Summary: It’s a simple & familiar story, but I urge you to look again at this precious story with all your heart & all your mind.
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
It’s a simple & familiar story, isn’t it? Yet, I realize that there is a danger when you hear a familiar story of thinking, "I’ve heard that before. There’s no need to listen to it again." Then you tune it out.
PROP. I hope that doesn’t happen this morning, & I encourage you to look again at this old but precious story with all your heart & with all your mind.
I. CONSIDER THE ELEMENTS OF THE STORY
First of all, consider some of its elements. The story actually begins before the beginning of time. The Bible says that even before the foundation of the world was laid, God planned that His Son would be slain for the sins of mankind.
In the 3rd chapter of Genesis, & all the way through the O.T., prophecy after prophecy proclaimed that the Messiah would come, He would be born & live among us, & He would be the Lamb of God that takes away our sins,
Then there is a silence of 400 years when no prophet from God speaks. But finally the silence is broken, the angels speak, & Jesus is born.
Mary & Joseph had been handpicked by God - Mary, to be the mother of God’s Son, & Joseph to be the one commissioned to take care of them.
A. So the story begins to unfold, but there were complications. Rumor & gossip flow through the streets of Nazareth because Mary is expecting a child even before she & Joseph have fully become husband & wife.
Then there is the complication of Caesar Augustus’s decree that every family must return to their home town for a world-wide census. So even though the baby is due at any time, Mary & Joseph must make the journey all the way to Bethlehem from Nazareth. Nazareth is up in Galilee, & Bethlehem is in Judea, & that trip is about 80 miles long.
ILL. In 1975, & then again the last two years, Ethel & I made that same trip on an air-conditioned tourist buses. We saw the rugged countryside & wondered, "How in the world were Mary & Joseph able to go that long distance, walking or riding a donkey, or whatever?"
They made that journey with no Motel 6’s at night, no clean sheets to sleep between, no TV sets to entertain them. Slowly they traveled, sleeping out underneath the stars, with all the complications of travel compounded by Mary’s condition. And once they arrive in Bethlehem there is the complication of finding lodging. There is no room for them in the inn.
ILL. Zig Ziglar tells about his brother who was traveling & came to a hotel & asked for a room for the night. The manager told him that they were fully booked & there were no rooms available.
Ziglar’s brother said, "Now be honest with me. If the President of the United States walked through that door just now & requested a room, would you have a place for Him to stay?" The manager replied, "Well, if the President needed a room, we’d find one for him." Ziglar’s brother said, "That’s great. I know for a fact that he’s not coming, so I’ll take his room."
If Mary & Joseph had been more influential, perhaps there would have been a room for them, too. But they were just common people, peasants, carpenters, laboring folks - & they had no place to stay. But because of the tenacity of Joseph, & perhaps the compassion of the innkeeper, they were offered a stable, a place where animals feed, & there they found shelter for the night.
So there were complications, complications with Mary’s condition, complications in their travel, & complications in finding lodging.
B. But there was also a celebration. Now when babies are born there is celebration, right? It doesn’t make much difference what the circumstances are, even though they may be filled with embarrassment or shame. When a baby is born, there is celebration.
On the night Jesus was born, it was a private celebration at first - just Mary & Joseph. They knew something no one else knew. They knew that this baby was God’s own Son, & that His birth was a miracle.
Soon the celebration spreads. Angels spoke to shepherds & announced that a Savior had been born, who is Christ the Lord. So they came rushing to see the new baby. Maybe some people from the inn even came out & peeked through cracks in the wall to see what was going on, & then joined in the celebration. They’re not mentioned in the story.
Christmas ought always to be a celebration because the Christ was born. But more important than that, He has been born in your heart & mine, & that’s cause for celebration because Christ has come to live within us.