16 December 2014

Short Christmas sermon: How not to find Jesus

by Dan Phillips

For our annual Christmas program, I was to bring a brief message. The program lasted well over an hour before my time came, and it was wonderful — piano, banjo, saxophone, flute, guitars; songs, recitals; little tiny kids and adults. Really great.

I'd puzzled and pondered on what to bring. Such events bring believers and unbelievers. We have many such events at which I'm asked to speak; and I know unbelieving friends and relatives are there. So I invariably preach the Gospel as pointedly, plainly and powerfully as I know how. And, to date, there has not been one conversion or even further contact from these events. This is a matter of intense, ongoing prayer for me, and I do all I can to urge my dear ones here at our church to do the same.

That said, I had no interest in offering a soothing, tranquilizing, boilerplate intonation of familiar imagery. So I took a different approach on a familiar passage. I focused on Matthew 2, but announced my topic is "How NOT to Find Jesus."

I'll do for you what I never do. These are my preaching notes:

1.      Every Sunday I stand in the pulpit and tell people how to find Jesus, how to know God, how to walk with Him
a.       Those who come, want to know these things
b.      Those who do not want to know these things do not come
2.      So I thought for a change, I’d preach a short sermon on how not to find Jesus
a.       King Herod will be our example
b.      I’ll draw out three main points, briefly 

I.          When You Hear of Jesus, Don’t Look for Him Yourself
A.       Wise Men Told Herod
1.        He was troubled – making him both smarter and dumber than some
a.         He saw Jesus as a threat, and he was right
b.         But not the way he meant
c.         Still, he did not welcome God’s Messiah
2.        He did not join the Magi himself, but turned to the Experts – a dodge
B.        Bible Experts Told Herod
1.        They found in Scripture where Jesus would have been born
2.        This would have been just six miles
a.         Yet Herod did not go
b.         And the religious experts did not go!
TRANSITION:  this method will work every time: don’t look, and you won’t find

II.       When Your Non-Searching Results in Non-Finding…
A.       First: Blame Others
1.        Herod was angry at the wise men…
2.        angry, at them, for not being caught by his lie, and helping him destroy the Christ Child!
B.        Second: Believe Absurdity Instead
1.        So Herod believes this is God’s Messiah, and a threat to him…
2.        …but he thinks he can kill him?
C.       Third: Lash Out
1.        What did the babies do? Nothing
2.        Yet little god Herod is desperate in preserving his little god universe…
3.        …and a few innocent babies aren’t going to stop him
TRANSITION:  Keeping the issue everything-but-me also always works; but…

III.    Most Importantly: Never Intend to Find Him in the First Place
A.       Herod Never Meant to Find Christ for Himself
1.        By “find” I mean know, worship, love and embrace Him
2.        Herod just wanted Christ gone so he could carry on as before
B.        Remember: Christ Was There To Be Found
1.        As for Herod and the Experts…
2.        …so for you and me
C.       What If Herod Had Repented?
Psalm 2:10–12 — Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. 
1.        As for the kings of the earth…
2.        …so for Herod…
3.        …and so for you and me

I expanded a good deal, gave some additional historical anecdotes about Herod... buy hey, did you expect everything?

Now I've given you a gift for Christmas, or so was my intent. Would you give me one? Pray for the church I serve and for me, for these things:
  • That unbelievers present for this message find themselves unable to put it out of their mind, their thoughts turned to Christ afresh by the Holy Spirit
  • For the power of the preached Word in our church
  • For God to use His Gospel as His power for salvation, converting and redeeming the lost in our ministry
Dan Phillips's signature


Michael Coughlin said...

So I invariably preach the Gospel as pointedly, plainly and powerfully as I know how. And, to date, there has not been one conversion or even further contact.

I know this feeling, brother. Press on.

Michael Coughlin said...

One of my great loves of the English language is the ambiguity regarding the scope of adjectives.

I trust that there were no folks there whom you would call "tiny adults" on your blog.

Michael Coughlin said...

As far as the notes: LOVED IT. Great points about how to not find Jesus. Did you record it?

Lynda O said...

Great post, thanks for sharing. That would be a good one to listen to.

Artur Bagdasaryan said...

Thank you, Pastor Phillips! Great sermon, I might just use it :)

Merrilee Stevenson said...

Excellent. Might the audio be available soon?

Burrito34 said...