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THREE CHRISTMAS MESSAGES
Intro: The holiday season is, for many people, one of the most depressing times of the year. In fact, the suicide rate is higher between Thanksgiving and New Years than at any other time during the year. It is easy to get so caught up in the preparations and the festivities and even the pain we may feel in our hearts during the holidays that we forget the real meaning of the season.
It isn't about gifts and trees and decorations. It isn't even about families and parties and fun. It certainly isn't about Santa Claus, snowmen, elves and reindeer. It is all about Jesus and all about Him alone!
So for just a few minutes today let's leave our world behind and visit once again the little town of Bethlehem. Let's let Jesus transform our Christmas.
The night God became flesh and walked among men ranks as one of the greatest moments in human history. It was a night of tremendous miracles and great blessings. It was the night when God moved into the world to live and eventually to die. Though this story is 2,000 years old, it is still as fresh to me as if this were the first time I had ever heard it.
Let's visit Bethlehem again today and notice that as Mary delivered Jesus into this world, there were some Christmas Messages being delivered also.
I. v.10-14 THE HEAVENLY CHOIR PREACHED A MESSAGE
(Delivered a Message of Peace)
A. v.10a A Soothing Message - (Ill. Fear not) (Ill. Luke 1:13; 30; Mt. 1:20) (Ill. Jesus removes fear! (Ill. Things we need not fear - Death, Hell, Satan, Life, etc.)
B. v.10b-11 A Salvation Message -
1. Good tidings (News), great joy, to all people (Universal), unto you (Personal).
2. Threefold titles given to Jesus:
a. Savior - Deliverer; Pictures Him as the sacrifice. (Ill. The cross)
b. Christ - The Anointed One, The Son of God. Pictures Him as the fulfilment of all the promises and prophecies beginning at Eden, Gen. 3:15. (Ill. The ribbon of blood!)
c. Lord - Sovereign God! The One to be served, worshiped and adored!
(Note: Jesus is called Savior! Not an example or a teacher, but a Savior! If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent an educator. If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent a scientist. If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent an economist. If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent an entertainer. If our greatest need had been military, God would have sent a soldier. If our greatest need had been for justice, God would have sent a judge. But, our greatest need was forgiveness and redemption, and, therefore, God sent a Savior!)
C. v.12 A Showing Message - Pointed the way to Jesus. (Ill. God's Word points the way! Every now and then we encounter someone who needs the way pointed out to them. When we do, we are doing the work of angels!)
(Ill. Bethlehem = House of Bread - it was an appropriate place for the Bread of Life to be born!)
D. v.13-14 A Shouting Message - The angels praised their Creator! (Ill. Their wonder!) Ill. Praise to God and Peace to man, (Ill. Pax Romana - Rome had given the world peace from war, Jesus came to give man peace with God and peace within! John 14:27; Phil. 4:6) (Ill. That's enough to praise Him for, forever!)
II. v.15-20 THE HUMBLE SHEPHERDS PREACHED A MESSAGE
(Delivered a Message of Praise)
(Ill. The shepherds were considered to be social outcasts. Their duties made them unclean and the fact that they were unable to come to the Temple for many weeks at a time prevented them from getting clean. Praise God, that's the crowd He came for, Luke 19:10, Mark 2:17! Ill. They were probably the men who raised the lambs for the temple sacrifices, it is appropriate that they would be the first men to meet the Lamb of God!)
A. v.15-16 A Message Of Obedience - They followed the message they received. Men need to heed the message of the Heavens! Ill. Come and see - John 4:29. Have you obeyed the Gospel? Have you received Jesus as your Savior? (Ill. The simplicity of the Gospel, Acts 16:31; Rom. 10:13; John 6:47.)
B. V.17-18 A Message Of Opportunity - They spread the word about Jesus! What an example for all Christians! Resolve to tell others about Jesus! (Ill. It is His command - Mark 16:15; Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 1:8.)
C. v.20 An Overwhelming Message - As these men returned to their sheep, notice that their circumstances had not changed. They were still shepherds, still outcasts and still in the field. While their circumstances had not changed, their hearts had! These men returned with hearts full of praise for the Lord. What a difference Jesus makes! (Ill. His great purpose is to change sinners into saints and He accomplishes this through the power of his grace, Eph. 2:8-10; 2 Cor. 5:17.) If you know Him, remember that your situation may be bad, but your God is Great! (Ill. Learn to praise Him in your problems and the Lord will honor that, 2 Cor. 12:7-10. Remember a better day waits - Rom. 8:18.)
III. v.7 THE HARD HEARTED INNKEEPER PREACHED A MESSAGE
(Delivered a Message of Rejection)
(Ill. There is no evil intent mentioned. However, how many people would turn a pregnant woman away into the night? Reveals a hard heart in the innkeeper! Ill. Tom and "Mary can have my room!")
A. A Message Of Sadness - Ill. No room for Jesus, Ill. The cry of the crowd the day He was crucified - John 19:15! Do you have room for Him in your life? Lay aside whatever is in the way of letting Him in and open to door!
B. A Message Of Sorrow - Ill. No Jesus, No Hope, Know Jesus, Know Hope! Without Jesus, there is no hope, no future and no life - John 14:6!
C. A Message Of Separation - (Ill. the Innkeeper, warm and secure in his bed. Ill. Jesus lying in a dirty, filthy manger. The Innkeeper's rejection prevented him from knowing the joy of the shepherds. It may have also kept him from knowing eternal life. To be without Jesus is to be without life, and to be without Heaven, 1 John 5:12! (Ill. Eternal damnation in the Lake of Fire.)
Conc: As we think about these Christmas Messages, we need to be sure that we receive the message of the angels like the shepherds did. That we too come to know Jesus and go away praising Him and glorifying His Name.
What kind of message is your life preaching today? Like the Angels, are you living a life that points men to Jesus? Or, are you like the shepherds, so filled up with His wonder and glory that life is fresh everyday because of Jesus? Or, would you have to admit that like the innkeeper, you simply have no room for Jesus in your life. Which describes you best?