Summary: This message looks at how Christmas drew a line between those who would say Yes to Christ and those who would say no.
It was almost as if someone had dragged a stick though the sand drawing a line that said this was then and this is now. There has never been an event in the history of man that has so defined human history as the birth of Jesus.
That single solitary event has shaped the world like no other event. It has shaped how the world is viewed and how people are viewed. This month, in most countries in the world, literally billions of people will gather to celebrate, to various degrees, the symbolic birth date of a child who was born to an unknown couple in an obscure village over 2000 years ago.
His birth shaped and molded the culture of countries that were unknown to the people of Bethlehem 2000 years ago. Canada and the US are what they are today because a baby was born in a stable two millennium ago. Even most of those who deny the existence of the Jesus will in some way take the time to commemorate his birth on December 25th, even if it’s only by taking a day off work and eating turkey. You don’t see Atheists jumping up and down demanding to not have Christmas day off. And if they offer to work because they don’t “Believe” in Christmas they gladly accept the time and a half they will be paid for working on the Christmas they don’t believe in.
When we use phrases like “the prodigal son” “turn the other cheek” and “The blind leading the blind” we are quoting the one who was born that day two thousand years ago. When we espouse values like “Do unto others” and speak of the “Golden Rule” we are sharing the teaching of the Christ Child. And as I have said before every time we write the date, even without adding the AD, Anno Domini, we are saying this happened this number of years since Jesus was born.
And that line in time wasn’t just drawn at any time, it was drawn at just the right time, Paul writes in Galatians 4:4 But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. The right time? There are all kinds of reasons why the time that Jesus was born was the right time.
God could have chosen any time in the scope of history for his Son to come to earth and for the church to be birth, and he chose a specific spot on the time line of history.
According to historians there was no better time for the church to flourish than the two hundred year juncture of history known as The Pax Romana, the Roman Peach. New Testament Scholar and Historian E. J. Goodspeed notes: “This was the pax Romana. The provincial under Roman sway found himself in a position to conduct his business, provide for his family, send his letters, and make his journeys in security, thanks to the strong hand of Rome.”
The Roman Peace had spread across the known world, providing one of the few windows of opportunities for the land and sea to be travelled safely without the threat of warring factions. For the first time roadways connected points across the known world.
But it went beyond simple transportation and incorporated communication as well. Instead of having to learn a multitude of languages and dialects it was only necessary to know one. Greek was the common language, a reminder of Alexander’s conquests, allowing the written word to be sent to encourage and correct the growing churches in diverse cultures.
It was not a coincidence that the Creator chose this point in time to interrupt history it was no accident that Christianity came when it did. The birth of Christ didn’t happen on a whim.
Last week we looked at the line that was created for Mary and Joseph, how when they accepted the challenge that was given them regarding the birth of Jesus that their lives changed radically. And it was a choice, God wouldn’t have forced them to say yes to what was being proposed, last Sunday after the service someone pondered if perhaps there was another “Mary” in the wings in case the first one said “no”. But Mary didn’t say no, instead in complete trust and in spite of all the obstacles she would face we read the words of Mary in Luke 1:38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”
And it was almost as if someone had dragged a stick though the sand drawing a line that said this was then and this is now.
At the heart of this story we discover humanity divided into two groups, and those two groups exist today and each one of us belongs to one of those two groups. Don’t you love it when something can be reduced to the very basics? There are not a hundred choices from which we have to choose, not fifty or even twenty or ten. Just two.