Summary: There needs to be room in your heart for Jesus to truly celbrate Christmas
December 5, 2004
Second Sunday of Advent
How many of you here this morning have had to make at least one change of plans for your Christmas holiday season?
It seems like Christmas becomes more and more busy every year and there seems to be no end to the holiday to do list. There seems to be more parties to attend, more gifts to buy, more cards to send and more of an unstopping Christmas pace. You know what I mean, there seems to be more to do and less just enjoying the season.
It seems like we make room for more and more things and less and less room for the things that really matter.
How much time will you spend this year wrapping gifts? How much time will you at parties and celebrations? How much time will you spend getting ready for Christmas?
1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to his own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
I. God uses history to complete His divine plan (1-3)
Luke is extremely detailed in his historical setting for the birth of Jesus. He gives us the name of the Roman emperor who called the census and the name of the governor of Syria with the fact that this was the first census taken while he was governor. Is this reality necessary? Is it really important to include these names that are hard to pronounce and never appear again? Absolutely. God was using the fabric of history to forever change history. God was braking into history in a whole new way and Luke wanted to get it just right.
Luke understood something that we sometimes forget; the first Christmas was an act of God from beginning to end. God was at work in a pagan emperor to pave the way to get Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. A Roman census was not a common event because it was a counting of every man in the empire. The time consumed was enormous and so it was only done every 14 years.
The census sent every man back to the town of his family origin to ease the registration process. The Romans collected occupation information, property holdings and family size from each man to get an accurate understanding of the empire. This information was used to formulate taxation and was also used for military support purposes.
Luke includes all of this information because it would have given extra credibility to his gospel as being accurate. Even today, Luke has been found accurate when placed under historical scrutiny.
II. God uses humanity to consecrate His divine grace (4-5)
The census forces Joseph to travel from his hone in Nazareth south to Bethlehem for registration in the census. Bethlehem literally means house of bread and this was the home of David. Since Joseph was of the line of David this was where he needed to return.
Joseph would have needed to travel nearly ninety miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. This may seem like a short distance but without a solid more of transportation the majority of the trip would have been made on foot. The trip would have been complicated by the fact of the change in elevation from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Also since Mary had been pledged or engaged to Joseph she would have to go along. All of these factors would have made the trip rather difficult for Mary because she was in the late stages of pregnancy with Jesus.
What was all of this about? God was working in the lives of His people to bring about the second greatest miracle in all of history.
· God promised that the Savior would be human
· God promised that the Savior would be Jewish
· God promised that the Savior would be from the tribe of Judah
· God promised that the Savior would be born of a virgin
· God promised that the Savior would be born in Bethlehem.
The census was no accident but rather was the working of God’s hand to bring His plan to fulfillment.