This reflection was originally delivered during a 2012 Christmas Eve Service at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Castle Rock, CO.
They say the subject of sin is hugely unpopular. I have no reason to doubt it; you can see why it would be. It implies that in spite of my best pretensions to the contrary, I am not the one in charge. It implies that I am accountable to someone outside of myself, someone who is greater than me—someone who’s over me. It implies that it is not actually okay to do whatever I want. It implies that I am a far worse person than I have ever dreamed. It indicates that one day I will stand before a Judge who knows me far better even than I know myself.
But for just a minute, think about this: what if it’s true; sin is real and I’m a sinner? Any comfort derived from dismissing the truth will only be temporary. Denial will probably be pretty unsatisfying in the present, much less in the future. We know from life experience that denying reality doesn’t turn out very well. In fact, it will be rather difficult to live consistently denying sin, because sooner or later we will see it in others, even if we do dismiss it in ourselves.
Deep Christmas Joy Requires Acknowledging Sin
The true joy of Christmas depends upon admitting our sin because Jesus came to expel the alien parasite of sin. Earlier we heard the angel’s message to Joseph in Matthew 1:21, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Sin is kind of like addiction: the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. To receive God’s gift of His Son, we have to first admit that we need Him. We need Jesus to deliver us from our sin.
It is only against the inky black darkness of our sin that the brilliant radiance of Jesus shines. It’s only when we grasp something of just how horrific sin is, that we can begin to appreciate how magnificent it is that God became man to rescue us from our sin. It is only when we begin to understand something of how utterly helpless and hopeless we are in the predicament of sin, that we can appreciate how amazing it is that God sent Jesus to save us from our sin.
The Christmas Alien
When I mentioned earlier the movie The Host I failed to mention that it represents a distinct twist on the archetypal narrative of parasitic aliens. An alien is injected into Melanie Stryder. But an unusual thing happens. The alien forms a bond with her host. Through that bond she joins in the effort to aid humans in resisting the alien invasion.
The joy of Christmas is that God sent us an alien power when He sent His Son, Jesus Christ. He’s Emmanuel: God with us. He became one of us. He bonded with us: He sympathizes with our weakness; He understands our struggle with sin. But He is also far more powerful to defeat sin than we could ever be. We need an alien power to defeat the alien parasite of sin. Jesus humbled himself and became man for our sake. Because He loves us, He came to expel the alien parasite of sin from His creation.
We have a Savior who has done everything that we were powerless to do. By His life, death and resurrection all of our sins have been forgiven through faith in Him. We have a Mediator who has repaired our relationship with the living God, a relationship that was shattered by sin. Jesus came to expel the alien parasite of sin because what we experience now is not the way it supposed to be. Through faith in Jesus we experience a real measure of deliverance now.
Christmas Joy Opens into Eternity
But at the same time our deliverance is not yet complete. We look forward in hope to a day when Jesus will return and bring it completion. On that day He will expel the alien parasite of sin from the entire creation for good—for all eternity. The joy of Christmas is that through Jesus, God has given us the gift of Himself. There isn’t any greater gift! May we all know that joy this Christmas season! You can have that joy by putting your trust in Jesus now. You have to admit you are a sinner. You have to believe in Jesus and what He has done to save you from your sin. You have to turn from your sins to Jesus. Jesus has done the rest.