Christmas: Bypassing The Splendor Of The World

Text: Luke 2:15-20

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

No event in the history of the world has been so celebrated as the birth of Jesus.  Yes, this evening around the world, billions of people gather together to sing songs, exchange gifts, and celebrate, because of the birth of Jesus.  Indeed, Christmas trees have been put up, gifts have been wrapped, songs have been sung, Christmas cookies have been made, and lights shine, because of the babe that was born in Bethlehem. However, in spite of all of this dramatic displays of Christmas around us, Luke in his Gospel gives us a picture of Christmas that is quite the opposite.  That is to say; Luke tells us the Christmas story in a most unspectacular fashion. 

According to the Gospel of Luke, Mary and Joseph must have been very poor, not rich.  And they must have been very anxious, not calm. When they arrived in Bethlehem for the census, there was an influx of people in town, resulting in there being no room in the inn for them.  As a result, they found a cave most likely behind someone’s home – a cave that was used to shelter livestock.  And there in the dirty cave with animals, Jesus was born.  He was born and laid in a manger, which was a feeding trough where cattle stuck their filthy snouts and mouths to eat.  Yes, a boy was born, and the only people that were there or cared were Mary and Joseph. 

So, considering this most unspectacular and humble story of Jesus’ birth, why are we so attracted to this story? 

It would make sense to be intrigued and captivated by this story if Jesus was born in Rome, which was the Capital of the Roman Empire at that time.  It would make sense to be gripped by the story of Jesus’ birth if He would’ve been born in some spectacular golden palace with trumpets sounding and torches ablaze!  But a dirty cave?  A dumpy manger?  Stinky animals?  Seriously, why on earth do we celebrate this unspectacular and humble story?  Why do we have so much glory tied up in such miserable circumstances of a cave and feeding trough in a tiny town? 

And to make things even more unique with this story, the first message of Jesus’ birth was not taken by the angels to princes and powerful people, but the angels went and looked down to the lowest of people – shepherds.  Yes, the angels did not go to proclaim this message to the high priests and the highly educated people living in the biggest and fanciest of cities but went to the countryside to dumpy and dusty shepherds. 

It is as if this story and circumstances of Jesus’ birth intentionally ignored what was high and mighty and spectacular.  It was as if the birth of Jesus bypassed the splendor of the world. 

Dear friends that is precisely what is going on here. The birth of Jesus turns away from what we humans deem to be impressive, valuable, and worthy in this world.  But if this is true, why then do we celebrate such an unspectacular and humble story with such dramatic and bold ways? 

It is quite simple, we celebrate and honor the story of Jesus’ birth because it is a story where God turned toward sinful humanity.  It is a story where the Son of God descended to sunk Himself into the middle of mankind.  It is a story of the Son of God putting on flesh and coming in humility – coming so low and so simple and so meek that no burdened sinner would be driven away as if Jesus is too high and lofty for sinners. 

You see, we humans seek greatness by racing around like madmen reaching to useless heights of honor and prestige on earth.  We try to climb upward towards supposed glory.  We want to be king of the hill, top dog, and on the A-squad.  We want to be the first round pick, on the starting lineup, and a part of the in-crowd.  However, God completely ignores what is high and lofty according to the world.  And we see this most especially in the story of Christmas – the birth of Jesus that bypasses all loftiness and swoops down low, so low that the Savior will not be out of reach of anyone. 

The birth of Jesus is the birth of the Messiah for every single lowly sinner of the world.  And that is why no event in the history of the world has been so celebrated as the birth of Jesus.  Yes, Jesus is the Savior that was born to save us from our sins.  There in the cave, in the manger, was the hope of the world.  There in Bethlehem was the radiant dawn over a humanity shrouded in the darkness of sin. There in that manger was salvation and victory for sinners – hope and future for sinners.  Yes, in that dark cave was the Kingdom of God coming to earth. 

So, what this means is that no matter your circumstances and no matter where you are at this Christmas, you can indeed celebrate and rejoice.

The message of Christmas is such that it excites us and at the same time humbles us.  It is a story that fills us with joy and attracts us to Jesus.  It is a story that grants us peace and harmony even while being in the midst of the trials and pains of life. It is a story that tells us of the Son of God coming to mankind to grant us favor. 

And so tonight, we give glory to God for this simple and humble message of Christmas.  Even if you are experiencing grief or are sick or are lonely and depressed – if you feel like your stain of sin is simply too much – do not despair.   Do not despair but give glory to God.  Give glory because the message of Christmas is that the Son of God came and put Himself right into the depths of this messed up world to be your Savior.   

Dear Baptized Saints, the Christ was born to you in the midst of those unspectacular circumstances long ago.  And that is why we are here tonight.  Yes, we are here because Christ Jesus the Lord was born to you to be your Savior. Nothing is surer than that.  You have it on the highest authority. Born to live the life that you could not live; born to die the death that you cannot die.  Born to save you from your sins.             

And so we celebrate and rejoice for unto us is born this day a Savior, Christ Jesus our Lord. 

In the name of Jesus: Amen.  

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