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THE CHRISTMAS GIFT OF THE BREAD OF LIFE
A SERMON DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
4 DECEMBER 1988
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
2 Samuel 7:16
Psalms 132:10-12, 71:5
Preparation Verse: (Psalm 71:5)
For Thou art my hope;
O Lord God, Thou art my confidence from my youth.
Today we are continuing with our second in the series of sermons on the advent
of Christ, or about the prophetic message of Christ's coming.
This morning's sermon is titled THE CHRISTMAS GIFT OF THE BREAD OF LIFE, and speaks of the fulfilled prophetic message that Jesus Christ was to be born in Bethlehem. It also speaks of a different message, as we shall see.
Let's begin by taking a second look at our Old Testament lesson for this morning, Micah 5:2-3.
2. "But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity."
It is interesting to see the way God uses the names of places to amplify His
The original name of Bethlehem and the name of the district is Ephrathah, which means "fruitful." The meaning of the name Bethlehem is "house of bread."
Both of these names carry with them a type of blessing, even though it was a very small place; so small in fact, that the prophet refers to it as being "too little to be among the clans of Judah."
Yet the fact that Jesus was to be born in such a place is fitting, for He came in the form of common man. Nevertheless, He is also King.
He was not the first human king to come forth from Bethlehem, for it was also the birthplace and childhood home of King David. But Christ was always King.
I believe God does these things so that we should believe, and be without excuse if we don't, for we could no longer say that no kings come from such a place.
Note also what we are being told: that this would not be the beginning of Jesus, only the beginning of His being in the form of man. For, as the prophet clearly explains, He was from the beginning; for the only One that is from the days of eternity is Almighty God.
And when would He come?
3. Therefore, He will give them up until the time
When she who is in labor has borne a child.
Then the remainder of His brethren
Will return to the sons of Israel.
God sometimes has to let us stew in the sinful mess that we create until we come
to our senses. In this passage we see God doing just that, and doing it in a
He will let Israel wait for a time (in the first case, for seven hundred years until His birth in Bethlehem), and then He will come in some future date which we do not know.
We know that the time of His next coming is soon, for we see the signs of the times; but we do not know the date or hour, and anyone who says that they do know is a false prophet.
Let me give you an example. We received a copy of a book, published by World Bible Society, titled "88 REASONS WHY THE RAPTURE COULD BE IN 1988" and the author even picks the time as being during the feast of trumpets.
Well, it didn't come true.
There is no bread to feed our souls in such writings. The bread that brings everlasting life is Jesus Christ. Trust in the word of God and His true prophets in the Bible.
Listen to what Jesus Himself says of this in John 6:47-51.
47. "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.
48. "I am the bread of life.
49. "Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.
50. "This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.
51. "I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread also which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh."
Remember this as we celebrate our communion with Him through our partaking of
the Lord's Supper this morning.
To let us know that we are to believe the prophet Micah about our Messiah's second coming, and not to lose hope, Luke records His first coming and birth in Bethlehem, which is the fulfillment of the first part of the prophet's message.
Let's take a second look at our New Testament lesson for this morning, Luke 2:1-7.
1. Now it came about in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus,
that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.
2. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
3. And all were proceeding to register for the census, everyone to his own city.
4. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,
5. in order to register, along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.
In verse 4 we see the fulfillment of another prophecy: that Messiah would come from the line of King David. As an example, note what God said in 2 Samuel 7:16.
16. "And your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; Your throne shall be established forever."
But at the time that Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem, and for more than 500
years before, Israel was under the domination of others; they had no king.
Was God's word wrong?
May it never be!
Israel knew that Messiah would come from the line of David, but they expected Him to come as a triumphant king to deliver them from the domination of others.
See how this all ties together in what we are told in Psalm 132:10-12.
10. For the sake of David thy servant,
Do not turn away the face of Thine anointed.
11. The Lord has sworn to David,
A truth from which He will not turn back;
"Of the fruit of your body I will set upon your throne.
12. "If your sons will keep My covenant,
And My testimony which I will teach them,
Their sons also shall sit upon your throne forever."
No one other than God will live forever.
Israel had turned away from God, thus they have lacked a seat upon the throne; but God's grace is bringing them back, if they will listen. Now there is hope.
And that hope and that kingship is also offered to us.
Hear this hope as we read Galatians 4:4-7 and Revelation 3:21.
4. But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a
woman, born under the Law,
5. in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
6. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
7. Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son; then an heir through God.
21. 'He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His Throne.'
This is eating of the Bread of Life.
This is our true Christmas Gift.
This is our hope.
And if we have not forgotten about our New Testament lesson, remember that in Luke 2:5 we are told that Joseph took Mary with him to Bethlehem. He would not leave Her out of his personal protection.
And neither will Jesus Christ leave us out of His personal protection, when we betroth ourselves to Him.
Let's return to those Luke verses and conclude with the fulfillment of the prophetic message of His birth being in Bethlehem.
6. And it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her
to give birth.
7. And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
This church and, for that matter, almost any Christian church is a type of the
city of Bethlehem, for we are houses of bread.
We are houses that contain the word of God.
And each of us is a type of the inn.
Just as we get no benefit from bread unless we eat it, so also will we get no benefit from Jesus Christ, unless we make room for Him in our hearts.
Occasionally we may miss a meal because we don't have time to eat, but if we would never have time, we would starve to death.
And so it is with our personal relationship with Jesus Christ; if we never have
time for Him, we will one day find ourselves spiritually dead.
Don't let this happen to you.
Jesus Christ is our hope.
Jesus Christ is the greatest of all Christmas gifts.
He is our true Bread of Life.