TITLE: DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE
SCRIPTURE: ST. MATTHEW 2:1-3
Here we are once again ready to begin our Advent Preaching. I look forward to this time of year. I must admit, the older I become the faster time seem to move. I begin this Advent Season in full and great expectation that God will meet us right where we are. I want to challenge us this Holy Season to not become Complacent but look with Great Anticipation. Let’s remember what this season and what Christmas is all about.
I am reminded the words of a five year old who was showing his Christmas presents to his grandmother when she asked –
• "Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas?
• The little Five Year Old Grandson thought about it for a moment
• After a brief pause of thought he finally said - "No, but that's okay. It wasn't my birthday"
• That is the True Heart of Christmas
I don't know what you love most about Christmas. For some it's the sounds of the season. They love the music and the laughter. They love to hear choirs a' caroling and children grinning and giggling as they open their presents. Mention the word Christmas to most children and the vision that comes to their minds is a jolly old man in a red suit who delivers toys with a small herd of flying reindeer. Mention Christmas to most of us adults and several pictures are likely to form in our minds:
• Some think of lights and decorations lining city streets
• “City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style / In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas”
• Others think of bell-ringing Salvation Army Santa’s seeking donations
• Some think of Christmas trees decked with beautiful lights and ornaments
• For many people, the favorite thought that comes to their minds is a picture of large stadiums filled with fans watching a bunch of men run around with an inflated pig-skin
• And to some, sadly, Christmas conjures up images of wild parties, drunkenness, and what they think are “good times”
Some people love the sounds of the season. Some love the smells of the season. The peppermint and popcorn. The fresh baked pies and Christmas dinner. But for me, I guess it's always been the sights of the season that I love the most.
• I love to see the lights
• White ones and red ones and green ones and gold ones
• I love to see them on street lights or in people's yards
• I love to see downtown all lite up and adorned
• In front of churches
• In parks
I've always loved the sights and the lights of Christmas. Well, on that first Christmas day, 2000 years ago, there were definitely some spectacular sights that were seen and that's what I want us to look at together this morning. I wonder this morning, Do You See What I See? I wonder what I would have seen and heard had I been there the night of Jesus' birth. It is a question I wonder about this time of year.
• Would I have seen and heard the choirs of angels singing - or simply the sounds of barnyard animals shifting around
• Would I have seen the star in the sky that night - or simply two poor and very frightened kids
• Would I have understood the hushed silence of the divine presence - or simply the chill of a cold east wind
• Would I have understood the message of Emmanuel, God with us - or would the cosmic implication of that evening have passed me by?
• Yes, I wonder this morning, Do You See What I See?
I am sure those found in Bethlehem that glorious night could have seen and heard entirely different scenes. I believe this because even today all in the Church are not all Spiritually Tuned into God.
• God never presents himself in revelation in a manner in which we are asked personally, to believe
• We are always left with an option, for that is God's way
• Thus, one person can say, "It's a coincidence"
• While another sees the Face and feels the Hand of God
• Thus, one person can say, “Don’t know why I came to Church today”
• While another says, “What a Powerful Worship Experience”
• Thus, one person can say, “I Don’t Know what the Preacher was Talking About”
• While another says, “That Sermon Was Just For Me”
• Thus, one person can say, “We Are Not A Supporting Church Family”
• While another says, “What A Loving Church Family We Have”
• It all depends on Spiritually Tuned into God We Are
• Yes, my brothers and sisters, Do You See What I See?
Certainly very few people in Palestine – saw – heard - understood - what took place that night. The choirs of angels singing were drowned out by the haggling and trading going on in the Jerusalem Bazaar.
• There was a bright star in the sky
• But the only ones apparently paying any attention to it were pagan astrologers from the East
• If anyone did see Mary and Joseph on that most fateful night, they were too preoccupied with their own problems to offer any assistance
• Yes, I wonder, Do You See What I See?
I am reminded of one of my favorite TV Sitcoms from the early 1970’s – All In the Family – I recall one particular episode –
-- Edith and Archie are attending Edith's High School Class Reunion. Edith encounters an old classmate by the name of Buck who, unlike his earlier days, had now become excessively obese. Edith and Buck have a delightful conversation about old times and the things that they did together, but remarkably Edith doesn't seem to notice how extremely heavy Buck has become.
--Later, when Edith and Archie are talking, she says in her whiny voice "Archie, ain't Buck a beautiful person."
--Archie looks at her with a disgusted expression and says: "You're a pip, Edith, You know that. You and I look at the same guy and you see a beautiful person and I see a blimp. Edith gets a puzzled expression on her face and says something unknowingly profound, "Yeah, ain't it too bad."
You see, WHAT WE SEE AND WHAT WE HEAR IN LIFE DEPENDS NOT UPON THE EVENTS BUT RATHER WHO WE ARE AS PEOPLE.
• It's not what is out there but what is inside of us
• That’s why God does not listen to our Mouth but our Heart
• That is why we are able to see two totally different things
• We see from our hearts
• Our Hearts are at different places
• That’s why we see things so differently
Oh, you say – HAD I BEEN THERE AT BETHLEHEM THAT NIGHT I WOULD HAVE SEEN, I WOULD HAVE UNDERSTOOD. Would you? There is one way of knowing--ask yourself -
• What have you seen this Christmas Season when you watched the 6:00 news
• Did you see chaos and strife - or did you see sheep without a Shepherd?
• When you went out to do your shopping did you see only hordes of people in the stores - or did you notice the worried expressions on some of their faces?
• Worried because they are facing this Christmas without employment and they don't know how they are going to make ends meet
• Do You See What I See?
WOULD YOU HAVE SEEN THE STAR IF YOU HAD BEEN THERE? The Gospel Writer, Matthew tells us about it. The Magi, the wise men, have come following the star and they show up on Herod's doorstep and here's the question they ask. "WHERE IS HE THAT IS BORN KING OF THE JEWS? FOR WE HAVE SEEN HIS STAR IN THE EAST, AND ARE COME TO WORSHIP HIM.”
--When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy."
The Bible, and really just Matthew, tells us that there was a star seen on that first Christmas night. And Matthew says that it was a star that led some seekers to the stable of the Savior. Since they felt that such a great event would be well published in and around Jerusalem, after all, this Child was to be the King of the Jews, they went to Herod and asked where they might find him. Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
• The message delivered to Herod was not received with the same excitement in which they had delivered it
• But the Bible says that Herod was troubled
• Instead of rejoicing he became afraid of the possibility that his position as king was in jeopardy
• Herod’s plan was to destroy Jesus any way he could
Before we are too quick to excuse ourselves from this part of the message lets rest here for a moment. In our actions today, we have also tried to destroy our Savior.
• Don’t allow Greed
• Don’t allow Hate
• Don’t allow Envy to rob you of the blessings of God
• But catch a glimpse of the Day Star
• Lift your hands and worship Him
I wonder this morning, Do You See What I See? When we are able to get a glimpse of the Savior, He will open the windows of heaven and bless you beyond your imagination.
• Herod had the opportunity to bow and worship the newborn King
• He had the opportunity to rejoice in the fact that the Messiah had been born
• But he chose not to worship Him, but instead he chose to try to destroy Him
What would we have seen that Day. Would we have seen what the Wise Men from the East had seen?
• Would we have seen the Star – or Would we have seen the Stress
• Would we have seen the Opportunity – or Would we have seen the Opposition
• Would we have seen the Rejoicing - or Would we have seen the Rebelling
• Would we have seen the Praise - or Would we have seen the Pain
• Would we have seen Jesus – or Would we have seen the Jealousy
But God warned the Magi of Herod’s evil plan so they went home a different way.
• From the beginning of time the devil has tried to destroy the plan of God for our redemption
• He tried to prevent Jesus from coming
• He tried to nullify His power by tempting Him in the wilderness
• He tried to mess Him up in the Garden of Gethsemane
• And even at the cross, the devil tried to stop Jesus Christ from fulfilling His purpose
• But he could not stop the plan of God
• Jesus redeemed us
• He gave us the plan of salvation
The wise men of the East came seeking the Christ child, for they had seen His star, and when they found Him they fell down and worshiped Him. There is nothing like the joy that comes when somebody finds Jesus. I don’t know how long they sought Him, but I do know that when they found Him, it was worth every effort that they had to make.
• You will never be disappointed when you find Jesus
• It’ll be worth whatever you have to give up
• Does anybody know what I’m talking about?
• Do you remember when you sought the Lord?
• Do you remember when you found Him?
• How He delivered you?
• How He healed you?
• How He turned your life around?
• How He put joy in your heart and a bounce in your step?
What else can we find during this Advent Season? Do You See What I See? Look down the road with me. Let me see if I can describe one more scene for us. It wasn't much of a place -- but it was his. It had been his father's before him, and his father's, and so on. There weren't many places like this in town. It wasn’t much of a Town. Just a small town down the road, but it was the home of Kind David. In fact, this very inn was built on land that belonged to the family of David. Some said it was the exact spot of the house where David was born. Imagine that! A king being born right here! That made the town special -- but still not very big.
He thought about that on this day of all days. People were streaming in -- still streaming in from everywhere. He had never seen so many in his town. Where did they all come from? Business was good -- almost too good -- at his place. All the thatched rooms were taken. People were even camping in the courtyard. The sights, sounds and smells of people and animals milling about almost drowned out the sight and sound of the coins now tucked away in a safe place.
As he moved about the crowd, he watched and listened. He was still nervous about some of the things he had seen and heard. There was a great deal of anger and hostility in this bunch of weary travelers. THE ORDERS FROM ROME WERE BEING BITTERLY OPPOSED BUT GRUDGINGLY OBEYED.
• The census was Caesar's way of keeping the Roman boot on the necks of the Jews
• No one liked it, but what could you do?
• The penalty for rebellion was swift and certain
• So they came
• It was more than inconvenient
• It was galling to the proud people who were united in their common hatred of everything Roman
Those born of the house of David had to report to the home of David -- to this little town whose name meant "THE HOUSE OF BREAD." "Well," thought the innkeeper to himself, "if any more show up, there will be no more bread." The mood of the travelers had begun to change. There was an almost festive attitude now. He breathed a sigh of relief as he turned toward the gate of his inn. There were still more seeking admittance. Only a few more, and then he would have to turn them away. There was little enough room now, and some were beginning to complain.
Night was now falling in that Little Town of Bethlehem. He glanced to the distant hills. Do You See What I See? The glow of the cooking fires meant that the shepherds of the temple flocks were settling down for the evening. He laughed to himself about the irony of it. Those dirty, profane shepherds tending animals that were destined to be used for sacrifices in the holy place in the Temple.
• What a contrast: lowly shepherds and unblemished lambs
• Those shepherds wouldn't even be allowed entrance into the temple grounds to see their perfect animals used in the rituals
• They weren't good enough, but their animals were!
• "Oh, well," he sighed, "who said life was fair?"
He turned again to the gate. The Inn Keeper notices more travelers. He had already sent some away. His inn was simply too crowded to accept any more lodgers. Opening the gate, he saw the two of them standing there. They were sagging against the donkey tied to the post. The three of them had the same look about them. Man, woman and beast were utterly exhausted. In the dim light, it was hard to distinguish their features. But by the swell of her robe, it was obvious that this was a very pregnant woman.
He stepped outside the gate, holding his lantern high. Concern was etched on the face of the man as he glanced at the woman by his side. She was so young! The man spoke first. "Please, sir. We have traveled quite a distance. Could you provide lodging for us tonight?" The others he had turned away in the last hour or so who had needed lodging too. But, somehow these two were different. It was more than the fact that the young woman was evidently near her time. There was fear, almost panic, in the eyes of the man whom she had taken to be her husband.
The man spoke again. "I must find shelter for my wife -- quickly." Glancing over his shoulder, the innkeeper thought, "Couldn't I find a corner somewhere, make a place for her?" He shook his head. "No, there isn't a place .... there just isn't room----." "I'm sorry," he said, "THERE IS NO ROOM IN THE INN." It was as if he had struck the man a blow. Almost staggering, the man moved back to the woman and tenderly placed his arm about her. I wonder again this morning – Do You See What I See?
--What do you see Pastor?
--I see this young couple fulfilling Prophesy
--I see the Prophesy of Isaiah coming into fruition
--I see everything lining up to Scripture that was foretold at the fall of mankind
--What do you see Pastor?
--I see 40 and 2 generations about to be blessed
--I see the Heavenly Choir about to Line up and March into Bethlehem
--I see the Angels Bowed in Anticipation
--What do you see Pastor?
--I see the Plan of Redemption about to be Signed
--I see God about to Wrap Himself in Flesh
--I see the Heavenly Choir Performing their Last Rehearsal before the Big Concert on Earth
--What do you see Pastor?
--I see 400 Silent Years Coming to a Close
--I See the Old Testament Giving Way to the New
--I See a Dispensation of Grace on the Horizon
--What do you see Pastor?
--I See the Angels ask the Question, What is Man that thou art mindful of him
--I See John the Baptist no longer in the Womb but now Leaping in the Cradle
--I See the Cradle, the Crown, and the Cross
-- Do You See What I See?