Summary: Christmas Story

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Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

Luke 2:1-2:20 Christmas 2006

His name was William Spurling. He was big for his age, and he was a little slow mentally. But he was a good kid, and all the other kids in the 7th grade liked him.

In the school play, he wanted to play a shepherd, but the teacher said he was too big, and he should play the grumpy old innkeeper. The night came and they were all on stage, and the audience was sitting there ready for it to begin. During the part of the play when Mary and Joseph came to the door to ask for a place to sleep, William, in a gruff voice said, “There is no room in the inn.”

Joseph asked again, and instead of saying the same line, William forgot his line and there was a very long pause. It was the kind of pause that embarrasses the audience as well as everyone on stage. Then, from behind the curtain, William heard the teacher whisper, “We have no room at the inn, now away with you!” So, he repeated the line and the rejected Mary and Joseph turned to go away. Being the good kid that William was, his heart began to break because he had said something that hurt them, so he yelled out, “Wait a minute! Come back! You can have my room and I will sleep in the shed!”

William actually displayed the real meaning of Christmas? He was willing to give up his own room to help someone else.

I. It’s tough to live in the shadow of fame.

A. Jerusalem was the epicenter of all that was Jewish

1. Where the pilgrims came for the annual religious festivals.

2. And the little village named Bethlehem, about 5 miles south, south-west, was small, and


3. Its biggest claim to fame was that a long-ago resident from there – a shepherd boy - had

done good.

4. And so Bethlehem became known - because of that shepherd boy - as, “The City of


5. Even so, important didn’t come to mind when thinking of Bethlehem of Judah. It was just a

sleepy little village.

B. How could the prophet Micah have ever written this about that no-account little town:

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you

will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient

times.” (Micah 5:2)

1. Wouldn’t a ruler, whose origins are from old, from ancient times, choose an important

place to be born – a place like Rome, or Antioch or maybe even Jerusalem?

2. Could Micah have been asleep at the wheel when he penned this prophecy?

3. Maybe the old boy misunderstood what God was telling him to write.

4. No! It’s just that things aren’t always what they seem.

In 1884 a young man died, and after the funeral his grieving parents decided to establish a memorial to him. With that in mind they met with Charles Eliot, president of Harvard University. Eliot received the unpretentious couple into his office and asked what he could do. After they expressed their desire to fund a memorial, Eliot impatiently said, “Perhaps you have in mind a scholarship.” “We were thinking of something more substantial than that... perhaps a building,” the woman replied. In a patronizing tone, Eliot brushed aside the idea as being too expensive and the couple departed. The next year, Eliot learned that this plain pair had gone elsewhere and established a $26 million memorial named Leland Stanford Junior University, better known today as Stanford! A simple, unpretentious couple… things aren’t always what they seem.

II. A Pagan Emperor issued a decree

A. 700 years after the prophet Micah wrote, a pagan emperor issued a decree that every citizen

of the empire be counted.

1. Because Bethlehem had been the home of the shepherd boy who done good, David’s

ancestors had to make the trip to Bethlehem to be counted.

2. Among the ancestors who made the trip, a very pregnant young woman and her husband,

a poor, simple carpenter.

3. The emperor thought that he was counting citizens. This young couple thought that they

were traveling to a town to be counted. But things aren’t always what they seem!

If you have ever read the Peanuts comic strip, you will remember the animosity between Charlie Brown and Lucy. For that matter, it was animosity between Lucy and just about everyone else, actually. Well, one Christmas Lucy comes to Charlie Brown and says, “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown. This is the season of peace on earth and good will toward men. Therefore, I suggest we forget all about our differences and love one another.” Charlie Brown’s face lights up like a Christmas tree, and says, “That’s great, Lucy, but can’t we continue to do that all year long?” And Lucy replies, “What are you, nuts?”

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