Summary: A Christmas Eve sermon. Jesus was born in a dirty stable in a feeding trough for animals. God came to us in the dirt and in His life He experienced all the dirt of sin that fills our lives. He came to us to wash away the dirt by dying on the cross.
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ in unity with the Holy Spirit.
We’re here tonight to celebrate the birth of a baby boy, a little human baby with five fingers on each hand and five toes on each foot, two eyes, a nose and a mouth. A baby just like any other human baby. But this baby’s birth is being celebrated by more than a billion people around the world. And this baby’s birth has been celebrated for centuries. Is there any other person that has ever lived whose birth has been celebrated by so many people for such an incredibly long time? This alone should tell us that this baby was no ordinary baby.
The pregnancy of Kate Middleton, Prince William’s wife, is getting a lot of attention in the media lately because of the celebrity and supposed importance of the parents, but the baby whose birth we celebrate wasn’t born to important people. He wasn’t the child of a prince or any other important person. He was the child of a poor Jewish couple. Mary and Joseph weren’t known by anyone outside their friends and family. But the birth of Jesus was greeted with what may be the greatest celebration that has ever been seen on earth. The birth of Jesus was announced to shepherds watching their flocks at night by an angel who told them “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” And then the angel was joined by an uncountable multitude of angels all singing praises to God “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men!”
That was how our Christmas celebration began. There were no packed shopping malls or Christmas trees. There were no lights strung upon houses or wrapping paper strewn on the floor. FedEx wasn’t trucking packages all around the country. There was only one gift given, but it was the greatest gift ever. It was the gift of light and life. It was a gift that continues to be given throughout the ages. It was the gift from God to all people of all times and places. The gift was God Himself as a tiny little helpless baby.
Perhaps you remember the story from several years ago of the CEO of a global international company who was concerned about his company’s performance. He had noticed that his company was declining and his employees were distressed. He got his board of directors together to figure out how to solve the issues. But they could think of nothing that hadn’t already been tried and failed. He took it upon himself to find the solution to the problems that were plaguing his company. And so he left the day to day operations of the company in the hands of the board of directors and he went off to a small poor country where his company was having a lot of problems. He didn’t go as the CEO with an entourage of VIPs wearing expensive suits. He went as a regular person, just an average Joe who needed a paycheck, and applied for a job at one of the company’s stores. He was hired for a lowly job cleaning the toilets and cleaning up the messes left by the customers. He got down into the dirt at a store that belonged to him.
During his time in this dirty job, he learned about the people that worked for him. He learned about what their concerns were and their dreams. He was able to experience life as a regular employee instead of the CEO. After some time, he returned to his job as CEO with a much better appreciation of the working conditions in his company and how he could make things better for everyone and improve the company’s performance as well.
Do you remember this story? Of course you don’t. It didn’t happen. No self-respecting CEO who wants to keep his high-paying high-profile job would ever go off to work at a dirty low-paying job for the sake of his employees. He had to claw his way to the top, there’s no way he’d voluntarily climb back down the ladder.
But this is what the birth of Jesus is all about. God, the ruler of all of the creation which He made, climbed down the ladder to become a regular Joe, a human being just like you and me. He didn’t come in the power and the glory that is rightfully His, but He put all His honor and majesty aside for a time. He didn’t come in judgment and wrath, but to bring peace and goodwill to those who would believe. His birth was announced by a multitude of angels not to the great and the powerful leaders of men but to a group of dirty shepherds, leaders of sheep. The King of Creation wasn’t born in a palace as the child of rulers, clothed with the finest linens but born in a stable and wrapped in swaddling clothes as He was laid in a manger.