How Can We Produce Much Fruit? + 10 Christmas Myths BUSTED! #364
Hello dear friends and a Merry Christmas to you all. Even if you don’t believe that Jesus was born on December 25th, you and I should celebrate the birth of Jesus and the the Resurrection every single day of the year. Welcome to new listeners from Chhattisgarh, India (which has three ‘h’s in it, believe it, or not!) Queensland, Australia, Nova Scotia, Canada, New York, New York and Grand Junction, Colorado, which I had the pleasure of visiting this Summer – beautiful!! Today we read 2nd Chronicles 30, Zechariah 12, John 15 and Revelation 16. We will be covering two major topics today – How to produce fruit, and busting some Christmas myths. First, Abiding. Let’s read John 15 – listen for how Jesus tells us that we can bear much fruit!
One thing to point out at the very beginning: After teaching this parable of the True Vine, Jesus said something pretty amazing about it, “11 “I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” So here’s the thing – IF you understand the teaching of this parable AND WALK IN IT, then you will HAVE COMPLETE JOY – or FULL JOY.
BIG TAKEAWAY from this passage, applying it to this year: If we don’t grow deep roots into Jesus right now during this pandemic, it will be a wasted year. IF, on the other hand, we DO GROW DEEP ROOTS INTO JESUS, then this season will be one of the MOST important and VALUABLE years of our lives. And I can think of NO year I’ve ever lived through that has offered us MORE opportunities to grow deep roots into Jesus than this year.
So – HOW do we remain in Jesus?? I see FOUR ways in Scripture.
#1 THE WORDS OF GOD – 1 John 2:24-25, “24 What you have heard from the beginning is to remain in you. If what you have heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he himself made to us: eternal life.” John 15:7, “7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ”
#2 The LOVE OF GOD FOR EACH OTHER. 1 John 4:11-12, “11 Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and his love is made complete in us.”
#3 The Proclamation of Jesus: 1 John 4:15 “15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God—God remains in him and he in God.”
#4 – Daily Consuming the Gospel. In John 6, Jesus proclaims that He is the bread of life – the TRUE bread as we discussed a couple of weeks ago. He is true bread – this means something MORE than real food, and real drink, and this passage is pointing us to the reality that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, which is the gospel. To abide in Jesus, we must take hold of the good news EVERY DAY. Read it. Remember it. Rejoice in it. and Refresh in it. John 6:56 The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.58 This is the bread that came down from heaven; it is not like the manna your ancestors ate—and they died. The one who eats this bread will live forever.” Remember, Jesus was not being literal here…He was being BEYOND literal.
Bible-Myth-Busters: Ten Christmas myths that come from somewhere other than the Bible:
- Jesus was born on December 25th. MYTH? NOWHERE in the Bible does it say where Jesus was born. Early Christians thought the celebration of birthdays by the Romans was quite pagan, and they didn’t do a lot of it. Regardless, the Bible neither condemns, nor encourages birthday celebrations, and the Bible does not specify when Jesus was born.
2. Jesus was SURELY NOT born on December 25th. This is a myth too, maybe a bigger one! Christmas in Bethlehem this year features a high in the upper 50s and a low around 40. Not great weather, but not terrible. The Bible never says Jesus was NOT born on December 25th. Best biblical argument in its favor: The Manger was inside…that is more to be expected in cold weather. “For the first advent of our Lord in the flesh, when he was born in Bethlehem, eight days before the kalends of January [December 25th], the 4th day of the week [Wednesday], while Augustus was in his forty-second year, [2 or 3BC] but from Adam five thousand and five hundred years.” Hippolytus of Rome – born in the 100s. ARTICLE THIS WEEK.
3. The church chose December 25th to replace a pagan holiday I have heard people confidently and braggadociously say: that the church chose December 25th to replace a pagan holiday. That’s just not true – the early church, in everything, sought to distance itself from pagan worship. THERE IS ZERO EVIDENCE OF THIS, AND LOTS OF EVIDENCE AGAINST IT.
4, 5, We Three Kings of Orient are. That one song title contains 2.5 myths. First – there were three gifts, not three wise men. There were at least two. Second, they weren’t kings, Magoi – maybe persian/babylonian priests of Zoroaster, but Justin Martyr in 160ad said they were from Saudi Arabia. so probably not from what we normally call “The Orient.” By the way, we say the wise men came later, because the text of Matthew indicates they came to a house to see a “young child/paidion” Its true that a paidion can refer to a toddler, but it can also refer to a baby. 8 day old Jesus is called a paidion in Luke 1. Maybe the nativity scenes with the wise men are okay…but not if they are set in a stable or an inn, or a cave, because…
Jesus wasn’t born in an Inn, or the stable of an inn, or the cave behind an inn, most likely, but a house. – The word that was translated Inn (“no room for them in the inn.” is not actually used for Inn – there is a different word used for Inn as in hotel. The Word is used by Luke elsewhere to refer to an upstairs guest room. kataluma. Think Elijah staying at the widow’s house. Luke uses the normal word for inn, in the parable of the good samaritan.
7. The Bible never mentions a stable. We assume stable, because of the manger. “Any Palestinian reading the phrase, “She laid him in a manger,” would immediately assume that the birth took place in a private home, because he knows that mangers are built into the floor of the raised terrace of the peasant home.”
- Mary probably didn’t deliver Jesus the night they arrived in Bethlehem. Joseph and Mary “went up” to Bethlehem, and “while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered” (Lk 2:4, 6). “We can easily assume a few weeks have passed, perhaps even a month or more.” 6 Where was the manger? A considerate husband and a wise woman would start the 4–5 day journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem several weeks before her due date.
- The Bible mentions no donkeys in the birth narrative. None. No animals whatsoever mentioned. No camels. No Gila Monsters. A manger implies animals, but none are mentioned. No InnKeepers either. No snow.
10. It was a silent Night. NO, it wasn’t. It was a very loud night. An army of Angels loudly praising God. A woman’s screams in the pain of delivery. (Have you been to a birth? Remember no epidurals! “2 She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.”) A dragon attacking. WAR IN HEAVEN.
What’s the point? I guess a point is that we should get our info from the Bible, and not from Christmas specials, or movies, or Christmas carols. More appropriate here is that we have this overly sentimental and romantic view of Christmas in our minds that I think DIMINISHES the Truth and takes away from the reality of the birth and death of Jesus.. The good news of Christmas is better by a massive amount than the best Christmas special, or Hallmark Christmas movie. It’s better than the best myth or tv portrayal of the Nativity story. The Bible story is mind-blowing. While we were sinners – God sent His son to become a tiny baby. Would YOU do that? Become a tiny baby so that you could save a bunch of ingrates?