David Haberstock
December 24, 2018
David Haberstock
Pastor

Passage

Luke 2:1-20; Titus 2:11-14; Isaiah 9:2-7
Laid on a Stone Cold Slab--Christmas Eve

In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.  

In Bethlehem, which means house of bread, our Saviour was born. (Luke 2:4-6) It was an agriculturally rich area, which fed the surrounding regions. With His birth it became a spiritual bread basket which would feed the world. He was laid in a manger. (Luke 2:7) A food trough. Such troughs in that area were made of stone. He was laid out on a slab. An infant teaming with life whose clothe wrapped body foreshadowed His life’s purpose: to be wrapped in cloth and laid on a stone cold slab for the sins of the world. 

His birth came to fulfilment in His death. (Luke 2:7; 23:52-53) But His death is life for you! His rest in the stone tomb, where His body was laid, is your rest. For when this living baby died, He completed perfection. (John 19:30) All things had been done right by Him. (John 19:4, 6; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:22) Perfection. Even in death. His was a righteous death. A life-giving death. A perfect death for you and for me. He was a man whose life emanated life. For He was love in the flesh. Not the kind of “love” which judges your flesh as “hot or not”. Not a calculating love which sees your flaws, your failings as too much baggage to bother with. His is Love which sees all. Love which knows all. (1 Cor. 13:6, 12) Love which covers all. (1 Cor. 13:7; 1 Pet. 4:8) 

This wrapped up baby was laid out stone cold on a slab to pay the debt you owe. Not a debt to Satan. Not to yourself. Not to the world. A debt you owe to God. For not loving. Love is the essence of God’s Law. (Matt. 22:37-40; Gal. 5:14; Rom. 13:10) Those rights and wrongs, dos and do nots are sacrifices you make to love God and your fellow man. Love is sacrifice. The sacrifice of your self. (John 15:13; Eph. 5:25) The sacrifice of your selfish self-love.  

He completed love. He did the Law. (Mat. 5:17; Rom. 10:4) He loved to the full. His innocent death is your life. It is your promise of peace. Peace on earth. (Luke 2:14) Peace with God. Peace in your heart. (John 20:19-23) For that baby laid on the stone cold slab lives. He rose. (John 20:1-18) He conquered death. His love is indestructable. (Heb. 7:15-17) Though His body died, He did not. (1 Cor. 15:45) His flesh is life-giving. He gives it to you. He lays it out on stone slabs. On altars of stone or wood which deal in death and sacrifice. Slabs made for slices and stabs. 

But this Baby who reversed death, this God who takes on flesh, the Infinite who becomes finite turns altars upside down. His altars no longer deal in death but life. For the sacrifice was made. (Rom. 6:10; Heb 7:27; 10:10) The price is paid. Your sins are gone. His altar slab gives that death which brought life. 

Eat of this Table, sidle up to this feeding trough and you will live. It will kill you, just as it killed Him. (Rom. 6:3-4; Deut. 32:39; 1 Sam. 2:6) It will kill you to yourself. (Rom. 6:11; Gal. 2:19) Kill you to your self-love. Kill you to your self-loathing. Kill you to your need to justify your own existence. For this slab of stone or wood on which that baby is laid out in His Supper gives you new life. A life dead to you, alive to Him. 

And who came to see? Sheep and shepherds. (Luke 2:12, 15-16) But it wasn’t the sheep who ate. It was the sheep-herders. They went out filled. Filled to overflowing. (Luke 2:17-18, 20) Joy bubbled up within them. It poured forth from their mouths. (Luke 2:18) Peace was theirs. (Luke 2:14) Good will from God was on earth. A baby laid on a stone fed their souls.  

That same baby, God in our flesh, feeds your soul. Not just in a mystical spiritual way. But in a physical way. (Matt. 26:26-28) You are not just a spirit. You are a body. God is not just a spirit. God has a body, born of the Virgin Mary. His body feeds you. Not just spiritually. The baby on the stone slab. The flesh on the altar. The wine of life is God’s new deal. His new covenant. (Matt. 26:28) That is the Christian faith. A meal. A food. A baby for you. Not cuteness and cuddles. Life in flesh. Life for you. 

Not this life. Not these illusions you cling to. A new life. A different life. A life hidden in God. A life of eating God. A life fed by God. This is mysterious. But to the Christian—not just the person who was once baptized, the Christian who clings to the gift given in baptism—this is life. Feasting on that baby. The rest works itself out. Your daily cares and struggles, they are now His. For He is in you and you are in Him. (John 6:56) You belong to Him. (1 Cor. 6:19-20) He watches over you. His cares are your cares, and your cares are His. He feeds you. (Ps. 23:5) You overflow with Him. 

That’s what happened to the shepherds. They saw the glorious angels. (Luke 2:8-9, 13) They saw the more glorious Son. (Luke 2:16) Seeing they became angelic messengers to all who would hear. (Luke 2:17-18) I pray that happens to you. That you would wonder at, treasure up, and ponder Him in your heart and mind (Luke 2:19), eating Him into your flesh, so that you overflow with Him—tonight, tomorrow, and all yours days. 

In +Jesus’ name, Amen.  

 

—Pastor David Haberstock
Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
Regina, SK