I wanted to do a post on the second Conversation with Peter prior to Christmas, but then I realized it was Christmas Eve and it’s probably more appropriate to do a Christmas post. LOL. Seriously though, I was looking back at some old posts and found an outline for a Christmas message I gave a couple of years ago during my Revolution Youth season. I figured I’d dust it off, expand it since it was just an outline.
Christmas time is a season of celebration. A time when we traditionally and historically celebrate the birth of Christ. What often happens however is that Christ gets lost in the hype around the holiday. Let’s take a look at Christ’s birth and the little known parts of his early life.
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
You have to love how God works. I don’t think we actually understand the simple miracle that Christs birth was. I don’t just mean the virgin birth, the angels, and the star either. They were HUGE miracles, but the fact of the timing of Christ’s birth. God basically engineered history for this moment. For the first time, ever, the world was connected in some way to Rome, either by government, trade, or simply envy. Greece had paved the way through Alexander the Great’s conquest by spreading Grecian culture through most of the known world, by the time of Christ’s birth, the Roman conquests had spread from what is Modern day England, to the borders of India. In verses 1-3, we see that the Roman government wanted to take a census, and decreed (now days it would be called an Executive order) that everyone should return to their home town to register, so we have the first instance of Christmas travel. By the time Mary and Joseph get to Bethlehem, there was simply no place for them, so they had to settle for a stable. There are some that doubt that it was an actual stable, regardless, it was pretty stark conditions for the Savior of the world to be born in. Think about it, Christ had been seated with God in Heaven with the Angels at his command, yet, now here he is, a helpless baby whose bed is a manger of straw. All because of HIS love, mercy, and grace for us. His birth was simple and prophetic. It’s not what the world expected or still expects. The world expects a savior born in greatness, but God’s expectations are often contrary to what we expect. The angels didn’t appear to the ruling elite, but to a simple bunch of shepherds who came and worshipped with what they had. Wisemen, that had no connection or relation to Mary or Joseph brought the first gifts. It’s hard to comprehend sometimes. Christ’s birth, that had been prophesied by David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and many others, had finally happened, but it was almost anti-climactic because HE was born in relative obscurity, which was part of HIS plan. Which brings us to part two of the miracle of Christmas, which is the simple fact that HE grew up…..just like all of us. He didn’t just go from birth to age 30 when the gospels take up HIS story and mission, but HE grew up from a baby to a man in a small town of Nazareth and probably lived a pretty normal life before starting HIS journey to the cross. Let’s take a quick look at the rest of the chapter
39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on
Do we truly comprehend that statement? We have a savior born as a man. God gave up paradise to come and live among us, to experience what it means to grow up. He had to have his diaper changed, learn how to eat, learn to walk….to experience life as a teenager, experience the loss of a parent. Yes, his human father Joseph is believed to have died by the time Jesus was an adult, so he understands loss He understands rejection, not only by others, but by his family and friends. YET, through all of this, HE was completely human, yet, He was still the perfect Son of God.
Heb 4:14-16 says it perfectly:
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[a] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
That’s what I love about Christmas. It’s not the gift giving, traveling, last minute runs to Wal-mart that scars people for life, or even the visiting with family you see only during the holidays. Christmas is about hope and restoration. The greatest of all restoration was the restoration of a relationship with GOD and HIS children. Restoration is the real reason for the season. It gives me hope and an example to follow. I must let go of disappointments and dashed expectations and seek the hope and restoration that only GOD can provide. That’s the lesson for me for this Christmas.
MERRY CHRISTMAS, Ya’all