Summary: The sermon focuses on the unimpressive sign the angels point to: a baby in a manger. Not much that's flashy about that. What are the ways that God comes into our lives that don't initially look impressive but are important and meaningful.
That’s All You’ve Got? Taken at face value, the angel’s sign is pretty unimpressive.
- Luke 2:12.
- We get entranced by the Christmas story and the swaddling clothes and manger and don’t see it for what it is. In fact, as signs go, it’s not a real impressive sign.
- In fact, what happens in the verse that follows would make for a more dazzling, flashy sign: a host of angels appear, lighting up the sky with their brightness and filling the night air with their song. Standing in a dark field when suddenly it’s illuminated by a host of angels singing? Now that’s a sign!
- Except that’s not the sign.
- The actual sign from God is just a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in manger, which was neither the clothes nor the crib that a baby should have.
- Now let me hasten to add that there were good reasons that this was the sign. To cite one, Jesus would later share in His mission statement in Luke 4:17-21 that He had come for the poor, the prisoners, the blind, and the oppressed. To be born in such humble circumstances certainly foreshadows the mission that He will give His life to. Still, the fact remains that a baby in poor clothing and a trough as a crib is not a showy sign.
- All these years later, we still often look for the wrong signs when looking for God.
- We want the flashing lights. We expect the booming voice from heaven. We desire mind-blowing coincidences. We hope for overwhelming resources.
- And there’s nothing wrong with getting those. Sometimes the sign from God is ridiculously obvious. Sometimes He’s almost screaming in our ear. Sometimes we’re left dumbfounded by divine appointments. Sometimes He pours out so much our cup and saucer are full and it’s still flowing. Those moments make for great stories and we should be thankful for them.
- The problem is when we presume that’s the way God works all the time. In reality, those flashy signs happen a minority of the time. If we want to see God more often, we need to embrace the unimpressive ways that God shows up in our lives, reminiscent of the unimpressive sign in our passage this morning.
- Now, why does God work so often with unimpressive signs? We get some signs from elsewhere in the Bible.
- Jesus was bad at P.R.
- Why would He do such a thing? Why not publicize the miracles as much as possible?
- The miracles tended to attract the wrong kind of attention. It attracted people looking for a show. It attracted people who wanted a healing and then they’d be on their merry way. The miracles didn’t encourage the kind of devoted followers that Jesus wanted. Certainly they were confirming signs, but they could easily lead in unhealthy directions.
- An additional issue is the nature of the Kingdom that Jesus was inaugurating. He made it clear in passages like Luke 13:18-21 (the parable of the mustard seed and the parable of the yeast) that the Kingdom initially looks unimpressive and only later shows its impressiveness. It would make sense that such a Kingdom would often show up in believers’ lives in ways that did not appear outwardly impressive.
- In 1 Corinthians 1:26-30, Paul notes that the early church was full of people who were not impressive by the world’s standards. That too was part of God’s design, with God choosing the weak, lowly, and despised things of this world to shame the things that the world esteems.
- What do I want us to take from this unimpressive sign this morning? Simply this: too often Christians miss opportunities to see God move in their life or to see where God is already moving because they are looking in the wrong places.
- We’re looking for the fireworks, but God often works in quiet, obscure, or hidden ways. Let’s look into a few of the ways God may desire to do that in our lives that we may be overlooking.
What Are Similar Ways We May Miss Trying To Enter Christians’ Daily Lives?
1. Jesus appearing in the form of a nobody.
- What person will help you feel the closest to God? A pastor preaching an incredible sermon? Perhaps. A friend sharing words of encouragement? Perhaps.
- In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the story of the sheep and goats, which is a story about God’s judgment. There is a lot worth discussing in that sermon, but one point that I want to pull out this morning. In verses 37-39, the righteous ask the king, “When did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” The king famously replies, “whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”