Summary: As we consider the first Christmas season, we are struck with contrasts that illustrate how God works in His providence and among people.
A Christmas of Contrasts
1. What Christmas memories do you have? “When I was 9 years old, I ran into my mom and dad’s room to wake them up to open presents. I tripped over a rug while I was running and smashed my teeth against my parent's bedpost. Blood was everywhere. I lost a baby tooth and fractured my adult incisor. I had to wait 6 hours in the hospital for a specialist to arrive to fix me. I didn’t get to open any of my presents and drank my Christmas dinner through a straw. We still have the bedpost today, and it still has the 3 clear distinct teeth marks.” [hrcampus.com]
2. Last Christmas, grandpa was feeling his age and found that shopping for Christmas gifts had become too difficult. So he decided to send checks to everyone instead.
In each card he wrote, "Buy your own present!" and mailed them early.
He enjoyed the flurry of family festivities, & it was only after the holiday that he noticed he had received very few cards in return. Puzzled over this, he went into his study, intending to write a couple of his relatives and ask what had happened. It was then, as he cleared off his cluttered desk that he got his answer. Under a stack of papers, he was horrified to find the gift checks which he had forgotten to enclose with the cards. [favecrafts.com]
3. I wonder what memories Joseph and Mary had? I read a joke went something like this: Mary says to Joseph, “Why didn’t you take out the trash?” Joseph responds, “Because there was not room in the bin.”
4. Today, we are going to rehearse some Christmas facts most of us, but we will look at them from the angle of contrast.
Main Idea: As we consider the first Christmas season, we are struck with contrasts that illustrate how God works in His providence and among people.
I. The Inn Vs. a STABLE [Cave] (Luke 2:7)
A. How did it happen that Joseph grew up in Nazareth instead of BETHLEHEM?
B. The INN was established in some form by 700 B.C. (Jeremiah 41:17).
C. The couple could have asked FAMILY members to yield a room.
D. Perhaps they DECIDED a cave would be better after all.
E. Sometimes let downs work for the BEST.
• Can be this way with trials in our lives.
• Have you ever dodged a bullet?
• God can open our hearts or minds through our losses or limitations.
• He leads not only through open doors, but through closed ones.
• Maybe you are glad you didn’t get that promotion, buy that house, marry that person, or win that award.
II. The Shepherds Vs. MARY (Luke 2:16-19)
A. The shepherds heard exciting but SIMPLE news.
1. They were enthusiastic.
2. They eagerly spread the news.
B. Mary, on the other hand, had to deal with a FULLER revelation, full of complexity.
1. She didn’t understand how she could conceive without a man.
2. She had to deal with Joseph planning to divorce her.
3. The course of her life had been changed.
4. She would have to address a scandalous reputation.
5. Nothing was simple for Mary.
C. Mary was likely happy, but she had much to PONDER.
1. She filed it away.
2. She mulled it over.
3. She later kept adding to this file (Simeon predicted a sword would pierce her heart).
Genesis 37:10-11, “But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?” And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind.
D. God’s people are in different SITUATIONS.
1. With different PERSONALITIES
2. With different advantages and DISADVANTAGES
3. When we share our STRENGTHS and play our roles, we are better off.
We either appreciated and benefit from that, or we lose out on what we can learn from others, and how those others can build us up.
III. The MAGI Vs. the Bible Scholars (Matthew 2:1-10)
A. The magi were probably legislators from IRAN, familiar with Daniel’s legacy.
B. We can contrast them with Herod, but also with the SCRIBES (scholars).
C. Herod wanted to visit Jesus to kill Him, but the Scribes simply didn’t BOTHER.
D. The Scribes had KNOWLEDGE, but were not open to what God was doing.
E. The Magi had limited Biblical knowledge, but they RESPONDED to what they did know,
1. Like the wise man of Proverbs, they sought more knowledge and asked.