Luke 2: 21 - 28
Instead of preparing Him room, I wonder if we’ve allowed the Saviour to be stolen from our celebrations. Our society has sanitized the spiritual. For some of us the Saviour has been swiped from Christmas and we haven’t even noticed. Are you aware there’s only one verse in the Gospels that describes the actual details of the birth of Jesus?
Luke 2: 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 room for them in the inn.”
During this time of the year we often turn to the opening 2 chapters of Matthew and the first 2 chapters of Luke to be reminded of what happened at Christmas. I counted the verses that recount the narrative surrounding the nativity and came up with 99. That means only about 1% of the Christmas account focuses on the actual birth of Jesus! The other verses deal with the various reactions and responses to His birth.
On top of this, while the birth of Jesus is incredibly important because it explains how Jesus is sovereign, sinless and our substitute, are you aware the Bible never tells us to remember His birth? Surprising, isn’t it? We are told to remember His death - 1 Corinthians 11:26: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
Having said all that, the birth of Jesus Christ is absolutely essential! Without the incarnation, there would be no crucifixion, no resurrection, no ascension and no Second Coming! Without Christmas, there would be no forgiveness and no way to go to heaven when we die. We would be stuck in our sins with no hope of change.
So why do Matthew and Luke spend so much time giving the details of what happened before and after the birth of Jesus? Why do these gospel writers include so many people from different cultures, generations, genders and socio-economic backgrounds? Here’s why. While the reality of the birth of Christ is essential, God puts all these individuals in the narrative to show that He is concerned about our response to the birth of Christ. “God thunders in the heavens and whispers in our hearts.” I hope you hear either the thunder or the whisper – Every heart must prepare Him room and receive the King of Christmas.
Let’s briefly look at some of these responses. We’ll begin in Matthew and then head over to Luke –
1. Herod Hated Matthew 2: 16
Herod was made a fool of and became furious. Herod then does something worthy of Hitler and orders the cold-blooded murder of all males less than 2 years of age. Herod the Great became the
Butcher of Bethlehem. He was perhaps the ultimate oxymoron in history. Rich in what most of us consider valuable, he was totally bankrupt as a human being. He was addicted to power, obsessed with possessions, focused on prestige and filled with paranoia.
The themes of hostility and hatred can be traced all the way back to the 3rd chapter of the Bible when a curse was unleashed upon the world because of sin. The hatred of Herod lives on today.
Is your heart filled with hatred and hostility today? Are you angry with Immanuel?
2. The Religious Rejected Matthew 2: 3 – 5
They knew the answer yet refused to make the short journey to Bethlehem to investigate for themselves. They were just going through the religious motions and were unwilling to mobilize their faith.
I wonder if there are any religious people here like that? You know the right answers but they don’t impact your life. Maybe you can quote a verse but for some reason you don’t want to follow Christ. You know the answers but they don’t move you. It might be difficult to admit, but your actions may reveal that in fact, you’ve rejected Christ.
3. The Wise Men Worshipped Matthew 2: 11
They somehow knew that this child would one day rule the world and were not ashamed to fall on their faces before Him. Think of the contrasts. The wise men were Gentiles, not Jews. They followed the stars instead of the Scriptures. While the religious rejected, these secular scholars made a trip across the desert to find the newborn King.
What about you? Are you ready to go after Him and then give Him all that He deserves? Jeremiah 31: 13, 14 “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you.” Will you stop worshipping yourself or someone else and worship Him alone?
4. Joseph Journeyed Matthew 1: 24, 25
With his fiancée pregnant and knowing he was not the father, Joseph was willing to go on a faith journey. Joseph’s commitment came at great personal cost to him.
After marrying Mary, he journeyed with her to Bethlehem where she gave birth to Jesus. 8 days later, Joseph led the young family on a journey to Jerusalem where they dedicated their son to the Lord. After this, they fled to Egypt where they lived as refugees. After hateful Herod died, Joseph led them on a journey to Nazareth, where they finally made their home.
Are you willing to begin a journey with God, and then do what He says, no matter the cost? Will you do anything and go anywhere He sends you? We’ve seen 4 responses from Matthew’s account. Let’s look now at the Gospel of Luke.
5. Mary Magnified Luke 1: 46, 47
Mary’s mission is summed up in the opening lyric of her song. While Mary magnified God, she saw herself as small. This is most clearly demonstrated by her declaration of faith - Luke 1: 38. She demonstrated submissive servanthood and unconditional obedience. In essence she was saying, “I am yours and I will do whatever you want.”
We then read that Mary took the time to reflect on all that was happening. She deliberately took everything in. Notice the different words that are used in chapter 2 about Mary:
Treasured 2: 19 - means “to preserve, to keep safe or to keep close” and to “turn over.”
Pondered 2:19 - suggests she brought all these things ‘together’ in her mind.
Marveled 2:33 - means to admire and wonder.
Do you think life is all about you or are you seeking to make God bigger? Are you magnifying by treasuring, pondering and marveling? Are you ready to say, “I am yours and I will do whatever you want?”
6. The Shepherds Shared Luke 2:17
The first thing they did was to go to Bethlehem so they could see the baby with their own eyes.
After the shepherds saw the Saviour in the straw, they shared with everyone they saw. Make known in such a way that people can understand. They went and witnessed and then they went as witnesses to others. They didn’t hang around the manger because they knew they were now managers of the message.
Has it been awhile since you’ve shared what the Savior has done in your life?
7. Simeon was Saved Luke 2: 28 – 30
Simeon was waiting in the Temple and at just the right time, he saw the Saviour when Mary and Joseph brought Him to be dedicated. To see Jesus is to see God’s salvation. When Simeon took the baby Jesus in his arms, he said, “Lord, I’m ready to go home now. I can die in peace.” You’re not ready to die until you have received Jesus and trusted Him as your Saviour.
Are you following a self-salvation project or are you following the Saviour-salvation plan? You’re only ready to die if you’ve been made alive by Christ.
8. Anna Abandoned All Luke 2: 36 - 38
When Anna saw Jesus, she gave thanks to God and spoke of Him to all who were waiting to be released from in bondage. Here, at last, was the One who would be the bondage breaker.
Do you need freedom from your hurts, habits and hang-ups? Do you need be released from an addiction? Anna was all-in. Are you ready to abandon all like she did?
Christmas is all about God giving the greatest gift ever. But a gift demands a response. We’ve looked at 8 different responses, but if you think about it, there are really only 2 responses—to reject the gift or to receive the gift. How will you respond to God’s gift? Think about this. If you don’t receive it, you’ve actually rejected it.
One of the things that makes a gift special is the realization that the person who gave the gift spent some time thinking about what to give you. It involved thought and action. And there’s often a cost involved.
There’s something about Christmas that demands a response, isn’t there? Over 100 years ago, something happened that put the reality of Christmas on display better than any lights or decorations ever could.
On a cold Christmas Eve night, German soldiers were hunkered down in their muddy trench while British and French soldiers were hiding in their own underground trough. Between them, in what was known as “no-man’s land,” hundreds of dead bodies littered the frozen landscape.
World War I had begun only months before, and the fighting on the Western Front was very fierce. Hope for a quick war had evaporated. Both armies knew they would be bitter enemies for years.
But something happened on Christmas Eve. German soldiers began singing “Silent Night” in German, and men on the other side of the great divide joined along in English. Soldiers who had been killing one another were now singing together about the wonder of Christ’s birth.
As the singing continued, the soldiers emerged out of their trenches to join one another in “No Man’s Land,” where they exchanged gifts, shared in burial services and played soccer together.
An estimated 100 000 soldiers experienced a spontaneous silent night that year. The truce continued through Christmas Day. Even if for a brief moment, there was peace on earth and good will toward men.
One of the great beauties of the gospel is the way that it welcomes all believers— regardless of race, nationality, language, social status or background—into one Christian family.
Is there anyone you need to be at peace with this Christmas? Are you in warfare with a friend or family member?
But there’s an even greater war going on right now. It’s a war that’s taking place in hearts and minds. The Bible says we are enemies of God and our sins have caused a great divide between Him and us. The good news of Christmas is that God sent the Prince of Peace to be the bridge that allows entrenched enemies to not just have a short-lived truce, but to be at peace with God forever.
Will you prepare Him room and receive the King of Christmas?
[Hold up present]. Imagine that this present has your name on it. Someone who loves you and knows exactly what you need wrapped it up just for you. So here’s a question. What do you have to do to make it yours? Will you try to earn it? Will you reject it? Or will you receive it? You see, until you receive it and open it, it’s not really yours, is it? Will you take what God is giving you right now?