Summary: This message examines how we can keep the joy and hope of Christmas every day of our lives.
In the days leading up to Christmas our expectations are high and a sense of joy fills our hearts. We often are much like children in the fact we dream of Santa Claus and his glittering gifts of joy and peace. But what happens after Christmas? Well the tree dries up, the decorations are taken down and it is back to the same old, same old. It’s back to life as we know it. Unfortunately the joy begins to fade as we gaze about our homes seeing tossed aside toys, the mounds of dirty clothes and a large stack of dirty dishes. To make matters worse we go to the mail box only to be reminded of the mound of unpaid bills that accompanied Christmas. Needless to say it does not take long for the “Ho, Ho, Ho” to turn into “Oh, Oh, Oh”! However disturbing this may sound it all goes back to us having Christmas put in the wrong perspective. Today I want you to know that things do not have to be this way. When we keep Christ at the center of Christmas we will soon discover that the true hope of Christmas never fades. Today I would like for us to back away from all the hype, build up and inevitable let down that comes with the world’s celebration of Christmas and gain a firm grasp of the very real hope that is woven through those years following Christ’s days in the manger.
I. The hope contained in those days following the manger.
A. The visit of the magi. (Matthew 2:1-12)
1. The Magi have traveled a long distance to offer homage to a new king born in Judea. They enter Jerusalem with a large enough caravan to attract the city’s attention.
2. Magi were astrologers from the royal court of the king of Persia which would account for them noticing the special star provided by God.
3. While one might have expected Jerusalem to be filled with joy and great anticipation at the prospects of a Jewish deliverer, ironically, both Jerusalem and Herod experience the same emotional reaction, extreme agitation and fearfulness.
4. To discover the exact location where the Christ child would be born Herod summons representatives from the religious authorities in Jerusalem and they tell him that the Messiah is to be born in Bethlehem.
5. The intention of the Magi to worship the newborn King is realized when they discover Jesus in a house in Bethlehem.
B. The escape to Egypt. (Matthew 2:13-15)
1. Earlier suspicions concerning Herod’s evil intentions are now confirmed by angelic forewarnings of his malicious scheme.
2. The angel of the Lord, by means of a dream, communicates critical information to Joseph designed to counter the imminent danger posed by Herod’s threat.
3. Jesus and his family survived, but they had to abandon any livelihood Joseph may have developed in Bethlehem.
4. Matthew goes on to assure the reader of the child’s safety and His eventual return to Judea.
C. The return to Nazareth and Jesus’ childhood. (Matthew 2:20-23)
1. The family awaits divine confirmation that the threat to Jesus’ life is now past.
2. While the length of their stay in Egypt is unknown, the angel once again communicates with Joseph and this time it is in regard to the death of Herod which signals that it is now safe to return to the land of Israel.
3. The family’s trip back to Judea is altered accordingly by divine guidance, so instead they journey north into the district of Galilee to a small village called Nazareth which was no more than an agricultural settlement with a population of around 200.
4. The only statement we have about Jesus up till age twelve is given by Luke.
5. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him. (Luke 2:40—NIV)
D. Jesus as a boy in the temple. (Luke 2:46-49)
1. Jesus’ parents must have traveled with a large group of relatives and friends, as they were returning home, causing them to be unaware that Jesus had stayed in Jerusalem.
2. Mary and Joseph were doing what was expected of parents, but Jesus was doing what might be expected of the Son of God. As he sat and questioned the teachers, Jesus’ wisdom even at age twelve amazed everyone who heard him.
3. When the parents finally find him, Mary steps forward to address the young Jesus in a way that both parents and children can appreciate; her anxiety can clearly be seen.
4. Obedient to his parents, Jesus goes home with them to Nazareth. While there he grows in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men and thus closes the curtain on Jesus’ life for the next eighteen years.