Intro: How many of you like Christmas cards? Perfectly cut with just the right saying or Bible verse. The pictures or paintings seem to be perfect.
I love the Christmas story because it is in no way like Christmas cards. The Christmas story is not neat nor is it perfect. It isn’t tidy or clean. This is one of the most wonderful things about the Bible and the Christmas story. The Bible records the birth story and early days of Jesus with a messy, gritty real feel.
We have already seen the screw-ups that made up Jesus family tree. The amazing thing is that God uses screw ups for His plan and glory. Your past cannot define or determine your use. Your relationships to God does!!
We also discovered God in our disappointments. God understands our disappointments and challenges us to find our comfort and fulfilment in Jesus.
Last week we discovered that God’s entire purpose for the birth of Jesus was to move people to worship, bowing our knees before God, witness, sharing our Lord with others.
Nothing in the story so far has been clean tidy or perfect. In fact in this story we are going to discover along with good tidings of great joy, great sorrow and suffering follows the birth of Jesus.
How can we find joy in the Christmas story when we face loss, hurt, sorrow and pain? How can we find God through our tears?
I. Suffering affects everyone (no one is exempt) (Matthew 1:13-18)
Mary suffered while she traveled pregnant with Jesus to Bethlehem.
Joseph suffered as he heard the news about a baby not his. Suffering is part of the fallen world.
A) Jesus’ life and scars tell us he suffered
Realize that Jesus must have dealt with wise cracks all his life. Accusations of being illegitimate. His brothers and sisters misunderstood him and made fun of him. They were embarrassed by Jesus and what he said. He was called a drunkard and glutton.
His disciples fell asleep on Him when he needed them to pray and abandoned Him when he was arrested and accused of blasphemy. He was rejected, despised and murdered by men. (Jesus knows what it is like to suffer!)
B) Jesus’ crucifixion scars tell us he sympathizes with us
Hebrews 4:15 “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
Hebrews 2:18 “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
He sympathies or “suffers along with us!” That is how we find God through our tears. Jesus Himself suffered.
II. Suffering isn’t the main issue (Matthew 2:16-18)
Why on earth would God allow the innocent to suffer? You have to understand according to God’s standards there are no innocent people. Romans 3:23 “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
The massacre of the innocents or Herod’s murdering of the children 2 and under happened because the children were identified with Jesus. Jesus was still an infant or at best a toddler. Herod was not hostile to what Jesus did but to who Jesus is!!
When people are hostile to Jesus or His church it is because they are hostile to His control!
You have to ask why the babies were murdered? Why were the parents allowed to suffer?
Because suffering isn’t the main issue. Suffering is the symptom and sin is the disease.
Jesus didn’t come to do something temporary! Jesus came to eternally deal with sin and its
1 John 3:8 “The Son of God was revealed for this purpose: to destroy the Devil's works.”
Herod’s hostility was because his heart was at odds with God’s rule – the result evil
Priests and scribes were indifferent because their hearts were at odds with God – result ignoring the needs of others.
III. Suffering is dealt with in the birth & death of Jesus
A) The Already
The Holidays were originally known as holy days. Unfortunately Holidays are not always happy days. As many of us celebrate with lights and presents and parties. While we enjoy the presence of our family and friends. Many deal with the agony of being alone. The memory of a loved ones passing.
1) Jesus promised to bear our burdens (1 Peter 5:6,7)
When were are broken and burdened with sorrow we can take it to the savior
2) Jesus promised to comfort our sorrows
2 Corinthians 1:3 We are reminded that our Heavenly Father is the God of all comfort! We are reminded that God cares for us by giving us precious and perfect gifts!
a) God gave us His son to be a savior.
b) God gave us His spirit to be our comforter!
B) The Not yet (Revelation 21:4)
Jesus promises to remove our pain, sorrow and tears!
Psalm 30:11 “You turned my lament into dancing; You removed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,”
C) What shall we do as we wait in the already, not yet.
1) Follow God’s direction the safest place to be is where God leads you
The star led the wise men to Jesus
A dream lead Joseph to accept Mary
A dream lead Wise Men to escape Herod’s wrath
A dream lead Joseph and His family to safety
2) take you suffering and sorrow to Jesus
3) be peacemakers
Romans 12:18, Romans 14:19
4) seek to comfort others.
2 Corinthians 1:4 “He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God”
5) Share the gospel it is the only eternal source of comfort.
Hebrews 6:19 “We have this hope as an anchor for our lives, safe and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.”
Safe and secure. Firm and immovable hope that suffering will end. We should share it.
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior's love. --Owens