Scripture Text: Matthew 2:1-12
Christmas is a wonderful time of the year. As the song goes, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”. Decorations. Gifts. Family. Food. For some people, though, Christmas is not so wonderful. The hustle and bustle of shopping and the stretched schedules of visiting all of the family can be stressful and leave us physically and emotionally drained. For others, Christmas is a difficult time because of a loved one who has passed, or a significant relationship has ended, or some personal loss of income or health. If we are not careful, the joy of Christmas can be overshadowed by a wealth of loss. We need to share our hurts and challenges with God and with one another. God designed us for community, especially for times like Christmas. It is also important for us to worship in the midst of pain, suffering, and loss. We need to resist falling into despair. We need to remember that God is always good. We have to learn to worship Him even in pain. Christ is the answer to all things. Apart from Christ there is no Christmas. Apart from Christ, there is no hope, there is no love, there is no joy, and there is no peace. Jesus is the Gift that God has given to the world to give us all of these things.
Seeking Jesus at Christmas
After Jesus was born, some wise men saw a “star” that indicated Jesus’ birth. These men were most likely religious professionals from far away who studied the stars and discerned the signs of the times. They would most likely have been familiar with Old Testament prophecy. They most likely traveled several hundred miles from another country to find the baby king. In fact, as much as two years may have passed since Jesus was born and the wise men were miraculously led by a star to the house where Jesus was living. Even the evil King Herod wanted to find Jesus, but not for the same reason. Herod wanted to kill all the male children who were two years and younger (v. 16). The arrival of Israel’s true King was a threat to King Herod’s rule. That is true for us and why many people run from Jesus. Jesus is a threat to their control. They do not want Jesus to run their lives, at Christmas or at any other time. They do not want to surrender control of their own lives to the very One who gives life. Is that you? Are you seeking Jesus? Are you surrendering to Him? Do you know your need for a Savior?
Worshipping Jesus at Christmas
I have thought a lot lately about what we say at Christmastime. Just about everyone says “Merry Christmas”, unless we are trying to be inclusive of other religions or we do not want to offend other people. However, I have noticed that many people who say “Merry Christmas”, say it without really considering its meaning. The word “Christmas” comes from an Old English word that meant “Christ’s Mass”. It was literally the Church’s celebration of Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, on the day that the Church recognized Jesus’ birth. It was a special worship service remembering the birth of our Lord and Savior. This leads us to why the wise men sought Jesus. Matthew tells us the reason.
Matthew 2:10–11 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
The wise men wanted to find Jesus in order to worship Him. Notice the things the wise men did when they saw the star of Bethlehem. They rejoiced, a lot. The birth of Jesus caused great joy, hence our focus on joy during the most wonderful time of the year. God has given the greatest Gift to us, therefore, we should respond like the angels declared, with great joy. The wise men fell down in humility to the King of kings. Thus, we have to put aside ourselves when we come into the presence of Jesus. Christmas is not about us, it is about Christ! The wise men also worshipped the King of the Jews, just as they said they would do in verse two. These religious men may have not understood Jesus’ divine nature, and they may have not understood the full implication of Jesus’ birth, but their worshipful actions were appropriate and it foreshadowed the worship of Jesus by all the Gentile nations. These wise men also offered gifts to Jesus. These gifts were the kind you would give to a king. It is interesting that this giving was reminiscent of people offering sacrifices in the temple or believers bringing offerings to the altar of God. All of these actions – rejoicing, humbling themselves, and offering gifts – were acts of worship that focused on Jesus, the King of the Jews. Christmas should be about worshipping the King of kings and the Lord of lords!
Remember What Christmas is Really About
What is our focus on Christmas? When we say Christmas is about the birth of Jesus or that Jesus is the reason for the season, do we really mean it? Do our actions reflect worship like the actions of the wise men? Rather than saying “Merry Christmas”, maybe we should start saying “Happy Birthday, Jesus!”. After all, it is Jesus’ day. If Christmas is truly the day we celebrate Jesus’ birthday, then should there be such an emphasis on buying and exchanging gifts? Should there be such an emphasis on Santa Claus, who is not the One who sees you when you are sleeping and he is not the One who keeps a list of who is good and bad? If Jesus is the reason for the season, then should there be more of an emphasis on spending time with Jesus and His Church? If Jesus is the reason for the season, then why would we not gather to worship Him together on His birthday? If we worship Jesus together the rest of the year, then we should definitely worship Him on the day we celebrate His birth. If this is Jesus’ day and we want to give presents on His day, then why do we give gifts to each other rather than to Jesus? Maybe you are thinking to yourself, “How can I give a gift to Jesus?” Does He not have everything? You can give Him your time. You can give Him praise. You can give the message of Christ to others, that God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that people would not perish. That is a real Gift that is never returned and keeps on giving. Therefore, make Christ the focus of not just Christmas, but every day of your life.
In conclusion, what does Christmas mean to you? Does it mean parades, lights, a tree, gifts under a tree, lots of food to eat, and time spent with family? Or, does Christmas mean much more than that? The Almighty God of the universe humbly left the glory and the riches of heaven to be born as a weak, powerless baby, in a filthy manger, in the little town of Bethlehem to a poor Jewish family. God came to earth, to a little town in Bethlehem, to dwell as a little baby in a manger in order to grow up and die for us in order to save us from sin and death. Jesus is our Savior. Jesus is our God. Jesus is worthy of worship, this day and every day. Wise men still seek Jesus and worship Him. Therefore, are you a wise man, seeking Jesus, following Jesus, and worshipping Jesus? Or, do you need to change? Do you need to change your thinking about Christmas? Is Jesus truly the reason for the season? More importantly, is Jesus the reason for your life, this day and every day? Christmas is about worshipping Jesus! Therefore, let us come and worship our Savior, God’s great Gift to the world. For God so loved the world that He gave His best, His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). This is good news. Thanks be to God. Amen!
This sermon was delivered at Good Hope Baptist Church in Wake Forest, NC. More information about Good Hope may be found at the following site: www.GoodHopeBC.org.