For most of us this week will be time to put away the Christmas stuff. We will take down trees and lights, repack decorations and put away manger scenes. Some of us will and have already returned things. We unwrapped the gift and then realized it didn’t fit wasn’t the right thing or we just plain didn’t like it.
Already stores are making room for Valentines Day. Christmas comes and Christmas goes. We move on into the New Year. Are you ready for the New Year? How are things in your life? Are you feeling pretty good about how you are doing? I want to ask you a very important question this morning. Do you want to go through another year without Jesus Christ in your life? We are all faced with the question: What have you done with Jesus? He is the unwrapped gift. Will you accept Him as a gift or put Him away only to be brought out at your time of need?
We are not the first ones to ever face that question. For those of us who know the true meaning of Christmas we know that Jesus Christ was born to die. He came to give His life for us that we might have eternal life.
Thirty three years after He was born, Jesus faced a mock trial and made up charges that would lead to His crucifixion and death.
He was brought before Pilate who was the Roman Governor. He didn’t really have an interest in being involved but he was in it and had to make a decision. In fact it is the same decision that some of you need to make this morning. What are you going to do with the unwrapped gift: Jesus? “While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: "Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him." But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. "Which of the two do you want me to release to you?" asked the governor. "Barabbas," they answered. "What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" Pilate asked. They all answered, "Crucify him!" Matthew 27:19-22
What a great question: “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" There are at least five choices that people can make in regard to the Christ of Christmas.
1. Some would love to exterminate Him. Part of the "Herod Clan" is still around to either destroy Jesus or remove Him from the Christmas celebration. But when every part of their crowd is gone, Jesus Christ will remain.
240 Million Americans celebrated Christmas this year in America alone yet it was very apparent that the PC police were out all over the country trying hard to eliminate Christ from Christmas. Nativity Scenes have been removed and are considered offensive. School systems have moved not only away from the word Christmas but even the celebration of anything because they are so afraid of offending some one. In the name of diversity we will teach all other kind of religions but as a nation there is a vocal minority doing a fairly decent job of exterminating the message of Jesus Christ.
The NFL recently fined quarterback John Kitna for wearing a ball cap with a cross on it for post game interviews. I doubt very seriously if there is many other symbols that the NFL would find offensive on a hat.
We have been asked to not say Merry Christmas but Happy holidays. You know what? It’s Christmas and I’m going to wish you a Merry Christmas. If you don’t believe in it than I’ll be sensitive about it but don’t try to take away the fact that it is Christmas and the celebration of an historic event.
We are being conditioned to keep Jesus in the church where He belongs. Religious discrimination against Christianity will be a growing theme this year. You will hear more and more about it over the course of the New Year. There are some who would love to exterminate Jesus.
2. Some try to exploit Jesus. Part of the cold corporate world has become rich because of His birth. It’s "whatever they feel will sell this year." He Makes or breaks the balance sheet. The results affect the mood in paneled board rooms.
There is no doubt that Christmas has turned into a major part of the bottom line for many businesses. The Christmas shopping season begins earlier and earlier. We are encouraged to buy more. It is a tough thing to resist being sucked into the “spirit of spending.” Just be aware and know that all the people who would want to exploit Jesus are not in the secular corporate world. Christianity has become a big business. From record companies to book publishers and Christian trinket manufacturers, Jesus is big business. Just visit a Christian bookstore sometime and look at all the different ways we have discovered to “sell Jesus.” Family Christian Bookstores in an unprecedented move are now opening their stores on Sunday’s nationwide.