(This message was originally published on December 19, 2012)
Merry Christmas! This weekend and Christmas Eve many of you will be leading and serving in churches across the SBC of Virginia mission field. You are ambassadors of Christ and ministers of the Gospel to our many neighbors and the nations. I also pray you will have some time to rest and be with loved ones.
Perhaps you will have loved ones visit you, or you will visit them. There have been many a Christmas past when I can remember visiting my grandparents in North Carolina as a child. Now, I am taking my children to see their grandparents.
I wanted to take a moment and share with you some verses of Scripture that I often think about this time of year that remind me of three places I need to stop and visit during Christmas! As we read Philippians 2, let’s “visit” three places this Christmas…
 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.  Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,  so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (ESV)
Christmas Vacation Stop #1 – The Crib of Christ
Verse 7 tells us that Christ was born in the likeness of man. I have seen three children (my children) born into this world. It must be (I don’t really remember) humbling to be a baby. Laying there, not being able to form words, unable to walk, messy diapers. Have you ever thought what it was like for the God of the Universe, the One who spoke Creation into existence, to humble himself as a baby? Visit the Crib (the Manger) this Christmas. Ponder what it meant for Christ to be born in the likeness of men. But, notice, the manger, the crib is empty. Jesus is no longer Baby Jesus, He grew in wisdom and stature, lived a perfect human life. So, we must visit another place…
Christmas Vacation Stop #2 – The Cross of Christ
Verse 8 tells us that Christ was obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. The Bible makes special note that Jesus died, but not just any death – death on a cross. Most scholars recognize that no crueler method of death has been invented than the cross. Consider how Jesus humbled himself, willingly, generously, graciously giving His life to pay for our sins and purchase a place for us in Heaven. But notice, the cross (like the crib) is empty. Our sin debt is paid in full. So, we must visit another place…
Christmas Vacation Stop #3 – The Tomb of Christ
Men who die are put in tombs. Jesus was put into a tomb. But, as we visit His tomb, a borrowed tomb, we notice it is empty too. As verse 9 and following point out, Jesus is highly exalted. He is our risen and living Lord of Lords, King of Kings. Jesus, the perfect God-man. God’s only begotten Son, our one and only Savior.
Isaac Watts wrote “Joy to the World” based off of Psalm 98. People often sing this song as we celebrate Christ’s first coming. But, we must live in light of Christ return. His crib is empty, His cross is empty, His tomb is empty – because Jesus is at the right hand of the Father. He is coming back – not as Baby Jesus, but as King Jesus.
Joy to the world! The Lord is come; Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room, And heaven and nature sing,
No more let sins and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow, Far as the curse is found,
He rules the world with truth and grace, And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness, And wonders of His love…
There is much lostness and darkness in this world. SBCV Churches, let’s proclaim that joyous Good News to a lost and dying world. Joy to the World…Jesus came, and He is coming again!