A Savior Is Born! God Gets the Glory, You Get the Peace – A Christmas Sermon

CONCLUSION: A Savior Is Born! God Gets the Glory, You Get the Peace
A Christmas Sermon by John Piper

Some of the most familiar and happy words of Christmas are these:

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:11–14)

Let’s exult together over the wonders in this text. On our way to the glory and the peace of verse 14 there are wonders to see.

“For unto you is born this day . . .” It happened on a day. A day in history. Not a day in some mythological, imaginary story, but a day when Caesar Augustus was the emperor of Rome “and Quirinius was governor of Syria” (v. 2).

It was a day planned in eternity before the creation of the world. Indeed the whole universe—with untold light-years of space and billions of galaxies—was created and made glorious for this day and what it means for human history.

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. (Col. 1:16)

For him! For his appearance. For this day of his appearing. “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law” (Gal. 4:4). It happened on a day. The perfect day. In the fullness of time. The perfect time appointed by God before the foundation of the world. “For unto you is born this day!”

“…in the city of David…”It happened in a city.Not in Narnia. Not in Middle Earth. Not in a galaxy far, far away. It happened in a city about seven thousand miles from Min- neapolis. The city still exists today. My mother was killed in a bus accident just outside this city. This city is real.

The city’s name is Bethlehem (Luke 2:4, “Joseph also went up from Galilee . . . to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem.”) Bethlehem, six miles from Jerusalem. Bethle- hem, the city where Jesse lived, the father of David, the great king of Israel.

Bethlehem, the city that Micah prophesied over:

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. (Mic. 5:2)

It happened in a city. A real city, like the city you live in.

Savior, Messiah, Lord

“…a Savior…” “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior.” A Savior. If you have ever sinned against God, you need a Savior. The angel said to Joseph, “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). Only God can forgive sins against God. That is why God sent the eternal Son of God into the world, because he is God. That’s why Jesus said, “The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” Therefore, a Savior was born.

“. . . who is Christ . . .” “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ.” Christ is the English for Christos, which means “anointed one,” which is the meaning of “Messiah” (John 1:41; 4:25). This is the one long-predicted, long-awaited, the one anointed above all others (Ps. 45:7). The final anointed king. The final anointed prophet. The final anointed priest. In him all the promises of God are yes! (2 Cor. 1:20). He would fulfill all the hopes and dreams of godly Israel. And more, vastly more. Because he is also . . . “. . . the Lord.” “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” The ruler, the sov- ereign, the mighty God, the everlasting Father. The Lord of the universe.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end. (Isa. 9:6–7)

Christmas in Sum

The Lord of never-ending, universal, sovereign governance. The Lord of all lords.

  •  On a day—in real history.
  •  In a city—in a real world.
  •  The Savior—to take away all our guilt.
  •  The Christ—to fulfill all our hopes.
  •  The Lord—to defeat all our enemies and make us safe and satisfied for ever.

    So I exult with you this Christmas that we have a great Savior, Jesus, the Christ, the Lord, born on a day in a city to save us from our sins—our many sins.

Two Great Purposes for This Great News

And when the angel had announced this news to the shepherds (Luke 2:11) and pointed them to the very animal shed where the baby lay, suddenly an army of angels appeared in the sky. Evidently, one angel can bring the news, but it does not suffice for one angel to respond to the news. The meaning of this news, the ultimate outcome of this news—that demands an army of angels.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host [army!] praising God and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (vv. 2:13–14)

The joyful news that on a day, at the perfect fullness of time, in the perfect prophesied city, a Savior was born, who was Christ, the Lord—that news has two great outcomes. Two great purposes. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

God’s Glory and Our Peace

The coming of this child will be the greatest revelation of the glory of God even among the heights of heaven, and the com- ing of this child will bring peace to God’s people—who will one day fill the whole earth with righteousness and peace. “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end” (Isa. 9:7).

First and foremost, God is glorified because this child is born. And, second, peace is to spread everywhere this child is received. These are the great purposes for the coming of Jesus: glory ever ascending from man to God. Peace ever descending from God to man. God’s glory sung out among men for the sake of his name. God’s peace lived out among men for the sake of his name.

There is hardly a better way to sum up what God was about when he created the world, or when he came to reclaim the world in Jesus Christ—his glory, our peace. His greatness, our joy. His beauty, our pleasure. The point of creation and redemption is that God is glorious and means to be known and praised for his glory by a peace-filled new humanity.

To Experience the Peace He Brings

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” The old King James Version trans- lated verse 14b, “and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Virtually all the modern translations agree that this was not an accurate translation. The NIV says, “. . . and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” The NASB says, “. . . and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased.” And the ESV says, “. . . and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

The point is that even though God’s offer of peace goes out to all, only his chosen people—the people who receive Christ and trust him as Savior and Messiah and Lord, will experience the peace he brings.

You get a glimpse of this meaning in Luke 10:5–6, where Jesus says to his disciples, “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ [that’s the offer of peace to all] And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you.”

God’s peace in Christ is offered to the world. But only the “sons of peace” receive it. How do you know if you are a “son of peace”? How do you know if you are part of the angels’ promise, “Peace among those with whom he is pleased!”? An- swer: you welcome the Peacemaker; you receive Jesus.

The Main Point of Peace

God’s purpose is to give you peace by being the most glori- ous person in your life. Five times in the New Testament he is called “the God of peace” (Rom. 15:33; 16:20; Phil. 4:9; 1 Thess. 5:23; Heb. 13:20). And Jesus said, “My peace I give to you” (John 14:27). And Paul said, “[Jesus] himself is our peace” (Eph. 2:14).

What this means is that the peace of God, or the peace of Christ, can never be separated from God himself and Christ himself. If we want peace to rule in our lives, God must rule in our lives. Christ must rule in our lives. God’s purpose is not to give you peace separate from himself. His purpose is to give you peace by being the most glorious person in your life.

So the key to peace is keeping together what the angels keep together: glory to God and peace to man. A heart bent on showing the glory of God will know the peace of God.

And what holds the two together—God getting glory and we getting peace—is believing or trusting the promises of God obtained by Jesus. Romans 15:13 is one of those fundamental texts pointing to this crucial role of faith: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing.” In believing. In other words, the way God’s promises become real for us and produce peace in us and through us is “in believing.” When we believe them. That’s true whether we are talking about peace with God, peace with ourselves, or peace with others.

Three Relationships of Peace

My great desire for you this Christmas is that you enjoy this peace. We know that there are global aspects to this peace that lie in the future when “the earth will be filled with the knowl- edge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14). When, as Isaiah says, “Of the increase of his gov- ernment and of peace there will be no end” (Isa. 9:7).

But Jesus has come to inaugurate that peace among God’s people. And there are three relationships in which he wants you to pursue this peace and enjoy this peace. Peace with God. Peace with your own soul. And peace with other people, as much as it lies in you.

And by peace, I mean not only the absence of conflict and animosity but also the presence of joyful tranquility, and as much richness of interpersonal communication as you are capable of.

So let’s look at each of these three peaceful relationships briefly and make sure you are enjoying as much as you can. The key to each of them is not to separate what the angels kept together: the glory of God and the peace you long for. “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace.”

Peace with God

The most basic need we have is peace with God. This is foundational to all our pursuits of peace. If we don’t go here first, all other experiences of peace will be superficial and temporary.

The key passage here is Romans 5:1: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith [there’s the pivotal act of believing], we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” “Justified” means that God declares you to be just in his sight by imputing to you the righteousness of Jesus.

And he does that by faith alone: “Since we have been justi- fied by faith” (Rom. 5:1). Not by works. Not by tradition. Not by baptism. Not by church membership. Not by piety. Not by parentage. But by faith alone. When we believe in Jesus as the Savior and the Lord and the supreme treasure of our lives, we are united to him and his righteousness is counted by God as ours. We are justified by faith.

And the result is peace with God. God’s anger at us because of our sin is put away. Our rebellion against him is overcome. God adopts us into his family. And from now on all his deal- ings with us are for our good. He will never be against us. He is our Father and our friend. We have peace. We don’t need to be afraid any more. This is foundational to all other peace.

Peace with Ourselves

And because we have peace with God because of being justified by faith, we can begin to grow in the enjoyment of peace with ourselves—and here I include any sense of guilt or anxiety that tends to paralyze us or make us hopeless. Here again, believ- ing the promises of God with a view to glorifying God in our lives is key.

Philippians 4:6–7 is one of the most precious passages in this regard: “Do not be anxious about anything [the opposite of anxiety is peace], but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God [in other words, roll your anxieties onto God]. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

The picture here is that our hearts and our minds are under assault. Guilt, worries, threats, confusions, uncertainties—they all threaten our peace. And Paul says that God wants to “guard” our hearts and minds. He guards them with his peace. He guards them in a way that goes beyond what human under- standing can fathom—“which surpasses all understanding.”

Don’t limit the peace of God by what your understanding can see. He gives us inexplicable peace, supra-rational peace. And he does it when we take our anxieties to him in prayer and trust him that he will carry them for us (1 Pet. 5:7) and protect us.

When we do this, when we come to him—and remember we already have peace with him!—and trust him as our loving and almighty Heavenly Father to help us, his peace comes to us and steadies us and protects us from the disabling effects of fear and anxiety and guilt. And then we are able to carry on, and our God gets the glory for what we do because we trusted him.

Do that this Christmas. Take your anxieties to God. Tell him about them. Ask him to help you. To protect you. To restore your peace. And then to use you to make peace.

Peace with Others

The third relationship in which God wants us to enjoy his peace is in our relationships with other people. This is the one we have least control over. So we need to say it carefully the way Paul does in Romans 12:18. He says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

For many of you, when you get together with family for Christmas, there will be some awkward and painful relation- ships. Some of the pain is very old. And some of it is new. In some relationships you know what you have to do, no matter how hard it is. And in some of them you are baffled and don’t know what the path of peace calls for.

In both cases the key is trusting the promises of God with heartfelt awareness of how he forgave you through Christ. I think the text that puts this together most powerfully for me again and again is Ephesians 4:31–32: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender- hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Continually cultivate a sense of amazement that in spite of all your sins, God has forgiven you through Christ. Be amazed that you have peace with God. It’s this sense of amazement, that I, a sinner, have peace with God, that makes the heart tender, kind, and forgiving. Extend this to others seventy times seven.

It may be thrown back in your face. It certainly was thrown back in Jesus’s face on the cross. That hurts, and it can make you bitter if you are not careful. Don’t let it. Keep being more amazed that your wrongs are forgiven than that you are wronged. Be amazed that you have peace with God. You have peace with your soul. Your guilt is taken away.

Keep trusting God. He knows what he is doing. Keep his glory—not your success or your effectiveness in peacemaking or your relationships—supreme in the treasure chest of your heart.

And then you will be like the angels: glory to God in the highest is the first thing. Peace among his people is the second thing.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” This is why he came—on a day, to a city, as the Savior, Messiah, and Sovereign. That God would get glory and that you would know peace. May the God of peace give you peace and get his glory.

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This sermon is from The Dawning of Indestructible Joy – Daily Readings for Advent by John Piper. You can download the entire book as a free PDF or purchase the Kindle or hard copy versions here: The Dawning of Indestructible Joy – Daily Readings for Advent

Advent Reading – December 25

Grace: The Dominant Note of Christmas

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. –JOHN 6:51

There is no traditional Christmas story about the birth of Jesus in the Gospel of John. You remember how it begins: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Instead of putting the Christmas story up front with its explanation, John weaves the story of Christmas and the purpose of Christmas through the Gospel.

For example, after saying that the Word “was God,” John says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:14–16).

So the eternal Word of God took on human flesh, and in that way the divine Son of God—who never had an origin, and never came into being, and was God, but was also with God— became man. And in doing this, he made the glory of God visible in a wholly new way. And this divine glory, uniquely manifest in the Son of God, was full of grace and truth. And from that fullness we receive grace upon grace.

That is the meaning of Christmas in John’s Gospel. God the Son, who is God, and who is with God, came to reveal God in a way he had never been revealed before. And in that revelation, the dominant note struck is grace: from the fullness of that revelation of divine glory, we receive grace upon grace.

Or as it says in John 3:16–17, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, [that’s Christmas and Good Friday all in one] that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world [Christmas is not for condemnation], but in order that the world might be saved through him [Christmas is for salvation].”

And at the end of his life, Jesus was standing before Pilate, and Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” And Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world [this is the purpose of Christmas]—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37).

What was the effect of the truth that Jesus witnessed to with his words and his whole person? He told us in John 8:31– 32, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” So the meaning of Christmas is this: the Son of God came into the world to bear witness to the truth in a way that it had never been witnessed to before.

He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). And the aim of giving himself as the truth to the world is freedom. You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. Free from the guilt and power of sin. Free from deadness and blindness and judgment.

How does that liberation happen? Recall from John 6 that in coming down from heaven, Jesus was planning to die. He came to die. He came to live a perfect, sinless life and then die for sinners. John 6:51: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, so that he could give his flesh for the life of the world. We sinners can receive grace upon grace from his fullness because he came to die for us. Christmas was from the beginning a preparation for Good Friday.

So throughout the Gospel of John the meaning of Christmas becomes clear. The Word became flesh. He revealed the glory of God as never before. He died according to his own plan. Because of his death in our place, he is bread for us. He is the source of forgiveness and righteousness and life. This is the great meaning of Christmas in the Gospel of John. Indeed in the world. Today.

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This advent reading is from The Dawning of Indestructible Joy – Daily Readings for Advent by John Piper. You can download the entire book as a free PDF or purchase the Kindle or hard copy versions here: The Dawning of Indestructible Joy – Daily Readings for Advent

Advent Reading – December 24

Enjoy All the Promises of God

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. –MICAH 5:2–4

Christ is the yes of all God’s promises, so if you trust him, they will all be your inheritance. Already Micah made clear that Christ will secure for us the promises of God. How did Micah show us this?

Any Jewish person in those days, hearing Micah predict the coming of a ruler out of Bethlehem who would feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, would think immediately of two peo- ple: David the king and the coming Son of David, the Messiah.

There are at least three links with David in this text: (1) David was from Bethlehem—that’s why it was called the “city of David.” (2) David was a ruler in Israel—he was the greatest ruler, a man after God’s own heart. (3) David was a shepherd as a boy, and later he was called the shepherd of Israel (Ps. 78:71).

The point of these three links with David is this: Micah is reasserting the certainty of God’s promise to David. Recall from 2 Samuel 7:12–16 that God said to David,

I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. . . . And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.

The amazing thing about Micah is that he reasserts the certainty of this promise not at a time when Israel is rising to power but at a time when Israel is sinking toward oblivion. The northern kingdom is destroyed, and the southern kingdom will come under the judgment of God. The promises of God looked impossible.

Micah’s point was this: the coming of Christ was the confirmation of the promises of God. Here’s the way Paul put it in Romans 15:8: “Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs.” Or as he said in 2 Corinthians 1:20, “All the promises of God find their Yes in him.”

If you are “in him” by faith, you will inherit all the promises of God. Micah’s prediction came true in Jesus. And thus all the promises were confirmed. God has told the truth. Christmas is God’s great confirmation of all his promises. If Christ has come, God is true. And if God is true, all the promises will come true for all who trust him. Receive this unspeakable gift.

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This advent reading is from The Dawning of Indestructible Joy – Daily Readings for Advent by John Piper. You can download the entire book as a free PDF or purchase the Kindle or hard copy versions here: The Dawning of Indestructible Joy – Daily Readings for Advent

Advent Reading – December 23

Our Deepest Need at Christmas

He shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace. –MICAH 5:4–5

“He shall be great to the ends of the earth,” Micah prophesies. There will be no pockets of resistance unsubdued. Our security will not be threatened by any alien forces. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess him Lord. The whole earth will be filled with his glory.

And “he will be our peace.” Yes, in this context that in- cludes final, earthly, political peace. Micah spoke of it already in Micah 4:3: He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide for strong nations far away; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.

One day the ruler—the King of kings and Lord of lords—will return and make that a reality. The great Christmas carol will finally be fulfilled:

He rules the world with truth and grace And makes the nations prove

The glories of his righteousness

And wonders of his love.

But there is another, deeper peace—a peace that must happen before there can be peace on earth. There must be peace between us and God. Our unbelief and his wrath must be re- moved. That is our deepest peace—and our deepest need at Christmas.

Micah knew it was coming. He had experienced it personally (Mic. 7:8–9). He describes it beautifully at the very end of his book, in Micah 7:18–19:

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression

for the remnant of his inheritance?

He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.

He will again have compassion on us;

he will tread our iniquities underfoot.

You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

This was the great work of the Messiah yet to be done. Yes, there are enemies on earth that must be defeated if we are to have peace. But, oh, the great enemy called sin and judgment— that is the greatest and worst enemy. The gospel at Christmas is: Christ has trampled this enemy underfoot at the cross. So for everyone who trusts in him, their sins are cast into the depths of the sea.

Therefore, we say not, “Glory to us,” but, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

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This advent reading is from The Dawning of Indestructible Joy – Daily Readings for Advent by John Piper. You can download the entire book as a free PDF or purchase the Kindle or hard copy versions here: The Dawning of Indestructible Joy – Daily Readings for Advent

Advent Reading – December 22

Something Worth Singing About

There are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. . . . Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. . . .

“This is the covenant that I will make . . . I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” –HEBREWS 8:4–10

Here we see that Christmas means two things. First, it means the replacement of Old Testament shadows with reality. The temple and sacrifices and priesthood and feasts and dietary laws were all shadows and copies of the reality in heaven. That reality is Jesus Christ and his work as our High Priest and our sacrifice and our focus of worship. Jesus fulfills and replaces the shadows of the Old Testament.

Second, it means that God makes the reality of Christ real to us personally by the work of the new covenant when he writes his truth on our hearts. God moves powerfully into our hearts and minds to overcome our resistance to the beauty of his reality. He writes his will—the truth of the reality of Jesus—on our hearts, so that we see him for who he really is and are willing and eager to trust him and follow him— freely, from the inside out, not slavishly under constraint from outside.

God is just and holy and separated from sinners—sinners like you and me. This is our main problem at Christmas—and every other season. How shall we be put right with a just and holy God? Nevertheless, God is merciful and promised in Jeremiah 31 (five hundred years before Christ came) that someday he would do something new. He would replace shadows with the reality of the Messiah. And he would powerfully move into our lives and write his will on our hearts so that we are not constrained from the outside but are willing from the inside— to love him and trust him and follow him.

That would be the greatest salvation imaginable—if God should offer us the greatest reality in the universe to enjoy and then move in us to see to it that we could enjoy it with the greatest freedom and the greatest pleasure possible. That would be a Christmas gift worth singing about. And that is exactly what he has done.

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This advent reading is from The Dawning of Indestructible Joy – Daily Readings for Advent by John Piper. You can download the entire book as a free PDF or purchase the Kindle or hard copy versions here: The Dawning of Indestructible Joy – Daily Readings for Advent

Advent Reading – December 21

Get Your Eyes Ready for Christmas

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” –MATTHEW 16:15–17

The absolutely indispensable work of God in revealing the Son—both then to Peter and now to you and me—is not the adding to what we see and hear in Jesus himself but the opening of the eyes of our hearts to taste and see the true divine glory of what is really there in Jesus.

When people have doubts about the truth of Jesus, don’t send them away to seek special messages from God. Point them to Christ. Tell them what you have seen and heard in his life and teachings. Why? Because this is where God breaks in with his revealing power. He loves to glorify his Son! He loves to open the eyes of the blind when they are looking at his Son!

God does not reveal his Son to me by coming to me and saying, “Now, John, I know that you don’t see anything magnificent in my Son. You don’t see him as all glorious and divine and attractive above all worldly goods. You don’t see him as your all-satisfying treasure, and you don’t see his holiness and wisdom and power and love as beautiful beyond measure. But take my word for it, he is all that. Just believe it.” No!

Such faith would be no honor to the Son of God. It cannot glorify the Son. Saving faith is based on a spiritual sight of Jesus as he is in himself, the all-glorious Son of God. And this spiritual sight is given to us through his inspired Word, the Scriptures. And the eyes of our hearts are opened to recognize him and receive him not by the wisdom of flesh and blood but by the revealing work of his heavenly Father.

The apostle Paul said, “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

How shall you prepare your heart this Christmas to receive Christ? Fix your gaze on him in the Bible. Look to Christ! Consider Jesus. And pray. Look beyond your own flesh and blood, and ask that God would give you eyes to see and ears to hear that you might cry out with Peter, “You are the Christ the Son of the living God!”

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This advent reading is from The Dawning of Indestructible Joy – Daily Readings for Advent by John Piper. You can download the entire book as a free PDF or purchase the Kindle or hard copy versions here: The Dawning of Indestructible Joy – Daily Readings for Advent

Advent Reading – December 20

Receive His Reconciliation

More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. –ROMANS 5:11

How do we practically receive reconciliation and rejoice in God? Answer: through Jesus Christ. Which means, at least in part, make the portrait of Jesus in the Bible—the work and the words of Jesus portrayed in the New Testament—the essential content of your rejoicing in God. Rejoicing without the content of Christ does not honor Christ.

In 2 Corinthians 4:4–6, Paul describes conversion two ways. In verse 4 he says it is seeing “the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” And in verse 6 he says it is seeing “the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” In either case, you can see the point. We have Christ, the image of God, and we have God in the face of Christ.

Practically, to rejoice in God, you rejoice in what you see and know of God in the portrait of Jesus Christ. And this comes to its fullest experience when the love of God is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5).

Not only did God purchase our reconciliation through the death of our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:10), and not only did God enable us to receive that reconciliation through our Lord Jesus Christ, but even now we exult in God himself through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus purchased our reconciliation. Jesus enabled us to receive the reconciliation and open the gift. And Jesus himself shines forth from the wrapping—the indescribable gift—as God in the flesh, and stirs up all our rejoicing in God.

Look to Jesus this Christmas. Receive the reconciliation that he bought. Don’t put it on the shelf unopened. And don’t open it and then make it a means to all your other pleasures. Open it and enjoy the gift. Rejoice in him. Make him your pleasure. Make him your treasure.

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This advent reading is from The Dawning of Indestructible Joy – Daily Readings for Advent by John Piper. You can download the entire book as a free PDF or purchase the Kindle or hard copy versions here: The Dawning of Indestructible Joy – Daily Readings for Advent