Summary: It’s Christmas time, & all kinds of sounds remind us of that - bells ringing, choirs singing, & music filling the air. But in the midst of all the joyous sounds there are other sounds - sounds of anguish & grief. (PowerPoints available - #194)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(PowerPoints used with this message are available for free. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #194
THE CRIES OF CHRISTMAS or DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?
TEXT: Matthew 2:13 18 PP #194BW
A. This month has been filled with the sounds of Christmas - bells ringing, choirs singing, & music filling the air. But in the midst of all the joyous sounds of our "jolly, holly holiday" there have been other sounds, too sounds of anguish & grief.
Now, to illustrate that I could have turned on any TV news station this morning, or glanced at the news in our Sunday newspapers.
B. But instead, let’s go back over 2,000 years to that very first Christmas in Bethlehem, & hear some sounds there sounds of a busy inn, of animals feeding in a stable, of angels singing on high, of excited shepherds coming to see the baby in the manger, & probably, Mary's voice in a soft lullaby.
But some time later those sounds were replaced by the shouts of soldiers, the cries of children, & the wailing of anguished mothers.
To understand what I am talking about, please realize that several months or even a year had passed by since the birth of Jesus. Joseph & Mary & Jesus were not in the stable. Now they were living in a small house in Bethlehem. And it was there that the Magi, the Wise Men as we call them, came to worship Him.
Well, you know that story. So turn with me to Matthew 2:13 18, & listen as I read what happened after the Magi left Bethlehem to return to their own homeland.
“When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,' he said, ‘take the child & His mother & escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill Him.'
“So he got up, took the child & His mother during the night & left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’
“When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, & he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old & under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.
“Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping & great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children & refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.'"
C. This passage of scripture reveals an insecure & nearly insane old king who felt his rule threatened when he heard that another king had been born. And when he couldn't find that child, he ordered all the little boys in Bethlehem, 2 years old & younger, to be executed.
PROP. So when we talk about the sounds of Christmas, maybe we need to remember also the shouts of soldiers, the cries of children, & the wailing of their mothers, for these were part of the Christmas sounds, too.
They are part of what God seeks to communicate at this season of the year.
I. THERE IS SUFFERING, & GOD CAME TO BEAR IT WITH US
If that is so, then what is God saying? First of all, He is saying, "I know that there is suffering in this world, & I've come to bear it with you."
A. The Bible is always honest. So when it tells the story of Christmas, it not only tells about angels & shepherds & wise men who come with gifts of gold & frankincense & myrrh, but it also tells about King Herod, about soldiers, & about the murder of little children.
It would be virtually impossible for us to imagine what it was like to be a parent in Bethlehem at that time. To have a little boy, maybe 18 months old, who has captured your heart, & the sparkle in his eyes brightens up your day.
Then to have soldiers burst into your home, searching through every room until they find your son, carrying him outside to take his life from him. Oh, the anguish! Yet that is part of the Christmas story, too.
B. Anguish is still part of the Christmas scene even today. There are many who are suffering, many who are lonely, & many who are grieving. And for that reason they find little joy in the Christmas celebrations.
SUM. But Christmas comes to a suffering world. And it tells us that God doesn't guarantee to take away our suffering, only to bear it with us.