I am reading a collection of Christmas Sermons by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and it is encouraging to see Bonhoeffer’s evangelistic heart unmediated by biographers and interpreters. The editor and translater is Edwin Robertson. In this sermon, Bonhoeffer’s text is Deuteronomy 32. He works off the promise to Israel to give them a land. But Moses is told that he will not enter the land. The text of this particular sermon breaks off and is incomplete but not before we read these words.
“The world that Christ comes to save is our fallen and lost world. None other.”
Yes, our Savior-shepherd, our sacrificial lamb and sovereign King comes at Christmas to take on flesh, become our sacrifice and lay down his life for sinners like us. Bonhoeffer knows the story and reads his Old Testament Christologically like a good Lutheran should. Earlier in the sermon he preached these words to his German-speaking Cuban congregation.
“But Moses died on the mountain in sight of the Promise. The language . . . is clear enough. He who has seen God must die. Before the promise the sinner must die. Do we understand what that means for us so shortly before Christmas? Christmas will be the fulfillment of God’s great promise, a promise infinitely greater than the promise of the Promised Land. God has promised to draw near to earth himself, to draw near to us; he has promised himself to lead us to deliverance, to salvation, to blessedness. But we know that if Moses had to die, we too must surely die if God deals with us according to what we deserve. But as Christians we know that we shall not die, but live in the promise, that the promise shall be life to us.”
Dec. 21, 1930 4th Sunday of Advent
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Preaching in Cuba
During his first visit to the Americas
Remember, amidst all the hype and tinsel and lights and gifts and food, Christmas is about salvation. It is about God so loving the world that the Son came to proclaim the kingdom and that all who repented and believed would not perish but instead be gifted with eternal life (cf. John 3:16).