Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Shattered—Hope For the Undeserving

As I write this today, we’re nine days out from the day we celebrate as Jesus’ birthday. My boys start each day (and several times throughout the day) asking “how many more days until Christmas?” 
But I also write with a heavy heart from many situations and circumstances. I just received a call yesterday from a close friend whose mother had died and another call this morning from a lifelong friend whose grandmother had passed away and they both asked me to perform the funerals this week. Funerals are not the fun part of this calling. Death of a loved one, suffering, and grief of family members is as real as the skin we live in each day. And these two separate families are experiencing deep sorrow and loss in a season supposed to be filled with joy and hope. These were both really special people and really great families. And yet, sorrow, death, and suffering are no respecters of persons nor families. 

So what happens when Christmas becomes shattered with stark realities? What if the first Christmas was actually a little more messy and less glamorous than we’ve been led to believe? And what if God’s intentions of sending His precious Son to humble beginnings were to show us more about God and more about ourselves? Let’s take a look. 

Let me tell a little different version of the often romanticized American story of Jesus coming to earth. 

Luke 2:1-5
The 1st Christmas was in an unimportant, undeserving Bethlehem. 

  • Bethlehem was no Jerusalem. Nothing special about this small, rural community. 
  • It happened to be prophecy in the OT that foretold Jesus’ birth there. 

Luke 2:5-7
The 1st Christmas was in a stinky, dirty, undeserving animal stall. 

  • (4-7) Now keep this in mind: all of the angels and beautiful creatures in heaven that are in God’s presence are watching as God’s next step unfolds. And all of those angels and creatures know that God is sending His Son, to be born in human form. They also know that this Son of God is—at the same time, God, the second Person of the Trinity. 
  • What kind of place would they expect God’s Son to be born? 
  • (v.7) Notice that she gave birth to Jesus in a manger because there was no room for the birth of Jesus at the inn (motel). Instead, Joseph and Mary were allowed to go to an animal stall (that was a small cave). Can you imagine the stuff you would see and the stuff you would smell in this animal stall? 
  • There was “no room” for the entry of God into this world. The “inn” was full of people, while the place God becomes flesh and dwells among us is a cold, miserable, unspeakably foul cave/animal stall. 
  • The guests at the inn enjoyed warmth and drink and food—and just outside God came to earth. CHRISTMAS IS CELEBRATED INITIALLY IN A DARK, WET, STINKY STALL. 
  • It reveals King Jesus was humbling Himself to come and live among and rub up against dirty, messed up, grossly sinful, revoltingly rebellious, hideously immoral mankind. 

Enter the highest, most exalted, indescribably righteous and holy God-man, coming in the flesh to a messy, dirty, problem entrenched, despicably sinful, mucky, dank, urine-smelling animal stall. Immanuel…God with us! And that’s the setting to which God chose to send His perfect Son!

Luke 2:8-14
The 1st Christmas Party Welcomed Grimy Shepherds 

  • (vv.8-14) Luke now tells how God chose to send angels to lowly shepherds to announce to them the coming of God’s King. 
  • Shepherds were not always considered nice people. In fact, shepherds in those days were considered outcasts. They worked with animals all day out in difficult weather conditions. Therefore, they were smelly, stinky, and dirty. 
  • They were not trusted. They were not considered very honest. They were some of the lowest types of people in those days. 
  • But God chose to send angels to lowly shepherds instead of to the most important people in society. 

>>> If we’re not careful—we begin to think that God sent Jesus only for the “good people.” But this shows us that God sent Jesus for ALL PEOPLES of all classes (poor/rich, dirty/clean), all ethnicities and colors of skin (Arabs, Chinese, Indonesians, East Indians, Sudanese, Haitians, Americans, ALL PEOPLES!). 
When God in the flesh came to earth—it was not in one of the best places—it was in a tiny, smelly, stinky, wet, animal stall. His first visitors were lowly shepherds who were considered dirty outcasts by society. And yet that was God’s good plan. He was powerful enough to change all of that—but that was His plan. 

Luke 2:10-12
The 1st Christmas Tweet (The Angel’s Message)

  • (v.10) “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” Those words, “good news,” is where we get the word “gospel.” It was “GOOD NEWS” that brings GREAT JOY that is FOR ALL PEOPLE!
  • The angel also mentions four titles for Jesus: a son “of David”; Savior; the Christ (Anointed One); Lord. All in one sentence this angel points to Jesus as the One who fulfills all of that!
  • So we see even in Jesus’ birth—God shows humility for Jesus and has a love for all types of people in their worst and darkest sins--all undeserving!

Luke 2:15-18, 20
The 1st Christmas Implications  (Shepherds Spread Good News)

  • (v.15) They left their flocks to see this baby that must be extremely important. They knew God had spoken and they wanted to see what God had revealed. It was of upmost importance!
  • (vv.17-18) They became proclaimers of the GREAT NEWS and the GREAT SON who had been born. 
  • These shepherds were not considered special by anyone—yet God sent them the message of good news. And they responded by taking that good news that had come to them and telling everyone else about it. 

>>> As we get older—it may seem that this story is not as exciting and not as awesome as when you first heard it. For some, it doesn’t seem as important anymore. Don’t do that with this story. Don’t do that with this Jesus! Remember, this is the most beautiful and exciting story ever! This is one of the greatest events in all human history! 

>>> So, we’ve seen that Jesus came the first time as a baby and He came to rescue us from our sins through His death on the cross. But let’s not forget—that’s not the end of the good news. He is coming again soon! 

—Undeserving Bethlehem
—Undeserving animal stall
—Undeserving Shepherds
—Unworthy Proclaimers

Why all that? Why not the best of the best? Because He alone is captivating enough! 

Sankie P. Lynch

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