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HOW THE GRINCH STEALS CHRISTMAS - PART I

 

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

Lord’s Day Morning, December 10, 2000

 

"We hid, as it were, our faces from him" (Isaiah 53:3).

 

I have been reading, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" by Dr. Seuss. Written as a story for children, it was made into a feature-length cartoon in 1966, which is available on video. This year it was made into a movie and is the number-one box office hit. I do not recommend it. It stars Jim Carrey as the Grinch. I don't like Jim Carrey. He is not funny to me and I haven't seen him do anything on TV that makes me laugh.
Furthermore, Hollywood doesn't amuse me. They couldn't even put out this rather harmless story without it having a PG rating for gross humor. Why they had to take a little story by Dr. Seuss and make it into a PG, rather than a G-rated picture, is beyond me. The Hollywood crowd are not good people. That's the only answer I can come up with.
Furthermore, the story itself is not really a Christmas story. It may seem to be - at first. But the original story is not truly about Christmas at all. It is about the ugly mess Americans have made out of Christmas - but there is no mention of God in the original story. And there is no mention whatsoever of Jesus Christ.
The story is about a Grinch, an ugly creature that doesn't like the noise people make at Christmas. So he comes down, dressed like Santa Claus, and steals all the presents, food and Christmas trees. He takes them up on a high mountain and is about to throw them off of a cliff on Christmas morning. But he hears the people in the town below singing and changes his mind and brings back all the things he has stolen. But we are not told what the people were singing in the original story. We are never told that they were singing Christmas carols about the birth of Christ. Dr. Seuss never mentioned what the people were singing, and he never told us that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus.
You see, he left Jesus completely out of the story! That's what so many people do with Christmas today. They leave Jesus completely out of it!
Mankind has never had room for Jesus in any real way. Our text says, "We hid, as it were, our faces from him" (Isaiah 53:3). There are six ways that people leave Jesus out of Christmas - and out of their entire lives. How about you? Is Jesus central in your life? Do you think about Jesus every day - and especially at this time of year - or do you hide your face from Him in one or more of these six ways?

         

      1. By thinking of Him with contempt.
      2. By being indifferent toward Him.
      3. By desiring salvation in some other way than through Him.
      4. By continuing not to believe in Him.
      5. By cowardice.
      6. By laziness.
      7.  

Now, I don't mean for this to be an "easy" sermon this morning. I want to make you think. Have you left Jesus Christ out of your life?

I. By thinking of Him with contempt.


Sadly, many people today actually hate Jesus. Oh, they wouldn't come right out and say, "I hate Jesus," but down deep in their hearts they do hate Him. They are like King Herod, who we read about in the Scripture lesson a few moments ago. The Bible says, "Herod will seek the young child to destroy him" (Matthew 2:13).
That's why Hollywood and the media people have taken away our Christmas carols. You hardly ever hear anyone singing the good, old words of these carols any more. They even changed the word "Christmas" into "the holidays." Why did they do that? Because the word "Christmas" has Christ in it - that's why! They don't want any mention of Christ! "Forget about Christ," they say. "Come away from Christ and the church." "Come with us to celebrate 'the holidays.' Forget about Jesus."
My friend, these are not good people. All they want to do is make money out of their "holidays." They hold Jesus Christ in contempt. They actually hate Jesus!
How about you? Will you go along with them to a drunken party on Christmas Eve instead of being in church like a good Christian? "We hid, as it were, our faces from him" (Isaiah 53:3). Will you hide your face from Jesus on Christmas Eve - or will you be in church? I hope you will not go along with those who hate Jesus, like King Herod did. I hope you will be with us on Christmas Sunday - on Christmas Eve - in church right here - where you belong. Come home - to church on Christmas Sunday!

II. People hide their faces from Jesus by being indifferent toward Him, by
         neglecting Him.

 

You may say, "Preacher, I don't hate Jesus - but I just don't have time for church every Sunday, especially at Christmas time." Oh, friend, don't you see, you're as bad as those who openly hate Him!
"We hid, as it were, our faces from him" (Isaiah 53:3).
In the first passage of Scripture we read a few moments ago, in Luke, chapter two, we read these words:
"And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn" (Luke 2:7).
The innkeeper turned Mary away when her baby was about to be born. Surely the man could have found some place in his inn for this poor woman to have her baby! And think of what he and his family missed! They missed having Jesus, the Saviour of mankind, born in their inn! But this man who ran the inn was indifferent, he didn't care enough to make room for the baby to be born. Now in Hell he is not even remembered. His name is not even recorded in the Bible. All we know about him is that he had no room for Jesus. It would have caused him a little inconvenience, a slight rearranging of his time and priorities. "There was no room for them in the inn" (Luke 2:7) simply because this man didn't make room for Jesus. As the old hymn puts it:
Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown,         
When Thou camest to earth for me; But in Bethlehem's home
Was there found no room For Thy holy nativity.          
          ("Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne"                   
                  by Emily E. S. Elliott, 1836-1897).          
How about you? The "Grinch" is really Satan. I read in the newspaper today that many little kids have been scared by the picture of Jim Carrey as the Grinch that they see on TV and in the papers, and they don't want to see the movie. The Hollywood producers of the film are worried about that and are trying to soften the image of the Grinch in their advertizing.
But those little kids are right! The Grinch is too scary in those ads. You see, the "Grinch" that steals Christmas from you is really the Devil. And the Devil wants you to be just like that innkeeper. The Devil wants you to neglect Jesus, to be indifferent toward Him. The Devil doesn't care if you "believe in Jesus" in your mind, just so long as you don't take Him too seriously. "Don't become a fanatic," the Devil whispers in your heart. "Don't listen to that preacher. Don't go back to that church," the Devil tells you. Then he whispers, "It's O.K. to believe in Jesus, but don't you go back to that church every Sunday. You can be a Christian, but don't get too serious about it." In that way, the Devil knows he can keep you in his clutches and destroy you - through indifference and neglect of Jesus. That's the way he got the innkeeper, and that's the way the Devil will get you if you refuse to listen to this sermon and do what I tell you as a minister of Christ.
"We hid, as it were, our faces from him" (Isaiah 53:3).

You can do that by not taking Christ and the church seriously.


III. You can also let the "Grinch" (the Devil) steal the real meaning of
          Christmas from you by desiring salvation in some other way than

          through Jesus.

 

In Matthew 2:4-5 we read these words:
"And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he (Herod the King) demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet"
(Matthew 2:4-5).

Then the chief priests and scribes read from the Old Testament book of Micah, chapter five, verse two, which foretold that the Messiah (the Christ) would be born in Bethlehem.

Yet when these scribes finished reading where the Messiah would be born they went back to their studies and forgot all about the whole thing. Why didn't they walk over to Bethlehem and find Christ for themselves? It would have taken them less than an hour to walk there from Jerusalem. But they sent the wise men over to Bethlehem to find Christ, while they went back to their religion and their Bible study.
Many people ask me, "How do you become a Christian?" Well, my answer is this: you have to make an effort to come back to church. You have to be serious about it or you will not find Christ. Jesus said, "Strive to enter in at the strait (narrow) gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able" (Luke 13:24). You have to strive at entering into Christ. You have to be serious about it. You have to want Christ enough to change a few things in your life. You have to want to be saved enough to make time for church and to search for Christ until you find Him. The preincarnate Christ said, "And ye shall seek me, and ye shall find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13). You cannot become a real Christian unless you search for Jesus Christ with all your heart!
The scribes didn't do that. They read where Jesus would be born in the Bible, and then they went right back to their old ways. They did not search for Jesus until they found Him! How about you?
You see, the scribes were trying to be saved in some other way, rather than by coming to Jesus. They were trying to be saved by "their own religion." I hear many people say that in our day. "I have my own religion," you hear them say. Have you ever said that? If you have, I pity you. Your "own" religion cannot save you from judgment for your sins. Only Jesus can save you from sin! And if you don't search for Jesus until you really find Him, you will never become a real Christian. No one but Jesus can wash your sins away by His Blood. Jesus is alive in Heaven right now. Come to Him. He will save you!
Don't let that old Grinch called the Devil rob you of Jesus! Come back to church. Seek for Jesus Christ. Search for Jesus until you find Him! Don't be like those scribes. Don't be a person of whom it was said, "We hid, as it were, our faces from him" (Isaiah 53:3).
 

IV. You can also let that old Grinch, the Devil, steal the real meaning 

          of Christmas from you by continuing to refuse to believe in Jesus.

"We hid, as it were, our faces from him" (Isaiah 53:3).
People often do that by continuing to reject Jesus. They just won’t believe on Him and trust in Him. That's exactly what old King Herod did. Herod told the wise men to go and find Christ and then come back and tell him where the baby was. Herod wanted to go and kill Christ. But the wise men were told by God about Herod's trick and they slipped out of the country another way after they had worshipped the newborn Jesus.
Now, when Herod learned that the wise men tricked him, he was furious:
"Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem…" (Matthew 2:16).

Herod killed all these children in an attempt to murder the Christ child, but Joseph had already left for Egypt with Mary and the baby.

These events show us that Herod continued to reject Jesus. He absolutely refused to believe in Jesus Christ.
"We hid, as it were, our faces from him" (Isaiah 53:3).
How about you? Will you be like Herod? Will you refuse to believe in Jesus?
One young person said to me that he wasn't coming back to church because he didn't believe in God. I told him to keep coming anyway. I said to him, "It won't hurt you to come. Just come anyway - whether you believe in God or not."
And that's what I say to you also. Keep coming to church whether you believe in God, or in Jesus the Son of God. Keep coming. Why be lonely? Come home - to church!
But sooner or later you must believe in Jesus. We have several children who were born and raised in this church who are like Herod. They go on and on refusing to believe in Jesus Christ. Don't be like them! Choose to believe in Jesus Christ. The Bible says:
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31).

The moment you believe on Jesus you are saved! In the very second that you rest on Christ, your salvation is assured!

The moment a sinner believes,              
And trusts in his crucified God,
His pardon at once he receives,
Redemption in full through His blood.
          (Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).

Spurgeon said,

It is not the strength of thy faith that saves thee, but the reality of thy faith. What is more, it is not even the reality of thy faith that saves thee, it is the object of thy faith. If thy faith be fixed on Christ, though it seems to be in itself a line no thicker than a spider's cobweb, it will hold thy soul throughout time and eternity. (C. H. Spurgeon, "The King's Highway Opened and Cleared," January 8, 1860, in Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. VI, p. 60).
The moment you look to Jesus and believe in Him you are saved. Even the slightest belief in Him will save you - because it is not your belief, but Jesus Himself, who saves you!
Oh, don't let it continue to be said of you:
"We hid, as it were, our faces from him" (Isaiah 53:3).

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ!

 

V. Others let the "Grinch" steal their Christmas by their cowardice.

 

They are too cowardly to put Jesus on the throne of their lives. They are too fearful to become real Christians. They are like the soldiers King Herod sent to kill the babies in Bethlehem. Surely those soldiers knew it was wrong to murder helpless babies. Surely they had heard that one of these babies might be their long-awaited Saviour, the Messiah! Surely these soldiers knew, by killing that many babies, they were in danger of killing the Saviour. But they did it anyway. Why? Because they were too cowardly to disobey King Herod!
Fear is listed as the number-one reason people go to Hell in Revelation 21:8. It says:
"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8).

Notice that this verse tells us the number-one reason people go to Hell is "fearfulness."

Matthew Poole (1624-1679) gave this comment on Revelation 21:8,
The fearful, who, through fear of losing their reputation, estates, honours, or lives, deny me, or shall not dare to own me (Matthew Poole, A Commentary on the Holy Bible, vol. 3, p. 1005).

That’s why fear is the greatest cause of damnation. You fear losing your reputation if you became a real Christian. You say, "What would my parents think? What would my friends think?" So you stop coming to church out of the fear of losing your reputation. Or you fear losing your "estate," your money. You say, "Why, if I came to church every Sunday I'd lose my job. I have to work during the stated hours of church. No - my job and my money are too important to me." So out of your fear of losing money, you lose your soul in Hell. You fear what someone thinks. You fear losing money or not doing well in school, so you lose your soul in Hell through fear.

That old "Grinch" the Devil gets you through cowardice. So, it is said of you,
"We hid, as it were, our faces from him" (Isaiah 53:3).

VI. But the most common way that the devilish "Grinch" steals Christmas 
       is by appealing to your laziness .

 

Look how lazy old King Herod was! He sent the wise men to find Christ. "He sent them to Bethlehem" (Matthew 2:8). When he became angry at the wise men for tricking him, "(he) sent forth, and slew all the children of Bethlehem" (Matthew 2:16). He didn't do it himself. He "sent forth" others to do his work for him.
There is a lazy streak in you, too. Are you like Herod? Are you too lazy to get up every Sunday and be in church? Are you too lazy to "search diligently for the young child" yourself? (Matthew 2:8). You will not find Jesus unless you "search diligently" for Him.
You must be diligent enough to get up every Sunday and be here in church. You must be diligent enough to seek for Christ with "all your heart" - until you find Him and your sins are washed away in His Blood. Jesus says:
"And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13).

Will you do that? Or will it be said of you, "We hid, as it were, our faces from him"? (Isaiah 53:3).

Will you let that old "Grinch," the Devil, steal Christmas from you? Will you let him rob you of Jesus Christ, God's best gift to mankind? Will you let him rob you of your very soul?
Remember, it is that old "Grinch's" policy to be like, "a roaring lion…seeking whom he may devour" (I Peter 5:8). The Devil will devour you if he can. That's why he doesn't want you to come back to this church. That's why he doesn't want you to come to Jesus Christ and be converted. He will do everything he can to make this statement true of you:
"We hid, as it were, our faces from him" (Isaiah 53:3).

Oh, turn to Jesus. Be converted by Him! Come into this local church. Don't let the Grinch steal your Christmas!

Don't wish me Merry Xmas or Happy Holidays,
Put Christ back into Christmas
On this blessed, holy day.
          ("Put Christ Back Into Christmas").

Scripture Read Before Sermon: Luke 2:7; Matthew 2:1-16.

Solo by Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: "Put Christ Back Into Christmas" (Phone Dr. Hymers at (818) 352-0452 for the words and music).

                           You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the internet
                            at
www.rlhymersjr.com. click on "Sermon Manuscripts."

THE OUTLINE OF

HOW THE GRINCH STEALS CHRISTMAS - PART I

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

"We hid, as it were, our faces from him" (Isaiah 53:3).

       

    1. By thinking of Him with contempt, Matthew 2:13.
    2. By being indifferent toward Him, Luke 2:7.
    3. By desiring salvation in some other way than through Him,
      Matthew 2:4-5; Luke 13:24; Jeremiah 29:13.
    4. By continuing not to believe in Him, Matthew 2:16a; Acts 16:31.
    5. By cowardice, Revelation 21:8.
    6. By laziness, Matthew 2:8; Matthew 2:16b; Jeremiah 29:13;
      I Peter 5:8.