Summary: How you respond to Christmas depends on how you view Jesus as well as how you view yourself.
ILL. THE DANGERS OF CHRISTMAS
Dr. Mateen Elass grew up in Saudia Arabia. In his youth he associated Christmas with reindeer, stars, colorful lights, sleigh bells, parties, and decorated trees. He remembers being told that the deeper meaning of Christmas was love and good will shown by giving and receiving of special gifts on December 25th.
Dr. Elass says his experiences have convinced him that Christmas is a dangerous time.
One danger is the possibility of missing the real meaning in the midst of the tinsel and presents.
He says Christmas proclaims God’s love, and reminds us that God was not satisfied to speak
His word from a distance, but became a man and lived among us. Jesus was "God with skin
on, the perfect means of revealing all we can comprehend about the mind and heart of God."
The other danger lies in rediscovering Jesus as the focus for the holiday season. He says, "For
then, life can never be the same. To celebrate the Incarnation is to say ’yes’ to God’s plan to
raise us to life in Christ - it is to say ’goodbye’ to our old comfortable lives enjoyable sins, and
private agendas, and lay ourselves on God’s operating table."
I. Response of Herod
v.3 -- "disturbed" or troubled
-you cannot have Jesus in your life AND remain the same.
Why troubled? He felt THREATENED -- wise men were looking for a king -- Herod: "But I’M king!"
ILL. The New Age (Adapted from Thomas G. Long, Something Is About To Happen)
Every year at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, there is displayed, beneath the great Christmas tree, a beautiful eighteenth century Neapolitan nativity scene. In many ways it is a very familiar scene. The usual characters are all there: shepherds roused from sleep by the voices of angels; the exotic wisemen from the East seeking, as Auden once put it, "how to be human now"; Joseph; Mary; the babe -- all are there, each figure an artistic marvel of wood, clay, and paint. There is, however, something surprising about this scene, something unexpected here, easily missed by the causal observer. What is strange here is that the stable, and the shepherds, and the cradle are set, not in the expected small town of Bethlehem, but among the ruins of mighty Roman columns. The fragile manger is surrounded by broken and decaying columns. The artists knew the meaning of this event: The gospel, the birth of God’s new age, was also the death of the old world.
"Herods know in their souls what we perhaps have passed over too lightly: God’s presence in the world means finally the end of their own power. They seek not to preserve the birth of God’s new age, but to crush it. For Herod,the gospel is news too bad to be endured, for Mary, Joseph, and all the other characters it is news too good to miss."
The essence of sin: Thinking of yourself as king
-autonomous, powerful, call the shots, make the rules, live to please self, others exist to serve you
Note: Herod was a "believer"
However, "saving faith" means to look away from self and to look to Jesus
Faith is relying on and resting in Christ to be and to do what we cannot do in our own resources. -- Tim Keller
II. Response of the religious leaders
"disturbed" rather than excited
-these are men who knew their Bibles -- memorized, taught it to others ... yet missed Jesus
ILL. MISSING THE IMPORTANCE OF CHRISTMAS
In December 1903, after many attempts, the Wright brothers were successful in getting their "flying machine" off the ground. Thrilled, they telegraphed this message to their sister Katherine: "We have actually flown 120 feet. Will be home for Christmas." Katherine hurried to the editor of the local newspaper and showed him the message. He glanced at it and said, "How nice. The boys will be home for Christmas." He totally missed the big news--man had flown!
Can it be! -- read the Bible and MISS JESUS/THE GOSPEL?!
You? -- read it but all you find are rules, laws, stories; doesn’t break you, move you, lead you to the cross?
Religious leaders knew all about the Messiah, but when he finally arrived, they didn’t feel compelled to seek him out
Herod had a problem with Jesus being a king, the religious leaders had a problem with Jesus being a savior
-Herod didn’t WANT Jesus, the religious didn’t NEED Him
-religious people are so hard to convince, because they are so convinced of their own worthiness
III. Response of the Magi/Wise Men
These men saw something extraordinary in a star that millions paid no heed to
-Some: "It’s just a star." -- cp to how people respond to the gospel: "It’s just a story" "Jesus was just a man"