Summary: A Topical Christmas Sermon
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Christmas is a season of wonder. Someone expressed that wonder this way:
I am the Christmas Spirit—
I enter the home of poverty, causing pale faced children to open their eyes wide, in pleased wonder.
I cause the miser’s clutched hand to relax and thus paint a bright spot on his soul.
I cause the aged to renew their youth and to laugh in the old glad way.
I keep romance alive in the heart of childhood, and brighten sleep with dreams woven of magic.
I cause eager feet to climb dark stairways with filled baskets leaving behind hearts amazed at the goodness of the world.
I cause the prodigal to pause a moment on his wild, wasteful way and send to anxious love some little token that releases glad tears--tears which wash away the hard lines of sorrow.
I enter dark prison cells, reminding scarred manhood of what might have been and pointing forward to good days yet to be.
I come softly into the still white home of pain, and lips that are too weak to speak just tremble in silent, eloquent gratitude.
In a thousand ways, I cause the weary world to look up into the face of God, and for a little moment forget the things that are small and wretched.
I am the Christmas Spirit.- E. C. Baird
One carol joyfully proclaims Christmas as “the most wonderful time of the year.” Sometimes, in the midst of the rush and worry that the world has added to Jesus’ birthday, it is not easy to keep an attitude of wonder and joy. But before we get too far into the season, let’s pause and remember why Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. To help do this, I want us to look back at the story of some men who traveled far from home to look for the King Whose birthday we celebrate at Christmas- a group of men known as the Magi. Their story is found in Mat. 2:1-12, where you and I can learn that:
I. Christmas is a time of expectation.
I. Christmas is a time of investigation.
II. Christmas is a time of celebration.
I. CHRISTMAS IS A TIME OF EXPECTATION.
I came across a collection of letters that children wrote to Santa Claus. Some of them were pretty good. One said, "Dear Santa, there are three little boys who live at our house. There is Jeffrey; he is 2. There is David; he is 4. And there is Norman; he is 7. Jeffrey is good some of the time. David is good some of the time. But Norman is good all of the time. I am Norman."
Children know the wonder of Christmas as a time of expectation. So did the people of Jesus’ day.
Historians record that many people were expecting a special Person to be born around this time. Several Roman writers of that day, including Josephus, Tacitus, and Suetonius had predicted a great ruler would be born somewhere in Judea, and even some Jews had some expectation about a ruler that would be born then. But while these shadowy hopes could never focus on Who or What would come, one group of men found some concrete evidence in the appearance of a star.
The Wise Men, or Magi, mentioned in these verses are a mystery to many Bible scholars. Some say they were from Persia, Mesopotamia, or even Arabia. We know they were from the east, and we know they were Gentiles. William Barclay, in his commentary describes these Magi as men who were skilled in philosophy, medicine and natural science. They were known to interpret dreams, and study the natural world, including the stars, for clues to meaning in the universe. You could say that they were students of the God’s general revelation, just as the Psalmist:
Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.
But then something unexpected happened. In the midst of their study of God sent a special revelation- they saw a star. (…we have seen His star in the east…)
We don’t know what kind of star it was. A lot of people try to explain what happened in scientific terms, but there is a much more important idea here you must not overlook- this star was meant to catch their attention. This star sent a clear message to anyone who took the time to look: something special is about to happen. They studied all of their books and charts’, looking everywhere to try and discover what was going on. They may have discovered some ancient words from the Hebrew Scriptures:
Numbers 24:17 “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel,