Summary: It Wwas not the shepherds, the wisemen, or the religious teachers that proclaimed the reason Jesus was born. It was John the Baptist
Well. It’s Christmas season again. Wal-Mart is filled with Christmas decorations. Christmas events are happening all over. Christmas specials fill up the TV schedule. I checked my DVR and there are at least 5 or 6 Christmas shows recorded. Of course, “Charlie Brown’s Christmas” is the best.
“Charlie Brown’s Christmas” is 50 years old this year. Crazy to think I was 15 when it first aired. And what is really cool and best remembered is the interaction between Charlie Brown and Linus. In fact, Linus shares the gospel with Charlie Brown and in this politically correct society we live in, Linus can still share the gospel.
It happens when Charlie Brown, in frustration, screams “Does anyone know the true meaning of Christmas?” And Linus quotes Luke 2:8-14. “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
This is what we celebrate at Christmas. The birth of Jesus, God in flesh. And the reason we celebrate is because Jesus came to take away our sins. But He did not accomplish that at his birth. He accomplished that with his death. Christmas was simply his entrance into the world. All be it necessary, it was not his primary mission.
The shepherds went to see him, worshipped him, left, and probably never saw him again.
Then we have the wise men coming to worship him.
Matthew 2:9-11 “After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”
These magi had come in response to an oracle that had proclaimed a newborn king of the Jews had been born. They came to offer him a peace offering. There is no indication that they recognized him as God or the Son of God. The bowing down and worshipping was a sign of surrender. And when the magi left, they probably never saw him again.
The next time we encounter Jesus is at the Passover festival in Jerusalem.
Luke 2:41-47 “Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual. After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first, because they assumed he was among the other travelers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started looking for him among their relatives and friends.
When they couldn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there. Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.”
There were amazed at the curiosity of a 12 year old. They were amazed at his understanding of scripture. They were amazed at the answers He gave during discussions. But He was just an amazing 12 year old kid and nothing more. Some of them may have Jesus again. Most of them would not recognize him as that twelve year old with amazing knowledge. And Jesus would not reappear in scripture for another 18 years. The shepherds had proclaimed his birth, the wise men had proclaimed his future kingdom, and the religious teachers would proclaim his wisdom. But it would be John the Baptist that would proclaim the purpose for his birth.
Matthew 3:11-12 “I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.”