Dr. Charles F. “Chuck” DeVane, Jr., Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
DECEMBER 13, 2015
The Lord your God is in your midst,a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
— Zephaniah 3:17, ESV
With only a few Christmas shopping days left, panic should be about ready to set in. Have you gotten everyone on your list what they want for Christmas? Are you getting what you want for Christmas? What about God? What does God want for Christmas?
God Wants To Be Seen
When I think about Christ and Christmas, I think about the young couple who invited their friends over for a party to celebrate their newborn child. Guests arrived, coats were piled on the bed, everyone was seated in the living room to see the new baby, but the baby could not be found. She had been covered up by all the coats!
It is hard to see God in the modern Christmas. Even a church in our city posted on the marquee, “Season’s Greetings.” Surely the church, of all people, should put “Christ” in “Christmas!”
Christ came the first time to put “The Lord God in your midst.” Isaiah called Him Immanuel, and Matthew reminded us that His name means God with us. John called Him the God who became flesh and lived among us.
Precious as they are, God did not make Christmas for Santa, elves, reindeer, or presents placed under a tree. God made Christmas for Himself to be seen in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
God Wants To Be Heard
The gospel is the person and work of Jesus Christ. Most people cannot see it, however, until they hear it. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the message of Christ” (ref. Romans 10:17).
Hearing the gospel can bring about repentance and faith, which makes God “a mighty one who will save.” A person cannot get saved by works, by being good, by being religious, or by giving away enough stuff at Christmas. A person is mightily saved when they hear the preaching of the gospel, the simple John 3:16 gospel, and understand the depth of God’s love, the depth of their own sin, and the historic fact that Jesus was placed in a wooden manger at His miraculous, virgin birth and upon a wooden cross at His sacrificial, atoning death.
And when we hear the gospel efficaciously, we may hear other sounds coming from God, too. We can hear Him laugh and we can hear Him sing. “He will rejoice over you with gladness …; He will exult over you with loud singing.”
God loves a good laugh. He even named one of his sons Isaac, which means laughter. When I read the Gospels I can hear Jesus rejoicing and laughing out loud at the wedding in Cana, on a retreat with His disciples, and eating dinner with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. I read Spurgeon’s sermons and understand why he was known by some as that preacher who tells jokes. And the whole Bible is full of song, songs that are near and dear to the heart of God.
Do you know what makes great laughter and gregarious singing? Love. Love makes presence more important than presents. Love makes for laughter in the living room and around the dinner table. Love, especially true love, makes you sing. God does all of this, and more, because God is love.
And what God wants for Christmas is for you to see Him, in Christ, and for you to hear Him, in the word of God and the gospel, and for you to know that because of love, there are some things He will keep quiet forever.
God Wants To Keep Some Things Quiet
“He will quiet you by his love” is one the most beautiful and mysterious statements in all the Bible. What does this mean? What does it have to do with Christmas?
Christ was born to die. When He died on the cross, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” It was a question from God the Son to which God the Father gave no answer. God was quiet as silent death fell upon His only begotten Son.
Here is the greatest gift. Through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Chrsit, God has washed away our sin. He has buried it deeper than ocean and remembers it no more. By the glorious doctrine of double imputation, we stand before God as if we never sinned and clothed in the perfect righteousness of Christ. When it comes to our condemnation, God is forever quiet, because He has been spectacularly loud with His love.
No wonder the great Baptist A.T. Robertson called Zephaniah 3:17 “the John 3:16 of the Old Testament.” It is full of love, full of the gospel, and full of a list of things God wants for Christmas. He wants you to see Him, He wants you to hear Him, and He wants you to love Him, by fully trusting in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.