What could be more important than knowing Christ in our Christian life?
One Christmas Eve two guys were at a bar and after a while, they started chatting with one another. One guy said, “Where are you from?” The other replied, “I am from Frazer Town, Bangalore.” The first guy said, “Really! I am from Frazer Town too.” “What high school did you attend?” The second guy said, “Lincoln High School.” “Are you kidding me? I went to Lincoln too! What year did you graduate?” The second guy said, “1978.” “Me too! This is unbelievable. Where did you live?” He said, “I live at 25 Davis Road.” He said, “That is absolutely amazing to me! I too live at 25 Davis Road.”
All of a sudden, the phone rang and It was the bartender’s wife. She said, “Anything going on special at Christmas Eve?” He said, “No. It is a slow night. Except the Johnson twins are here again and they are both drunk.”
Well, today is Christmas and by now we all know the Christmas story pretty well. While Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem to register for the census, the time came for the baby to be born. She wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger. Soon the angels proclaimed the good news to the shepherds who came and saw Jesus. Wise men came from the east and gave Jesus gold, frankincense, and myrrh. This is the story of the birth of Jesus. While most people end the Christmas story with just the birth of Christ, to know the real Christ we need to go beyond the birth of Jesus Christ.
I remember the time when Sam and Grace were little newborn babies. They were tiny and so little, and looking at them we could never imagine or guess what they would grow up to be. Now as they grow I can see their talents and gifts develop. Maybe in another 10 years, I will get to know them even better. In fact, we can know a person only if we know his entire life.
Do you want to know more about Jesus Christ? well, Apostle Paul in his writings gives us tips to know Christ better.
Philippians 3:7-11 7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
As Apostle Paul is writing to the Philippines in Chapter 3 we get the feeling that he paused in the midst of his writing. Probably he leans back in his chair and begins to remember how and why he became a Christian, and what has happened to him since he first started knowing Christ.
Most Christians limit Christ and Christmas to Joseph and Mary, the baby Jesus in a manger, shepherds and the wise men. Every year Christ is born and they celebrate. well, That’s is good but now listen, a true Christian has only one Christmas, the day he accepts Jesus Christ as his savior and Lord. The day Christ is born in him. As every Christmas approaches it is good as Christians to see how far we have come in Knowing Christ, how much more we have known Him, and reflect on what has happened to us since our first Christmas.
Apostle Paul, before accepting Christ, was a man of great influence among the Jews, a member of the ruling aristocracy with wealth and fame. Soldiers and servants followed him wherever he went but Paul had given all that up to follow Jesus.
As Paul is writing to the Philippians, he is pausing and thinking to himself why after all he followed Christ and he says, “I had the money, I had fame, prestige, and position.” From a worldly point of view Paul had everything, he was rich. Paul finally realized that if you have all the things of the world, but you don’t have Christ, you are poor indeed. But if you have Christ, you are rich indeed. Hence, he had come to realize that Jesus is the pearl of great price, the treasure hidden in a field. It is worth following Christ.
Listen, Paul did not become a Christian to become rich, to be famous or to be great and neither did I. Yes! I did not become a Christian to become rich nor did I become a Christian for healing, prosperity, or blessing. Definitely God adds all these things if you truly follow Him. See what Paul says, “You want to know why I became a Christian? You want to know why I followed Jesus.” “It is because I looked at all of this that the world seeks so fervently and it is rubbish. The only thing that really counts is Christ.”
This Christmas you may be caught up with a lot of celebrations but what really counts is if you truly have Christ in you. Paul says, “I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ.” And in verse 10 he says, “I want to know Christ.”
8 I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.
10 I want to know Christ.
Therefore i would say knowing Christ is the key to celebrating Christmas.
HOW CAN I KNOW CHRIST?
Imagine a boy and a girl getting married. Soon they love each other as they have never loved anyone else, and then they begin to understand a bit more about God’s love for them. Then they have a baby, and they hold that baby in their arms and see God’s love in the baby. I have heard young parents say, “I think I understand the love of God better now than I ever have before.”
We go through many experiences in life – victories and defeats, troubles and trials, problems and heartaches but every time we turn a corner there is Christ, and we get to know Him better as we rub shoulders with Him and experience His power in our life.
Let us see how can we know Christ better?
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection.
1. Know Christ in the power of his resurrection.
Paul teaches us that if we are to know Christ, we are to know the power of His resurrection.
Paul was a Pharisee before knowing Jesus Christ. He knew God, but he never knew Christ was God. Therefore he believed Christ and his followers were wrong and so Paul started persecuting and destroying the church. However, one day on his way to Damascus as Paul was planning to destroy the church he met the real resurrected Jesus. Therefore the power of the resurrected Christ changed his life.
You see a majority of us had been worshipping God in different ways thinking that was right but through the power of His resurrection God met us in different ways. Hence, God transformed our lives and we who were sinners were cleansed and given a new life.
The world does not understand this power but we have experienced it, that power. So, today we need that power again. The power of the resurrection is the power to overcome our problems and difficulties and also the resurrection power can transform our conditions. So, today if you are struggling with unanswered problems, circumstances you cannot control the resurrection power of Jesus. as it is all that you need.
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings.
2. Know Christ by participating in His sufferings.
Paul was beaten, stoned and shipwrecked, thrown into prison, and finally, Paul was beheaded for Christ. Yes, he suffered. When he looked at the scars on his body, the scars inflicted by the whips and the stones and the lashings, he called them the marks of Christ.
I bear on my body the marks of Christ.
Therefore, Paul identified his sufferings with Christ and there is a great fellowship in suffering.
Recovered alcoholics have a fellowship. They better understand each other because they have suffered the same pains and the same hurts. A single parent who raises the child in the absence of the spouse can help another single parent because they have the same hurts. They share the same feelings.
You see there is a fellowship among the people who suffer and truly there is a fellowship in suffering and when we go back and look Jesus Christ has gone through every kind of human suffering. Therefore when we suffer we participate in Christ’s sufferings no matter what our sufferings are.
What is suffering for Jesus like?
When we suffer unjustly we are suffering for Christ. Sometimes we do not know as to why we are suffering. You may thing you have not done anything wrong but still you are suffering, understand you are suffering for Christ. Again, there are some other types of suffering that we endure because of accepting Christ and living according to the word. Our family may not understand us; the world may not understand why we behave differently. These are all kinds of sufferings where we identify ourselves with Christ’s sufferings.
On Christmas day God came down to identify with our sufferings. Today some of you may not be all that happy. Emotionally some of you may be down. But when God looks at your suffering God says, “That is my mark on you; you have something in common with me.”
3. Know Christ by sharing in His death.
10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
We share our grief on someone’s death. How much ever close a person might be we cannot share one’s death. Death has to be faced alone. Yet the Bible says that we can know Christ by sharing in his death.
What is it to become like Christ in his death? How can we share in Christ’s death?
When we are in Christ we are to be dead to sin. See our natural man; the body wants to satisfy the desires of the flesh. The body wants to sin. But then we make a decision not to sin. We put to death the evil desires. Therefore when we put to death the desires of our flesh we in fact share in the death of Christ. Christ died for us voluntarily and we voluntarily put to death the desire to sin. Actually every moment we live for Christ we are also dying for Christ.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
Therefore when we lead a life putting to death the evil desires of our lust we are becoming like Christ in his death. When we put our evil desires to death we get to know Christ more.
Christmas is not just an invitation for you to see Christ that was born. The invitation of Christmas also includes the power of the resurrection by which our lives can be changed and transformed, the invitation of Christmas includes the fellowship of his suffering where we identify our sufferings with Christ. The invitation of Christ also includes an invitation to share in Christ’s death where we put to death the desires of the body and identify ourselves with Christ. That is the only way of knowing Christ and the way we are ever going to gain Christ in our lives.
Today is Christmas. Jesus is interested that you go beyond the manger. Know Christ by his resurrection power, identify your sufferings with him today, if you are living in sin put to death the desires of the body and live by the spirit.
I would not like to close today without offering you an invitation to accept Christ as your savior and Lord. and also to continue knowing Christ deeper.
God Bless You. Amen.