The Christmas Story :: By Sean Gooding

The Christmas Story – Luke 2:1-20

“And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.

“So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’ So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.’

“And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.”

I once heard a sermon that asked the question ‘Why did the Jews miss the arrival of Jesus?’ One of the answers was that they were too familiar with the story. The preacher used the example of how the Magi, about 1-2 years after Jesus’ birth, came and asked at the palace for the newborn king; and the Jewish religious leaders did not even hesitate. They knew that Micah 5:2 told that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Yet, not one of them went with the Magi, as far as we can tell, to see for themselves.

So, they missed the arrival of the Saviour because they knew but simply did not care. We in the New Testament church can get the same way. We hear the account over and over again, we sing the same carols, celebrate the same Christmas dinners, spend money on presents and attend ‘special’ services with songs and readings each year, and sometimes we simply fall for the tradition and forget the reason for the tradition.

In a similar way, the world around us keeps calling for peace, but without Jesus. Songs like ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon imagines a world without religion. This means Jesus as well. The song ‘We are the world’ sees man as the solution to the world’s problems, making the death of Jesus of none effect to them since they are the solution. This is the same garbage that Lucifer thought in his head and mind, ‘I can be god.’ No, you can’t and you never will. We cannot ever solve our own problems.

One of the best examples of the way man succeeds at winning against man’s nature is the ‘War on Drugs’ that started in the 1980s. How did that work out? We now have more drugs than ever available. Often, the very people that are entrusted to solve the problem are shown to be the problem. Mankind will not ever solve his problems. The main problem is SIN – the very nature that corrupts every way that we think and behave.

Jesus came to do for man what we cannot do for ourselves—fix us on the inside. Jesus is not calling us to be better men and women; this is not a ‘get well’ scheme. He is calling us to die to self and be Born Again in Him, by Him and through Him. He is not looking to fix you up; He is looking to tear you down to the very foundations and rebuild you afresh. This is the idea of being born again.

Too many of the Lord’s churches have this idea of Jesus being the great “Fixer-Upper.” He is not. A fixer- upper house or table has some good traits that you can build around. In man’s case, we are sinners, rotten to the core and hopeless.

This is why the Christmas story is so amazing. Jesus did not come to help us because we were good; He came to save us from our sinfulness. We had NOTHING good to offer Him. Yet, He willingly took on the form of a man, was born, grew up, lived a perfectly sinless life and died as an innocent man for you and me, the wretches that we are. God became a Man so He could save us from ourselves and our sins.

In Hebrews 12:2, we see these encouraging words: “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Please see this; Jesus came joyfully to the cross. He did not begrudge us the salvation that He purchased with His blood. He came joyfully to redeem us knowing the cost, the pain, the suffering and the death He had to endure for us. All too often we miss this in the Christmas story. We miss the deliberateness in it. God sent His Son at the right time, to the right place to do the right thing for a people, you and me, that could not be right without Him.

One of my dear friends, a great pastor, recently wrote these words:

“Joseph and Mary were distant relatives. Both of them were in the lineage of King David. According to Matthew 1.16, Joseph’s father was Jacob. Luke 3.23 says Joseph was the “son” of Heli (Eli). He was actually the “son-in-law” of Heli. This would make Heli the father of Mary. Boaz was the great-great grandfather of David. Mary was in the lineage of Boaz. According to Jewish law, all inheritances had to pass through the male line. Mary had no brothers so she, by law, could inherit her father’s estate, if she married within her own tribe. Joseph became Heli’s heir (son) by right of marriage to his daughter. So, Joseph owned property in Bethlehem through his marriage to Mary.

“The “taxing” was actually a census Rome took every 14 years. Citizens had to go to the city in which they owned property. Boaz owned a home and a threshing floor in Bethlehem which passed down through the lineage. This property was the homestead of Jesse, David’s father. 700 years after David was born here, Jesus was born in the “tower of the flock” (Micah 4.8) located on this site. This tower was a birthing center for sacrificial lambs, which when born, were wrapped in swaddling cloth and placed in a stone manger for safekeeping. Jesse’s house was this birthing tower! It appears that David and Jesus were born in the same house.”

God was so deliberate in His plan, so deliberate in even where Jesus was born and when Jesus was born. Our salvation is no happenstance; no detail was left to chance. God superintended the whole thing because He loves us and He loves His Son.

So, this year, don’t miss the real story of Christmas because of familiarity. Humble yourself and understand that without Jesus there is NO HOPE ever. There are so many who cannot or, more often, will not see this because of pride and stubbornness; and they will miss the greatest gift ever given, that of the Holy Son of God, Jesus the Messiah, who came to die for our sins, to pay for our iniquities and to conquer death for us all.

Have you missed Jesus? Have you missed the gift of eternal life? Then today, call on Him and He will save you.

I got this from another dear pastor friend. See “The Bible Way to Heaven” at this link. It is clear and a great tool to use.

Share the Christmas story. Jesus came to save the sinner of whom I am chief, and so are you and your friends.

Merry Christmas.