Title: Missing Christmas Text: Matt 2.1-12 CIT: Some people missed that first Christmas. CIS: We can miss Christmas this year if we are like them…
Introduction: Van Morris from Mt. Washington, KY tells the story of a woman who was doing her last-minute Christmas shopping at a crowded mall in days before Amazon.com. She was tired of fighting the crowds. She was tired of standing in lines. She was tired of fighting her way down long aisles looking for a gift that had sold out days before.
Her arms were full of bulky packages when an elevator door opened. It was full. The occupants of the elevator grudgingly tightened ranks to allow a small space for her and her load.
As the doors closed, she blurted out, “Whoever is responsible for this whole Christmas thing ought to be arrested, strung up, and shot!”
A few others nodded their heads or grunted in agreement.
Then, from somewhere in the back of the elevator, came a single voice that said: “Don’t worry. They already crucified him.”
I get the idea that this woman was missing Christmas.
Transition: I think it’s easy to miss Christmas. I did for many years. Even after becoming a Christian, I still didn’t get what Christmas was all about – what Christmas is all about.
In Matthew 2, we read about different people or groups of people who missed that first Christmas for various reasons. Rd v 1-2;
We can miss Christmas this year if we are:
I. Self-Centered like King Herod
exp.: rd vs 3; He was troubled; stirred; Why? He was looking out for himself. You see, He was a very selfish man! So concerned for his throne was he, that he murdered anyone whom he thought might try and take it from him;
ill.: Those he killed (pg 70, Miracle).
exp.: feeling he had been tricked by the Magi and worried about this baby boy, he responds with a fury – rd 2.16-18; Man, Herod is doing anything he can to protect his throne. He is going to miss Christmas because he is most concerned about himself.
app.: We can miss Christmas this year if we are intolerant of Christ and his right to sit on the throne of our lives – if we seek our own rights obsessively; this sounds harsh, but I don’t know of any other way to say this – you ready? You’ll miss Christmas if you think Christmas is all about you. That was Herod’s problem.
t.s.: Let’s look at the 2nd group.
II. Self-Satisfied like the people of Jerusalem
exp.: We see them in v 3; rd v 3; but their troubled minds are well-warranted! For them, it’s self-preservation like Herod, but on a different level. They know very well what could happen if Herod gets upset. And, as we read down in v16-18, their concerns become a reality.
And why shouldn’t they miss Christmas? They had everything they needed right there in Jerusalem. They don’t need any more religion. They had the Temple – and they thought that meant they had everything. They missed Jeremiah’s message in chapter 7 about putting their trust in the Temple: Jeremiah told the people: Amend your ways. Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord!’ Their understanding was that God dwelt in a building made by men. They had this understanding that God was in their midst. So, they didn’t worry about externals because they were sure that God was on their side. But here’s the problem – they had set the terms: 1) the building; 2) the leaders 3) their rules and regulations – they had their religion
III. Self-Righteous like the Religious Leaders.
exp.: rd v. 4-6; they’re busy; they just throw out the answer and move on; I’m shocked that none said, “Why do you ask?” Israel had been looking for the messiah since Deu. 18:15; He had been promised since Genesis 3.15; Here the religious leaders knew the answer to Herod’s question but couldn’t care any less about what it actually meant.
ill.: J. MacArthur: These men were too busy with themselves to be concerned about Jesus. Engrossed in their own pride, their self-righteousness, their self-sufficiency, they carried on their ritual and their petty theological discussion in the confines of their own comfortable system. They had no time for the Son of God.
app.: Here’s the problem – sometimes we know the answers here (point to my noggin), but we can’t apply the answers here (point to my heart). Is there any excuse for us? I wonder if these guys had stopped looking for the Messiah. They got wrapped up in study and memory work, they just forgot all about what they were supposed to be doing.
And let’s be honest: it’s easy to do! It’s easy to focus in on the holiday on activity and parties and forget the real reason for the season. It’s easy to think Christmas is all about you. It’s easy to zero in on all of the activity and get so busy you miss the baby in the manger. It’s easy to entrust the work to someone else.
ill.: I think we are already doing that around here; in commercials; in Christmas displays; In the songs playing in stores; Lisa and I stopped in at Starbucks for some Tea and Coffee when little Cameron was born. We got a lot of drinks for the family. As we were waiting on our order to be filled, I looked around to see if there was anything in the Holiday decorations that made reference to Christ. Anything! I found nothing. Nothing at all to even hint that Christmas is about Christ.
ill.: Last Christmas I watched a News interview of people on T.V. who were in the holiday spirit: The views ranged from sentimental to irreverent. Some were sentimental saying Christmas is a time for family and friends. Others said it is a special time for Children. Some people were humanistic saying it is a time for brotherly love, to put aside our differences and come together. Others were just downright rude, saying that it was just another excuse to party. But not one person being interviewed said it was a time to recognize the birth of Christ.
To further illustrate this point: Is Jesus featured on television at Christmastime? According to a National Religious Broadcasters analysis of 48,000 hours of programming during December 2002, 90 percent of programming did not have a significant spiritual theme.
Some 7 percent had a religious or spiritual theme but did not refer to Jesus.
Jesus was the focus of only 3 percent of Christmas programming.
app.: you won’t find the Christ-Child, the Messiah on TV or in the papers; you’ll find him…we’ll may I quote: 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.
t.s.: and finally…
We are sure to enjoy Christmas this year if we
IV. Insistently, Incessantly Search for Christ
exp.: Why? What got them started? I’ll tell you what, time is getting away from us, so, we’ll pick up with this next week and talk about the ones who didn’t miss that first Christmas.
- Just like Herod, we all need to learn this lesson: Christmas isn’t about you. But then again, most things in life aren’t. Christmas is a great time to focus on others and to pour our love out on them. And building on that…
- The word holiday, in our modern-day language, is formed from two words: Holy & Day. Can we bring holiness back into the season? I’m not talking about just being religious – like the inhabitants of Jerusalem. You might be wondering how…
- Well, one thing you can do: come to church for worship on Christmas Eve. It’s a great way to put your ‘holiday’ time into a proper perspective. I’m not saying to abandon your traditions or kick out your relatives. I’m just saying take some steps to make the occasion holy. Sure, you’ll have to work through some logistics: you may have your family visiting. Bring’ em along. They’re not saved, you say… Invite them. What a witness to declare to them this is a holy time for you. This season is when your Messiah was born.
- Something else you could do is to give your gifts away. Don’t panic, but just hear me out. Instead of giving gifts to each other, take the money you were going to spend on gifts in your family and go on a mission trip together. Or buy Christmas gifts for a needy family who won’t have nice gifts.
Be creative – make the season holy…
- As I think about these religious leaders, I really feel for them. They’re so religious, they miss the single greatest religious moment of their lives. Listen, there is a lot to do in getting ready for Christmas. You may have travel plans, family coming in, decorating, buying food, gifts, and the list goes on. Don’t get so busy with working to make the holiday grand that it just goes right on by you and all you feel is worn out. If you’re working hard to make it grand, then enjoy it. Sit down with a cup of coffee (or hot chocolate; or eggnog) and watch the lights on your tree and listen to and sing along with the Christmas music. Soak it in.