Summary: Why did God go to all this trouble just to provide a savior for mankind?
“Why A Savior?”
Introduction: I’ve tried to answer three questions in this series of messages about Christ and the celebration of his birth. First, why did he have to be born of a virgin? Why did his mother have to be a young teenage girl from Nazareth? And his father, a twenty-something carpenter who nearly divorced the pregnant mother before they had even gotten married. What was so significant about Christ becoming the first-born son of these parents?
Then we looked at the place of his birth - the stable-cave of an inn in the little town of Bethlehem. Why did the son of God need to be born in so insignificant and inconspicious place, and then laid to rest in a feeding manger instead of something more befitting the son of the most high God? Did God have some other reason in mind when he son his laying in a hay bed sleeping that first night of his life?
We now come to the third message - why did God go to all this trouble just to provide a savior for mankind? Wouldn’t it have been easier to send a fully grown, mature, image of himself to earth? What did the savior have to start out as a child in a manger? And couldn’t he have found better heralds for the event than a bunch of poor, ignorant shepherds tending their sheep in the middle of the night? Oops, too many questions without answers.
I. THE COMING
“So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the manger.” (Luke 2:16) The angel had told the shepherds where to find the baby, and they had gone to see this heralded event for themselves. It’s not every night that an angel comes upon a group of shepherds watching a flock of sheep in the middle of a large field, and brings them this kind of news. Those shepherds had probably seen quite a lot of strange things in their years of shepherding, but nothing could top this announcement. No wonder their initial reaction had been terror and fear.
But with the announcement also came more angels and the greatest choir any man had ever heard. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests,” they had sung! They had all decided to immediately go and see what all the commotion was about. Angels singing in the middle of night, in the middle of a pasture filled with sheep and shepherds certainly meant something unusual was going on.
In contrast to this announcement, we have three Magi, wise men, from eastern provinces, coming to visit the Christ child, too. But no heaven-ly angels preceded their journey. Their habit of astrology - studying the stars and heavens - had led them all to the same conclusion - an event of momentous occasion was taking place in a country east of them. There was this unexplained phenomenon, a magnificent star appearing in the sky without any prior expectation.
Surely this astral event could not be overlooked - something special was occurring and they had to find out what the star portended. Independent of each other they began their separate journeys east, until their common goal brought them to a meeting place. Brief discussion followed and they agreed to continue their journey together to solve the mystery of the star.
Eventually they rode into Jerusalem, and protocol required that they pay a visit to the king of the country. “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.’” (Matthew 2:1-2).
Such an astrological event had to mean that someone of great significance had been born, they surely reasoned. “Would the king of Judea know where this future king was so that they could pay their respects to him?” This disturbed Herod. His wise men hadn’t mentioned anything to him about a star in the sky. What did these strangers know that he didn’t know? He’d better find out.
We know that he consulted with his religious scholars and discerned that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, and he told the Magi that. And later, after they had visited the child and left the country, he would be-come angry and slay many innocent baby boys to prevent this usurping of his throne.
Let’s summarize. The angels appeared to the lowly shepherds and announced the birth of the Messiah. The star appeared and announced the birth to three foreign astronomers. No one announced the birth to the king of Judea nor to the religious leaders of the day. Do you see the irony in all this? Those who should have known of the coming Messiah didn’t; those to whom the coming Messiah would make all the difference in their future did.