Summary: It’s an odd phenomena: people stealing the baby Jesus from Nativity scenes. It’s called the "Stolen Baby Jesus Syndrome." Why would people do that, and what does it tell us about mankind and God?
OPEN: A few years back, Wellington, FL had their baby Jesus stolen two years running. This was a wealthy community and their Jesus was worth around $1800. The third time around they put a GPS inside and traced the thief to her home.
But the baby Jesus doesn’t have to be expensive. In 2008, in Eureka Springs AK, the thieves not only stole a plastic baby Jesus, they also took the concrete block and chain meant to keep that from happening
It’s called the “Stolen Baby Jesus Syndrome.”
Some take the babies as a joke.
Others do so because they want to protest Christmas.
When found, the babies are often defaced with profanity or Satanic symbols (AP Dec. 10, 2008)
ILLUS: But the thief doesn’t always have bad intentions
About 6 years ago, Chicago Police say an art student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago was arrested for stealing a figure of the baby Jesus from the Nativity Scene at the Daley Plaza.
Two witnesses saw him pull the three-foot figure from the manger and just walk away with it.
When questioned about the theft, the man said he took the figure because he saw it and wanted it.
(http://www.14wfie.com, Baby Jesus Stolen - Again, 12/6/04)
APPLY: Now, how should we respond to that kind of behavior?
Well, to begin with, I’m not sure I’d put out an $1800 ceramic Jesus in the nativity scene.
But aside from that - from chapters 7 through 12 - the Prophet Isaiah is telling us that we have a “live” Jesus… not a ceramic or a plastic one.
And this Jesus God has given us is not just “alive”
· Isaiah 7 told us He was the virgin born God. He would be called Immanuel– God with us.
· Isaiah 9 explained that not only was He the “mighty God” but He was to be a light to those walking in the darkness of the shadow of death.
· Isaiah 11 declared that He would be the fulfillment, of one of 100’s of prophecies concerning the Messiah.
And now - here in Isaiah 12 - the prophet is telling us that this virgin born Son of God would do such powerful things in our lives that we would be tempted to erupt in songs and shouts of praises to God.
ILLUS: I’ve been listening recently to a secular radio station that has advertised their “New Year’s Eve” Party. They’ve told of the bands that will be there. All the food they’ll have. There will be singing, dancing, drinking and “partying” till long into the morning hours.
And why would they party like that on New Year’s Eve?
Because the New Year’s holds the promise of a new beginning. It’s the hope of starting over again and doing things better than they had in the past.
But Isaiah is telling his readers that they have a better reason to rejoice.
Theirs will be a rejoicing that is based on what HAS done for them… not what might yet be.
vs. 1 says “In that day you will say: ‘I will praise you, O LORD’”
vs. 5 declares “Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things”
And vs. 6 tells us “Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion”
There’s going to be a “party going on”, and the source of their rejoicing will be the coming of a great Messiah and what He will do for their lives. But what would this Messiah do that would generate so much excitement?
Look again at vs. 1:
“In that day you will say: ‘"I will praise you, O LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me.’”
God was mad with me?
Yes, He was.
And He would still be angry if something hadn’t been done about it!
In Ephesians Paul writes to Christians in this relatively “nice” church. This was one of those rare letters where there are few if any words of warning or correction. Yet to these “nice” Christians, Paul writes this:
“As for you - you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.” Ephesians 2:1-3
Notice, Paul wasn’t just pointing the finger at the people in that church.
He was pointing the finger at himself as well: “Like the rest, WE were by nature objects of wrath.”
In his letter to Timothy, Paul declares: Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners— of whom I am the worst. 1Timothy 1:15