Summary: Christmas is meant to be a time of surprises, that's why we wrap up gifts! The first Christmas was definitely a big surprise: Jesus' parents,how He was born,who was notified, how He saved, and that He's coming back!
1. A Jewish lady named Mrs. Rosenberg many years ago was stranded late one night at a fashionable resort - one that did not admit Jews. The desk clerk looked down at his book and said, "Sorry, no rooms. The hotel is full."
2. The Jewish lady said, "But your sign says that you have vacancies." The desk clerk stammered and then said curtly, "You know that we do not admit Jews. Now if you will try the other side of town..."
3. Mrs. Rosenberg stiffened noticeable and said, "I’ll have you know I converted to your religion." The desk clerk said, "Oh, yeah, let me give you a little test. How was Jesus born?"
4. Mrs. Rosenberg replied, "He was born to a virgin named Mary in a little town called Bethlehem." "Very good," replied the hotel clerk. "Tell me more." Mrs. Rosenberg replied, "He was born in a manger."
5. "That’s right," said the hotel clerk. "And why was he born in a manger?" Mrs. Rosenberg said loudly, "Because a turkey like you in the hotel wouldn’t give a Jewish lady a room for the night!"
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God.”
[GO DOWN TO “Christmas in a Nutshell”]
2. Christmas is full of surprises! Gifts are wrapped to surprise you. We get “surprise gifts”:
a. Like that tie that you’ll never wear, the “Soap-on-a-rope,” or the perfume that smells like alcohol.
b. Kids get pajamas when what they want is a pony!
c. A parent’s favorite is the hand-made item your child made for you – the scribbled picture, hand print, or Christmas card – that’s worth a million dollars to you!
3. The first Christmas also had its surprises too. We’re going to look at five surprises that the first century Jews got when Jesus was born and one that may surprise even us.
I. THE PARENTS OF JESUS WERE SURPRISING
A. WEALTHY, NOT POOR PARENTS
1. Suppose God gave us the job of selecting the parents for the Messiah -- if we are honest we’d have to admit that we would not have chosen Mary and Joseph in a million years.
2. We would have selected wealthy parents, so that the Christ child could have the best of everything. We would have selected parents who were mature and people of culture, poise and influence, so that the Messiah would have the right education and be trained in the right manners.
3. Many great Americans of the past and came from wealthy families: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John F Kennedy, George Bush. Now there are exceptions and sometimes, a rail splitter becomes president, but that’s rare.
B. EXAMPLE: ASSUMPTION OF THE MAGI
1. Remember when the wisemen came to Jerusalem searching for the Messiah? Where did they go? They went
immediately to the palace and the said, "WHERE IS HE WHO IS BORN A KING?"
2. That was a normal response/an obvious place to look -- after all, Royalty begets royalty, AND AN OBVIOUS PLACE TO LOOK FOR A KING IS IN A PALACE, RIGHT?
C. GOD’S CHOICE
1. But the first Christmas presented an incredible surprise. God selected two unlikely people, a teenage girl named Mary and a poor blue collar worker, named Joseph? So poor they had to sleep in the barn and offer 2 turtle doves for his rites.