Summary: The most perfect love gift ever given was the gift God gave at Christmas – the gift of His Son. To help us appreciate that gift, think for a moment of the Nativity scenes you have probably seen all around at Christmas. They usually feature shepherds and W
THE LOVE OF GOD
The Stable In Bethlehem
Tells Us Of The Love Of God
The Infant In The Manger
Tells Us Of The Love Of God
Pastor: Choose an introduction that illustrates from your life the fact
that we seek out gifts that say “I love you.”
Shopping for a Christmas gift for my wife is an experience that fills me with a tremendous amount anxiety because I want to find a gift that says “I love you” as meaningfully as possible. It usually takes days and days of seeking as the panic grows inside me that I won’t find it in time.
But one happy year I found the perfect gift on my very first day out shopping. It was a crystal chandelier that fit our new home and matched my wife’s taste in decorating. I was so excited I almost gave it to her before Christmas. The only thing that restrained me was the realization that if I did I would have to go out and search for another gift for her to open on Christmas morning.
That chandelier now brings us lots of pleasure as the crystals capture the sunlight, refract it and send colorful splashes of light all around our dining room and living room. I am still pleased with myself that I found the perfect gift!
Well, it was the close-to-perfect gift.
The most perfect love gift ever given was the gift God gave at Christmas – the gift of His Son. To help us appreciate that gift, think for a moment of the Nativity scenes you have probably seen all around at Christmas. They usually feature shepherds and Wise Men and perhaps a few barnyard animals. But at the center of the scene we always see Mary, Joseph, and the infant Jesus lying in a manger.
I’d like to use that scene to describe to you the love that motivated the giving of this little boy.
THE STABLE IN BETHLEHEM
TELLS US OF THE LOVE OF GOD
Lk 2:1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to his own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
One of the central features to the Christmas story is the Jesus was born to an unwed couple in a stable in a town called Bethlehem. This was a scene loaded with tension and pregnant with truth!
Let’s take a look at that scene in this clip from the movie The Nativity Story.
The Nativity Story
Film Clip Scene 149-152
Mary & Joseph preparing for the birth of Jesus
Let’s think of the tension in that stable that night. First of all, Joseph and Mary were betrothed but not yet married – and yet Mary was pregnant. We are told in the Gospels that Mary was a virgin and that the child in her womb was the creation of God the Holy Spirit. The infant to be born would be the most unique child in all of history – He would be God and man at once. But who would have believed Mary and Joseph when they tried to explain how she became pregnant? The people in their hometown were undoubtedly shocked and this young couple must have been ostracized from the community for their apparent sin.
The next thing that that strikes us as strange is that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Bethlehem was little more than a suburb of the more significant royal city of Jerusalem. Bethlehem was so small it didn’t even have enough inns to accommodate the visitors. Since the child was born to become king of the Jews, it seems he should have been born in Jerusalem, the capital of the nation.
But most shocking of all, why was the child born in a stable? God could have arranged for Him to be born anywhere – like a palace to at least a nice clean home. In fact, God could have snapped His fingers and produced a modern hospital with antiseptic delivery room and a full staff of doctors and nurses.
What an unlikely place for a king to be born! After a difficult journey for a woman in the ninth month of pregnancy, a stable is the last place that a caring husband would want her to be. The Nativity scenes that decorate the landscape during Christmas season are something less than accurate. None of them smell quite right. We don’t fully understand the unsanitary conditions of having to walk carefully around the droppings of animals and then lay down a newborn baby, fresh from the pains of delivery, in a feeding trough streaked with the saliva of animals.