Summary: The first gift of Christmas was given to us by God through Jesus and belief in Him will make the bell of belief ring in your heart
Remember the Wonder
November 28, 2004
First Sunday of Advent
Chris Van Allsburg has written a wonderful Christmas book called The Polar Express. The book tells the story of a young boy who wakes up one Christmas Eve to the sound of a train in his front yard. As he goes out to investigate, he is invited to take an enchanted ride on the train and to the North Pole.
As the train makes its way to the North Pole the boy experiences the wonders of riding on The Polar Express and learns the purpose of the trip; the giving of the first gift of Christmas. Once the train arrives at the North Pole the children are led away from the train into a large courtyard where they meet Santa and wait to see who receives the first gift of Christmas. The boy is surprised to find himself the child chosen to receive the first gift from Santa. He is given the choice of anything that he could want and he asks for a bell from Santa’s sleigh. The boy is thrilled and puts the bell into his pocket.
On the ride home, he soon learns that there was a hole in his pocket and the bell was gone. The ride home is filled with disappointment as he knows that the first gift that Santa had given was now gone.
On Christmas morning the boy finds a small package with his name on it. Inside the box is the bell and a short note. “Found this on the seat of my sleigh. Fix that hole in your pocket.” The boy was once again thrilled as the gift that was lost was now returned. In his excitement he shakes the bell to hear the sweet sound and his parents comment that the bell was broken because they heard nothing. It is then that the boy realizes that the bell rings only for those who believe.
Here is how Van Allsburg closes the book. “At one time most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me as it does for all who truly believe.”
This story strikes at the heart of what Christmas is really all about and I don’t mean Santa Claus. The reality is that we have been given a wondrous gift that first Christmas and I think that we need to be reminded, it is that gift that makes Christmas possible. The real gift of Christmas is Jesus.
As Christmas swiftly approaches us, let me ask you a question: Does your heart still ring with the sound of belief in Jesus?
This morning I want to give you a gentle reminder of the wonder of Christmas. Open your bibles to Matthew 1 and we will start at verse 1.
I can see some of you thinking, what does that passage have to do with the wonder of Christmas? I believe it has everything to do with the wonder of Christmas.
Remember the wonder that God sent His Son
Matthew opens his gospel with an incredible statement of faith and if you’re not careful you will completely miss it. He opens with the name Jesus Christ. At first glance this seems minor but the significance is earthshaking.
The name Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua, which means God will save or God is my savior. Matthew is relaying a clear message to all who read his gospel that Jesus of Nazareth is the method and the means that God was going to use to save all of humanity.
The title Christ carries special significance because of its deep meaning. The title originates again in the Hebrew word meshia, which means anointed one. This is the root word where we get our English word messiah. Meshia was the title given to all of the Israelite kings because of the anointing that was done as a part of making them a king. The understanding of anointing also gives the understanding of God’s hand being with the king who righteously serves Him.
Matthew ties in two other individuals to make the claim of Jesus being the messiah complete. The first name to appear is Abraham, the father of the Hebrew nation. Without a connection to Abraham there would be no legal right to even claim Jesus as being a Jew. The second name to appear is David, the king whose line would bring the Messiah. Without a connection to the linage of David, there would be no legal right to claim Jesus as the Messiah.
Remember the wonder that God showed us His grace