Summary: Christmas sermon reflecting on Christ coming to earth in the form of a man. Emphasizes a personal relationship with Christ, as opposed to merely believing with head knowledge.
Well we are just one week away from the big day! Kids, are you getting a bit excited? Adults, have you finished all your shopping? Many of you are soon to be in the presence of family and friends that you have not seen throughout the year, and you always want to impress them with your knowledge and wisdom. So I thought it would be a good idea for us to brush up on our knowledge about the first Christmas.
Question #1. When Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem, how did they get there?
a. They walked
b. Joseph walked; Mary rode a donkey
c. They took a chariot
d. We don’t really know
The correct answer is “D.” The Bible actually does not record their means of travel.
Question #2. How many angels spoke to the shepherds?
a. A multitude
b. Two Gabriel and Michael
d. Not sure
The right response is “C.” Luke 2 we read that “an” angel stood before them, and “The angel said to them…” Both singular references to a single angel.
Question #3. What song did the angels sing?
a. “O Little Town of Bethlehem”
b. “Joy to the World”
c. “Glory to God in the Highest”
d. None of the above
This is a trick question. The correct choice is “D.” According to Luke 2:13, they were: “…praising God and saying…” There’s no mention of them singing anything.
Question #4. What animals were present at Jesus’ birth?
a. Cows, sheep and camels
b. Horses, sheep and donkeys
c. Lions and tigers and bears
d. None of the above
There is no mention in the Bible about any animals being present. The answer is “D.”
All right. Last one, Question #5. In what books of the Bible can you find the Christmas story?
a. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
b. Matthew and Luke
c. Mark and Matthew
d. Matthew, Mark and Luke
The right choice is “B” - Matthew and Luke. These two gospels give us insight into the birth of Jesus and provide much of what we know about the first Christmas. The Gospel of Mark picks up the life of Jesus when He is a grown man, and the Gospel of John actually begins much earlier than even the accounts of Matthew and Luke.
That is where we are today. In the Gospel of John, seeing what Jesus did before He ended up in the manger, back at what we know as the beginning.
Now, I say we know it as the beginning, because that helps us try to grasp an incredible truth about Jesus. He had no beginning. John 1:1 says (read). Take whatever you define as the beginning, and Jesus was already there. And that just scratches the surface of some mind boggling truths about Jesus found in the first chapter of John.
Listen as I read from John chapter 1 (read through verse 18). Now I hold a different opinion than many Christians and pastors. Actually, if you know me very well by now, you know I hold a number of different opinions, but in relation to today’s passage it is not unusual for Christians and pastors to advise a new Christian who doesn’t know where they should begin reading the Bible to start in the Gospel of John. I have to say, I have never understood that thought.
For instance, I don’t know about you. . .but I find these first 18 verses alone pretty complex. I’ve been in the church almost all my life. More than 35 years. And there are still phrases and thoughts in those few verses that I’m like, “Wow. I’m not sure I can fully grasp that. That is some amazing truth and revelation.”
It talks about this being that already existed in the beginning. It says this being was with God and was also God. It refers to it as the Word. That is just the first verse, and if you think that is the first verse of the Bible someone should read. . .I’m not sure I’m buying it. It is a very deep, and complex opening to a deep and complex book. Not necessarily a good launching point.
A few other interesting things about the Gospel of John that make me hesitant to recommend it as a starting point. Don’t know if you knew and or realized this, but it is probably the least chronological record of Jesus’ life. In other words, this Gospel was not written with the intent of saying these things happened sequentially as you read them now.
Many Bibles have a harmony of the gospels in them. A table which puts the events of the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, side by side so that you can see how they would relate chronologically. If you look at such a table, you may notice a few things.