The Supporting Cast
Introduction: Every Birth Deserves a witness or two… I witnessed the birth of my children. Our neighbors at the time although they didn’t watch them come into the world they witnessed the birth with joy and celebration. (Photo the sign for Jesse)
Trans Sentence: The Supporting Cast on the night Jesus was born and others who followed were witnesses of the birth of the King of Heaven. They had front row seats and were the first ones to testify to others that a King was born.
The Angels Foretold of the birth Provided Directions Invited others to witness behind the scenes
Foretold of the birth Luke 1:26-38
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31 “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. 36 “And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 “For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Provided Directions - Told the Shepherds what to do. Luke 2:10-12 “I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”” Good directions don’t you think. City of David - they all would have known that they were speaking of Bethlehem, they were probably just a few miles away. But then the directions become a bit fuzzier. A baby? How many were born this night? Wrapped in cloths? Don’t all babies get wrapped in cloths? But lying in a manger. Now this is a significant piece of information. It isn’t everyday you find a baby wrapped in a manger.
Invited others to witness - Invited the Shepherds into the story, (Responsible for leading, feeding, protecting, and procuring rest for their flock). Not the usual suspects for witnessing a birth.
What were they doing behind the scenes in the natural spiritual realm? How much combat with the forces of darkness were going on?
The angels were doing God’s will by delivering the message about the coming birth of John and Jesus. But I bet they didn’t do it grudgingly. They were worshipping God as they did it. Take their example - worship with joy and gladness, not grudgingly. It’s all a matter of the heart, if our hearts are in the right place our worship will be a sweet aroma to God.
2. The Shepherds Lowly and looking for hope Frightened In a hurry Returned glorifying God
Luke 2:8–20 (NASB95)
8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;
11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.”
16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.
17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.
18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.
20 The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.
Lowly and looking for Hope - Just about the lowest people on the social ladder. The laws over the years pushed shepherds into one of the lowest possible levels of the social cast system. Shepherds were deprived of all civil rights. They could not fulfill judicial offices or be admitted in court as witnesses. Shepherds were marginalized by the social and religious elite, but they were chosen to break the silence of centuries, heralding Messiah’s birth. Christ Jesus came to save the sinners, of which the shepherds were considered as foremost, so even as an infant the first to be saved were the shepherds.
Frightened - Shepherds aren’t used to visits from angels.
In a hurry - Didn’t lollygag, they hurried (use Bull Durham lollygag story)
Returned glorifying God - They told everyone along the way of the joyous thing they had seen! Don’t keep it a secret. Luke 2:17 “When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.”
The Shepherds dropped what they were doing and ran to the King. They ran so that they wouldn’t miss it. They ran that they might hold Him in their arms and tell everyone they saw what had been told them of this child. How many people do you know that run into the arms of the Messiah? How many worship and praise God while telling everyone they know about Him?
3. The Magi Mat 2:1-12 How many From the East Came to a house Gave Gifts
1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 2 “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: 6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; For out of you shall come forth a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ” 7 Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” 9 After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.
How many? The number is not specified. It simply says “Magi.” The word “Magi” comes from the Greek magos meaning “one of a learned and priestly class.” The Persian word used to describe these men in their society was magush meaning “magician.” Three gentiles rolling into to Jerusalem probably wouldn’t caused a fuss. But, the scripture says that all of Jerusalem was stirred up by the presence of the Magi. It probably wasn’t so much the Magi as the size of the caravan. There could have been a group of hundreds of people traveling with them. Soldiers, tradesmen, servants and keepers of the livestock that were traveling with them. This would have caused a stir in the city.
From the East Tradition says they came from Persia. Which would be Iraq today. Today we can drive from Babylon in Iraq to Bethlehem in 11 hrs. Not to bad, a hike would take 11 days of continuous walking. Considering that people and animals can’t walk continuously it probably took up to two months to make the journey. If they came from even farther East than Babylon then it would have taken even longer. They would have needed to be persistent in their desire to worship the new King. Just like we need to do - be persistent.
Came to a house According to the passage they didn’t come to the manger scene. They came to a house Luke 2:11 says: “11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” If it took them a couple months of walking then Mary and Joseph must have built a house or moved into one that was empty. It took me a long to to get this in my head - nativity scenes always show them at the manger. Why?
No matter what the answer is they looked up and saw the star. They set aside their lives to go and see this great thing. They went to worship the child that was born to save Israel from it’s sins. They were Gentiles - They didn’t miss out even though it took them a long time to do it. They kept on keeping on.
Gave Gifts Along with coming to worship this new King they also came bearing gifts. Gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.
Gold was considered worthy of a king. The buildings and treasures of kings and pharaohs from the ancient past have left reminders that gold was the prize of rulers and kings. Both secular and biblical kings greatly valued gold.
Frankincense was used primarily in biblical times for making incense and as an ingredient in perfume. Since frankincense was primarily used in the Bible for worship, frankincense speaks of the worship of God.
Myrrh was used for a variety of purposes in biblical times as a perfume, an anesthetic, embalming, (death and burial) as an ingredient in anointing oil, and to deodorize clothes. It was also used in a cosmetic for women. Records show that myrrh was used in Jesus’ burial.
The Magi - took the time to seek out the Messiah. They kept following the star until they found the child. They never gave up. How many people do you know that have given up? Have you given up?
4. The missing cast Luke 2:7
7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
The first member of the cast that missed the celebration. The Inn keeper. Why did he miss out? Well he was too busy. He was busy taking care of the customers he had to take a moment to look at what was before him. He never looked up, he never took the time to think about the fact that the new baby could have had some significance. This same thing happens today. Too many people are too busy to look up and see that there might be something bigger than them happening.
3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.
Herod was the next member to miss out on witnessing the birth of the King of Heaven. He was fearful. He didn’t understand that this King was here to save Israel from their sins. His pride made him think that he would lose his position. This new King would oust him and his family from the throne. He would lose the crown and his power. Such arrogance. It was so bad tat he had babies murdered thinking that he could kill the child before He had a chance to grow up and take over. How many people do you know that wouldn’t come to Jesus because they would have to submit their lives to someone else?
The chief priests and scribes are the next members that missed out. They would say that they were waiting and watching for the arrival of the Messiah but they really weren’t. They wanted to keep things the way they were. They liked having the power and prestige of their positions. Their traditions and legalism kept them from seeing the truth. How many people do you know miss out because they are too busy with rules and traditions to see the Messiah. He is right under their noses and they can’t take the time and effort to see the truth.
And then we come to all the people. The people in Jerusalem were to busy watching all the other people, the priests and Herod to get it. Look around an awful lot of that is happening now. The people are watching the rich and famous and the people who talk a lot. They miss the Messiah. To busy watching the things of the world to see the Christ. They missed out then and they miss out now. Even when some one tells them the truth, they are too busy to get it.
Exit: What do you do when you witness a birth? Run and tell someone or keep it a secret? The angels invited others to see this great thing. The shepherds hurried to see him and worshipped God all the way back as they told everyone they could about the Christ child. The Magi dropped everything in their lives to go and see this new King, this child that would be the Savior of the world. Gentiles worshipping the Jewish King - Scandalous. And then they went so far as to give Him valuable gifts. Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. But then there was those who missed out. They were too busy to look up, to prideful to go and see or they were too worried about what this ment. So they lied, they concocted schemes and even went so far as to attempt to destroy Him.
What do you do when a baby is born? What do you do when someone is reborn in the Spirit? What did you do when you were reborn in Spirit? Did you tell people or keep it a secret? Let’s be like the Shepherds, let’s tell everyone we know who this child is and what He became. He is Jesus, the Holy One of God. Our Lord and Savior. Tell people.
Advent Candle Reading
1 O Lord, You have searched me and known me. 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. 3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all. 5 You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it. 7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. 9 If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.