When you hear the word “Christmas” what do you think?
There are a lot of things that happen at Christmas that deflect our attention in a lot of different directions.
I want to tell you a true story. I carefully use the word story and want to emphasize that this story is true. I could have chosen the word event, but I liked story better.
The Birth of Christ
My goal is to show you very clearly what the Bible says about the true spirit of Christmas:
To do that I am going to have Luke tell you the story out of the 1st and 2nd Chapters his Gospel (using The Message)
These chapters tell us WHAT IS the spirit of Christmas and WHAT IS the right attitude and response to the birth of Jesus Christ.
Let’s begin in Luke 2:
THE NATIVITY SCEEN
1-5About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.
6-7While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.
Most of you know this part of one of the Greatest Stories Ever Told. Now I want to look at some of the stories and events going on AROUND this event and some of the OTHER PEOPLE involved.
To do this we are going to back up to Luke 1 (one Chapter prior) to get some background on the event.
In Luke One:
A Jewish priest named Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth…
The Bible says they were childless because Elizabeth could never conceive, and now they were quite old.
The Angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias and “he was paralyzed with fear”
13-15But the angel reassured him, “Don’t fear, Zachariah. Your prayer has been heard. Elizabeth, your wife, will bear a son by you. You are to name him John. You’re going to leap like a gazelle for joy, and not only you – many will delight in his birth. He’ll achieve great stature with God.
Six Months later Gabriel is back with some more news. This time he appears to a young Mary (Mary is Elizabeth’s cousin)
6-28 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David (King David of the David and Goliath Story). His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary. Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her:
You’re beautiful with God’s beauty,
Beautiful inside and out!
God be with you.
29-33 She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But the angel assured her, “Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.
He will be great,
be called ‘Son of the Highest.’
The Lord God will give him
the throne of his father David;
He will rule Jacob’s house forever—
no end, ever, to his kingdom.”
34 Mary said to the angel, “But how? I’ve never slept with a man.”
35 The angel answered,
The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
the power of the Highest hover over you;
Therefore, the child you bring to birth
will be called Holy, Son of God.
36-38 “And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months pregnant! Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”
And Mary said,
Yes, I see it all now:
I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve.
Let it be with me
just as you say.
Then the angel left her.
Mary’s Next Move…
QUESTION: What would your next move be?
Mary didn’t waste a minute. She got up and traveled to a town in Judah in the hill country, straight to Zachariah’s house, and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby in her womb leaped. She was filled with the Holy Spirit, and sang out exuberantly,
You’re so blessed among women,
and the babe in your womb, also blessed!
And why am I so blessed that
the mother of my Lord visits me?
The moment the sound of your
greeting entered my ears,
The babe in my womb
skipped like a lamb for sheer joy.
Blessed woman, who believed what God said,
believed every word would come true!
HERE’S THE POINT:
What was the response of Elizabeth to Christmas and the anticipated birth of Christ?
1st PRAISE; then: Blessed…blessed…blessed and it wasn’t that Mary was blessed; it was that Mary was the recipient of the blessing of God.
What was the response of John the Baptist to Christmas and the anticipated birth of Christ?
the baby in her womb leaped
Now let’s look at Elizabeth’s Husband; John’s Father in Luke 1:67
It says “Then Zachariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied,
Here’s his next response to this tremendous event…
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
he came and set his people free.
He set the power of salvation in the center of our lives
What was the response of Zachariah to Christmas and the anticipated birth of Christ?
His response is identical to that of his wife, isn’t it? He praises God.
Now we meet the Angel
Luke 2:8-12 – There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”
13-14At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:
Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.
Now what is the response of the HUGE ANGELIC CHOIR to Christmas?
It is praising God, glorifying God. It is the same as Zacharias, it is the same as Elizabeth.
What about the shepherds response to Christmas?
The sheepherders returned AND LET LOOSE, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!
Is it becoming clearer what the true meaning of Christmas is?
The spirit of Christmas is PRAISE or WORSHIP!
It is a Christ focus.
As wonderful as family, friends, food, gifts, love and human relationships are, this is not the focus of these individuals, theirs is a CHRIST focus, one of adoration and praise and blessing.
So we don’t leave out the Gospel of Matthew; do any of you know what the Magi/Wise men who appear in Matthew 2 had to say?
They said this in Matthew 2:11:
They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him.
What about the Wise Men’s response to Christmas?
There’s no deviation from this as the response to the birth of Christ. Every single individual involved had the same response.
Now if Christmas then is a time for anything, it is a time for WORSHIP.
What then is the attitude of worship?
Paul had it summed up WORSHIP well Romans 12:1 when well, this is what he said:
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering.
The primary key to understanding worship is to understand that Christ is the Savior.
And so Mary says in Luke 1:46;
I’m bursting with God-news;
I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
[REPEATING what the Angel said] The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master.
My question for each of you: Do you know him today?