St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

What A Story!

Christmas Sermon: What A Story!

Do you enjoy reading? There are some who do not care to read, while others easily get lost in a good book. If you are one of those that enjoy reading, what is your favorite genre? Are you one of those people who loves a great mystery? Maybe your favorite type of book is one of the old classics? Maybe your favorite type of book is a good romance novel. Do you like good thrillers? I have many types of books that I like to read, but I tend toward historical fiction and biographies. I enjoy learning about people from history. When you read through the Bible, you will find a great number of biographies. This is especially true when you read through the book of Genesis, where you find these words “This is the account of…” ten times.

The first of these is found in Genesis 2:4, “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.” This section of the Bible follows the account of the creation of the world, which is recorded in Genesis 1. This section really focuses on the crown of God’s creation: mankind. It details the special way that God created people. In the rest of his creation, God simply said, “Let there be . . .”, and it appeared. However, God took special care in the creation of people, creating Adam from the dust of the earth and Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. It says that they were created in God’s image, which meant that they were holy. This section also chronicles mankind’s fall into sin. God had given Adam and Eve one simple command. They were not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This was the way that they could worship him. However, after having been tempted by the devil, they decided to rebel against God, and they ate from the tree. As a result, sin came into the world and death through sin.

We see the depths of sin that mankind had fallen into as we read a later biography. In Genesis 6:9, it says, “This is the account of Noah and his family.” When you think of Noah, one image comes to mind: the flood. Mankind’s sinfulness reached a point where God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.” (Genesis 6:13) So, for those forty days and nights, God sent rain. All people died, except Noah and his family. God, in his grace, rescued them through the ark that God had commanded Noah to build. We see this grace further shown when Noah and his family came out of the ark over a year later. God promised that he would never again destroy humanity by means of a flood. He put the rainbow in the sky as a constant reminder of his love.

We fast forward to see God’s grace in action as we turn to Genesis 11:27: “This is the account of Terah’s family line.” You might be thinking to yourself, “Who is Terah?” Terah was the father of Abraham. When you read through Abraham’s account, you are amazed at all the promises that God made to Abraham. First, we read in Genesis 12:7, God said to Abraham, “To your offspring I will give this land.” God promised that the land of Palestine would be given to Abraham and his descendants. What made this promise even more incredible was the fact that, at the moment, Abraham had no descendants. Yet, God promised Abraham in Genesis 12:2, “I will make you into a great nation.” Later, God told Abraham, “Look up at the sky and count the stars — if indeed you can count them. So shall your offspring be.” (Genesis 15:5) God promised Abraham that he would have many descendants. The greatest promise that God made to Abaraham is found in Genesis 22:18, “Through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed.” The word for “offspring” is singular. It pointed ahead to a particular offspring of Abraham, who would come to bless all people.

This promise was repeated for centuries until we come to the New Testament. All those histories that we find in the Old Testament lead to the greatest historical event in our world. Matthew 1:1 states, “This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham.” We read in Luke 3:23, “[Jesus] was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph.” In both instances, you have listed the genealogies of Jesus. What we find in the gospels is the historical account of Jesus’ life. Yet, his history is more than just interesting facts about the most influential person that the world has ever known. He came to this earth to be its Savior. His life started in that manger in Bethlehem. When we look into that manager, we see more than just a precious child. We see the one who came to rescue people from their sins. When you read the historical accounts of Jesus’ life as recorded in the Gospels, it’s more than just interesting reading. It is the account of Jesus being our Savior. We read about the life that he lived. It was always in perfect agreement with his Father’s will. He lived a perfect life. He, then, willingly sacrificed that life on the cross to pay for the sins of the entire world. You cannot look at the manger properly without remembering that the cross was always looming in the background. Yet, we don’t stop the historical account of Jesus at the cross. Otherwise, he would be just another tragic figure that died before their time. We go beyond the cross to a tomb. As we look into that tomb, we note something peculiar. It’s empty! Jesus didn’t stay dead! He rose victoriously on Easter morning. This is his astounding history. He came to the earth to rescue it from its sins.

Let’s look at one more history: This is the account of (insert your name). You might think that your history is not all that exciting. Yet, it really is. It is true that all our histories are different in many ways. However, there are many things that we all have in common. The first is that we were all born, which means that we came into this world as sinners. This is something that has been passed down from generation to generation, going all the way back to Adam and Eve. Not only we were born sinful, but we have all sinned in many ways during our lifetime. For this, we should rightly be punished by our God for all eternity. However, the baby that laid in Bethlehem’s manger came to the earth to be our Savior, as well. His life, death, and resurrection were all done for us. Because Jesus came to the earth to be our Savior, we have been washed clean from our sins, as well. Through the working of the Holy Spirit, faith is created in our hearts, which makes what Jesus accomplished our own. This truly is a story with a happy ending, because we know that heaven is waiting for us. This is your story. This is God’s story of love for you.

We all have our preferences when it comes to the type of literature that we enjoy reading. What one person enjoys reading, another might find dull as dirt. That’s OK. We all have those things that we enjoy. There is, however, one story that all can find compelling and something that can be read again and again. It is the story of God’s amazing love for us. It starts with God’s first promise of a Savior. It continues as we read the promise given again and again. We see the fulfillment of those promises in our Savior. It’s something that, as we pause and consider what God has done for us, we cannot help but praise our God for his amazing love for us. At the end of it all, as we hear it and read it for ourselves, we cannot help but stop and say: “What a story!” Amen.