Making Room For Jesus [Hebrews 1]
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Making Room For Jesus – 12.18.2022
[Hebrews 1:1-4, 10-12]
In the beginning, there was nothing. Just God and nothing. God spoke, and created the entire world. From the animals in the woods, to the birds of the air, fish in the sea – God created it all. Last but not least God created humans. And for a while things were good, God and humanity were getting to know each other. But the humans broke God’s heart, betrayed his trust, disobeyed – and so they fell. From that moment on, humans have never really been able to understand God. In different places of the world they worshipped random things that seemed powerful to them. The sun, the moon, the ocean, cats. We knew there was something more out there. There’s this urge, this pull on our gut, on our heart – but we couldn’t see it, we couldn’t understand it. But we knew it was there. Our time is more than just this life, there is a tiny piece of eternity in each of us. A shred of knowledge, a glimpse. Some people call it curiosity, others call it hope. We had a belief that there was something more, but we didn’t know who it was. And so they would have strange rituals and sacrifices and chants all trying to make the “something more” happy. Trying to figure out how to appease whatever was out there.
And then God spoke again. God gave them a method of connecting, with sacrifices and circumcision, rituals to say, we belong to God. But it wasn’t enough, the people were still lost. A world without guidance. And so God gave them the law. A set of rules to live by, we know them as the ten commandments. But those ten are just the beginning. Hundreds of rules to keep humans from hurting each other. To teach us how to live together, how to interact. It introduced ideas like justice, fairness, punishment, reward. Vague concepts that they had felt before, now had names, now had clarity and definition. And humans were really excited about the law. If we follow these rules, the “something more” will be happy with us. And for a while that worked, leaders came and went, generations passed. But humanity kept falling away from the law. They couldn’t seem to follow the rules. They kept making mistakes. Eventually they saw that some other countries came up with an idea of these rulers called kings. And Israel wanted kings. God told them this is a bad idea. If you create this system of leadership, they will become corrupt. Leaders will lie, and cheat and steal from the people. And God was right, but they didn’t listen, and so Israel had Kings. And the Kings went corrupt, and so God sent Prophets to speak to the kings. To show them how they had fallen away from the law, away from God. As time went on the kings were destroyed by other countries, empires came and went.
But then something else happened with the law. The leaders in the temple created a very rigid set of rules and claimed it was the only way to connect to God. Follow the rules, sacrifices, rituals cleanings – the rules are the most important. They took the law and made the law their god. They forgot that the whole point of the law, was to bring us closer to the “something more” that’s out there – to bring us closer to God. They just wanted to get in, do the sacrifice thing, and get out – feeling awesome about how perfect they were. God watched, as again humanity missed the point. And then God decided to connect with us in the most direct and obvious way He could. He stepped into our world. The babe born in the manger.
And this really is the message of our scripture lesson for today. For our Christmas sermon series, we’ve been looking at different Christmas traditions and sort of bopping around in the book of Hebrews. But I just want to start out in chapter 1, verse 1 and walk through just a couple verses. It starts out and says, [read v.1] In the past God has reached out to his people in all sorts of ways. Like, have you ever talked to an atheist and they’ll say something like, “well – if God is real, then why doesn’t he just prove his existence and show himself to us.” And it’s like, if you look at the history – truth is, he HAS. Like Hebrews says, “God has spoken to his people at many times and in various ways.” And then Jesus himself comes along. Verse 2 [read it]. Jesus Christ stepped into our world to show us that this whole time, what all of this has been about – it’s about connecting to the creator of the universe, it’s about knowing God. He used to speak to us through prophets and the law, burning bushes and pillars of cloud – but now we have God with us, Emmanuel in the person of Jesus.
Here’s the trouble though – some of us want to go back. Some of us want to go back to worshipping the law. Some of us are here today because of peer pressure, or ritual obligation. We just want to do the church thing, get it over with and get home. And to those people who are here today or tuning in on the livestream. I just want to say “I’m so sorry” because the church has failed you. If you think church is just dressing up and showing up - we’ve missed the whole point. And most churches get that wrong. We have spent so long focused on an institution, on a building, on ritual – we have forgotten the purpose of this place. I want to ask you today, do you know God? Not, have you heard about God. Or read about God – but do you know him. Do you talk to God, learn about God, spend time with God? Is God a priority and a presence in your life? There is something out there, I swear to you it’s true, and it’s been trying to connect with you all this time – and we’re going to settle for “I sit in a special building for an hour once a week?” That’s what faith means to us? God spoke through our ancestors, through the prophets and now he speaks through Jesus. God wants to know you, to love you, to overwhelm you with his goodness.
When a mother goes into the delivery room, you don’t just get in, pop out a baby, and get home – with nothing different. When a child enters the world, nothing is the same. There is the way things used to be, and there’s the way things are now and it’s radically different. In the church it’s the same way. There’s the way things used to be, focused on the law. And there is the way things are now – focused on the love. Jesus came so that we can be closer to God. The way that that works is that Jesus IS God. Check this out, verse 3 [read it]. I have never heard such an amazing complimentary line. Can you imagine if somebody said that about you. My dear, you are just the radiance of God’s glory this morning. Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory, and the exact representation of his being. So Jesus IS God. GoodNIGHT that’s some high praise. He is the radiance of God’s glory, and THEN – and then it says, “after he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. To recap: Jesus is the exact representation of God’s being, he is the radiance of God’s glory, he provided purification for all your sins and then he sits down next to “the Majesty” in heaven. I have a point here I promise. It is hard for us to realize the depth of Jesus’ humility until you grasp how high up he is. He is literally the radiance of God’s glory, and he came down here to be born a humiliating birth in a barn – all so that he could save your life. The other piece I don’t want you to miss is that if you know Jesus, you know God. Because Jesus is the exact representation of God.
Then we jump down to verse 10 in Hebrews, and this is God talking to Jesus. [read 10-12]. The simple truth of those words is that God is eternal, and we are not. Everything else will pass away, but God is always God. There is a poem called Changes, by June Hawvermale. It sits on my desk next to my computer, and I see it every single day. It says
Friendships fade, money is spent, Glory’s forgotten, Power is lost.
Seasons change, so do people, Day turns to darkness, sorrow to joy.
Pain is eased, rules are broken, promises forgotten, trust betrayed.
Life ends, Love cools, Hate dies, Stars fall.
Things change…but God is always God.
Things change, but God is always God. God is eternal and we are not. And for some reason, He has chosen to connect with us. God has chosen to love us. The God. The God who created the entire planet, the entire universe and more – chooses to love you. There’s two things I want you to pull from that. First, God’s love is not like any other love you have ever experienced. Unconditional love is so overwhelming. God is forever. Everyone else is going to let you down at some point or the other, even in the church – but God? God’s love with never waver, not even for one second. Let me give you an example. It’s well known that I love my children. I love them so much. I love them more unconditionally than I can love any other thing on the planet. And I’m not going to name names – but there was one time in the potty training journey where my child got up from nap time and poo’ed in his little potty that’s in his room. And then he decided it looked a little like playdough, and so he scooped it out and covered himself in it, and the walls. Now I’m not going to say my love wavered, but it might have wiggled. And as disgusting as that story is – we have all had moments when we stand in front of God just covered in our own shi-stuff. But God’s love never wavers, never even wiggles. He is eternal, he never changes – and God loves you.
The second thing I want you to realize is that God’s love for you gives you value that you can never lose. Like, you ever see famous people at award shows and stuff? And the people sitting around them, you have no idea who they are – but you figure, they know the famous person, so they must be pretty awesome too. Right? Cool by association. That’s how it works with God. We don’t have much value, by ourselves – sometimes we’re just poop covered little toddlers, but God loves us. Everything else in existence will fade away, folded up and thrown out like an old cloak. But God chooses to love you and that gives you value that can never be taken away from you.
They say love came down at Christmas. We have this whole big history of humans failing, and God come in and guiding us back home, and then humans failing again. But the fact that God doesn’t give up on us means something. When the law failed, God stepped it up, God came to us as Jesus. God gives us value. Like, have you ever tried to explain something to someone, and they just don’t get it – and so you just say, “Forget it.” It’s not worth it. I think it happens all the time because sometimes people are frustrating and we just give up on trying to connect with them. But God never does that. God never gives up on us. Even when we give up and walk away, God is still there. God comes to us, as a baby in the manger.
So every Christmas, Pastors really have one job. To tell this story, of Jesus’ birth in a way that’s not stale. And after all that stuff we see about Jesus in the book of Hebrews - what stuck out to me this year was this part in Luke 2. [read v.6-7]. “There was no lodging available for them.” Other translations say – there was no room at the inn. I mean, this is the radiance of God’s glory we’re talking about – the exact representation of God. But that phrase stuck out in my mind, “there was no room at the inn?” I mean, don’t you think if the Innkeeper knew who Jesus was…he could have found him a spot? Right, like in movies when someone goes into a restaurant. And the snooty host guy says, “There’s no tables available.” But then He finds out the main character is famous or whatever, and he says, “I will find you a table.” I mean, not only is the baby Jesus – the radiance of God’s glory - but Mary was very very pregnant. Couldn’t the Innkeeper look at her and think, I will find you a room. Who’s not going to give up their room for the pregnant lady? You’re riding the subway or the bus or whatever, and a pregnant lady gets on – who’s not going to get up, and make room for her. And that’s when it hit me. There is no room at the inn, and so you have to make room. There is no room in life, and so you have to make room for Jesus in your life. THE God, the one who created everything chooses to come to you, as a baby, chooses not to give up on you – and so our response is to make room for Jesus.
Now we do this in two ways. First, we make room for Jesus in our heart. I heard this amazing riddle a while back, in a movie called Tomorrowland. The story goes like this. Inside each of us, there are two wolves. A light wolf and a dark wolf. A good wolf and a bad wolf. They are the same size, and they fight for our soul. Which wolf wins the fight? And the answer is the one you feed. Inside each of us there is potential. Potential for good, potential for bad. And those urges fight inside of us. Which potential wins? The one you feed. What you feed in your life, grows. Do you feed your connection to God? Are you coming to church, praying, reading your bible, giving to others, loving your enemies? Which wolf do you feed with your life. There is a call in these words – Make room for Jesus in your heart. No friendship lasts without communication, without connection. Your connection to God is no different. Jesus came to us, stepped into our world, and now it’s our turn to chase after God in this life. Make room for Jesus, in your heart. Fill your life with habits and people that will bring you closer to God. Feed the right wolf.
The second part is to make room for Jesus in your schedule. There is no room in the Inn, and there is no room in life. You have to make room. If something is important, you will take the time to get it done. Who has time to sit around and put gas in your car, and yet we all do it. We slow down, pull over and get gas – because without it we can’t continue to drive. This is God in our lives. You have to carve out a moment in the crazy. If something is important, you will make time. God wants to partner with you in this life. He’s standing right next to you in every victory and every failure and how many of us live our lives ignoring the deeper level. And this isn’t just about God. For your children, your parents, your brothers and sisters, your friends – if they are important. You will make time. You will find the time. Because at the end of all things, all the stuff that we thought was so important in that moment, will wear out like old clothing, folded up and thrown away. And we look at a life empty of meaning. At the end of this life, whether that comes tomorrow, a week, ten years, or a hundred years from now – we will stand before God. God will say, I sent my son, as a baby in the manger – do you know him? We have this book about him – did you read it? He tore down the curtain in the temple so that we can talk directly to God – did you ever speak to me? When you stand before God, will you recognize the face in front of you? Did you make room to get to know Jesus in this one precious life you have?
Christmas is coming. The king is coming. Great and important, famous wise men, humble and dirty, lowly shepherds. Jesus reaches all of us. He is God, covered in flesh. He is God reaching out to us one more time, showing us the way home. And so I’ll leave you with this. May you understand how high Jesus was to appreciate how low he became. May you see God’s love as an untouchable source of your self-worth. And may you make room for Jesus – in your heart, and in your life. Amen.