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Summary: Mary might not have known the details, but today we do, and how we respond to Jesus is the most important perception and decision we’ll ever make.

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Intro> Mary, did you know? It’s a beautiful song and was presented beautifully here this morning, but it’s a song that asks a singular question that is actually very easy to answer...

->NO, Mary didn’t know.

--There’s no way she really would have known all that was going to occur in the life of Jesus.

--Yes, she knew she was giving birth to the long-awaited Messiah...but she didn’t have any way of really knowing what all that meant.

--Yes, she had an inkling from what Gabriel told her that Jesus was going to be the cause of strong feelings on the part of many, even dividing groups of people.

--Yes, she had a vague idea from what Anna and Simeon told her eight days after Jesus’ birth, and the gift of embalming fluid (myrrh) from the visit of the Magi some months later, that the Child was born to die.

--And maybe, if she was aware of the prophecies of Isaiah and other Old Testament prophets, she knew He would give sight to the blind, heal the sick, and set captives free.

->But NO, she didn’t know He would walk on water, feed five thousand families with a happy meal of fish, and raise the dead.

--She didn’t know He would be crucified in front of her, and certainly didn’t know He would rise from the dead three days later.

<>The question, however, is really not what Mary did or didn’t know, but how do we respond to Jesus now that we DO know all these things.

<>How we respond to Jesus is the most important decision we’ll ever make...because it affects our lives, from now all the way through eternity.

--I invite you to open a Bible and turn to Matthew, chapter two.

---ILL>In the year 1809, the international scene was tumultuous. Napoleon was sweeping through Austria, and blood was flowing freely. Nobody then was giving a lot of attention to babies...they were much too engaged in what they considered “more important” matters. But the world was overlooking some significant births that year. William Gladstone was born in 1809. He was destined to become one of England’s finest statesmen. That same year Alfred Tennyson was born to an obscure minister and his wife. The child would one day greatly affect the literary world. On the American continent, Oliver Wendell Holmes was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Not far away, in Boston, Edgar Allen Poe began his eventful, albeit tragic life. It was also in that same year that a physician named Darwin and his wife named their infant Charles Robert Darwin. In that same year, the cries of a newborn infant in a rugged log cabin in Hardin County, Kentucky, were heard for the first time. That baby’s name was Abraham Lincoln. If there had been news broadcasts at that time, you probably would have heard the news anchors tell you that the destiny of the world was being shaped on an Austrian battlefield that day. But history was actually being shaped in the cradles of England and America. Similarly, in the year Jesus made His appearance on the earth in Bethlehem and dwelt among us, everyone back then thought the big news event of the year was taxation. But a young Jewish woman cradled the biggest news of all...the birth of a Savior.

<>No, Mary didn’t know what all was ahead for her or her Child, but with 20-20 hindsight WE can see that the most important event that took that year, or perhaps in any year since then, was when God became flesh and dwelt among us.

--And yet, even today, the birth of Jesus is still overlooked by many and downplayed by others.

--In fact, many are under the impression that there are much more important matters we should spend our time on than that.

<>But how we “see” Jesus, how we perceive Jesus, is the most important perception, most profound decision we’ll ever make.

So, I want us to examine today....

THE FOUR VIEWPOINTS / WAYS INDIVIDUALS “SEE” JESUS...

1) A REASON TO BE IRRITATED.

--Matthew 2:3-4 -- ...“‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him.’ And when Herod the king heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.”

<>While many enjoy, even treasure the traditions and true meaning of Christmas, some find it all very irritating, and view Jesus Himself as the primary source of their irritation.

--<>Some are “mildly” irritated...

----Their normal shopping routines are now much more difficult....long lines, crowds in the stores, people pushing and shoving to get the last Iwee or latest gadget.

------And, they have to walk past those people ringing bells and hoping you’ll give a donation to their cause.

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