Summary: The Christmas story isn't neat nor tidy. Along with good tidings of great joy come great suffering and sorrow as Jesus enters the world.
Intro: How many of you like Christmas cards? Perfectly cut with just the right saying or Bible verse. The pictures or paintings seem to be perfect.
I love the Christmas story because it is in no way like Christmas cards. The Christmas story is not neat nor is it perfect. It isn’t tidy or clean. This is one of the most wonderful things about the Bible and the Christmas story. The Bible records the birth story and early days of Jesus with a messy, gritty real feel.
We have already seen the screw-ups that made up Jesus family tree. The amazing thing is that God uses screw ups for His plan and glory. Your past cannot define or determine your use. Your relationships to God does!!
We also discovered God in our disappointments. God understands our disappointments and challenges us to find our comfort and fulfilment in Jesus.
Last week we discovered that God’s entire purpose for the birth of Jesus was to move people to worship, bowing our knees before God, witness, sharing our Lord with others.
Nothing in the story so far has been clean tidy or perfect. In fact in this story we are going to discover along with good tidings of great joy, great sorrow and suffering follows the birth of Jesus.
How can we find joy in the Christmas story when we face loss, hurt, sorrow and pain? How can we find God through our tears?
I. Suffering affects everyone (no one is exempt) (Matthew 1:13-18)
Mary suffered while she traveled pregnant with Jesus to Bethlehem.
Joseph suffered as he heard the news about a baby not his. Suffering is part of the fallen world.
A) Jesus’ life and scars tell us he suffered
Realize that Jesus must have dealt with wise cracks all his life. Accusations of being illegitimate. His brothers and sisters misunderstood him and made fun of him. They were embarrassed by Jesus and what he said. He was called a drunkard and glutton.
His disciples fell asleep on Him when he needed them to pray and abandoned Him when he was arrested and accused of blasphemy. He was rejected, despised and murdered by men. (Jesus knows what it is like to suffer!)
B) Jesus’ crucifixion scars tell us he sympathizes with us
Hebrews 4:15 “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
Hebrews 2:18 “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
He sympathies or “suffers along with us!” That is how we find God through our tears. Jesus Himself suffered.
II. Suffering isn’t the main issue (Matthew 2:16-18)
Why on earth would God allow the innocent to suffer? You have to understand according to God’s standards there are no innocent people. Romans 3:23 “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
The massacre of the innocents or Herod’s murdering of the children 2 and under happened because the children were identified with Jesus. Jesus was still an infant or at best a toddler. Herod was not hostile to what Jesus did but to who Jesus is!!