Summary: We need to put our focus on Jesus at this time of year, and to help others do the same; by sharing the Lord with them; by loving them; and by actually leading them to Christ just as someone else led us to Christ.
Christmas is a wonderful time of year. It is a time that we look forward to with joy in our hearts and eagerly anticipate what is about to happen. And, it was meant for us to feel that way. But, in the last few years, something terrible has happened. Somebody has stolen Christmas!
Not only have they stolen Christmas, they replaced it with something terrible! They have replaced Christmas with -- with – SHOPPING!
We are going to talk this morning about the real meaning of Christmas, and our main text is found in MATTHEW 2:1-12. Please turn to the text.
While you are turning, I’ll tell you about three small boys in a Christmas play at their school. They represented the three wise men and they were to give their gifts to baby Jesus. The one boy stepped forward, held out his hands and said, “Gold”. When he stepped back, the second boy stepped forward and said, “Myrrh”. When the third boy stepped forward, held out his hands and said, “Frank sent this”.
Let’s read our morning text. In MATTHEW 2:1-12, it reads,
1- After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod; Magi from the east came to Jerusalem
2- and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his start in the east and have come to worship him.”
3- When King Herod heard this, he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.
4- When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born.
5- “In Bethlehem in Judea”, they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6- ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’
7- Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.
8- He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
9- After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.
10- When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.
11- On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then, they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and incense and myrrh.
12- And, having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
That was the start of the tradition of ‘giving’ for Christmas. Now, giving things to others is a wonderful way to express your love and appreciation for them, but if we are not careful, we end up with the way America celebrates Christmas today. It seems to be all about the giving, and nothing about the birthday of Jesus Christ. We need to start taking heed of what is said in Joshua 24:15
‘As for me and my household, we shall serve the Lord.’
Joshua didn’t say anything at all about shopping for presents, did he? He was saying that he and his entire household would serve the Lord. They wanted God’s presence among them.
Talking about giving gifts, there was a married couple once that really didn’t try too hard to get along with one another. So, one Christmas, she gave him a burial plot for Christmas. He was stunned, but he didn’t say anything about it.
The next Christmas she didn’t get him anything. This was more than he could handle, so he just told her that he was quite hurt that she didn’t get him anything. She said, “Why should I? You didn’t use the one I got you last year.”
To be honest, most of us like to get gifts, don’t we? It is because of this desire to please others through gifts that Christmas has turned into one giant selling spree. Parents love to buy for their children, but they cannot afford to pay cash for everything they want to buy, so they act like the cavalry and charge it. What they don’t realize is that hurts the family even more because now they are paying for it for years to come.
What do you think pleased the Lord the most? Was it the gifts the wise men brought to him, or was it the fact that they came to worship Him that counted the most?