Summary: How come we celebrate the birth of a baby born 2000 years ago - who never even came to the UK?
Rotherby /Gaddesby 2007
Doesn’t it strike you as strange?
Today is the time in the Christian year when we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus two thousand years ago in a stable in an Inn in a small village called Bethlehem.
But doesn’t it strike you as strange that we celebrate the birth of an obscure Jewish Carpenter who didn’t even live in the UK
And what is more, we have been celebrating his birth for a good 1000 years.
So I’d like to ask the question: Who was this Man and what was so special about him?
Even John the Baptist - that great revival preacher - after years in Herod’s dungeon started to have his doubts too
He was born in an obscure village, Bethlehem.
He was apparently the illegitimate child of a peasant woman, in a society where illegitimacy was a terrible birthright.
He was a member of a defeated race - a second-class citizen in his own country, with next to no rights at all.
He grew up in still another village, Nazareth where he worked with his stepfather in a carpenter’s shop until he was thirty.
2. His ministry:
Then for three years he was an itinerant preacher. He chose twelve men to be his closest associates. He trained them to preach His message. And in the end, they all deserted him.
He never wrote a book.
Yet what he has said - has been preserved over two thousand years in a book, the Bible.
And the Bible has been the best seller for centuries year in and year out. What is it about this book that fascinates?
His moral teaching is phenomenal.
Even those who were non-Christians have acknowledged that.
Mahatma Gandhi, for example rejected formal Christianity, yet found Jesus and his teaching fascinating.
Yet His teaching wasn’t politically palatable to many people
Alistair Campbell, the ultimate in spin doctors - would never have advised preaching a message of repentance of their sins. In fact if he had been Jesus’ press officer – Jesus would have been advised that “We don’t do God”
Jesus had a brilliant, sharp and incisive mind.
Let me give you an example of this brilliance.
One day, one of the finest Jewish lawyers wanted to set him up for a fall and so he asked him:
“Is it right to pay taxes the Caesar?
Jesus was in a no win situation.
If he said yes, the crowds – his main support would turn against him because Caesar was their oppressor.
If, on the other hand he said no he would be up on a charge of sedition before the Roman governor.
However he gave the Pharisees a quite brilliant answer. He asked for them to bring him a coin.
“Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s” they replied
Then he said to them: Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s. (Mt. 22:21,22)
He never held a public office. If you want to make a name for yourself, you need to get the good and the great on your side.
The good – the religious parties all united against him. The great – the Romans ultimately crucified him.
He never had a family to pass on his family name and, so far as we know he never owned a house.
He never went to University or college.