Summary: The third in a series on The Three People Missed at Christmas. This focuses on a personage of the innkeeper, who was so close to the Savior, but missed the boat.
Have you ever missed the boat? Have you ever gotten so wrapped up in things that you have missed out on the main reason for doing what you do?
The rich industrialist from the North was horrified to find the southern fisherman lying lazily beside his boat, smoking a pipe.
"Why aren’t you out fishing?" said the industrialist.
"Because I have caught enough fish for the day," said the fisherman.
"Why don’t you catch some more?"
"What would I do with them?"
"You could earn more," was the industrialist’s reply. "With that you could have a motor fixed to your boat, and go into deeper waters and catch more fish. Then you would make enough to buy nylon nets. These would bring you more fish and more money. Soon you would have enough to own two boats . . . maybe even a fleet of boats. Then you would be a rich man like me."
"What would I do then?" asked the fisherman.
"Then you could really enjoy life."
"What do you think I am doing right now?"
You know, we live in a day and age in which that thinking is very prevalent. HURRY UP AND DO SOMETHING—MAKE MONEY, BECOME FAMOUS, BUT WHATEVER YOU DO, DO IT NOW!
On Friday, I had to go to the WalMart in Dickson City. Twice. Both times, it was extremely busy and hectic. It was mobbed. I just had to get some grocieries, and both time it took more than twice it normally would. And then there was the cashier’s line. I spent one hour in the store; 30 minutes getting grocieries, and 30 minutes waiting in line!
The point is simply this—we are running around like chickens with our heads cut off, but why? You would never know what this time of year is really all about.
Take the year 1809. The international scene was tumultuous. Napoleon was sweeping through Austria; blood was flowing freely. Nobody then cared about babies. But the world was overlooking some terribly significant births.
For example, William Gladstone was born that year. 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 literacy world in a marked manner. On the American continent, Oliver Wendell Holmes was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. And 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 child Charles Robert. And that same year produced the cries of a newborn infant in a rugged cabin in Hardin County, Kentucky. The baby’s name? Abraham Lincoln.
If there had been a news broadcast at that time, I’m certain these words would have been heard: “The destiny of the world is being shaped on an Austrian battlefield today.” But history was actually being shaped in the cradles of England and America. Similarly, everyone thought taxation was the big news—when Jesus was born. But a young Jewish woman cradled the biggest news of all: the birth of the Savior.
When Pope Julius I authorized December 25 to be celebrated as the birthday of Jesus in A.D. 353, who would have ever thought that it would become what it is today.
When Professor Charles Follen lit candles on the first Christmas tree in America in 1832, who would have ever thought that the decorations would become as elaborate as they are today.
It is a long time since 1832, longer still from 353, longer still from that dark night brightened by a special star in which Jesus the king was born. Yet, as we approach December 25 again, it gives us yet another opportunity to pause, and in the midst of all the excitement and elaborate decorations and expensive commercialization which surround Christmas today, to consider again the event of Christmas and the person whose birth we celebrate.
Today, we are going to look at a familiar passage of Scripture, to take a look at someone who missed the boat on the very first Christmas.
READ LUKE 2:1-7.
Let me just give you a little context before we meet the person who missed the boat.
Ceaser Augustus was the grandnephew of Julius Caesar, who adopted him as a son and officially declared him the heir to the throne of the Roman Empire. He did not immediately ascend to the throne when Julius was betrayed and murdered. Instead, he was involved in a power struggle with Mark Antony. Finally, he ruled the Empire from 27 BC until AD 14. Under his reign, there was unprecedented peace throughout the region, and the construction of the major roadway system was installed and put into place under his reign. We looked at this last week, that when the time had fully come, Christ was born. All roads led to Rome, and the roads allowed the message of the gospel to spread easily.