Let’s Keep Christmas 12/27/98

Matthew 2:1-11
Page 1410 Come Alive Bible

JESUS CHRIST, the God\man, is Immanuel, God with us. In Bethlehem He was with us and today He is still with us. The mystery of His dual nature might have resulted in an interview like this:

What is your name, young man?
On my mother’s side my name is Jesus.
On my Father’s side my name is Immanuel.

How old are you?
On my mother’s side I am twelve.
On my Father’s side I am the Ancient of Days.

Where did you come from?
On my mother’s side I came from Bethlehem.
On my Father’s side I came from everlasting to everlasting.

Well, you seem so smart, what are your future plans?
On my mother’s side I plan to go to Calvary and die for the sin of the world.
On my Father’s side I plan to be resurrected the third day and ascend into Heaven.

The birth of Immanuel has once again been celebrated. Excitement has built over a period of weeks. Persons have been more expressive of love, joy, good will, and peace than at any time of the year. But that was yesterday.

Once more Christmas has come and gone. Nothing is as over as Christmas, when it is over.

Before Christmas, up goes expectations and the day after down come the decorations. My wife permits me the pleasure in participating in re-decorating the house. I get to go around packing up the many nativities we put out for the celebration. There goes Mary and Joseph followed by sheep and wise men. The last figure in each creche to be put away is Jesus. The moment inevitably comes when its time: “Back in the box Jesus.” He too is packed and put away.

Somehow that seems symbolical of what really happens. As soon as Christmas day is passed we put away Jesus and return to our daily wars.

There is a Peanuts cartoon in which Lucy says to Charlie Brown. “‘Tis the season of peace on earth good will toward men. I suppose we ought to be a little kinder to each other.”

The ever hopeful Charlie responds, “It’s a shame we can’t make it last all year.” To which Lucy retorts, “What are you, some kind of religious fanatic?”

Henry Van Dyke made an appeal for keeping alive the spirit of Christmas at all times.

“Are you willing to …. stoop down and consider the desires of little children;
to remember the weakness and loneliness of people who are growing old;
to stop asking how much your friends love you, and ask yourself whether you love them enough;
….to bear in mind the things others have to bear in their hearts;
to try to understand what those who live in the same house with you really want, without waiting for them to tell you;
….to trim your lamp so that it will give more light and less smoke, and to carry it in front so your shadow will fall behind you;
to make a grave for your ugly thoughts, and a garden for your good thoughts, with the gate open —- are you willing to do these things even for a day?
Are you willing to believe love is the strongest thing in the world —- stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death —- and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem nineteen hundred years ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love?
Then you can keep Christmas!

And if you keep it for a day, why not always? But you can never keep it alone!

Soon after Christ was born wise men from the East came seeking Him to worship Him. They ventured to

Jerusalem and inquired of Herod, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2: 2). The question prevails today. Where is He? Even those not asking the question need the answer. Today’s question is: “Where can I find happiness?” Seeking happiness without Christ is like trying to grow a garden without the light. Consider these aspects of the first Christmas.

The Lord gave them guidance to find the Christ child. Incidentally, their coming may well have been as much as three years after His birth. There is a Greek word for “baby” or “infant,” BREPHOS and one for “young child OR “toddler,” PAIDION. The latter is used here. Notice how it is translated in verse 9: “…where the young Child was.”

The fact Herod, soon, thereafter, had all children under three years of age killed indicates He could have been almost three by the time the wise men arrived.

Matthew notes three things used to guide the wise men.

A. The Supernatural Vss. 2 & 9 “We have seen His star”
Wise men ever since have been trying to figure out what “His star” was.

I have no trouble accepting the fact the Father might well have simply hung out a special celestial body for that moment in time to identify the spot. He who initially said, “Let there be light” could well have done so.

He who set the clock of the universe ticking initially might have scheduled from the dawning of time a solar event timed to have occurred at that precise moment. Consider one such possibility.

Time is recorded B.C. and A.D. in relation to the birth of Christ. However, this method of dating didn’t occur until 525 A.D. when a Roman monk Dionysius Exiguus devised our current calendar. It is now apparent that in making the calendar change he was off a bit. In reality Christ was born two to four years earlier than our calendar indicates.

In both 3 B.C. and 2 B.C. a unique astronomical thing happened. JUPITER, the planet which represents the birth of kings and kingship had a series of conjunctions.

In Hebrew, JUPITER is known as SEDEQ or “righteousness,” a term for Messiah.

In June of 3 B.C. JUPITER came into conjunction with REGULUS, the brightest star in the constellation of Leo. It is known as the star of kingship.

LEO was the constellation of kings and was associated with the Lion of Judah.

At that time the royal planet approached the royal star in the royal constellation representing Israel.

Notice Matthew 2: 9 says the star “stood over where the young Child was.” Stood?

Here is where a natural phenomenon might well have been timed by our Lord to participate in the announcement. Planets normally move eastward through the sky but regularly perform a “retrograde loop.” That is, as it approaches the opposite point in the sky from the sun, it appears to slow down, come to a full stop, and move backwards (westward). It reverses the course when nearest the sun and again appears to stop.

The Father may well have set the celestial clock on the day of creation to go off at this precise moment.

It is known that in 2 B.C. Jupiter performed a retrograde loop. The day, December 25, 2 B.C.

The writer of Hebrews (1:10) said of Jesus: “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the works of your hands; they will perish but you will remain…”

Sir John Echols, a Nobel laureate in neurophysiology, said in Chicago in January, 1968, that for the right circumstances to have just evolved to produce life on planet earth the odds would have had to be 400 thousand, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion to one.

The existence of this solar system is no evolutionary accident it evidences divine order. The God who ordered it ordered one celestial body to guide the wise men. Likewise He has provided His Holy Spirit to guide us daily.

God’s timing is always right. It is in the events of our lives we need to let this event be a contemporary stimulus to our confidence in God’s time keeping.

B. The Scripture Vs. 5
Nearly 700 years earlier the Lord had inspired the prophet Micah (5:2) to identify the inconspicuous, insipid, innocuous village of Bethlehem to be the place of Christ’s birth.

The books of the Old Testament were written by 40 plus authors over 1500 years

Fulfilled prophecy is one thing our Lord uses to confirm the Bible as being Divinely inspired.

C. The Situation Luke 2: 1 “A decree from Caesar …”
God often uses unknowing and unwilling individuals to help guide us.

The 750th year of the founding of Rome coincided with the 25th anniversary of the rule of Caesar Augustus. In 2 B.C. Caesar Augustus ordered a census and enrollment throughout the empire. The Lord used this pagan to help fulfill the prophecy regarding where Jesus would be born, Bethlehem.

Where is He? Look for Him in the situations of life for they all can be used of the Lord to draw you to Himself.

Finding Jesus still poses a dilemma for the secular mind.

He is to rule and shepherd in our lives. Dare we put Him back in the box and not allow Him these two offices in our lives?

This required the miracle of the virgin birth. Being born of woman assured Him of a human nature. Being conceived of the Holy Spirit assured Him of a divine nature. He was Immanuel, God with us.

Once there was a kind and decent person who just couldn’t believe in the miracle of the Incarnation. It didn’t make sense to him and he couldn’t pretend it did.

On Christmas Eve his wife and family went to church. It began to snow and he thought, “If we must have Christmas it’s nice to have snow.”

As he sat by the fire and read he heard thudding sounds against a window. It proved to be birds caught in the snow storm that were looking for shelter. He watched as they huddled in the snow knowing it would be their death bed. He thought, “How can I help them?”

Then he thought of his large warm barn. He dressed for the weather, trudged out to open the large doors of the barn, and turn on a light in the barn.

The birds wouldn’t respond. He then considered food, and sprinkled a trail into the barn. They just continued to flop around in the snow.

Next he tried shooing them into the barn. He only scattered them. He thought, “They consider me a strange and frightening creature. I can’t think of any way to make them trust me. If only I could be a bird myself and talk bird talk, I could guide them to safety.”

Then it dawned on him, “That is exactly why Jesus became a man. He became one with us that we might be one with Him.”

We have enjoyed giving and receiving gifts this Christmas. Now that the season is over dare we quit giving. Are we going to put Jesus back in the box or let Him be the object of our worship to Whom we give ourselves?

A. Gold – is the gift for a king.
We must not lose sight of the fact Jesus is our King. We do not approach Him as equals, but as subjects.

It is said that British Admiral Lord Nelson earned the reputation for treating his vanquished opponents with the greatest of kindness and courtesy.

After a victorious naval battle the defeated admiral was brought on board. The defeated admiral, knowing Nelson’s reputation, approached him with hand outstretched as if to shake hands as an equal. Nelson’s hand remained at his side and he said: “Your sword first and then your hand.”

That is how we must come to our king. When we come in full surrender He becomes our friend.

B. Frankincense – the gift for a priest.
The Latin word for “priest” is PONTIFEX which means “bridge builder.” That is what Jesus is, our Great High Priest. He is the One who has built the bridge to the Father.

C. Myrrh – the gift for one who is to die.
What gift have you for Him. He asks for but one. In return for it He promises you everything worth having.