Christmas is the greatest story ever told. It happened long ago, before any of us were born. As we look at each part I want you to know it’s all about him. But on his part, it’s all about you and me. Unto us a child is born. We have a Savior!
Luke 1:26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. 36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing shall be impossible. 38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
It’s a tremendous event and only God could make it happen. It tells us God’s way for us and to us. It was ordained before the foundation of the world. He knew man would sin and that sin would separate man from God, his Creator. He wants everyone to go to heaven but that doesn’t mean everyone will. When we reach the age of knowing right from wrong, we have a choice. Every moment sin is present but there is also a Savior. We always have a choice and a perfect way was needed to save us. God let go of his only son and Jesus came to earth. He became small enough to go into the womb of a young woman who had never had sexual relations. Through her, God’s son came into the world. Jesus was born with a human nature, that of his mother. He was conceived of God just as each of us were conceived, just without sin. Our father and mother expressed their love for each other and we are the result of that love. Our Savior is a product of God’s love for us. Mary had a choice and she chose to be obedient to the Lord. It cost everything but in turn she and Joseph had the best life. They had a Savior. We have a Savior. Born to all the world. Joseph was told to call him Jesus because he would save his people from their sins. (Song “O Come, O Come, Immanuel”)
Nine months later Joseph and Mary find themselves south of Nazareth a few miles from Jerusalem in the town of David. They went because Caesar Augustus called for a census. It was all for money. Rome had to remain the grand city. Little did he know God’s hand was using him.
Luke 2:1 And 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.) 3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And 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:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And 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.
Most of us were born in a hospital. God decided his son would be born in Bethlehem and no one could stop it. Not even killing of babies two years and under could stop Jesus. There was no room in the inn. Homes were filled to capacity. The fact there was no place to be found didn’t stop the birth. There was a stable with a manger and animals, hay and straw. No insulation for warmth. It had room for Jesus. This was how God chose it. He didn’t hold back a week or two for people to head back home and make a place in the inn. When it was time, Jesus came just like each of us was born when it was time. Joseph may have prayed that it not happen until there was a room but God had his way. In a stable, in the cold, with the smells of the barn Mary went into labor and gave birth to Jesus. There he was. For the first time since Sinai, God’s voice was heard in the tiny cry of a baby. Jesus cried with a human cry, but he was God. Because of this we know Jesus has been where we’ve been. (Song “What Child is This”)
Jesus was born. Who would be the first to hear? The major of Bethlehem? King Herod? Rulers of the synagogue? Would they let Rome know? All would soon know and how each received it was up to them. God didn’t choose to tell the rich and powerful.
Luke 2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
The first to hear were shepherds, the lowest on the pay scale. They were the poorest people around. They got their hands dirty. They doctored sheep and kept them out of danger. It was a hard job. They watched over the sheep at night while others were asleep. After the baby Jesus was born, an angel appeared in the sky and came close to the shepherds. They probably thought judgement was coming. They were afraid. They knew they deserved it. The angel told them not to be afraid. He didn’t bring judgement but good news, good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. The news? For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. They now had a Savior! He was no longer on his way or coming one day. He had been born in Bethlehem within walking distance of the shepherds. They didn’t have to be afraid. They were told how to find him: wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. They were well aware of what a manger was. When the found one with a baby in it, they would know. We have no excuse for going to hell. We can’t say “I didn’t know.” We have the same directions. He’s not in a manger, but he’s within walking distance of our hearts. The shepherds believed. We must believe. Be happy, not for what’s under the tree, but for the one who hung on one. Suddenly the sky filled with angels praising God and saying “glory to God.” Because of him we have peace in our hearts. (Song “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks”)
How wonderful! The next part I call “the finding.”
Luke 2:15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
The shepherds were given the sign. You know there were many stables in Bethlehem, but God helped them. He led them past empty stables to the right one just as he led the wise men by the star. Where animals had been, they saw a baby. I’m sure Jesus turned to look at them. They wondered why God had chosen them. They had to fall down in worship, thanking God for sending his son. Life now had meaning. We have everything because we have Jesus. Gloria! They found him. We can too. That’s what Christmas is all about. (Song “O Little Town of Bethlehem”)
What do we do now? This answers it plain and simple. It’s what you’ll do.
Luke 2:17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
This is what took place 2,000 years ago, but it’s open ended. The story has no ending. It will last forever. When we find Jesus, Christmas becomes truly Christmas. Why? Because we have found HIM. We can carry Christmas with us every day. As far as the holiday I’ll be glad when that’s over. But every day should be Christmas for the believer. Mary kept all this and pondered it. This is what it meant. Find him. Keep him in your heart. If you do, with that comes the desire to tell others. You want to share it. The shepherds didn’t go back to their flocks. The scattered it abroad or in other words they disturbed everybody with the news. I’m tired of being disturbed by this world. Let’s disturb the devil! The shepherds didn’t care who they told. It was too good. I’m glad someone told me. Now, let’s go help someone else find Jesus. Hold him close but at the same time share him. We want those who don’t know Jesus to find him. It is our duty to go tell it. (Song “Go Tell It On The Mountain”)