Summary: The are five powerful words that all begin with the letter "P" that can help us better understand the story of Christmas.
Introduction: Last week we looked Christmas from somewhat of a non-traditional viewpoint by seeing the Christmas isn’t “A” word it is “THE WORD” Jesus Christ. Today I want us to look at the Christmas story as told in the Gospel of Luke, and after we read it together I want to offer some practical applications that I hope will help us reconnect to a story we may have become “too” familiar with. What I mean by that is that we may be so used to hearing the words that we don’t notice some of the powerful images that are contained in this timeless story.
Text: Luke 2:1-20
I have given today’s message the title: “Christmas P’s.” I’m not thinking of the round green vegetable, but rather the letter. There are five words that all begin with the letter “P” that I want to use in our study together. Here’s the first…
I. PROBLEMS (2:1-7)
Joseph and Mary had some serious PROBLEMS as they became the Christmas story. Mary was pregnant—that was a problem because the child wasn’t Joseph’s—it was God’s! Try explaining that to your family and friends. But Joseph and Mary were both obedient to God’s will—both of them were willing to do their part in God’s plan to send His Son to earth. But I want you to notice a very important truth: being obedient doesn’t take away your problems.
Wouldn’t it be great if when we became a Christian if all our problems went away? Wouldn’t it be great if when Christians said “yes” to God on a day-to-day basis it would insulate us from having problems? Both of those prospects may sound great but neither one of them are true. I’ve always said that being a believer doesn’t eliminate your problems it just means you don’t have to face them alone.
Let me give you three obvious problems that Joseph and Mary faced and see if they don’t sound like something you and I might face.
3. Too Many People
The whole point in having to register was so that the Romans could accurately calculate how much tax they were going to levy against the Jews. The financial burden of Roman occupation was already a reality, especially for a young couple. And now that tax burden was probably going to be increased. On top of that, the Emperor was forcing everyone to travel to their family’s hometown for the census.
The trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem was about 90 miles. It would have taken most of a week to make the journey. Joseph and Mary would have most likely hooked up with a caravan of other travelers who were heading south for the census. They would have traveled through Jerusalem, the capital city, and there certainly would have been many people who would be going to there.
So we have a financial burden, coupled with the burden of a long, and dangerous journey, and then on top of that the mass of people that were all in the same situation. We don’t know exactly where Jesus was born, we only know two things: there wasn’t any room in the “inn” whatever the “inn” was, and that He was laid in a “manager” which was a feed box for the animals. Regardless of the specific details, there were lots of problems involved in the birth of the Messiah.
Guess what? We still face lots of problems today. You may be facing some similar ones that confronted Joseph and Mary. You may have financial problems, you may have journeys to make that you aren’t ready for, you may feel like everything and everyone are pressing in on you and that the weight is too heavy. I don’t know about you, but I have some problems. Let me tell you what I’m going to do—I’m going let Jesus help me shoulder the weight. He may not take them all away, but I know for certain that He will be there to help me bear the burden.
Well we need to move on, that is only one “P” and I have four more that I wanted to share with you today. We’ll move through the others quicker. Here’s the second…
II. PROMISE (2:8-14)
When God sent angels to announce the birth of His Son He didn’t seem them to the Religious Leaders, or the elite of society. He sent angels to shepherds. Shepherds were on the bottom of the totem pole in Jewish society. While we think of King David as once being a shepherd boy who slew the giant Goliath, that is about as glorious as the imagery of a shepherd gets. In Jesus’ day shepherds were considered unclean, and if it wasn’t for the fact that everyone needed the sheep, for food, wool, and sacrifice, nobody would have any use for shepherd.