Peninsula Community Church
Its A Wonderful Life
December 6, 2015
Luke 4:16-21 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
I love Christmas and one of the things that I love most is the variety of Christmas movies during this season. Some of my favorites are The Grinch that Stole Christmas. I love both the cartoon version and the one with Jim Carey. I love the Muppets Christmas. I also love all of the great movies on the Hallmark channels. I also love the movie Elf and the Miracle of 34th Street but one of my all time favorites is the movie Its a Wonderful Life.
I am sure that most of you have seen the movie, but if you have never seen it or it has been some time since you have seen it let me give you a quick overview. The movie stars Jimmy Stewart who plays the role of George Bailey who lived in the small town of Bedford Falls all of his life. He has always had aspirations of leaving the town and going to college and then becoming a success somewhere, anywhere but Bedford Falls. Unfortunately, life dealt him one blow after another and he never saw his dreams fulfilled. George was well loved by everyone in the community. He was a giver and cared about others so deeply that he sacrificed his own desires for his family and for the community.
After his business partner loses $8000 from the bank they ran, there is a real possibility that he could be arrested and their could be a major scandal in the town. In a desperate move, George goes to the other banker in town. This banker owned and therefore controlled much of Bedford Falls. Mr Potter was an old frustrated man who always had a disdain for George’s way of doing business. But in an effort to save face, George asked Mr. Potter to borrow $8000 and to use his life insurance policy as collateral. But with about $500 worthy of equity on it Mr. Potter’s response was to say that George was worth more dead than alive. The feeling of despair overcomes George and he begins to imagine what life would be like if he had never been born. In his desperation, he goes to a bridge outside of town where he attempts to take his life. But an angel intervenes and shows George what his life would have been like if he had never been born. Of course as the movie goes on we find that George realizes that things around Bedford Falls would have been quite different if he had not been born.
As I thought about this, I began to imagine what it would be like today if Jesus had never been born. Think about it “What if He had Never Come?” First and foremost, if Christ had not been born we would not know God. Secondly, we would not have access to God and we would continue to be dead in our trespasses and sin. Thirdly, we would have no hope and no future.
Also imagine with me for a moment what this season would look like if we no longer celebrated Jesus’ birth. There would be no Christmas decorations. There would be no Christmas Music. There would be no Christmas gifts. There would be no holiday. To top it off the world would be so different. You see many of our hospitals were begun by Christian organizations. Most of your Ivy league universities began as theological seminaries. It has been churches that fed the poor and cared for the homeless. We find it was pastors who fought against slavery. The fact is even from a social mindset, Christ had an impact greater than we would ever imagine.
But, the reality is He did come. And He came as the light of the world. He came to fulfill the promise that a Messiah would come and set us free from the power of sin. One part of this and it is a big part was that Christ bridged the gap between man’s sin and God’s holiness. Have you ever wanted to get close to someone but could not because you did not have the right connections. Through the years I have had the privilege of meeting so many in the church world that were pretty awesome. Each time it seemed that I had someone that was a go between that helped that to occur.
You see before the birth and death of Christ there was a wall of sin that separated God and man. Because of man’s sin there was no human means to achieve a relationship with God. But because of Christ, the wall of sin has been removed. Jesus bridged the gap between God and man. Through his birth and death the great question of life has been answered. How could a holy God who never sinned reach a unholy man who sinned and broke fellowship with Him? After the fall of man in the Garden, God never came to walk with man again, the way he did before the fall. Man’s sin had separated them and now there was a need to bridge that gap. Man needed a solution. He needed an answer. That answer was Jesus.
Prior to the coming of Christ you may remember that to have forgiveness you had to go through a mediator, the priest assigned to offer sacrifices on your behalf. And as we saw in Jesus day, the very act of forgiveness had been decimated by those who were caught up in the sin nature themselves and thus they began to charge exorbitant rates for the sacrifices to “help” people out. The whole act of forgiveness was based in man’s sinful response to issues of life.
Because of Christ’s work, the wall that separated man from God was broken down. Ephesians 2:11-22 – For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets,
Colossians 1:21-23 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister
Jesus made a way for our forgiveness so that we did not have to rely on someone else’s faith or their ability to stand in the gap. We can now have direct access to the father. Have you ever felt unworthy to speak to God? Have you ever felt that your sin is too great and that God would refuse you based on the condition of your heart and your soul? God recognized that condition and He sent Christ to cover that sin, take that sin on as His own, and to receive us in spite of our sin.
Look at our passage this morning. And this is where it gets personal for us. This is where the rubber meets the road. Jesus came to proclaim good news to the poor. He came to proclaim liberty to the captives. He came to recover the sight to those who were blind. He came to set at liberty those who are oppressed. He came to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. He came to give us the greatest gift of all times.
I don’t know how you came to Jesus. Different people come for different reasons. Some of you came because it just made sense to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It just seemed right.
Some of you came because you got into a difficult problem, and the only way out was up: you found him there waiting for you. Some of you came because you felt so burdened by guilt and sin and the past that you reached out and found Jesus there with mercy and compassion ready to forgive you. To God be the Glory! He came!
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2015 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom