"God in Our Arms"

Christmas Servise(English) on December 20, 2015
Messenger: Pastor Jim Allison
MP3 オーディオファイル 42.4 MB


 “God in Our Arms”



When I call the office at Hokusei Gakuen University and get put on hold, the melody I hear while waiting is of the song we often hear at the Christmas season, “What Child Is This?”  Today’s Bible reading does not have Mary, Joseph, shepherds, or wise men in it, so we may not think of it as being about Christmas.  But it gives deep, meaning-loaded answers to the question of who the Christ child was and is.  This is not so much the events of Christmas as the meaning of Christmas.  When you see who Jesus was sent into this world to be and what God’s purpose for this baby’s life was, you can understand the meaning of Christmas in a far deeper and more accurate way.  


The Christmas songs we hear and pictures in the decorations we see may lead us to think of Jesus as just a cute baby or a vague, general, almost meaningless symbol of “nice things” like peace and hope.  He is really far more than that.  Many Christians and even non-Christians live with vague belief in Jesus but little awareness that He is present and actively involved in our lives from day to day.  This morning’s reading can protect us from the danger of reducing Jesus to less than He really is and wants to be in our world, our city, our church, and our personal lives.    


The writer, Paul, is giving the answer to the question he asked on the road to Damascus when He first met the living Christ, “Who are you, Lord?”  Many Bible scholars think that Paul is quoting a hymn in vv. 15-20.  If so, we could say this is one of the first Christmas carols.    


You know how parents or grandparents with a cute newborn baby love to talk about him or her.  God is doing something like that here through Paul, telling us from an overflowing heart what His magnificent boy, Jesus, is like.  He is saying an amazing thing: when Mary held that baby in her arms, she was actually holding God.  Who would have thought such a thing possible?  


I think we can describe this picture of Christ as follows without doing too much damage in simplifying: He created the world, He is above all, and He reconciles all things.  Now let’s look at those one by one, and hopefully they’ll come into tighter focus for us.      


1. First, Christ created the world (vv. 15b-17a).  He made everything there is.  His life did not start when Mary became pregnant with Him.  That led to His entry into this world, but He was there from the beginning, as John 1 tells us. 


If I make a computer, I am not part of that computer.  The created and creator are not the same.  Our cultures may tell us that we can find happiness by creating our own identities, our own realities, our own worlds, in various senses.  But the Bible’s God says that these are roles that belong uniquely to Him.  


2. Second, Christ is above all (vv. 17b-19).  He is number one (far above everything).


That is one huge claim.  It covers so many things that we can easily get lost in it.  But Paul points to at least three specific things it means.  


2A. Christ holds all things together. That is, He sustains all things.  He does so now and will in a complete way in the future.  Put another way, He is the first to be raised from the dead.  He gives eternal life.


I think my family in the U.S. is seeing his happening now in the health crisis my 86-year-old father has had (which I’ve described recently).  As he has gone from the ICU to a normal hospital room and now a rehabilitation center with hope for going home sometime this month, my family has been praying and receiving support in prayer every day for the past several weeks.  Facing the reality that we could lose the person who has functioned as the pillar of the family for decades has been scary for us.  It has driven us back to a clear awareness of our need for God’s healing presence and a help that goes beyond what we can provide.  


This threat to our family seems to be bringing the members in the support system closer together.  We are seeing God’s help in very practical forms through the health care professionals working with him, the insurance system that pays for it, supportive friends in the community, and other ways.  All of these, we believe, are examples of God’s work to hold all things together.  Probably most valuable is the awareness that, even when we lose my father someday (hopefully not to these health challenges, not now), he will have a home with God waiting for him, in a far better place.  Knowing that he is in the reliable hands of a loving God with power to hold all things together is a great source of peace for us in a stressful time now.     


2B. Christ is the head of the church.


Later in 2:19 of this same letter, Paul writes about people who are full of spiritual pride and worship angels.  He says, “They aren't connected to the Head.  But the whole body grows from the Head.  The muscles and tendons hold the body together.  And God causes it to grow.”


Theology commonly held in Colossae at this time included the idea that there were hierarchies of angels, and a person had to work his/her way up from lower levels to higher ones and finally to God.  The Bible says, no, we have been given direct access to God through His Son’s coming to this world to save us.  When religions put too much emphasis on angels, demons, or other beings of any kind, they risk taking the focus off Christ, where it belongs.  


If we allow ourselves to be separated from Jesus Christ, living without a daily close connection to Him and His church, we become like arms, legs, etc. separated from the head and the rest of His body.  We call that amputation, or death.  That is not how the body was designed to work.  I’ve never cut the head off a chicken, but people who do that say that the bird’s body can actually run around for quite a while even after losing its head.  That can happen in churches and other groups, too.  It’s not a pretty thing to see.  


2C. Christ possessed the whole nature of God.  He was 100% God.  (He was also 100% human, the Bible teaches, though these verses focus on His divine nature.)


That is the understanding of Jesus that Christians hold.  But it may be easier for us to believe that Jesus was fully human.  We see Him in the Bible stories being tired, thirsty, humorous, angry, the whole range of normal human feelings.  It may take us longer to accept Him as fully divine, as it apparently did His disciples.  And He chose to show it before He said it, knowing that anyone can make a claim like that but to really back it up, you have to be telling the truth.  Yet in the end, that is the conclusion that the people who knew Jesus best came to: “He is Jesus the Son of God” (as Hebrews 4:14 says).  That is a claim that leaders of many world religions never even make, much less show to be true.


C. S. Lewis, the Oxford and Cambridge professor of the last century, wrote (pp. 157-158):


If you had gone to Buddha and asked him: ‘Are you the son of Brahma?’ he would have said, ‘My son, you are still in the vale of illusion.’ If you had gone to Socrates and asked, ‘Are you Zeus?’ he would have laughed at you. If you had gone to Mohammed and asked, ‘Are you Allah?’ he would first have rent his clothes and then cut your head off. If you had asked Confucius, ‘Are you Heaven?’ I think he would have probably replied, ‘Remarks which are not in accordance with nature are in bad taste.’ 


There may be something in us that is more comfortable thinking of Jesus just as, for example, (a) a cute baby symbolizing everything good or (b) a very kind and well-intentioned but not so politically and socially aware person or (c) a teacher who simply tried to bring the world great moral truth.  Again, Lewis comments (p. 158):


The idea of a great moral teacher saying what Christ said is out of the question. In my opinion, the only person who can say that sort of thing is either God or a complete lunatic . . . . We may note in passing that He was never regarded as a mere moral teacher. He did not produce that effect on any of the people who actually met him. He produced mainly three effects — Hatred — Terror — Adoration. There was no trace of people expressing mild approval.


3. Third, Christ reconciles all things (v. 20).  He makes peace.


We have already seen how He makes the most central peace, bringing back into right relationship with Himself fallen, sinful human beings through the cross.  That is the vertical peace of Christ.  But the horizontal peace between people and people is also deeply important to Him.  It breaks His heart to look at our world and see people hating and attacking and killing each other.  God did not make us so that we would do that with His beautiful creation of human life.  We feel keenly this year especially how badly our world needs peace.  We sense the great dangers that lie before us if we allow our nations to be pulled into the official and unofficial but just as real wars now spreading around the world.


We have never needed more than now to live under the leadership of the Prince of Peace, the Messiah who came to bring His Kingdom of shalom, the reign of the peace of God, into our lives.  We need just and lasting peace.  When Christ was born, there was peace, the Pax Romana brutally enforced by the military of Rome so that no one dared fight against it.  That is not peace with justice.  Before Jesus came as a baby, there were times of peace among God’s people, especially when good kings led Israel as He taught them.  But these times did not last.  People chose to go their own way and not God’s.  We see the same patterns of human behavior around us today.  So one key part of our gathering here at Christmas worship this year is to pray for peace.  We ask God to protect all our world from the evils of war and help us know how to be tools He uses for peace.  In that way we will come to know the Christ of Christmas more and more deeply as we join Him in the work He came to this world to do.    


To summarize, today we celebrate the Christmas event of God’s sending His Son, the Christ, into our world.  The baby that Mary held in the Bethlehem stable was, incredibly enough, one with God Himself.  Jesus had to be God to do what He did.  If He is not God, you and I don’t have a Savior.


So let’s not reduce Christ to a cute little baby, a kind but ill-informed man, a great moral teacher, or anything else.  You need more than that to have a reliable guide to your life.  You need more power than that to live your life well.  Our world needs more than that to have real peace.    


Jesus is the Son of God.  If you don’t see this, you don’t get Christmas.  His birth set in motion a process, but it didn’t end when the wise men went back to their homes.  God tells where it is leading, and it continues forever.  When the end of time comes and God’s people are taken to live with Him forever in heaven, we will still be singing about the baby born in Bethlehem.  We will not be singing just with our own people but with people from across the world of every nation, tribe, and tongue, brought together to live in God’s peace.  We will sing (Rev. 5:13), “May praise and honor for ever and ever be given to the One who sits on the throne and to the Lamb! Give them glory and power for ever and ever!” 


Amen.  Will you pray with me?


God, you gave us a truly great gift in sending your only Son, Jesus, into our world to save us and help us live in your peace.  Help us not to waste that priceless sign of your love by failing to appreciate all that it means.  Enable us to live like people with the joy and hope of knowing we have a Savior.  Help us not to be satisfied with the shallow and temporary joys of this season that cannot give us the deep and lasting richness of life that we need.  Because your Son has come into our world and our individual lives, make us people who dream big and love deeply and know what it means to hold your Son in our hearts as Mary held Him in her arms long ago.  Help us celebrate from our hearts the gift of life together with you.  In Christ’s name we pray, amen.    




Keller, T. (December 17, 1995). “Jesus, Our God.” Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City. Retrieved November 17, 2015 from http://www.gospelinlife.com/jesus-our-god-6409

Lewis, C. S. (1970). God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing.

Stedman, R. (December 13, 1986). “Master of the Universe.” Peninsula Bible Church, Palo Alto, California. Retrieved November 23, 2015 from https://www.pbc.org/system/message_files/5044/4021.mp3

Stedman, R. (December 20, 1986). “The Reason for the Season.” Peninsula Bible Church, Palo Alto, California. Retrieved December 2, 2015 from https://www.pbc.org/system/message_files/5048/4022.mp3   






















ア.      キリストが全てのものを機能させているというのです。つまり、全てのものが存在できるのは彼のお陰だというのです。現在もそうであり、将来も完璧にそうしてくれるのです。別言すると、まず最初に死から蘇ったのは彼であり、彼が永遠の命を与えるのです。






イ.      キリストは教会の頭である。








ウ.      キリストは神の本質(性質)の全てを持ち合わせていた。と言うことは、100%神であったということです。














 我々はイエスが根本的なところで平和を創り出すことを見て来ました。堕落した罪深い者が十字架を通して、イエスとの関係を修復できるようにしています。 これは人間と神の間における縦の和解です。しかし、人間と人間の間における横の平和も彼にとってとても重要なのです。我々の世界で人々が憎しみ合い、殺し合うのを見ることは、彼の心が引き裂かれる思いなのです。人の命は神が創造した素晴らしいもので、これを破壊し合うことは、神が人間を創造した意図ではありません。今年は、特に、世界に平和が必要であると感じられます。世界では公式、非公式な戦争が拡大しています。もし我々の国が巻き込まれるような事態になれば、危険は現実のものとなりますが、その緊迫感を我々は感じています。