I’ve preached well over 100 Christmas messages during my 40 years as pastor of Saddleback Church. We’ve looked at Christmas from every possible angle. We’ve looked at it from the perspective of Mary, Joseph, the wise men—and even God himself. We’ve studied Christmas from the vantage point of the shepherds, the innkeeper, and King Herod.
You’ve probably preached Christmas messages from a variety of angles as well. But the most important perspective our communities need to understand is the purpose of Christmas.
To preach all the intricacies of Jesus’ birth but miss the purpose of Christmas is to miss the point entirely. If you ignore the reason for Christmas, you might as well take down your Christmas lights, forget about your Christmas cards, and cancel your Christmas services.
Luke 19:10 tells us exactly why Jesus’ birth matters so much: “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost” (NLT). And as you and your church proclaim the Christmas story this holiday season, nothing matters more than that simple message. Luke 19:10 is Christmas in a nutshell. Jesus didn’t come to be a baby. He came to grow up and die on a cross—and be resurrected. Jesus came to seek and save the lost.
But who are the lost people in our communities whom God has called us to reach?
What have they lost? You’ve likely been a follower of Jesus for years now. You may have forgotten what it’s like to be lost—and the joy of being found.
In Luke 15, Jesus gives us three great stories—the parable of the lost sheep, the parable of the lost coin, and the parable of the lost son that remind us what it’s like to be lost.
These parables of Jesus show us what we lose when we’re spiritually lost:
- Direction—No sheep intends to get lost. They see greener grass, and they move toward it. Pretty soon the sheep is lost. The same is true with humans. We tend to wander. We naturally don’t follow God’s ways.
- God’s protection—Sheep are some of the most vulnerable animals on the planet. They have no defense. Sheep are goners without a shepherd. We’re just as vulnerable when we’re spiritually lost. When we’re not under the Shepherd’s protection, we’re tired, anxious, and we do what God never intended for us to do.
- Our potential—The parable of the lost coin points to the idea that every coin has enormous potential. A coin can be used to feed a family, build a business, or fund a piece of art. The same is true with you and me and the lost people in our communities; we are all immensely valuable. God has given every one of us talents to make the world a better place. And the more connected we are to our Creator, the greater our potential.
- Our happiness—After the son wasted his inheritance in the parable of the lost son, the Bible describes him as being so miserable that he ate the same food he fed to the pigs. Just like the lost son, we weren’t made to live outside of a relationship with our heavenly Father. Disharmony with God creates tension, stress, and guilt.
- Our home in heaven—Just like the father in the parable of the lost son, God allows us to rebel on Earth, but there’s no rebellion in heaven. That’s why lost people have no heavenly home.
But, of course, that’s not the end of the story. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. The parables of Luke 15 remind us that God loves the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. Jesus didn’t come so we could have a beautiful Christmas service with a nice message and comforting songs.
Jesus came to rescue the lost man who comes to your worship service after trying everything else to fix the pain in his life.
Jesus came to recover the lost woman in your neighborhood who feels she has no value because she’s been abused—and she longs to know she matters.
Jesus came to reconnect lost children, who have been abandoned and desperately need to hear that they have a heavenly Father who loves them.
God came to fix the brokenness in our lives and in the lives of the lost people in our communities.
This Christmas, as we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth, we’re communicating the most important message this world has ever known. Let the real purpose of Christmas be your purpose this Christmas.