Unwrap the Gift of Love

Jesus Came To Show all Who Believe, God's Love For Us.

George Wright
Dec 20, 2020    36m
Have you ever felt like you have done too many bad things for God to ever love you? If so, this Christmas message of hope is here to remind all who believe that Jesus came to show us God's love for us, and His love is never ending. Video recorded at Columbia, South Carolina.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

George Wright: 00:04 "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all."

George Wright: 00:58 That was awesome, James, thank you brother. You come from good stock, man, that was great, thank you for sharing that from Isaiah 53. And let's follow James' example, let's turn to Isaiah 53, that's where we're going to be spending some time here this morning. What a beautiful gift to be able to share this morning together, the songs, the scripture reading, what a tremendous, tremendous reminder of God's love and grace towards us that we celebrate here at Christmas.

George Wright: 01:32 I do want to tell you real quickly, before we step back into the Word of God, that next Sunday is going to be a little different here at Shandon. After we get through this week of Christmas and all the celebration and all the services that will be happening on Wednesday and Thursday, next Sunday December 27th, the final Sunday of the year, will be online worship exclusively. We will just have online worship, we will not have gathering here in the room. So we just encourage you on the 27th, man, wear your PJ's, gather your family, be comfortable, and join us for a very special end of the year service online. As we get to celebrate together, some of the things that God has done this year, and some of the things that God is laying before us going into a new year. And then back in January, we'll come back together for in-person gatherings, and online gatherings, as we have been doing this fall. So next Sunday, the 27th, online only for worship.

George Wright: 02:32 And we do want you to know, we recognize many of you participate in year-end giving here at Shandon, and we're so grateful for your generosity. We would encourage you, let's finish the year strong, let's honor the Lord with our resources. As we've been crying out to God with our prayers, let's cry out to God with our giving, as we wrap up this year. And we do want you to know the church office will be open up until the final moment of the 31st, to the end of the year, so if you want to give in person, you can do that. You can give this week at our Christmas services, of course you can give online and through texts to give. We want you to know that's all available, even though next Sunday is going to look a little different as we gather online exclusively.

George Wright: 03:20 So with that in mind, let's now step back into the Word of God, and what James so eloquently shared with us from Isaiah 53. And I'd like to invite you, if you're willing and able, to stand with me as I read from the Word of God. And we stand so that we all can be reminded that the Word of God is our foundation, the Word of God is the authority that we stand upon, what God reveals is right and good and true. And I want to read just verses five and six to get us going back into this text here today. Isaiah 53, verse 5, "But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." It is my prayer that every single one of us would see the beauty and the power of what is laid before us and these great verses. There have been many who have said of Isaiah 53, it is like a fifth gospel, in that it is so clearly expressing the good news of what God has done for us through the Messiah, Jesus Christ, his son.

George Wright: 04:55 Let's pray that God would show us what he desires for us to see today. Father, we look to you believing that you are speaking in power, not only through the words being brought by a preacher, but through the word leaping off the page of your Holy Scripture, anointed and empowered by the Holy Spirit. So we ask that you would use this day, as we prepare our hearts for Christmas, to speak into our lives what we need to hear. Thank you for inviting us into this celebration of Christmas, thank you for reminding us of your great love. Use this time for your glory in our lives. It's in Jesus' name, I pray. Amen. You may be seated. You may be seated. Thank you for standing.

George Wright: 05:54 So how many of you have completely finished all of your shopping for Christmas, anybody completely done? All right, there's few hands, thank you for that, you're welcome to respond. How many of you did all of your shopping, or are doing all of your shopping exclusively online, anybody, online only? A few around the room. Well, the retail experts are saying that it's now 30 to 40%, this year, of all the Christmas shopping is happening online. And one of the things that's developed in our culture, there's is a relatively new phenomenon is something that marketers and advertisers are calling an influencer, a social media influencer. Now you don't have to raise your hand, but you may have bought something this Christmas season because you saw somebody post about it on social media, and you're like, I gotta have that. Well, there's a really good chance that whoever you saw post about this thing social media is getting some kind of kickback or payments to be an influencer. Nothing wrong with that, hey, free market enterprise, that's capitalism at its finest, that's what we do here in America. And so many people have found ways to use their social media platform to become an influencer where they can get paid.

George Wright: 07:10 In fact, there's a category of influencer that marketers and advertisers are calling the macro-influencer. This is somebody that has more than a million followers on social media, and you can get paid, listen to this upwards of a million dollars per post to put something out on their account. Now think about that, up to a million dollars a post, to take a product and say, I like this, you need this, here's the check from the advertiser to the influencer for being a macro influencer. This is the definition that they're using for an influencer, we'll put this on the screen, it's someone who has the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others because of his or her authority, knowledge, position, or relationship, with his or her audience. An influencer, leveraging their social platform, their digital footprint, to put their endorsement, their seal of approval on a product, and get paid to do it. So obviously we would know and conclude that for the influencer, their image is everything, what they post matters. They need to look good, they need to behave a certain way on their social media platforms, so that their followers are intrigued enough to say, hey, I need that, I want that. I will click here and I will purchase what they're talking about, because when see them, I'm impressed, I'm in awe, I'm inspired, and I want what they have.

George Wright: 09:03 Social media continues to grow and becomes an even more intentional focus of advertising and marketing. It's going to be even more possible for more people to earn a pretty good wage through their social media platforms, build your brand, build your following, build your payday.

George Wright: 09:30 But then we contrast that to the most influential person who has ever lived, and we see the way the prophet Isaiah describes the greatest influential person in the history of the world. Look at Isaiah 53, and go back even before the verses that were read this morning to verse 2, and look at what the prophet says about the Messiah, and think about the way the Messiah is described here in the Word of God. "He had no form or majesty that we should look him, he had no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and is one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised and we esteemed him not." This honestly is something that is very difficult for us to get our head around, Jesus came to the world as a rejected outsider. I mean, that's what we talk about at Christmas, whether we realize it or not. He was born to unwed teenage parents, without fame, without influence of any kind, without any social status whatsoever in their day and time.

George Wright: 11:05 And certainly we have this way of making the Christmas story, this beautiful scene. And we're going to sing Silent Night this week at our Christmas services, and it's beautiful. But when Christ came into the world, the reality is, Jesus was born in a barn and he was laid in a manger. Not because it was cool or comfortable, he was laid in a manger as an infant because his earthly parents had no means or opportunity or status to provide him with an adequate nursery. And yeah, I know in our day and time barns are pretty cool and barns are pretty hip. In fact, I've actually done more weddings in barns in recent years than I have in the church, I mean, we like barns. But the barn in Bethlehem 2000 years ago was not going to make the pages of Southern Living, it was a barn barn, it smelled like a barn, looked like a barn, where outdoor animals that are not potty trained spend a lot of time. This place was dirty, this place was gross, this is no place for a baby at all.

George Wright: 12:25 Why do I even mention this? Well, what we're seeing here in Isaiah is really quite striking. The
scripture is saying of Jesus that there was nothing beautiful about his appearance at all, nothing beautiful about the way he came to the world, nothing sophisticated, nothing elitist, nothing important about his family. It's really hard for us to be willing to accept what the scripture says about the way Jesus looked, but according to the Word of God, he was not much to look at. And I know that the movies of Jesus, I mean, he's got beautiful, John Barnes like, flowing hair, perfectly conditioned, it's amazing, those striking eyes, that perfect beard that's, you know, always covered in beard oil and soft, it's not scratchy, it's amazing. But that's the movies, according to the Word of God, Jesus was just an ordinary looking guy. In fact, most people didn't even think twice about just passing by as Jesus was walking by, and not even giving it a thought. This is not the type of person that marketers or advertisers are looking for on social media, this is not the type of person that had this very sophisticated following. In fact, his first followers were also misfits and outsiders, they were fishermen, tax collectors, they were not influencers. These were not a group of men that people wanted to pay attention to, this is a group of men that could easily be ignored. In fact, the influencers of the time were not impressed with Jesus at all, they did not want anything to do with Jesus. He did not fit their categories, he did not play their games, he did not follow their protocols, and so he was rejected by the establishment.

George Wright: 14:43 So the question is why in the world did Jesus come this way? The Son of God, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, why did he come this way, on the outskirts of society, in this small little nothing shepherd village in the middle of nowhere, to parents who had no social status? Why did Jesus come this way? Turn, if you would now, the Philippians chapter 2. Philippians chapter 2 is such a beautiful gift to us in understanding what Christ has done in coming to the world, the way he came. Philippians chapter 2 verse 5 and following, it says this as the Apostle Paul writes to the church, "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." What is this scripture saying? This scripture is saying, Jesus, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, came the way he came to serve. He came to serve. He emptied himself, he laid down his rights, he stepped out of what he rightly deserved being seated on the throne of heaven, stepped into our world in a humble, meager way, to show everyone who was willing to see, regardless of where you come from, what your background may be, how established your family might be, how much influence you think you have, he came to show everyone that what he was offering the world is being offered to all who will trust in Him.

George Wright: 16:58 This is so incredibly important, because we see Jesus did not come to draw attention to himself for personal gain or prestige, he did not come to just fit in with the elite and the powerful and the religious establishment, he did not come to fight for his rights to impress people, he did not come with an appearance that was amazing or popularity that was striking. No, he came to serve, and he came to serve in humility, so that it would be crystal clear to everyone that his purpose and his mission in serving, was to communicate and demonstrate the love of God for everyone, regardless of their place in society, their background, their resume, or their pedigree. Jesus came the way he came to tear down walls, he came to serve and to sacrifice, so the love of God would be on display for the world to see. That's what the fourth Sunday of the Advent season is all about, it's the Sunday where we celebrate the love of God, we light the advent candle to remember the love of God. And what we see in Isaiah 53, is the love of God on display through the service and sacrifice of the Messiah.

George Wright: 18:27 So look back at the scripture, Isaiah 53 verse five, it says, "But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace; and with his strife’s, we are healed. This verse is the gospel. This is one of the most incredible verses in all of the Old Testament, because it's so beautifully and descriptively reveals to us the love of God made available through Jesus Christ. And even though he was despised and rejected by men, he laid down his life for the very men who were despising and rejecting him. He willingly, lovingly, and graciously gave his life, sacrificed his life, for the very people who despise and reject him. And Isaiah says, even as we esteemed him not, he went to the cross so that we could know the love of God in a real way. And even as we turned away from him, he turned on the waterfall of grace for us, despised and rejected by men.

George Wright: 19:59 You see, he lived a life that we could never live, and died a death in our place that our sins deserve, theologians call this the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. He was the substitute that took our place, that received the wrath of God, the punishment for sin, that we deserve, that was thrust upon him at the cross. And as his perfect blood poured out from the cross, he paid for our sins in full, so that we could see the love of God that sets us free from the burden of sin and the bondage of shame, there is no greater love than this. And in the face of it all, he did this being despised and rejected by men. Now that statement in and of itself is a challenging statement for many people, because there's many people both inside and outside the church who would say, now, hold on, I don't despise Jesus. I don't have a problem with Jesus. In fact, there's people that'd say, hey, I like Jesus, Jesus was a great example. Jesus did some really good things and yeah, we should serve some more, yeah, we should sacrifice some more, we should follow Jesus's example. Hey, I don't despise Jesus, that's a little extreme. I mean, really, who actually despises Jesus?

George Wright: 21:34 Well, Isaiah shows us. Isaiah, 53 verse 6, "All we, like sheep, have gone astray. We have turned everyone (listen to this) to his own way." Now this verse is so descriptive, and so universal, in what it says about every single one of us. This verse is talking about you and me alike, and it's saying we all are in this together, we all have turned in one way or another to our own way, every single one of us have done this. Now you may feel like you have not been vehemently opposed to Jesus, you may say I don't despise Jesus, but according to the Word of God, please don't miss this, this is what it means to despise and reject Jesus. Listen to this, to say, I know what is best for my life, to say, I want to run my own show, I want to be in control of my life, and every single one of us has done this, because every single one of us in some form or fashion wants to be the lord and savior of our own life. Please don't miss this, the only way that you can be the Lord and savior of your life, is to despise and reject the one true Lord and savior. Isaiah is speaking to the sin nature that is in every single one of us, it is sin nature to say, I can handle my own life. I don't need you to tell me what to do, I'm going to do my own thing because I know what's best for me.

George Wright: 23:30 If you don't believe that's true about you, I would just encourage you take a couple of weeks in the new year, and spend some time in the Shandon kids ministry, especially hanging out with the toddlers. Okay, you may have a toddler in your home, and I'm sure Pastor Mike would agree with me, our children's pastor, I have yet to have a parent come up to me and say, you know what, I really had to teach my toddler how to scream and cry when they didn't get their way, they just didn't understand that's what you're supposed to do when you don't get your way, scream and cry. Now I've never heard a parent say that, they just do it right, they're not taught that. I've also never had a parent come up to me and say, you know what, I've really got a problem in my house, my little toddler, he just doesn't understand the right way to use the word mine. So will you pray for me? Like we want him to understand how important it is to use the word mine in the right spot, when you're trying to claim something from your brother and pull it over to you, you want to make sure you say mine. Or I've never had to talk to a parent who's really concerned that their child doesn't know how to use the word no. It just comes natural, it flows out at the perfect spot, it's grammatically right, it's in the right part of the sentence. It just comes at the right time because it is in us to say, you know what, I know what's right for me. I know what's best for me, don't you tell me what to do, don't you talk to me about my stuff, I know what's right for me. I'm going to run the show, I'm going to run my life, I'm going to be my lord and savior.

George Wright: 25:21 Every toddler is wired to want to do their own thing, because every toddler is just like a sheep. Right, sheep, they don't know what they need, sheep don't know what's best for them. They need a loving shepherd that will correct them, that will teach them, that will guide them to where they need to be. And if we really are honest, we're just not that far away from toddlers, are we? For all we, like sheep, have gone astray, we have all turned to our own way. We pitch a fit when we don't get what we want, we love to use the word mine, we want to be in control, we want to go our own way, we want to do our own thing. And in our sin, we turn away from God's best for us. And as we turn away from God's best for us, we despise and reject what he has done for us. All we, like sheep, have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way.

George Wright: 26:41 But then what Isaiah shares is so beautiful, as he shows us that the perfect good shepherd, please don't miss this, the perfect good shepherd who loves and cares for the sheep, listen to this, knows that correction would not be enough to save us. The perfect good shepherd, who loves and cares for the sheep, knows that gentle reminders to move back in the right direction would not be enough to save us from our sin. The good shepherd, who loves and cares for the sheep, knows that the sin of the sheep must be paid for, so the good shepherd became a sheep, and he gave his life willingly, lovingly, graciously, going to the slaughter of the cross to set us free from our sin.

George Wright: 27:48 And it's in this gift, that the love of God is displayed through the good shepherd. You see, if you're here or joining us online and you have ever questioned God's love for you, if you've ever thought anything like this, there's no way God could love me because of what I've done. There's no way that God could truly love me, if he knows everything about my life, and he really knows my story, and he really knows what's hidden in the dark corners that I don't want anyone else to know about, if he really knows that, there is no way that God could love me. If you've ever had that thought for a moment, please see the gift that Isaiah 53:6-7 are to you. Listen to what the Word of God says, "For all we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; (Listen) but the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all."

George Wright: 28:55 And then verse 7, "He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet, he opened not his mouth, like a lamb that before his shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth." What is this saying? Jesus willingly and lovingly went to the slaughter of the cross for you and for me. And as he went, please don't miss this, at no point did Jesus look up from all of the torture that he was experiencing and say, I'm not dying for that one. No, I'll die for some of these over here, but I'm not dying for one. No, he was silent, and he did not open his mouth. Because in dying for you, and in dying for me, he was doing exactly what he came to do. There wasn't a single moment in that horrific scene when Jesus spoke up and said, I don't deserve this. No, no, you treat me with respect. No, no, this stops now, I've had enough of this. No, he was silent, and he did not open his mouth, because what he was enduring was exactly why he came. He came knowing your story, knowing what sin would thrust him to the cross, knowing what sin in your life and mine needed to be crucified so that we could be right with God and truly see the love of God on display. He opened not his mouth, because he was perfectly fulfilling the reason why he came And in being silent before his accusers, and giving his life at the cross, Jesus has done what we would say is the impossible, he gave his life to set us free. The only innocent man to ever die, Jesus Christ gave his perfect life, free from sin, as the perfect substitute, the perfect sacrifice, for our sin at the cross. There is no greater love than this. For if you truly want to know the love of another, look and see what that one is willing to sacrifice to demonstrate their love. The greatest sacrifice that the world has ever seen comes through what Christ was willing to endure. Please don't miss this. Yes, the cross was horrific, but what Christ was willing to endure was the full wrath of God against all of your sin and mine thrust on his back. And he went willingly and quietly so that you and I would know the love of God made available to us.

George Wright: 32:47 As we enter into this week of Christmas, it is my prayer for every single one of us, that we would look at Christmas and we would see the love of God on display, as Jesus Christ stepped out of heaven to do for us what we could never do for ourselves, and to invite us to live free in the love of God that covers our sin and releases us from shame. This is the great love of Jesus Christ for you and for me, and this is why we celebrate Christmas.

George Wright: 33:32 With that in mind, let me pray for us, as I conclude this message. And we then reflect through singing on the incredible, amazing love of God, doing the impossible to show us his love. Let's pray, Father, I'm so grateful for the amazing invitation that we get at Christmas to stop and reflect on the beautiful gift of love that has been so graciously offered to us. Oh Lord, I pray, for anyone among us, anyone joining online for this message, who has really been wrestling with whether or not God could love them. I pray, Lord God, that today would be the day in the power of your Spirit, that they would recognize your love is pursuing them. And even though they may have gone, what they think is further than others, we all have gone to our own way. We all need a savior to rescue us, and restore us, and invite us, into a right relationship with the Father. So Lord, I pray for those who have questioned whether or not they could be loved by God, I pray that today would be the day where in your Spirit, you are just pouring out your love on them in such a way that they can't deny it. They see your word, and they see the good news, and they recognize what Christmas means. I pray that there would be some who would say, I must trust in what Christ has done. I need this love, so I'm asking Jesus to be the Lord and Savior of my life. I don't want to despise and reject him anymore, I want to trust what he has done. The true Lord and Savior, come to demonstrate the love God

George Wright: 35:42 As we go from this place and prepare for Christmas celebrations with family, friends, whoever we may be seeing, Lord, I pray that we would go reflecting on the love of God that has been poured out for us. Let us be a light of love, let us be a picture of a life that has been transformed by the sacrificing, serving love of Jesus Christ. I pray that others would see the love of God in us, and that you would use us to share the good news of what Christ has done. We pray for many to hear the good news of the gospel this week through these Christmas services, we pray that you would bless and anoint them for your glory to be used as a picture of the good news that we celebrate in Jesus Christ our Lord. Thank you for pursuing us with your love, even now. It's in Christ' name, I pray. Amen.

Recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Shandon Baptist Church
5250 Forest Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29206