Don't Miss Christmas
TEXT: Luke 2:1-7
TOPIC: DON'T MISS CHRISTMAS
Pastor Bobby Earls, First Baptist Church – Center Point, Alabama
December 18, 2005
1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
INTRODUCTION: "No Room." Those shameful words describe more than the inn in Bethlehem. They apply as aptly to today's world. Sadly, in all the busyness of our Christmas celebrations, most people still make no room for Jesus. Without realizing it, they miss Christmas, just like most of the people in and around Bethlehem on the night Jesus was born.
Did you know most people miss Christmas every year? That sounds strange, especially in North America, where during the holidays we drown in a sea of Christmas advertising. They observe the season because culture says it's the thing to do, but the masses are utterly oblivious to the reality of what they are celebrating. So much fantasy and myth have been imposed on the holiday that people are numb to the real miracle of Christ's birth.
One thing hasn't changed since the time of Joseph and Mary; nearly everyone missed that first Christmas, too. Like people today, they were busy, consumed with all kinds of things - some important, some not - but nearly everyone missed Christ. The similarities between their world and ours are striking. For example,
I. THE INNKEEPER MISSED CHRISTMAS: HE WAS INDUSTRIOUS.
LUKE 2:7, "No room for them in the inn."
That statement must be one of the saddest in the entire Bible. No room in the inn! Somewhere in history there was an innkeeper who did not find it in his heart, or inn, to make room for Jesus. He missed the opportunity to be a part of the most important birth in history.
The Son of God would have been born on his property; but he put up the "No vacancy" sign and refused Jesus. I’m sure he must have raised room prices. He understood the law of supply and demand. The innkeeper was so industrious, so business-minded, so preoccupied, that he missed Christmas.
Luke 2:1-6 teaches that it was census time in Bethlehem, and the city was bulging with everyone whose ancestry went back to the little town. Business was booming. The innkeeper was busy. There is no indication that he was hostile or evenunsympathetic. He was just busy, that's all.
Exactly like millions of people today. Their lives are consumed with activity, not necessarily sinful activity; just things that keep them busy. At Christmas, people are especially busy. Shopping, banquets, parties, concerts, school activities, and other things that all compete for attention. And in the clutter of activity, many preoccupied people miss the Son of God.
Let me share this dramatized account of what must have been the innkeeper's reasoning:
"I speak to you as men of the world," said the innkeeper.
"Not as idealists but as realists. Do you know what it is like to run an inn, to run a business, a family, to run anything in the world for that matter, even your own life. It is like being lost in a forest of a million trees, and each tree is a thing to be done. Is there fresh linen on the beds? Did the children put their coats on before they went out? Is there money enough left in the bank? Today, we have food in our bellies and clothes on our backs, but what can we do to make sure we will have them still tomorrow? A million trees. A million things.
Our world is filled with millions of innkeepers. If that were not the case, there would not be so many grim faces in our stores or so many exhausted, sleepy people in our churches the Sunday before Christmas.
A preacher friend tells the story of his opportunity to preach a few years ago on Christmas night. He was approached by an older gentleman right before the services and told, "Let me give you some advise before you preach. I've got relatives at my house waiting to eat Christmas dinner, keep it short, no longer than 20 minutes." Do you know what that innkeeper of a man was saying. He was saying, "Listen, I've got 20 minutes this Christmas for Jesus."
- II. HEROD MISSED CHRISTMAS: HE WAS INSECURE.*
Matthew 2:8, "And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also."
Herod was a scoundrel. There was nothing likable about him. He was a sly old fox, guilty of many murders, including at least one wife and three sons. Herod pretended he wanted to worship Jesus, but he was fearful of this One who was called the King of the Jews. He didn't want any competition for his throne. His paranoia was legendary. In one of the final acts of his wicked life, he had the most distinguished citizens of Jerusalem put in prison, and commanded that they be slaughtered the moment he died. "The people will not weep when I die," he said, "and I want them weeping, even if they weep over someone else."
The Herods are fearful of having to be submissive to and answer to someone other than themselves. The Herods of our world are like those of Luke 19:14, "We will not have this man to reign over us." We have a world of self-appointed kings who will not bow to the King.
Herods are not about to let Jesus have His rightful throne in their hearts. Herods don't want Jesus interfering with their power, plans, prestige or position.
If you are like Herod, even in a small way, perhaps you should pay attention to something Jesus said: Mark 8:36, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" My answer is absolutely nothing. You lose in this world, you lose in the world to come.
People don't mind taking time off work to commemorate Jesus' birth. They will even embrace Him as a resource when they get in trouble. They might gladly accept Him as a spiritual benefactor. They are even willing to add Him to their lives and call themselves Christians, but not if He insists on being King. That might be a threat to theirlifestyle or career, or whatever else they are hanging on to. They are as fearful and as jealous of losing their own self-determination as Herod was of losing his throne.
III. THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS MISSED CHRISTMAS: THEY WERE INDIFFERENT.*
Matt 2:4-6, "And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where the Christ should be born. And they saidunto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea, for thus it is written by the prophet, and thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, art not the least among the princes of Judah; for out ofthee shall come a Governor that shall rule my people, Israel."
A whole group of people who missed Christmas is mentioned in passing in this passage. They are the religious leaders. The chief priests and scribes knew exactly where Christ was to be born. These were the theologians, the minds, the brains, the religious elite of Israel. They knew the scriptures well enough to quote Micah 5:2 which prophesied the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Yet they missed Christmas.
The Jewish people had been looking for their Messiah, but they never even bothered to walk the few miles south to Bethlehem to find out for themselves if the Messiah indeed had been born.
Why did the religious leaders miss Christmas? Indifference. They didn't care. At least Herod feared Jesus' authority. The innkeeper could claim ignorance. The religious leaders had all the facts. They just didn't care. Their Messiah was not really important to them.
If the truth be known, they felt they didn't need Him. They were self-righteous. They kept the law. They were perfect in their own minds, sickeningly proud.
Everywhere you look you can see indifferent people who don't care about the Savior because they don't understand their need of salvation. They don't openly oppose Him; they just ignore Him.
They don't care about the remedy because they don't believe they have the disease. These are the people who miss Christmas.
WHAT CHILD IS THIS?
Some say He was just a good teacher, but good teachers don't claim to be God.
Some say He was merely a good example, but good examples don't mingle with prostitutes and sinners.
Some say He was a madman, but madmen don't speak the way He spoke.
Some say He was a crazed fanatic, but crazed fanatics don't draw children to themselves or attract men of intellect like Paul or Luke to be their followers.
Some say He was a religious phony, but phonies don't rise from the dead.
Some say He was only a phantom, but phantoms can't give their flesh and blood to be crucified. Some say He was only a myth, but myths don't set the calendar for history.
Jesus has been called the ideal man, an example of love, the highest model of religion, the foremost pattern of virtue, the greatest of all men, and the finest teacherwho ever lived. All of those descriptions capture elements of His character, but they all fall short of the full truth. The apostle Thomas expressed it perfectly when he saw Jesus after the resurrection, and exclaimed, "My Lord and My God!" (John 20:28)