Pastor Barry Robinson

Letters to the Camberwell Congregation from Pastor Barry Robinson

WCG Camberwell - Pastor's Letters - Advent, Christmas and Epiphany 2008-09

Advent, Christmas and Epiphany 2008-09


Download a PDF version of this letter.

Dear Church Family,

I wonder if you have ever stopped to think about the contrasts of Christmas. After all there’s:

  • The announcement of the birth to shepherds, those from the lowest level of Jewish society, and by angels, certainly figures of great stature and glory;
  • The neglect of Jesus by His own people, while Gentile wise men came to worship Him; and
  • The power, fame and glory of Augustus (*) and the weakness, obscurity, and humility of the babe in a cattle trough.

But perhaps the central contrast of the Christmas story is explained by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 8:9 when he writes,

‘For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich’.

That really is good news.

But, how is it that Christians, through the poverty of Jesus, have become rich?

In the story of Christ’s birth and childhood, there are at least seven contrasts that illustrate this wonderful truth of the gospel:

  1. Jesus underwent a human birth, so that we, who believe on Him, might have a heavenly birth.
‘Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord’. (Luke 2:11).
‘Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God’. (John 1:12-13).
  1. Jesus took His place in a manger, so that we might have heavenly mansions.
‘[Mary] gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn’. (Luke 2:7).
‘In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you’. (John 14:2).
  1. Jesus became a member of a human family so that we might become members of the family of God.
‘On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary…’ (Matthew 2:11).
‘You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus’. (Galations 3:26).
  1. Jesus made Himself subject to others so that we, through the power of the Holy Spirit at work within us, might be made free.
‘Then [Jesus] went down to Nazareth with [his parents] and was obedient to them...’ (Luke 2:51).
‘It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery’. (Galatians 5:1).
  1. Jesus laid aside His glory so that we might receive glory.
‘Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness’. (Philippians 2:6-7).
‘And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away’. (1 Peter 5:4)
  1. Jesus, at His birth was welcomed by shepherds, while we, at our spiritual birth, are welcomed by angels.
‘So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger’. (Luke 2:16).
‘…I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents’. (Luke 15:10).
  1. Jesus was pursued by an evil ruler so that He might ‘destroy’ that far more dangerous and evil ruler who pursues us.
‘When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." (Matthew 2:13).
‘Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people’. (Hebrews 2:14-17).

When we put those texts together we see a great pattern emerging:

  • Jesus endured a physical birth to give us a new spiritual birth;
  • He occupied a manger that we might occupy a mansion;
  • He had an earthly mother so that we can have a heavenly Father;
  • He became subject so that we might be free;
  • He left His glory to give us glory;
  • He was welcomed by shepherds at His birth we, at our birth, are welcomed by angels;
  • He was hunted by Herod that we might be delivered from the grasp of Satan.

The great contrasts of the story of Christ’s birth and childhood all point to the fact that ‘Jesus became poor that we might become rich’.

The reversal of roles at God’s expense for our benefit - It’s what makes the Christmas story so irresistibly attractive.

The birth of Jesus led the angels to burst into song; maybe it should be the same for us. I can’t think of a better song than the words penned by Henry Smith:

‘Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He's given
Jesus Christ His Son

And now let the weak say I am strong
Let the poor say I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us’

Or as Paul wrote, ‘Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!’ (2 Corinthians 9:15).

Let’s have a thankful Christmas for all the Lord has done for us.

With love in Jesus’ name,

Barry Robinson

Below are links to the Advent, Christmas and Epiphany sermons.


Augustus Caesar was the supreme leader of the world at the time of Jesus. Prior to his reign the Roman Empire had been in turmoil. He was victorious in civil war, in wars against invaders on the borders of the Empire, and against pirates on the seas. He established the Pax Romana [‘Roman Peace’] and restored the senate, magistrates and the assembly. Rome prospered as wealth flowed into the capital. Back to text

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Advent, Christmas and Epiphany Sermons 2008 - 2009

  1. I am coming soon’ – (Revelation 22)
  2. What a difference a name makes’ – (Luke 1:5-25, 37, 57-65).
  3. Thankfulness (for God’s indescribable gift)’ (2 Corinthians 9:15)
  4. Learning from the unlearned’ (Luke 2:4-20)
  5. Anna – A model of faith’ (Luke 2:36-38)
  6. A Wiseman’s journey’ (Matthew2:1-12).

Once the sermons have been given you can click on the highlighted sermon title link to the audio and listen to it online, or download it to your own computer.

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