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Celebrate the Hope of Jesus

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

“Celebrate the Hope of Jesus” [on screen]

(Selected Passages)

Christmas Sermon

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

December 20, 2020

Introductory Comments:

At no point in my life can I remember a time when someone could communicate so much by simply saying the year. “I lost my job . . . 2020. My car broke down . . . 2020. There is a murder hornet infestation . . . 2020. Some are still debating who is president in late December . . . 2020. We ran out of letters of the names for hurricanes, so we’re going to start using the Greek alphabet . . . 2020. Church attendance is down, then up, then down again . . . 2020.”  

Things were messed up this year and people were messed up. According to a 2020 Gallup poll, nearly one in four Americans say their mental health is only fair, or is even poor. Sadly, that’s fewer mentally healthy people than years past. However, there is one group that reported that their mental health was better in 2020. According to the poll, “Weekly churchgoers are the only demographic group in which more say their mental health this year is better than 2019. Just under half (46%) say their mental health is excellent in 2020, compared to 42% in 2019.”

Why is it that people who attend church report better mental health? Well, I believe one of the reasons is because Jesus offers hope! Today, we’re going to celebrate the hope of Jesus! Enough complaining about 2020, let’s celebrate Jesus!

Before we go any further, let’s pray together and ask God to speak to us. 


This Christmas I want us to focus on the hope that Jesus brings. You see, Christmas is all about celebrating the gift of the birth of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the greatest gift that the world has ever received. Among the gifts that Jesus brings us is hope!

This morning, let’s highlight nine aspects of Jesus that bring us hope. 

First, . . .

I. The hope of the promise of Jesus [on screen]

One of the most amazing parts of the birth of Jesus is how He so fittingly fulfills so many promises and prophecies of the Old Testament. 

Time doesn’t allow me to list all of the prophecies, but Jesus fulfilled so many prophecies that were promised so long before His physical birth on the earth. 

Just a couple are . . .

. . . Isaiah 9:6, which says, 

“For a child will be born for us, 

a son will be given to us,

and the government will be on his shoulders.

He will be named

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” [on screen]

. . . Micah 5:2, which says,

“Bethlehem Ephrathah,

you are small among the clans of Judah;

one will come from you

to be ruler over Israel for me.

His origin is from antiquity,

from ancient times.” [on screen]

There are so many more prophecies found in the pages of Scripture. 

Think about this also, Abraham was the father of the Jewish faith. He was the one chosen by God to form a great nation. His son Isaac was the father of Jacob who also went by the name, Israel. Yet Jesus said to the Jewish leaders in John 8:56-58,

56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad.”

57 The Jews replied, “You aren’t fifty years old yet, and you’ve seen Abraham?”

58 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.” [on screen]

Jesus said that Abraham, the father of the Jewish people, looked forward to the promise of Jesus; the promise that Jesus, who existed before Abraham, would one day come to earth as the Messiah!

In the New Testament, there was a priest named Zechariah who would have a son named John, who would later be known as John the Baptizer. Upon the birth of John, Zechariah made this prophecy concerning the ministry of John and of the coming of Jesus. Listen to Luke 1:68-79:

68 Blessed is the Lord, the God of Israel,

because he has visited

and provided redemption for his people.

69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us

in the house of his servant David,

70 just as he spoke by the mouth

of his holy prophets in ancient times;

71 salvation from our enemies

and from the hand of those who hate us.

72 He has dealt mercifully with our ancestors

and remembered his holy covenant—

73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham,

to grant that we,

74 having been rescued

from the hand of our enemies,

would serve him without fear

75 in holiness and righteousness

in his presence all our days.

76 And you, child, will be called

a prophet of the Most High,

for you will go before the Lord

to prepare his ways,

77 to give his people knowledge of salvation

through the forgiveness of their sins.

78 Because of our God’s merciful compassion,

the dawn from on high will visit us

79 to shine on those who live in darkness

and the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the way of peace. [on screen]

Zechariah knew that his son, John, would prepare the way for the coming of Jesus, which Zechariah refers to as “the dawn from on high.”

The promise of Jesus brought hope for God’s people and all the world! They knew that God had not abandoned them. He was there for them and He would show it to them in the sending of their Messiah. 

That takes us to the next aspect of Jesus that brings us hope. Celebrate . . .

II. The hope of the birth of Jesus [on screen]

Well, the coming of Jesus was prophesied, but then the coming of Jesus actually came! Jesus was born!

This is the reason that we celebrate Christmas! Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

The angels of heaven proclaimed this great moment! We remember the famous Christmas passage from Luke 2:10-14:

10 But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: 11 Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped tightly in cloth and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

14 Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people he favors! [on screen]

There was good news for the people of the world because the birth of Jesus brought hope to the world! Jesus brings hope!

Do you remember the righteous man, Simeon, who got to hold the baby Jesus in the temple? Luke tells us about this in Luke 2:25-32:

25 There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israel’s consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon took him up in his arms, praised God, and said,

29 Now, Master,

you can dismiss your servant in peace,

as you promised.

30 For my eyes have seen your salvation.

31 You have prepared it

in the presence of all peoples—

32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles

and glory to your people Israel.[on screen]

We know of the wise men who came to visit Jesus after His birth. We read in Matthew 2:10-11:

10 When they saw the star, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and falling to their knees, they worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. [on screen]

These men from far off knew that Jesus was special. Jesus was worthy of devotion and worship! Jesus’ birth brought hope to the world!

Also, we see . . . 

III. The hope of the teaching of Jesus [on screen]

I often say that Jesus was more than a wise teacher, and that’s true. But, oh, He was certainly not any less than a wise teacher. Jesus was the ultimate teacher. 

Jesus delivered the best sermon of all time when He delivered the Sermon on the Mountainside in Matthew chapters 5-7. 

Because of the teaching of Jesus we are not left to our own worldly desires, worldly habits, worldly wisdom, and worldly tendencies. 

Because of the teaching of Jesus, we know that it’s better to be meek than domineering. We know it’s better to be humble than arrogant. We know that it’s better to be loving than hateful. We know that we should forgive because we have been forgiven. We know that we should not only not murder, but we should not hate. We know that we should not only not commit adultery, but we should not lust. We know generosity is better than selfishness. 

Because of the teaching of Jesus, there is hope that we can be better than we are now; we can become who we were created to be. Indeed, we can learn the most important commandments to follow as those created in the image of God. 

Jesus was asked about what was most important for humans to do. Here’s how Jesus responded in Matthew 22:36-40

36 “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?”

37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” [on screen]

This Christmas, as we celebrate the hope of Jesus, remember the hope of the teachings of Jesus. 

Next, celebrate . . .

IV. The hope of the miracles of Jesus [on screen]

Jesus was not merely a teacher. He was not merely a good man; He was a miracle worker!

The miracles of Jesus point us to the fact that He is more than just a man! We need someone better than us to give us hope! We need someone who can do miracles to give us hope! The miracles of Jesus give us hope!

Listen to the words of the disciples as they encountered the kind of power that Jesus has. 

Luke 8:22-25 says, “22 One day he and his disciples got into a boat, and he told them, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, 23 and as they were sailing he fell asleep. Then a fierce windstorm came down on the lake; they were being swamped and were in danger. 24 They came and woke him up, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to die!”

Then he got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves. So they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 He said to them, “Where is your faith?”

They were fearful and amazed, asking one another, “Who then is this? He commands even the winds and the waves, and they obey him!”[on screen]

Jesus has great power and He can do miracles! The miracles of Jesus bring us hope!

This Christmas, remember the miracles of Jesus!

Also, celebrate . . .

V. The hope of the death of Jesus [on screen]

One might say that the death of Jesus is a horrible event that is full of sorrow. Indeed, it is. However, there is also great hope in the death of Jesus!

The apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:2, “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” [on screen]

You see, it was because of Jesus that the penalty of our sins can be paid. Were it not for Jesus, it would be us who deserves to be brutally punished! Yet, the death of Jesus satisfied the judgment of God towards all those who would trust in Jesus.

There is hope for sinners found in the death of Jesus. 

When you remember Jesus being born as a baby in a manger, remember the hope of the death of Jesus.

Praise the Lord, that Jesus didn’t stay dead! Next, celebrate . . .

VI. The hope of the resurrection of Jesus [on screen]

Jesus demonstrated that He had power over death; He had power over the grave! Nothing could stop Jesus. 

Not only did Jesus rise from the dead, but the Bible tells us that because of Jesus’ resurrection, we can now experience new life. Romans 6:4 says in part, “ . . . just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life.” [on screen]

Paul also said in 1 Corinthians 15:56-57, “56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” [on screen]

Christmas didn’t only bring a baby, it brought rescue from death! It brought new life! Jesus brought new life! There is hope in the resurrection of Jesus!

Number seven, celebrate . . .

VII. The hope of the mission of Jesus [on screen]

Jesus came to bring something different to this world. He brought something different for humanity. He brought a new mission for us. 

There is life found in following the mission of Jesus. In John 10:10, Jesus says, “A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” [on screen]

This mission of Jesus has power! (we’ll study this more next week). Jesus said in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” [on screen]

There is hope in the mission of Jesus for His Church. There is something great for us to live for! We are not to seek after the mundane and unfulfilling things of this world! We are to be filled with hope by living on mission for God and taking the message of hope to a world who desperately needs it.

Celebrate the hope of the mission of Jesus.

Next, celebrate. . .

VIII. The hope of the return of Jesus [on screen]

Church, this world is not the end for us. Christmas reminds us that this is not the end. Christmas reminds us that Jesus not only came to this earth as a baby; He will return as King!

There is hope found in the return of Jesus!

There is hope because something great is coming! We have that hope because of Christmas!

The first part of Revelation 1:7 says, “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him.” [on screen]

Jesus will come back for us and all His promises will be fulfilled. 

That takes us to our final point. Celebrate . . .

IX. The hope of the promise of Jesus [on screen]

Not only was Jesus promised the first time, but He is promised the second time. 

In Revelation 21:3-4 the apostle John says, “3 Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away.” [on screen]

Jesus Himself promised that He would be with us and come to rescue us. 

The last thing Jesus said in the book of Matthew is, “ . . . I am with you always, to the end of the age.” [on screen]

Jesus said in John 14:3, “If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, so that where I am you may be also.” [on screen]

This Christmas, you can celebrate the hope of the promise of Jesus. He loves you, He has a plan for you, He will be with you, He will come back to rescue you, and He has a wonderful home prepared for you.

Concluding Thoughts:

Christmas is certainly about the birth of Jesus Christ, but it is not merely about the birth of Jesus. It is about the coming of our King, the coming of our Savior, the coming of our Messiah, the coming of the Son of God!

This Christmas, remember the hope that Jesus brings! Celebrate the hope of Jesus!

Reflect upon this bottom line as we draw to a conclusion:

Bottom Line: Christmas reminds us of the great hope of Jesus[on screen]


This Christmas, enjoy your family, enjoy the gifts, enjoy some ham, enjoy too many sweets, and also enjoy the great hope of Jesus. Let Christmas remind you of the hope of Jesus and prompt you to thank Him and worship Him because of the great hope that He offers. 

As I came up with our weekly challenges this week, I was sort of thinking like an archaeologist. You’ll see what I mean . . . challenge yourself this week in the following ways:

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

1. Excavate the hope of Jesus.  [on screen]

Do some digging into the Word of God, into your past experiences, into the testimonies of others, and uncover the great beauty of the hope of Jesus!

Just like an archaeologist who works hard to uncover some great treasure or significant find, do so also with the hope of Jesus! There’s nothing more valuable than the riches of Christ! There’s nothing more beautiful than the beauty of our Savior!

After that . . . 

2. Display the hope of Jesus.  [on screen]

What happens when someone uncovers a great treasure or significant find? They usually display it! They want others to participate in and enjoy that which was discovered. 

So also, once you excavate and uncover the hope of Jesus, display it for the world to see! People need hope! In Jesus, we have hope! Display it to others! Let them partake in the precious treasures of Jesus!

Don’t let the hope of Jesus be outshined or covered up by anything in your life! Don’t be defeated by the ways of evil. Don’t be overwhelmed by the way of this world. Don’t be discouraged by life’s circumstances. Twenty-twenty has nothing on the hope of Jesus! Display the hope of Jesus!


This Christmas, celebrate the hope of Jesus!

Do you know Jesus? Have you experienced the hope of Jesus? If so, celebrate that hope. If not, there’s no greater time to discover that hope than at Christmas time. 

(Gospel presentation)

(closing prayer)

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