Summary: A Savior is born! But it wasn’t easy! Discover the obstcles God’s love overcame in this Christmas Eve message from Luke 2.
“Footprints of Love”
Tomorrow you will all do what you’ve been waiting to do for 364 days: open your presents! And I’m not just speaking to the children at this point, Mr. “I-Can’t-Wait-To-Play-My-Son’s-New-Video-Game.” I bet you’re excited, too, aren’t you? Admit it – you can’t wait to see what’s under the tree! After all, it’s an “I love you” message from someone, right?
That’s one of the things that makes gift-giving so much fun – and also very challenging: we get to show our love to someone in a tangible way. And that’s good – Gifts are one of the ways we show love.
I remember the very first Christmas gift Julie gave me. In fact, I have it on – a Christmas watch. You see, we were married during the Christmas season in 1988, so this time of year is always extra special to me. And this watch is a great reminder that she loves me. But it is still only a present; the watch isn’t her actual presence.
You see, our presence is really the best way to reveal our love. (Don’t worry, kids, I’m not encouraging your parents to boycott presents, but I do want to make a point.) And I can say this from experience, for when I was a kid our home was burglarized just before Christmas one year. Man, was I bummed! When we walked in that afternoon and found drawers flung open and mattresses flipped over, as well as most of the presents gone, I was sure the Grinch was a real person who lived in Chattanooga, Tennessee. And he stole my Christmas. But good, ole’ dad came to the rescue and saved the Yule Tide season that year by taking us out and having “Christmas in a cart.” Yep, we strolled along as a family – together – and he re-bought some of things he and mom had originally purchased for us. Was it as traditional? As picturesque? As much? Probably not. But it was more meaningful, for it suddenly became more about their presence than their presents.
Truth is, Christmas will always be a make-do holiday if all you do is give things. What really makes Christmas a biblical occasion is when you give yourself; that’s the one thing that sends the greatest message – give you! And this rings true with what we learn from the Bible in John 15:13 , “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” The best gift I all the world is the gift of you!
I realize that doesn’t fly real well in a world that has commercialized Christ right out of Christmas. But it still remains true. Your p-r-e-s-e-n-t-s only send a partial message; your p-r-e-s-e-n-c-e sends the real meaning of love.
This is exactly what God did in Luke 2 – he gave himself that first Christmas night. When he gave is His Son, it was the greatest gift we could ever receive, for he gave us a Savior. You see, that was our greatest need, and it was met by God’s greatest gift! It’s no wonder Luke culminates his description of this gift of a baby from the virgin’s womb with these words – “unto you is born this day…a Savior…”
Let’s listen in as we hear the narrative in Luke 2:1-11.
[PLAY SCRIPTURE READING OF LUKE 2:1-11]
I want to draw your attention to this word Savior. What a beautiful word…would you say it with me? “Savior!” How precious and sweet to hear that redemptive name of God’s Son – Savior! To simply say the word brings thoughts of rescue, hope, and love. And rightly so, for saving us is what the bay was born to do! You see, sending a Savior was the way God showed his love; Jesus was the expression of God’s heart of love for all of us. Sending a Savior to die was the way he “laid down his life for us,” and that’s the greatest love anyone can show. Yes, God showed his love for us on Christmas night when he sent us a Savior.
When I think about that first night of our Savior’s birth – that evening in Bethlehem when God’s love broke through – I’m drawn to some things in this passage that make me very thankful on this Christmas Eve. For instance, I’m thankful God’s love broke through in spite of political obstacles. (2:1-2)
Luke calls it a census, but it was probably a disguised registration, for Herod wanted to find out from where this “king” hailed. Talk about political obstacles – here was an evil, paranoid, non-Jewish king sitting on the throne of Israel at the time who had killed every person who threatened his power – including his own wife and three of his sons. What would he do if he got wind of Jesus? Jerusalem was certainly not a “politically correct” place for Jesus to be born.