, and guess what happens? She gets pregnant. She gets pregnant with twins, two boys. Well, when Judah, her father-in-law, finds out that this woman who he told to dress up like a widow is pregnant, do you know how he responds? Check this out. Don't miss this. He says, "Bring her here and burn her alive. She's done a detestable thing. She went off and got pregnant? Who would impregnate her? That's my daughter-in-law. You bring her here and set her on fire!"
Tamar said, "Hey, the man who impregnated me? These belong to him." It's Judah's seal and staff. Judah says, "Oh, it was me. Certainly she is more righteous than I." That's who's at Jesus' table. God could have used anybody. He could have brought Christ from anyone. He said, "Give me the incestuous widow who dressed up like a prostitute and seduced her father-in-law. Let me use her."
"…Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab…" Do you guys remember what Rahab's business card says? "Rahab the prostitute." It's all throughout Scripture. "Rahab the prostitute." Her business card says "Rahab." Underneath it says "The prostitute."
She didn't dress up like a prostitute. She didn't one day for Halloween say, "Hey, today I'm going to be a prostitute" or "I'm going to pretend to be a prostitute so I can get what I want." This was her everyday profession. This is what she did for a living. Every day she'd wake up… She's a professional (that means compensated for) pleasurer of men. That's what she did. That was her lot in life. That was her occupation.
Joshua is going into Jericho. He sends some spies. God needs to use someone to hide these spies. God says, "Hey, I can use anyone. Give me the prostitute," because that's what God does. God says, "She's just crazy enough to take her clothes off for money. I think she's crazy enough to be used by me. I will redeem her." That's what God does. No one is beyond his reach. You came in. You brought some sin with you. You've done some terrible things. Maybe you have a profile online. Maybe you're selling yourself. God said, "I'll use you."
If you know the story, it's an amazing story. Joshua says, "Hang the scarlet cord outside of your window, and we will spare your life." They kill the city and spare Rahab the prostitute and all of her family, and they're adopted into the Israelites because of what she did. Do you know where Rahab's name shows up in the New Testament? There's this chapter. It's called Hebrews 11, affectionately called the hall of faith. In it it has some of the most faithful people…Moses, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, and Rahab the prostitute. In the hall of faith in the New Testament.
He says, "Have a faith like Rahab the prostitute," who was the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother of Jesus. "…Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David." What is Matthew doing here? He's like, "Self-righteous Jewish friends, listen. Remember Boaz? Remember his mom? She was a prostitute. Hey, remember Judah. From the line of Judah. Remember that little thing with Tamar? Let me write that in here. Do you guys remember? This is the King you've been waiting for."
Then he gets here, and he's like, "King David." The Jews love King David. On the throne of King David. "David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife…" Oh. Not just King David's wife. "Oh, remember David took her from Uriah."
Matthew is like, "Hey, self-righteous friends, come here. Let me tell you a little story. Remember when King David was walking on the rooftops? Oh, he was supposed to be at war. Uriah was at war, one of his mighty men. He's walking along the rooftops at home, just taking life easy as a king." This is King David. He sees Bathsheba taking a bath. Appropriate. Bathsheba. There she is. "Hey, who is this? She's hot."
"Well, that's Uriah's wife, one of your mighty men, one of the men faithfully giving his life to serve you fighting a war." He should have said, "Oh, well, send her some flowers. Thank her very much for her husband's faithful service." That's not what he does. He says, "Hey, bring her to me." He takes her. I think Bathsheba gets a bad rep. When the king says, "Come here; I'm going to sleep with you," you don't have a lot of options in this day and time.
He takes her. He sleeps with her. She takes the pregnancy test, an e.p.t. kind of thing, and she's like, "Hold on." She's terrified. "I'm pregnant. My husband is at war. They're going to bring me to the city gates and stone me." That's what would have happened. That's what was supposed to happen. "They're going to kill me. David, I'm pregnant." King David, being a man after God's own heart, has her husband killed, murdered. In the line of Jesus. Why?
What's Matthew doing? "Hey guys, do you see? You're so self-righteous. Jesus didn't come for those who were healthy; he came for those who were sick, and if you want to embrace this baby in a manger, it starts with saying, 'I'm not well. I need a Savior. I need someone to save me. My life is messy. My family is messy. What I've done is messy. What has happened to me is messy.'" Seated at the table of Jesus, it's messy.
2._ Hope interrupts the lineage of sinners_. Here we have the lineage of Jesus. Lineage is when you look behind you. Lineage is what's behind you, where you come from. Matthew goes to great lengths to show how the hope of Jesus Christ, a baby in a manger in Bethlehem, had interrupted the lineage of sinners. Jesus, though he was fully God, came from a long line of sinners. This is what you need to hear.
Matthew is showing you, going to great lengths to tell you something. You have to hear it. He's saying, "Hey, there is hope. There's hope regardless of where you come from." You're like, "Man, my family is messy." So was Tamar's. Incest. There's hope regardless of what you've done. You're like, "Man, you don't know what I've done." I know what Rahab did. There's hope. There is hope regardless of what has been done to you.
You're like, "You don't know what my uncle did to me, my aunt. You don't know what happened in my family." Well, listen. I know what happened to Bathsheba. She's arguably raped and her husband murdered, and there is hope. Hope interrupts the lineage of sinners. You're like, "My family is dysfunctional." So is Jesus'. You just got back from Thanksgiving dinner. You sat around the table. Everybody has someone in their family that you're like, "Man, I don't want anyone to meet them. Go hide them, and then I'm going to bring over my significant other."
Everyone has those people. Imagine Jesus' table. "Well, that's my cousin Tamar. She's my cousin and my niece. It's messy. That's her father-in-law. He's also the baby's daddy. It's messy. That's my cousin Rahab. She works at a bathhouse. It's messy." Do you see what Matthew is doing? He's taking away all of your excuses. "There's no hope for me." Oh yes, there is. He's taking away all of your excuses.
You're like, "Man, my family is dysfunctional." Jesus' family is more dysfunctional. He came to save you from the dysfunction, to give you hope in the midst of the dysfunction. He's saying something to you. He's saying, "Hey, you don't have good cousins and bad cousins. You don't have white-sheep cousins and black-sheep cousins. They're all bad cousins. All of your cousins. The most self-righteous, the honor roll, valedictorian, Ivy League graduate, 'married a doctor' cousin is still a wicked, wicked cousin in desperate need of a Savior who came in the form of a crying little baby in a manger born to die."
"Die for who?"
"Die for your self-righteous, doctor-marrying, valedictorian cousin." To die for them. To die for you. That's why he came. That's why he showed up on the scene.
My little girl came home from school the other day incredibly excited about this phenomenon called Elf on the Shelf. Have you guys heard of this? I wish I would have thought of it. This is what she wants for Christmas. I'm trying to explain to her, "I think it goes in a box after Christmas. You won't be able to enjoy it until next Christmas. I don't think that's what you want for Christmas."
I'm trying to tell her, and she goes, "Daddy, you don't understand. He sees through walls." I'm like, "You don't understand. God sees through your heart." She's like, "He puts people on the naughty or the nice list. He tells Santa what's going on." This Thursday we're meeting as a Community Group. We're going to bring all of our kids together, and the devotional we're going to have is how they're all on the naughty list, how nobody made the right list, and that the presents under the tree…that's grace. Nobody deserves it. No one has been good.
Your righteous deeds are filthy rags to God. He saved you in spite of you. There's nothing you can do to be saved. You're all on the naughty list, and only Jesus is the one who interrupts our lives with hope. In the midst of these corrupt people, this crazy lineage, these crazy prostitutes and incest and all the crazy stuff that's going on, all of these corrupt kings, these broken people and this crazy story, it's Jesus who interrupts it with hope. Verse 7:
"…Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa, Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah, Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon. Amon the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon."
"Yada, yada, yada. So forth and so on. When are we going to get to Jesus?" That's how I feel when I read that. "Who are these people? All these names I can't pronounce. When are we going to get to Jesus? Let's get this show on the road. Show me Christ. Show me Jesus." That angst. That's Advent. That anticipation. "Let's get this show on the road. Show me Christ."
That's Advent. That's hope. That's the coming. That's why we're here. That's what we're doing. When hope has interrupted your life, your life is changed like Matthew's life. Matthew is trying to show these self-righteous people. He's like, "No, you don't understand. This guy gave me hope. He changed my life." When your life has been changed, when hope interrupts your life…
3._ Hope interrupts the legacy of sinners. _Legacy is the future of someone, what remains after them. You need to hear this. Sinners die in their sins. That's your legacy. What awaits me? Death. What do I deserve? Hell. I had a guy tell me this week… He was like, "Why? Because I stole a piece of candy in the tenth grade?" No. Because you would steal right now if you could. God sees your heart, every thought you had, everything you've done. What do you deserve? "I want what I deserve." No, you don't want what you deserve.
A baby in a manger was born to get what you deserved so that you don't have to. That's why Christmas is good news. Hope interrupts the legacy of sinners. Can I show you how from those stories I just read you? This is interesting to me. It hit me yesterday. The sentence for Tamar's sin, if you will, was that she was going to be burned to death in the city square. Do you know what she got? She got life. She had a son who was the great-great-great-great-grandfather of Jesus Christ, the King. Royal bloodline, royalty. That's grace.
Rahab was a prostitute who was a traitor to her people. Do you know what traitors get? They die. They're murdered. They're tortured and killed. Rahab deserved to die. If not killed by Joshua's spies, then killed by the very people in Jericho who she was a traitor to. She should have died, but do you know what she got? She got life. Not just life. Her entire family was spared, and they were adopted into the Israelites. That's grace. She deserved something bad. She deserved the punishment. She got something good. That's grace.
Bathsheba… The punishment for an adultery at this time… Her husband is at war. She's pregnant. There's a "no questions asked" policy on that. You're taken outside the city and pelted with rocks until your heart stops beating. That's what happens. That's what was going to come to her. That's what she deserved, if you will. What happened? She's brought into the palace to live the rest of her days. "Come and live with the king."
Psalm 23 says, "And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." That's the grace you've received, friends. You'd better not think for one second that you deserve it, because if you do you've just belittled, just cheapened grace. You do not deserve it. It happened in spite of you. A baby was killed on your behalf. I mean, he grew up, a 33-year-old man, but he was killed on your behalf. Born to die on your behalf. That's the hope that has interrupted our lives, because we were on the naughty list.
I talked to people after the first service who are just carrying some shame with them. When you're carrying in shame with you, you're saying Jesus didn't have to come. You're saying Jesus didn't have to die. When you want to try to pay for your own sins, you're saying, "Well, he shouldn't have to. He wasted his death. He wasted his life. The incarnation is not important to me." That's God becoming a man.
Last week we talked about babies who died in the womb. This morning we're talking about a baby who was born to die for you. This changes our legacy. When your life has been interrupted by this hope, you have one choice. There's really only one thing you can do when your life has been interrupted by this hope. That's to carry that hope forward, to offer it to others. People want hope. They're desperate for it, longing for it. In sin and error pining, waiting, hoping. "There has to be something more to this."
I had a speaking engagement recently that I was just a little nervous about, which is kind of out of character. I was thinking, "What am I going to say to these people? I don't know if I really want to do this." It was because of where it was. That's why I was nervous. It was at my daughter's school. It was Career Day. Monica had signed me up for Career Day. That's nice of her.
The reason I'm nervous… Just think about it with me for a second. I'm a pastor, and there's not a third grader on the face of the planet who wants to be a pastor. There are going to be other guys there. I'm going to be competing with police officers and firemen and magicians, and there I am, the pastor. "Hey, come hear how I teach the Bible. It's really cool." So I'm thinking about this, and I'm like, "Oh man, what am I going to say to these kids?"
I check into the principal's office. I still don't like to go to the principal's office. I do not have fond memories of that place. I'm serious too. I'm not even joking. I can't make eye contact. I'm just like, "Okay. Where do I go? Are you sure I'm not in trouble? All right." So I go to the library. That's where all of the people for Career Day are. I'm sitting there, and there are all of these adults in there.
There's a dude in a blazer. I'm like, "What do you do?" He's like, "I'm an attorney." I'm like, "Dang." A woman walks in. "Hey, how about you? What do you do?" She said, "I'm a photographer." I'm like, "Oh man, a photographer." Then this guy walks in in a full karate gi. I'm like, "Are you serious?" I look at the attorney and I'm like, "Man, you're messed up too, because nobody is going to go… I mean, Mr. Miyagi is here. Nobody is coming to our class."
It turns out that the teachers divided the students, which helped me. So I got to go to the class. I had to share for two sessions, and I still am like, "What am I going to say?" So I started. I really am nervous. I'm kind of stumbling over my words. I'm like, "Um, hey, guys. My name is Jonathan Pokluda, and I'm a pastor. Does anybody know what a pastor is?" There's this obnoxious kid right up front, really tall and skinny, reminds me of me, and he's eagerly raising his hand.
I'm like, "Does anybody…?" I don't even want to hear. "Does anybody know what a pastor is?" He's raising his hand. I'm like, "Oh, okay. All right, man. What? What? What does a pastor do?" He looked at me and said, "You give people hope." I'm like, "Do you want a job?" I'm blown away. I'm like, "Did y'all hear what he said, this bright, articulate, very smart young man? He said I give people hope. That's exactly what I do. I give people hope. That's right." It was so great, because I just got to talk about what that looks like.
I could have asked, "Do you guys know what a Christian does?" and the answer would have been the same. We give people hope. Hope came from God through sinners to sinners for sinners to be carried forward through sinners. That's what we do. That's why we're here. We have this incredible message of hope we're carrying forward. "He's coming, guys! And he's coming back too." This Christmas, people want to talk about hope. They're very, very open to talk about Jesus.
I love what Todd said at our Christmas party here. We gathered two days ago. I do not take for granted that you guys allow us to gather once a year and just celebrate and reflect. We did, and Todd just ended the time and said, "Listen, guys. I'm not a perfect pastor, Watermark is not the perfect church, and you're not the perfect staff, but we are on the perfect mission under the perfect Savior carrying forward the perfect message of hope." That's what we do.
In summary, we've seen how hope interrupts the lives of sinners, like Matthew and like you and like me; how hope interrupts the lineage of sinners, like Tamar and Rahab and Bathsheba and you and me; and how hope interrupts the legacy of sinners. This reality that Jesus came to save us, that he has interrupted our lives with hope so we might interrupt the lives of others with hope.
Did you know 44 years after a war was interrupted by the singing of "O Holy Night," another war was interrupted with a message of hope? It was crazy. The exact same thing or something very similar to it happened all over again. This time the war was World War I. It was December 24. It's the great truce of 1914. It has become famous. It's told about. They interviewed the soldiers who were there who said they've never seen anything like it.
There's gunfire and there are people dying and there's a battlefield, and one soldier begins to sing. This time not "O Holy Night" but a song with the same message, "Silent Night." You replay the tape. The same thing happened. A battle, a fight was interrupted. Soldiers who hoped to kill each other, who hoped to survive, who hoped to survive the cold and return to their families… Their hopes were interrupted by what they really, really hoped for. It has been documented and recreated.
Albert Moren from the Second Queens Regiment recounts that night. "It was a beautiful moonlit night, frost on the ground, white almost everywhere; and at about seven or eight in the evening there was a lot of commotion in the German trenches, and then there were those lights—I don't know what they were. And then they sang 'Silent Night'—'Stille Nacht.' I shall never forget it. It was one of the highlights of my life. I thought, 'What a beautiful tune.'"
I love to share that with you except it's an imperfect illustration in this way. When your life has been interrupted by that hope, you just can't return back to fighting. You can't go back to normal. When your life has really been interrupted by hope, you take that message of hope and carry it forward. So this Christmas, this is your mission. This is what we will do together. We will carry that message of hope, and we will interrupt the lives of others who desperately need it. I pray we do that together. If we can help you in any way, let us know.
Have a great week of worship.