Summary: This sermons looks at 3 different vantage points of the same story and how these people acted towards Jesus. The message begs us to ask, "Who am I in this story?"
Jesus. What Child is This?
Part 2- Many Don’t Care- The Innkeeper’s Apathy
This in a nutshell is the Christmas story. Often read at church during the holiday season or at home on Christmas eve or maybe even on Christmas morning before the presents are opened. It is the story of the birth of Christ. There is so much happening in this passage that I don’t have time in one sermon to hit on everything but as I was studying for the message I hit a mental block as to what I should say about it. What more is there to say about a passage of scripture that has probably been read more than any other in the last 2000 years? What can I say that hasn’t already been said a hundred times? I hit these road blocks quite a bit when I sit down to write a sermon which is why I usually stay home, lock myself in a room and pace a lot until the thought comes to me.
So last Wednesday as I was going through my normal routine of trying to figure out what to say about this passage I finally just stared at my computer and prayed, “God please just give me something that I haven’t heard before.” As soon as I said that prayer a question immediately came to my mind. The question was, “Who am I in this story?” Which of these people do I most represent when it comes to how I treat Jesus? In this story we see basically 3 views or 3 vantage points of the same story. You have the emperor, the innkeeper and the shepherd. I am convinced that everyone in this room today will represent one of these 3 people when it comes to how we see God and what we consider to be the most important priorities in life.
This morning as I go through this message I want you to be asking yourself, “Am I like the emperor, the innkeeper or the shepherd?” Let’s take a few moments and break down these 3 characters and how they fit in the story.
1. The emperor- Represents a person of greed, pride, and selfishness. VERSE 1-5- Alright there is a bunch of stuff happening here. We start by seeing a decree made by Caesar Augustus that a census is supposed to be taken throughout the Roman Empire. This particular Caesar ruled from 31 B.C.- 14 A.D. What you don’t know about Augustus or Octavius as he is also known is that at the time of his reign he was the singular ruler of the entire known world. The Roman Empire stretched from Britain to India. Also people considered him a God. They literally looked to Caesar for the forgiveness of sins. History books will tell you that he was a leader who brought peace but how did he bring that peace? Through military might. He had a huge army and they would destroy anyone who opposed him. And he paid for that army through taxes. Some believe that Jews paid up to 80%-90% of taxes to Roman Empire at that time. Under Caesars rule Jesus was born into extremely tough economic times under a human ruler who was not only worshipped as a God but truly believed he was the son of God and a ruler who caused incredible oppression to God’s truly chosen, the Jews.
Luke is telling us what’s happening around the time Christ is born for a couple of reasons. One is because he wants to show us that even through wicked oppression and evil God will do good. Caesar held a census out of selfish reasoning. He did it for taxation purposes. He simply wanted more money. But what he didn’t know is that through his greed God was fulfilling prophecy. This census forced Joseph to return to his ancestral lands and they are called ancestral lands for a few reasons but I don’t have time today to get into all of that history. The point is that by Caesar calling for this census it helped fulfill the prophecy that the true Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. OT book of Micah 5:2 says, But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past.
That verse in Micah also reveals to us the 2nd reason Luke gives us this information. Luke wanted us to understand that the true savior didn’t come out of the Roman Empire. The true savior came from a small corner of this empire, among a heavily oppressed minority of people of different ethnicity, where Caesar is supposedly Lord there is a baby being born who brings new hope of true peace. Not a peace built through military might but peace through unconditional, sacrificial love. Luke is showing us two completely different empires here. One empire is built on crushing people, one on loving people, one is built on bondage, one built on liberation, one built on oppressing people, one built on setting the oppressed free. Jesus preached good news to the poor and the sick. Luke is showing us here that Caesar isn’t lord Jesus is lord. Caesar isn’t the one we should be worshipping, this baby born in Bethlehem is. Luke emphasizes this point in verse 11 when writes what the angels say to the shepherds, “The Savior-yes, the Messiah, the Lord-has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! Not Caesar but Jesus is lord.