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Summary: How you respond to Christmas depends on how you view Jesus as well as how you view yourself.

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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


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