Summary: How relevant could a baby born 2000 years ago really be to us in the 21st century? Does Jesus’ birth really impact me today? If so, how? Answer the questions your audience is asking by preaching this sermon.
You may have heard of what happened to a Christian church in Denver, Colorado last week.
According to the Denver Post, George Morrison, who pastors the 4,000 member FAITH BIBLE CHAPEL was inspired to propose a float last spring after he attended last year’s parade and didn’t see Christianity in Santa’s sleigh and school marching bands playing "Jingle Bells."
Pastor Morrison wanted to enter a float commemorating Christmas and singing traditional Christmas hymns. But he was told no by the Downtown Denver Partnership, a private business group that stages the parade. The group cited a longstanding policy against overtly religious and political themes.
In light of the uproar that erupted last week, the partnership pledged to revisit the policy.
I’m thankful this was not true of the Claymont Christmas Parade.
At the same time, the current Mayor of Denver, Mayor Hickenlooper, had made a statement saying he planned to replace the "Merry Christmas" lights above his office building next year with "Happy Holidays," which he deemed more inclusive for a diverse Denver.
He has since backtracked in light of the controversy.
Many retail stores have removed “Merry Christmas” from their stores and replaced them with “Happy Holidays” or some other greeting that intentionally leaves out the word “Christmas”, which is an obvious attempt to remove Christ from the meaning of Christmas.
I bring this up in light of the series I began last Sunday on 4 Symbols of Christmas.
In case you haven’t noticed, we are in a culture war.
And the war is over whether Christianity will be allowed to remain or be pushed out of the public sector.
I said last week that I felt we are in danger of losing the meaning of many of the symbols of Christmas.
And we are. This is why I believe it is so important for us to understand the symbols and images God included in the birth of his son, Jesus Christ.
I invite you to turn with me to Luke Chapter 2: 1-7.
Today I want to talk with you about the role the manger played in that first Christmas.
Last week we talked about the Angel that appeared to the Shepherds and how he reflected God’s Glory, Reassured us of God’s Goodness and Revealed God’s Gift To Each of Us.
Today, I want to look at the manger.
When you see a nativity scene, the focal point of that scene is always the baby Jesus lying in a manger, which should say something to us about the significance of the person who was lying in that manger, Jesus Christ.
When we see that manger, it is a reminder of 2 important truths.
It Reminds Us That…
1. THE BIBLE’S ACCOUNT OF JESUS BIRTH IS LITERAL AND RELIABLE.
The cover story of this months edition of NEWSWEEK MAGAZINE is entitled:
The Birth of Jesus: Faith and History: How the Story of Christmas Came To Be.
In this article, the author cites a book written by Robert Miller which argues “that the Nativity narratives can be seen as Christian responses to the birth stories of pagan heroes like Alexander the Great and Caesar Augustus—literary efforts depicting Jesus as a divine figure in a way Greco-Roman listeners and readers would understand and appreciate (p.51, Newsweek, Dec.13, 2004).”
In other words, what this man is saying is that Matthew and Luke invented their stories of Jesus Birth because they wanted Jesus to be seen as a hero and overshadow the other heroes like Alexander the Great of Caesar Augustus.
Others say that the Bible is nothing more than a collection of fairy tales and fables.
They read the Bible like they would read Dr. Suess.
The question becomes then, “Is it possible for intelligent people nowadays to approach the gospels as trustworthy accounts of the life and teaching of Jesus?”
I want to say to you today in a loud and clear voice: YES!
It is possible for intelligent people to read the gospels as literal and historically accurate accounts of Jesus birth, life, death, and resurrection.
I want to ask you to turn with me to Luke Chapter 1:1.
“Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.”
In this verse, Luke dedicates his work to “most excellent Theophilus”.
The words “most excellent” is actually a formal address, which tells us that Theophilus was a well-known Roman dignitary, perhaps one of those who had turned to Christ in “Caesar’s household” as mentioned by Paul in Philippians 4:22.