A night to remember.
A movie made on the tragic loss of the White star liner was called – A night to remember.
A later version of the Story was called Titanic.
Do you know – when I thought of it – many great movies are about something negative.
Even King Kong is about the tragic death and misguided affection of a giant Gorrilla.
But the ultimate blockbuster story is contained in a few short verses in the bible in the accounts of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Certainly for the parrticipants in the account – Mary Joseph –the shepherds – Wisemen and the assorted cast of characters in this great historic drama – This was a night to remember.
But what is it for subsequent generations that makes this night so memorable and in many ways so contoversial.
I think if we are honest the significance of most human events are measured by the answer to the question – What’s in it for me?
You might read in the paper – Texan oil baron dies.
That becomes of little interest until you receive a letter in the mail that tells you that you have received ifrom his estate one of the oil wells.
That is actually reputed to happen to a friend of mine and for years that well kept pumping oil.
2000 years ago something happenned in an obscure village in the Middle East.
Let us read something of how it has been recorded by Luke an Astute historian.
LK 2:8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
LK 2:13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
LK 2:14 "Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
LK 2:15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
LK 2:16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
How then can the 21st century person personalise this great act.
We live in a world that is often dominated by two major delusions.
Humanism – that is people being their own God.
Dubious Spirituality where anything or anyone can be God – except the one that has prooved to be God.
If we were determined to be dominated by one or both of these major infuluences there is little to be done for us.
COL 2:18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. 19 He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.
But of course Christmas flies in the face of all this –
What we read in Luke is Jesus is a sign:
Luke chapter 2 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Verse 12 says this will be a sign for you.
You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
The Shepherds went and found Jesus lying in a manger.
What is Jesus a sign for.
The letter from the Attorney for my friends who inherited the oil shares told them of their inheritance.
Jesus is a sign –
But what is Jesus a sign of?
And how does that apply to us.
The first thing Jesus is a sign of is hope.
MT 12:15 Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. Many followed him, and he healed all their sick, 16 warning them not to tell who he was. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
MT 12:18 "Here is my servant whom I have chosen,
the one I love, in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
MT 12:19 He will not quarrel or cry out;
no one will hear his voice in the streets.
MT 12:20 A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
till he leads justice to victory.
MT 12:21 In his name the nations will put their hope."
12:18-21 Another fulfillment passage (see note on 1:22). This one is from Isaiah’s first servant song (42:1-4 and is the longest OT quotation in Matthew’s Gospel. It summarizes the quiet ministry of the Lord’s servant, who will bring justice and hope to the nations.
Jesus provides Hope.
Why does he provide hope.
The bible tells us that through Jesus Christ we have hope that stretches beyond this life.
People often look at their situation and ask – if God is a God of love then why?
But the answer to the whys of this life are explained by both Matthew and 800 years earlier by the prophet Isaiah.
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
Whatever injustices there are in this world – god will sort them all out.
In fact in an incredible promise in the Bible in the book of Revelation we find the character of heaven described:-
REV 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
CSLewis cpatured the concept of eternity on the last pages of the Chronicles of Narnia, his seven book childrens fiction series..
“For us this is the end of the stories… But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world… had only been the cover and the title page; now at last they were at chapter one of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read, which goes on forever and in which every chapter is better than the one before.
A life marked by hope is well lived.
Also The baby Jesus provides us with direction for our lives.
This year our church ran the Saddleback Church prograqm called the purpose driven life.
According to Rick Warren – who is swiftly emerging as the most famous Christian leader since Billy Graham, we were made for a purpose.
That purpose is connected with God.
As soon as we connect with Christ and his plan to save us for a wonderful eternity with God we discover a purpose in our lives.
That means we do not feel that life is like running on an endless treadmill in a race that the treadmill will eventually win. Instead we feel that God has a unique plan and purpose for our lives.
Whatever we are doing when God is in our hearts – helps build his Kingdom purposes on earth.
John Wesley the great english preacher once said “Do all the good you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.”
Wesley though was very aware that with Christ such an achievement was not easy but without Him it is impossible.
When we invite Christ into our lives the Holy spirit of God dwells in that persons life and help direct it. Although you are still uniquely you there is a deep sense that God is directing the whole affair
These two great human needs track back to the manger.
Your life needs true hope and true purpose.
The birth of Jesus Christ two thousand years ago – set in concrete Hope and purpose.
Because of Jesus you have cause to hope –
Because of Jesus Christ your life has a purpose.
There was more happening on that night in Bethlehem than most of humanity can ever imagine.
All that you and I are – for our lives to count for anything at all – we need to understand that God has in that one baby provided hope for our lives and a sense of purpose.
Strangely enough it is often when the string of self directed plans runs out. When all else fails – when others have let one down that the individual considers Christ.
When lifes strength and self government ebbs away – then God is freer to speak into the human life.
I guess this is what jesus meant in Matthew chapter 5 when he said –
“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.”
Is that why Jesus came to humble parents.
Is that why he was born in substandard – third world like housing in a stable.
Is that why ordinary workers – Inspired by a revelation from heaven - Shepherds, came to him and went away worshipping.
Is that why the crème de le crème of the Eastern inteligensia beat a path to the stable – bowing before Christa and bearing gifts.
Probably the most fascinating part of biblical astronomy concerns the star of Bethlehem (Matt 2). This miraculous appearance, which is called a star, aroused the curiosity of the wise men to such an extent that they followed it for many miles until finally it pointed out the exact place where they wished to go.
All their studies and all their learning led them to a stable in Bethlehem
On this night to remember what will lead you to the manger?
Will some spiritual insight from God??
Could clear thinking and study?
Could it be a deep and personal need?
Whatever it is – the entrance to the stable has a low doorway.
To enter is to bow before Jesus – who has been described as the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings.
We may need to leave behind our wealth and our pride.
But we also leave behind our troubles and concerns.
Someone once said –
Jesus takes lifes broken pieces and gives us unbroken peace.
As we pray to God tonight through Jesus Christ
God holds out the opportunity to you
To make this a night to remember.