Summary: This sermon is an idea of the meaning of Christmas many of us overlook. It works well if you have a projection system and someone knowledgable in Powerpoint.
Wow! What an awesome time of the year this is.
Let me ask you a question this evening. What does Christmas mean to you? Wait. Before you just shout it out for me, just think about what it means to you personally.
Now I know that some of you are thinking about presents. There isn’t a kid young or old who doesn’t look forward to presents under the Christmas tree. Other are thinking about food and how at the first of the year you’re going to commit to going on a diet. You may be thinking about family gatherings. There are parades, football, traveling, toys that need to e put together, and cards that need to mailed out. Many of you may even be thinking that Christmas is all about Jesus.
I’m going to get myself in trouble right here and now. Christmas is not about Jesus.
Life is about Jesus!
Christmas is one of the times of year that we, whether you’re Christian or not, celebrate him the most.
So today as we prepare for Christmas I want to talk about the real Christmas story and the real meaning of Christmas.
Inside your bulletins you’ll find the notes for this message and the first thing you’re going to notice is that at the top of the page are two long blank lines. I want you to use those lines to write down a sentence as we unpack this story.
Now this story may be familiar to some of you. Maybe you grew up in a Christian home or you remembering coming to another Christmas service sometime in your past or you might even remember part of this story from the Charlie Brown’s Christmas special that is on every year.
Now if you brought a Bible with you, I want you to turn to Matthew Chapter 2, starting in verse 1. “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have some to worship him.””
The magi are a huge part of the Christmas story. If you’ve for a manger scene at home, chances are that there are three wise men or magi as part of that set. A sad reality is that set is Biblically incorrect. We see later in scripture that they come to the house where he is. Jesus is no longer in the manger when they arrive. We honestly don’t even know how many magi there were. Tradition tells us there were three only because they brought three gifts. In reality when they arrived they had this huge crowd traveling with them that attracted the attention of the locals.
More important than the mistakes we’ve placed on the Nativity scenes and the traditions is the reality that you and I are like the wise men. You and I have a lot we share in common with these people.
I want you to write this down on that very top line as we begin to put this sentence into words. “I matter.”
I matter. You matter. You and I matter to God. If you get nothing else out of today’s message. I want you to get this. You matter.
You want the true Christmas message? You want the real reason that Christmas exists? The truth is that Christmas exists because you and I matter to God. It’s not about presents, food, or even family. Christmas is about you and I being important to God.
Now there is a reason I wanted to use this particular portion of the Christmas story. Because we are, every single person in this room, is somehow like the wise men.
The wise men were searching. They knew that somehow there was something more out there than what they had right in front of them. And these men had everything. History tells us they were kings. They had wealth, just based on the gifts they brought. And something in them had caused them to start searching, to be looking for something more. We know they were looking at the stars to do. They even tell us that in verse two. “We saw his star in the east…”
It’s important that you see this. If you’ll look at the screens we’ve placed a map of the Middle East up there. Over here is where Israel is. For those of you who don’t know, the town of Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, is in Israel. Over here, on this side, are the cities of Tellar and Bagdhad. History and tradition tell us that this would be the area that the Magi would have come from. Now I know that there are a number people who that they came from China. Most scholars, however, think they actually came from Persia, which is modern day Iran and Iraq. Between Persia and Israel is about 1,000 miles.