Sermon Transcript:

Thank you to so many of you. I think Pastor Mike said there was over 500 volunteers for the Mount Laurel Living Nativity this year. It’s just incredible.

And I don’t even know if that counts the true hero. The true hero of the Living Nativity this year is whoever made the lemon cookies that are in the lobby right now. That might be the single greatest cookie I have ever had in my life. There is a lemon cookie that’s still in the lobby. Yes, you can.

You’re excused if you want to grab one. That is absolutely phenomenal. We do this. You give your time 500 over 500 people. Many others of you have brought friends or come through yourself. We do this. We gather on Sunday mornings. All because of an answer to a question. That simple question is, who was this baby who came in a manger over 2, 000 years ago?

Who was this person? There’s some kids that have asked deep theological questions about this God, this Christ who came. Lucy asked this question, are you invisible? Or is that just a trick? Nan asked this existential question. Says, I bet it’s hard to love everyone in the whole world. There are only four people in my family and I can never do it.

It’s a practical question from a kid. If Jesus doesn’t have to, if Jesus doesn’t have a sister. Why do I need to have one? And a parent wrote this. When my oldest was about three, we found a baby bird in the yard. It had fallen from its nest. When I went to check on it in the morning, it had died. When I took the kids out to play, I discreetly, every parent knows what this is like, discreetly scooped him up, put him in a bag, and in the trash.

When we came in, my son said, Mama, what happened to that baby bird? Trying to skirt the issue, I said, Oh, you don’t have to worry about the baby bird. He lives with Jesus now. He looked at me thoughtfully and for a few moments and said, Jesus lives in the trash? The majority of the questions about the Christian faith, the reason why so many of the creeds are written Is over this question of who is this Jesus?

We’ve been going and lighting advent camp candles and talking about Jesus as the hope as the peace and this morning as this Jesus who brings joy. And what I’d like to do this morning is to tell the origin story to tell the prequel to the manger that we have. Who was Jesus? Before the manger. What was pre baby Jesus like?

Was that his name? Was he in human body form before coming to earth? What was the second person of the Trinity doing? What was his role in the Godhead? Was he waiting his turn like God the Father had the Old Testament? Tagged, Jesus, he had the Gospels and Jesus tagged the Spirit and he had the rest of the New Testament.

Where do we see the unique role in the Godhead? Before he became a human on earth, before he taught and ministered, before he died for the sins of the world and rose to defeat death. Who was this Christ for the majority of the scriptures you have in front of you this morning? So we’re going to look simply at the first 39 books of the Bible.

We’re going to start with Genesis 1. I’d like a volunteer to read. No, just kidding. We’re going to go through a survey of looking at this Jesus, this, this Christ of joy that came all the way and we’re going to trace him to the manger. Pray with me this morning.

Lord, there’s countless ways where our life has been impacted by the incarnation of you coming to earth.

Jesus, you are our King. You are our hope and our peace and our joy. And, and as the song we sang, as we open your scriptures, we pray they would unfold. But even more than that, I pray for myself, I pray for my, my friends here, that our hearts might unfold like flowers before Thee. Opening up to the sun above in Jesus name.

Amen. Four things we’re going to look at of Christ’s role that we see in the Old Testament. The first was his role in creation. Where was the second person of the Godhead? The second person of the Trinity in creation? What was Christ’s job in the time of creation? Colossians 1, 15 through 17 says this, The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

For in Him, All things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authority, all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. John begins his gospel talking this way, In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

He was with God in the beginning through him. All things were made. Without Him, nothing was made that has been made. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. The, the role of Christ in creation is a significant one.

He was not a bystander while the Father or the Spirit were the agents of creations alone. It, says in Colossians 1, 16 we said, For in him all things created, John 1, 3, Through him all things were made. Now there’s agency in the whole Godhead, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, in the creation of the world. Genesis 1, 26 said, Then God, singular said, Let us, plural, make man in our own image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over.

Who is making says let us make. In Genesis 1 2 it says the spirit hovers over the waters of the deep, over the surface of the waters. So we see that multiple, that all of the God has, it is involved in creation. However, there is a unique role. That this manger dwelling second person of God had in all of creation.

He is listed as the primary agent in the Godhead. He made, Christ made, all the stuff. Atoms, molecules, cells, nuclei. 118 that we know about, chemical elements. Place and spacing of the planets, the exact dimensions in which existence itself takes place, time and space. And he didn’t just make the stuff, he also organized how the stuff interacted.

Macro and micro ecosystems. He made the stuff between the stuff. Emotion, reason, morality, consciousness. And made the rules of how the stuff itself behaves. Gravity, heat, vacuum, laws of motion. Jesus Christ, the second person of the Godhead, is Creator. Not only is, is He a Creator, He is a Sustainer. In, in the text we just looked at, it says, All things were created in Him, and all things, in Him, all things, You catch it what it said?

Are held together. Creation itself is not a clock that was wound up and set. It is a creation that is held. It is a creation that is held together by Christ himself. There was a belief in the 17 hundreds called deism. This was after the scientific res revolution, and we realized as we look around and saw all of this stuff.

Mankind had an ability to do things with this stuff, to be like their creator in creating new things with this basic stuff he had given them, right? We have learned to facilitate, manipulate, operate this stuff, this created stuff, so we can make cars and pizzas, telescopes, frisbees. And what people looked around, and obviously they didn’t make cars by then, I know the person’s looking, But looked around and we’re like, Hey, we can make a lot of stuff.

Maybe God just started this thing and let it go. And John Locke was a big influencer in this belief of deism. I think it’s a belief system that we can Think pretty often maybe not explicitly but at least in our day to day that God made all the stuff and that okay I mean even understanding Christ himself second person of the Trinity was involved in the making of all things But he didn’t just make it didn’t just send it forward in Christ all things hold together atoms and molecules cells and nuclei Macro micro ecosystems.

All things were made by him and are sustained by him. He is before all things and in him all things hold together. Hebrews 1 3 says this. Jesus upholds the universe by the word. Of his power now when we think of jesus in and we under and in christmas there’s So much beautifully appropriately understanding of the humanity When Jesus was a baby, he did not know language.

He did not control his own bowels. He did not have a sense of, Oh, I’m not gonna cry because I am filled with the joy of the Spirit. Right? Like this was a normal baby who had to learn to walk and talk like a normal baby. That means the very maker of language, the very holder together all things, had to learn a first word.

Had to move a first step. This is the mystery that we hold at Christmas. But more, when we talk about Christ, the second person of the Godhead, we’re not just talking about the most influential man in history. Not just talking about the person around which we shape our calendars. Those things are small news.

On the resume of Christ himself, we are talking about the one who’s created and holds together all that we know. Second thing, in the Old Testament, the coming of this Christ, and we see what’s called Christophanies. Now, can you guys say, say Christophanies? That’s okay. you guys say Christophanies. Yeah, that’s good.

You guys get more lemon cookies. Christophanies. Okay, so a Christophany is the appearing of Christ in the Old Testament. There are several moments in the Old Testament where the person of Christ came and appeared to people. Not someone like Christ, not an angel sent by Christ, but actually Christ himself.

Jonathan Edwards wrote this, when we read in sacred history what God did from time to time toward his church and people, how he revealed himself to them, we are to understand it especially in the second person of the Trinity. Now you’re not going to open up your Old Testament and see a whole lot of, and then Jesus came because in the second person of the Trinity, that was not the title that was given to him.

What we see. In the Old Testament is the angel of Yahweh or the angel of Jehovah. Now there’s many different angels talked about in the Bible, including the Old Testament. Jacob saw angels, Balaam had an angel, Isaiah had visions of an angel, angels, Zechariah, Ezekiel talk about angels. They are angels from the Lord.

But there is this special title given to this Yahweh, and he’s talked to as it would talk to with the title of God or Lord. This angel of the Lord is, angel of the Lord, a divine entity, and this was his name, primarily where you see the name. of Christ in the Old Testament. It is this title, the angel of the Lord.

I’m just going to mention, there’s a number of passages where we see this character. I’m going to just mention three. One is the story of Hagar. Hagar, is one of the most prominent, uh, painful examples of spiritual abuse we have. And what happens is Abraham, Abram and Sarai were promised they were going to have a child.

Nothing’s happening. And so, Sarai says, Sarai says to Abram, go, go, have a baby with Hagar. So he does that. Then all of a sudden Hagar has a baby. And who would guess, Sarai is now jealous and wanting to, and casts her out. And she eventually goes and she’s out, in the, in the wilderness and God comes to her.

The angel of Yahweh comes to her and they have this back and forth and this angel of Yahweh, this Christ himself was given a new name by Hagar, says now I will call you the God of Israel. Who sees that then eventually Hagar goes back to Abraham and Sarai they become Abraham and Sarah Then they have their own child Isaac at this time There’s Isaac here and then there’s Hager’s Hagar’s kid Ishmael and then Sarah and Abraham were like, okay We’re gonna do the Isaac thing.

They kick out Hagar and she becomes a single mom. She’s sent with a piece of bread And a little bit of water into the desert to die all because of this plot of Abraham and Sarah. And then she goes in Genesis 21. She says that she’s cast out dying in the desert. She puts the baby down because she cannot bear the sound of him dying, says God.

God heard the angel of the Lord, Christ himself, heard the boy crying. The angel of God called Hagar from heaven and said to her, what is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid. God has heard the boy crying as he lies there, lift up the boy, take him by hand, I will make him into a great nation. God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water, so she went and filled the skim with water and gave the boy a drink.

This Christ is the one who sees and the one who hears the little boy crying. Another example of Christ himself Got Christophany in the Old Testament is in the burning bush or the not burning bush Moses who’s finally gotten out of the drama of Egypt and all this going on he goes and he’s in the wilderness He’s on Mount Sinai and he’s walking around and he sees a bush that’s on fire.

Not that unusual incredibly arid climate, and he goes and sees this bush. It’s on fire, but it’s not burning. That is unusual. What is on fire? What is on fire is the angel of the Lord. There the angel of the Lord, the angel of Jehovah, appeared to him in flames with fire from a bush. And Moses thought the bush was on fire.

It did not burn up, so he thought, I will go over and see this strange sight. When the Lord Saw that he had gone over to, look, God called to him from the bush, who’s in the bush? God’s in the bush. Angel of the Lord’s in the bush. It’s the same person, the same person of Christ. And then there’s this interchange between Moses and Christ at the bush.

And basically Christ says, I want you to go and rescue my people. And Moses says. I don’t want to and then God says you need to go rescue my people and he basically goes back and forth Is there anyone else and then he says well, who am I even gonna say who am I even gonna say is sending me? Do you know what he says?

He says I am who I am tell him I am has sent me that is the word Yahweh the angel of Yahweh is Yahweh So, if we can say things like, you know what, God seemed a certain way in the Old Testament. I don’t really love all that stuff, and so I like the Jesus parts in the New Testament. It’s the same Christ.

Christ as a part of the Godhead is Yahweh, and we see him in the Old Testament. The Old Testament. One more story. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego won’t bow before Nebuchadnezzar. And so they get thrown into a fire. It’s lit extra hot. And the people even throwing them into the fire get burned and die.

And, and they go and look to see these burned up guys that wouldn’t bow before the idols. And they look in and what do they say? They say there’s people walking around. And how many people did they say? There’s four people walking around. There’s an extra person in there. Somebody gave birth, right? There’s four people in the furnace.

It is the angel of Yahweh, Christ himself, being with his people. One of the questions I ask myself is, well, when did he show up? Looking at these and other Christophanies, when did he show up? Jesus showed up then just as he came at Christmas, just as he comes today. He came to be with his people and to save them from their distress.

Third thing we see, and it does say two, but it really means three, prophecies, right? Over 300 prophecies about Christ or prophecies in the Old Testament. And, just want to. I’m going to say a few that pertain directly to his life. First his conception prophesied Isaiah 714. His birth, Isaiah 9 6. His birthplace, Isaiah 714.

His mission on earth, this is a real cool one, because Isaiah 61 1. In Luke 4, Jesus goes and he reads the Isaiah scroll and undoes a very long scroll of 66 chapters and comes to chapter 61 of the Isaiah scroll. And he says this in Luke 4. He reads this. He has sent me to heal those who are broken hearted to announce the captives will be set free and prisoners will be released.

Reading from Isaiah. And then he said, rolled up the scroll and said, Today the scripture is fulfilled in your hearing. His physical appearance is prophesied in Isaiah 53, 3. We have an idea of what Jesus looked like. Jesus did not have glowing blue eyes that just pierced your soul, right? Or the long hair and the thing of like, Whoa, he didn’t stand out.

He wasn’t a king that was a head taller like Saul. It says in Isaiah 53, that he had no beauty. Or majesty to attract us to him nothing in his appearance that we should desire him Jesus was not a particularly good looking man He was not an unusually, attractive man in the way he was, or came across, or looked.

Isaiah 11. 2 includes his, the inclusion of the Gentiles. Isaiah 53, his manner of death. Isaiah 53. 9, his burial. Isaiah 55. 3, his resurrection. Isaiah 11. 11, the second coming. These are just some of the prophecies about Jesus. Does anyone notice? for an extra lemon cookie. I’m telling you, they’re so good. Okay, Anybody notice anything about these prophecies we just went through?

They’re all from the book of Isaiah. And not all the prophecies about Christ are from Isaiah. But the reason I chose Isaiah is In 1947, there was what I believe the most important discovery, archaeological discovery that we have in terms of Biblical history. In 1947, a nomadic Arab shepherd It was wandering around and came across some scrolls.

It was on the west side of the Dead Sea. And then through about 14 more years of excavation, they have all these different scrolls. Now the reason why this is important is that our Old Testament that we have is prim was primarily based on texts that were copied and copied and copied and copied and copied.

And the, the most original texts, or most significant original texts that we were dealing with was 1000 A. D. Now there’s something you can say about the prophecies if you only have texts from a thousand AD you can say well maybe they saw what Jesus did and then Prophesied it in a thousand AD and made it sound like it was before him in 1947.

These were found they’re dated between 100 AD but most of them before Christ came as early as 300 BC they contain parts of of all of the new, all the books of the New Testament, except for Nehemiah and, and Esther. And the most significant discovery was the Isaiah scroll. All 66 chapters dated back to 125 before BC, before Christ.

If you think, well, 125 years may not seem that long. 125 years ago, Utah became the 45th state in the union. We were in the Spanish American War with William McKinley as president and Henry Ford had just built a quadricycle That was the forerunner to his Model T that didn’t come for nine more years 125 years before This Isaiah scroll speaks of the coming of this Christ.

Luke 24, 14 says this, or 24, 44. This is Jesus speaking. Then he said to them, These are my words I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written to me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms, Must be fulfilled. Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. Fourth, we see Christ in the Old Testament in what’s called types of Christ.

Types of Christ, types of Christ where it wasn’t necessarily Christ himself, but it was an example of what Christ would do. Adam is one. If you look at, you take the book, the first three chapters of the book of Genesis, and then the 16 chapters of the book of Romans, you see this connection of how Jesus is the second Adam.

Jesus came to do, Jesus came to represent. The way that Adam failed to represent a people or just as the way that Adam took a people to death. Jesus takes a people to life. There’s a serpent in the desert where, in the old Testament, they’re wandering around the desert and there’s a time when they raise up the serpent.

If you looked upon the serpent, you were saved and, and Jesus is in, in right before he gets to the famous John three, 16, he’s talking to Nicodemus and John three, four. 14. And he says, just as the snake was lifted up in the desert, so the son of man is lifted up. And he’s using that as an example, saying that was a type that wasn’t, that wasn’t me, but it was just like me, just, I’m just like Adam.

If you take a Moses, and this is so often when we went through the book of acts, right? So many of the sermons in the book of acts that Paul and Peter gave went back. to Moses, right? And they went and explained this has been a story of Jesus all along. Moses himself was a type of Christ. 400 years silence.

Israel was in the bondage of Pharaoh in Egypt. After 400 years, God finally raises up a deliverer. There’s 400 years right before the coming of Christ. And after 400 years, God raises up the second Moses to fulfill the sacrificial system is a type of Christ, a forerunner to Christ. You take the book of liticus and marry it to the book of Hebrews and understanding that this were a type, these were a type of Christ.

As I went through, the Old Testament, I really, Testament and really enjoyed this exercise of just saying, Okay, Christ, what were you like then? Right? not just in the Gospels, not just in revelations that coming again. We see images of Jesus. What were you like before the manger? What were you like?

There are five things that as I looked at this that stood out to me. In these four, uh, ways of the coming of Christ. How, or the way he was, I’m sorry, the coming of Christ in the Old Testament. His creation, Christophanies, prophecies, and types of Christ. What was Jesus like in the Old Testament? Here are the macro themes that I, I found myself.

You can, it’s these five things. One, power and capacity. When, when Jesus in the Old Testament came, he wasn’t just a buddy that, that joined in the, in the fight or helped out. There was power and capacity to who he was. There was personal connection. Not a removed Christ, but an involved Christ. Personal sacrifice.

Delivered his people. He delivered his people when Christ came in the Old Testament. Delivered his people from their distress. And lastly, brought his people joy. The presence of Christ in the Old Testament was not an encumbered thing. It was a joyful thing. It wasn’t a thing of burden. It was a reality.

The deliverance had come and just want to run through them real quick. Where do we see these? First off, what was he like in creation? In particular, we see one, two, and five of those. The authority. Christ had the authority to, out of nothing, ex nihilo, speak and create all that we know. That’s power and capacity.

But when he created, he didn’t just stand back and watch like a clock. No, he sustained. He was involved. At Christophany in the Old Testament, we didn’t have time to get to is Jesus. Walking in the garden when it says he was walking in the cool of the day, believe that is Christ himself. what we see, what is he like?

He also came to bring his people’s joy, but what was he like in the Christophanies? Well, Christophanies and the way he behaved in the Christophanies when he came on earth, we see his power and capacity being able to do everything that he said he would do when he came. It was personal connection. It was almost always to a small group of.

people or to one person. When Christ came in the Old Testament, it was deeply intimate and personal. Third or fourth, he delivered his people from their distress. When Christ came as a Christophany, it was almost always with a direct activity in mind saying this person of mine is in trouble and I’m coming to pull them out.

And when he came, his people were left with statements like that. God sees me at God. Here’s me. That God walks in the fire with me. The presence of Christ brought people joy in the prophecies, who Christ would be. We see all five of these seams. He is. He is to come with a He is to come to rule and be a king.

He was, he’s coming to capably do what no one else can do. He’s coming to be personally connected to the plight of his people. Isaiah 53 is just this intimate prophecy of this, this, this God who would be with who not this God who would be around, not this God who would just lead, but the God who would be with and walk with his people.

And the God who would have ultimate personal sacrifice that prophecy started as early as Genesis three and is punctuated throughout your entire Old Testament that this God would come to have victory, but would do so at his own sacrifice. He would also successfully deliver his people from distress.

This is the promise of the coming Messiah. And when, remember when Christ eventually came, actually got in the manger and it says there’s an angel on the hillside, he appeared with a great light and said this, behold, do not be afraid. I bring you, this is the type of news I’m bringing you. I bring you good news of what of great joy.

It’s prophesied joy and the joy had finally arrived. Lastly, the, the type of what were the type of Christ’s like these hit on four of those themes authority, capacity, personal connection, extra probably five. The personal sacrifice also is seen in the different types of Christ delivering his people from distress and giving joy.

So asking the question, Jesus, who were you before you came in the manger? Who were you in the old Testament? And I felt this week, you ever see the movie hook? That’s a great movie, alright? Hook is like, Robin Williams. He’s Peter Pan. Only he’s older and chubbier. And he comes back to Never, Neverland?

Did I get that right? Okay, alright. So he goes back there and he’s, there, he’s She’s trying to convince the people that he’s Peter Pan and he’s not quite sure either But finally he’s convinced that Peter Pan and they’re like that’s not Peter Pan couldn’t be Peter Pan Until this kid who’s literally cutest human being of all time walks up to Peter Pan’s face and he starts Moving away the wrinkles, peering it back and looking in his eyes.

Anybody remember what he said? He said, There you are, Peter. There you are, Peter. That’s what it felt like when I was going through the Old Testament. I’m used to talking about Jesus from a New Testament perspective. But just looking at who he was in the Old Testament felt like uncrinkling some of those Old Testament pages and saying, There you are, Christ.

It felt like what it says in Hebrews, that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. That this Christ is who he always has been. And this Christ who came in a manger, came to be who he already was. And this dead and resurrected Christ. Best thing about Easter is Jesus Christ is not dead right now. Is the same on this day and will be the same tomorrow and forever to come.

This is news of joy. And I thought just by way of application, a lot of times applying passages. It’s like, okay, here’s what we need to go do. Here’s what we’re called to do, commanded to do. Here’s what we’re called to think. I think this, this question, to apply who Christ was, who Christ really was, is to ask the question that is personal.

To say, what do I need from Christ? Peter had a big problem with that question, right? Jesus, eventually, after he goes and, and he’s, he goes and washes his disciples feet at the end of his ministry before the cross. And he comes to Peter, and Peter’s like, dude, do not wash my feet. And Jesus said, unless I wash your feet, you will have no part of me.

Because Christ came to seek and to save and to serve. So a question just this morning for us, and we’re gonna sing a final song. Is what do you need from Christ right now? Because this, how is the pre incarnate Christ different than the one that came at resurrection? The answer is he’s not. What is different is his availability.

What’s different is the clarity of which he comes, and that he doesn’t just come and again in Christophenes. Is that his presence, his personal connection with people, has, doesn’t have the veil that it had before then. He is available today, and I just want to again say, Ask the question, what do you need from this Christ?

Number one is authority, power. Number two, his personal connection. This Christmas finds a lot of people lonely. Number three, to understand his sacrifice. Because to understand his sacrifice is to understand the very definition of love. Number four, do you need to be saved from your distress? Whether that is your sin, that is your fear.

In this season, number five, you need help because you’re fighting for joy. And you need the coming of this Christ who was the same before, came as the same again, rose as the same again, and remains the same today. Dear people of God, this is the foundation of why we exist. Jesus, we come before you, we acknowledge our need of you, we thank you for your power.

Your closeness, your unimaginable sacrifice, your deliverance from our distress, and we walk this moment and this day into joy in Jesus name. Amen.