There we have a beautiful Christmas tree in the garden, and I’m reminded of another garden, long, long ago. It was called the Garden of Eden, a garden God planted right back at the beginning of all gardens, and the Bible tells us that in the middle of it was a tree and it was called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
And God said to the first people that he placed in the first garden: You can eat from all the other trees, but please don’t eat from this one. Why did He say this? Well, He didn’t want them to know both good and evil. When He created everything, everything was good ... and he wanted us to only know a world of good ... so He said: “Don’t eat this fruit.”
But, we humans don’t really like being told what we can or can’t do ... we really do believe we know what’s best for us ... and so they ate the fruit of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they discovered evil, disobedience, naughtiness, sin (call it what you like) and they became addicted to it.
We are too, aren’t we? Anyone here who hasn’t sinned since last Christmas ... since last Sunday ... since the sun rose this morning? No ... as a man called Paul said, writing a letter to the early Christians in Rome in about 58AD ... all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
In fact this same man, Paul, who had been a Christian for more than 20 years and who wrote more of the New Testament than anyone else, ... this same man wrote in the same letter:
... I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do ... For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing ... So I find this law at work: although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?
That sounds terribly familiar doesn’t it ... it sounds like me, and, go on, be honest, it sounds like you too, doesn’t it? We do things, we say things, we think things that we know we shouldn’t ... and that we hate ourselves for doing, saying or thinking. This is called sin ... and this is the human condition ... and whether you are a Christian or not as you sit at this carol service ... you know that this describes you ... just as I am ashamed to admit that it describes me (and I’ve been a born-again Christian for almost 50 years, having been saved by Jesus in 1969 ... and that describes me, this past week).
With Paul, I cry out his next words:
Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
You see, Paul found Jesus Christ, who was in fact looking for him, just as a good shepherd looks for sheep that are lost; I found Jesus Christ, who was in fact looking for me, just as a good shepherd looks for sheep that are lost; and many others here and all over the world, in every nation and across the ages have found that same Jesus, who was in fact looking for them, just as a good shepherd looks for sheep that are lost.
Have you found the Jesus who is in fact looking for you, just as a good shepherd looks for sheep that are lost?
You see, in the heart of that garden I mentioned at the beginning, stood another tree:
The Tree of Life ... and the Tree of Life is Jesus Christ Himself. He says: “I am the life” ... you and I, like the apostle Paul, we think that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is the source of life, we think we’re missing out if we don’t eat its fruit ... but when we eat its fruit we discover things in ourselves that we know and wish just weren’t there; and then we hear of a man called Jesus who through His death and resurrection claims to take away that sin and that guilt, and we hear that He did this for each one of us ... for me, for you, for the world ... and He says: “Just believe that what I did on that tree on Calvary ... just believe that that offers you, forgiveness, cleansing and new life. Confess from your heart that you need forgiveness ... ask Me to come in to your life ... and I’ll come and give you life, abundant life, life in all its fullness ... life as I meant it and want it to be for you.”
I invite you, this Christmas, even this evening ... to taste by faith and to see by faith that the Lord Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas ... taste and see that the Lord is good.
If you want to do that this evening ... I invite you to come forward at the end of this video and give your life to Him. Perhaps tonight is the time to find the One who has been looking for you, like a good shepherd looks for his lost sheep.