Being the wife of a Vietnam Vet, I served during those years on the home front. I served proudly, alongside the best, including many POW wives. Many of us volunteer now with today’s military spouses—helping with our own brand of training while observing, often up close and personal, a much more difficult war with its multiple deployments and unseen enemy. I have heard it said that Vietnam vets serve so well now because they were so ill-treated back then—and they don’t want our current forces to experience that. Perhaps that’s some of it, but I don’t think that’s all of it—by any means. I think they serve well because it’s the right thing to do.
Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost. — Luke 19:10
Pastor Tommy Nelson, of Denton Bible Church in Texas, gave a sermon to his church for Christmas, 1988, entitled “Jesus’ View of Christmas.”
The text for this powerful sermon was an unlikely one . . . Luke 11:21-26.
Those verses are several chapters away from the traditional Christmas story which we all know and love, Luke 2:1-20: “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed . . . “
I was intrigued. How could verses about Jesus and Satan give us a message for Christmas?
Pastor Nelson began his sermon with the story of his father-in-law—a veteran of the World War II war in the Pacific—injured in battle. Pastor Nelson explained why his father-in-law is so patriotic . . . and challenges us to see patriotism from the heart of a soldier. To one who fights bravely and sacrificially, American patriotism means “the price paid”—suffering experienced for victory in battle . . . and the suffering of battle buddies killed. In other words, patriotism from the side of the donor . . . not the recipient.
He went on to suggest that Christmas, for Jesus, can be viewed the same way. “How does Jesus see Christmas? He sees it like Normandy, like Anzio, like Iwo Jima . . . A military maneuver—an attack force.” And Jesus wins.
Jesus Christ gave everything—He is the donor of life eternal. We are the recipients of that great gift. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)
The birth of Jesus is viewed in our culture as a sweet manger scene focused on a swaddled infant, being watched over by adoring parents and gathering shepherds and wise men. In truth, it was the son of God come to earth to rescue a sinful world from the captivity of one known as “strong man” (Luke 11:21), “fully armed” (Luke 11:21), “prince of this world” (John 12:31, John 14:30), “god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4), “liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44), “the evil one” (Matthew 6:13), “roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8). Pastor Nelson called Jesus’ arrival in Bethlehem “a military maneuver into Satan’s domain to free what God has chosen.”
“I wonder if you said to the Son of God, ‘Christmas. Jesus, what comes into Your mind?’ There is no clearer text where Jesus told us what His incarnation was than this text (Luke 11:21-26). He had been accused of doing miracles by the power of Satan—that He was in league with Satan. And He said, ‘Gentlemen, you’ve got it all wrong. I am not Satan’s ally. I am Satan’s foe.’ And He said, ‘Let me get your drama straight.’ He said, ‘Here’s who Satan is—a strong man, an armed man who guards his people and no one gets out. Here’s who I am—the stronger man, the attacker, the victorious man who strips the enemy and plunders his possessions. And then He said, ‘You’ve got to make a choice.’”
It’s a clear choice. In summary, Jesus says you are either with Him or against Him. (Luke 11:23)
This Christmas, see the babe in the manger as our victorious Lord . . . come to earth to wage battle and defeat the enemy of our souls, Satan, the great deceiver and deliverer of death. Christ came, and He conquered.
And this is the testimony: “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” I John 5:11,12
This Christmas, choose life.
Questions to Share:
1. When you think of the meaning of Christmas, what comes to mind?
2. Pray for this time of Christmas, while you are separated by deployment, to be a time of spiritual strengthening because of your understanding of Christ’s mission on earth.