Who Missed Christmas

Luke 2 is the Text

Have you ever missed a great opportunity? The story is told of a small resort area along the east coast of the USA that was having an open town meeting concerning to discuss some of their financial problems. One man no one seemed to know, who was apparently visiting the area and had just dropped in on the meeting, was among the two dozen or so people. He began to make a comment as various projects were considered, but he was interrupted. So for the rest of the evening, he kept still and finally left early.

Just as he went out, someone arriving late came in and said breathlessly, “What was he doing here? Is he going to help us out?” The rest of them said, “Who are you talking about? Who was that man?” The person who had just arrived said, “You don’t know who that was? That was John D. Rockefeller.” That night that town missed an incredible opportunity because THEY DIDN’T KNOW WHO HE WAS!

Here in Australia

Right here in Australia in 2022, there are a lot of people who will miss Christmas. Now it might seem like it would be hard to miss it here, since every place you turn there is a ton of advertising going on about what you need to buy for Christmas. There are the lights and the Christmas trees and Santa on every corner and parties. Here in Australia, very, very few people will miss the Christmas celebration, but many will miss the Christmas message, because they don’t know who He is. Many Christians will miss the real reason for the season and get caught up in the hype!

So, let’s look afresh at the Christmas story in Luke 2, and learn who missed that first Christmas, and why…

1. CAESAR MISSED CHRISTMAS

Luke 2:1-3 (ESV)
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town.

Who’d have thought that governments would want to control people’s movements, who they see, where they can go and how they live? The most powerful man the world missed Christmas, when it happened in his time and on his turf. He had no clue because he had no room in his heart for a Saviour. He was rich, powerful, and simply distracted by what he called life.

2. THE INNKEEPER MISSED CHRISTMAS

Luke 2:4-7 (ESV)
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

The innkeeper had no place for the birth of Jesus, and so he also missed Christmas. Christmas was literally at his door, but he missed it. He met a pregnant woman with child, but he had no room for them. He wouldn’t make room for them. Surely, he could have rolled out a mat on the floor of his own home had he been willing to inconvenience himself, but he wasn’t willing, he didn’t care enough, and so he missed Christmas.

Didn’t he know anybody who could help? Couldn’t even the innkeeper’s wife concern herself with this matter? This all foreshadows the truth of what the prophet said that the Saviour would be despised and rejected. It seems that this was the case, even from his own birth. No room for you, Jesus, but hey, maybe the smelly stable next door will work for you!

Whatever the stable was, it was not the cleanest place to have a child. The stable would have been full of animals, and their droppings. It was probably filled with smoke from a fire built by Joseph to keep Mary warm. It was not a place for any baby, let alone the Son of God come in the flesh. No maternity hospitals, no midwives, just animals and poo!

The Innkeeper

The innkeeper had more important things in his mind at his inn. He might have been preoccupied with dirty dishes, mud on the tile floor, has number three used anything from the minibar, or the rich customers upstairs who were demanding more blankets and another wine skin. He wasn’t an evil man, and I don’t think he was unloving or unsympathetic. Nor was he angry or belligerent. He wasn’t even indifferent. In other words, he was just too busy.

The innkeeper had business to take care of. His family also was probably also a priority to him. His friends wanted him to come over for dinner. Life was just too busy for him to bother with a poor family who arrived in Bethlehem so late with a pregnant woman. He wasn’t evil. He was just too busy.

Think about your own lives this year. Have you spent more time shopping or decorating or baking than you have loving and serving others? Do you spent more money on Christmas stuff, than you do on investing in His Kingdom? Have you given more of your time and energy to the busy pursuits of life than in building relationships with people? The innkeeper missed Christmas. As Christians, “Christ’s Ones”, we just make sure we do not miss it as well.

3. KING HEROD MISSED CHRISTMAS

King Herod saw the birth of Jesus as a potential threat to his powerbase.

Matthew 2:2-4 (ESV)
The Wisemen asked…, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

Herod wasn’t ignorant. He was very well informed. So why did Herod miss Christmas? What is the reason? I reckon it was fear. Jealous fear. Herod wasn’t about to let this little child interfere with his career, his position, his plans, or his lifestyle.

Don’t we see that today everywhere we look? Stores and businesses are afraid that a nativity scene might cause them to lose customers. That saying Merry Christmas might offend a Muslim, or an atheist. People today are just as afraid of what Jesus might do in their lives, or their business practices, just like Herod.

Just Like Herod

Herod liked being king and was not about to let anybody else be king. If not his own sons, then surely not some random baby born in Bethlehem. You know, if Jesus had come as a wise man, or as a advisor with some good advice to help him retain power, Herod might have welcomed him.

Haven’t we seen that? There are people who want Jesus as a nice spiritual friend. They believe he was a good man or a good teacher or someone with some wise counsel. And they treat Jesus as just another part of their life. He fits into a neat little compartment reserved for Sunday morning, while the rest of the week is filled with work and family and entertainment. Jesus is taken out of His box on Christmas, Easter, and most Sundays, when we’re not too busy, but he has no impact or place on the person’s career, position and treasures.

Too many people have the same attitude that Herod had. They want to be king of their own little kingdom and feel threatened by a baby born in a manger. The world is full of Herods who cry out “We will not have this man to rule over us.”

Why Did Herod Miss Christmas?

Herod missed Christmas because he feared what King Jesus would mean for the life he enjoyed. There are many such Herods today, who refuse to bow to Jesus out of fear for what He might do to their comfortable life.

So, the king hatched a plan, to have the wise men lead him to the baby to kill him, but the wise men didn’t do as the king requested…

Matthew 2:12 (ESV)
And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

Herod tried to kill off Christmas right at the start by trying to rid the world of the baby Jesus, and in a similar way there is a movement at work in the world today that seeks to rid the world of Christian influence. Christmas and Easter – the holiest holidays to Christians – have been commercialised to be only about Santa Claus and bunny rabbits instead of about our risen Saviour. They take our rainbow and make it about gay rights, and they take our Christian holidays and dilute them with secular themes. And now they want to forbid us to publicly celebrate or even mention Christmas, its origin and true meaning.

THEY’RE TRYING TO KILL OFF THE MESSAGE OF CHRISTMAS

Why is it that governments, media and people in general these days are trying to ban Christmas? They like the holiday, but they don’t want the gift of Jesus and eternal salvation. They seem intent on doing everything they can to destroy Christmas, in the name of inclusion!

No longer content with converting Christ to X and calling it Xmas, they want to ban Christmas all together. We must be sensitive to Muslims, Hindus and Atheists; we must be inclusive anyone who might be vaguely offended that we have a faith at all. In modern Australian society, we must be inclusive of everyone, except Christians. We don’t count. Our beliefs and traditions don’t count.

Notice there is no push to ban Deepavali, the Hindu holiday, or Hanukkah, the Jewish celebration, or Ramadan the Muslim holy month. Nope, they don’t offend the consciences of the woke, only Christians having Christmas do. So, they try to make us say happy holidays instead of Merry Christmas.

The Attack on Christians

I am offended by this. Muslims have a culture. Hindus have a culture, much of which is oppressive and offensive to women. People bow and scrape so as not to offend them, but we Christians don’t count. Well, my culture, my parent’s culture and their parent’s culture is to have Merry Christmas. The woke brigade attack no other religious holiday like Christmas.

In Victoria recently Andrews government education minister James Merlino issued a dictate banning the singing of Christmas carols in public schools. Anti-discrimination says we cannot dare say anything against Muslims, Hindus, LGBTQI, transgenders, etc, or their traditions, or their beliefs, but hey, attacking Christians and their traditions and beliefs is quite acceptable!

They don’t realise that without that first Christmas, we are all destined for hell. They attack Christians as the source of all prejudice in the world because we have a belief and we stand on the Word, and we don’t agree to every hair-brained scheme some minority cooks up. The Crusades are cited as an example of the intolerance of religion. These wars were propagated by an unbelieving pope, 900 years ago, not by Christ. A lot of people conveniently overlook the fact that most schools, hospitals, orphanages, and universities were started by Christians. Slavery was abolished by Christians. Many charities today, from World Vision to the Salvos to compassion to Lily House, were started by Christians.

4. RELIGIOUS LEADERS MISSED CHRISTMAS

Interestingly the religious leaders of the day also missed that first Christmas.

Matthew 2:4-5 (ESV)
assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

This group is really the most shocking. The innkeeper we could understand, he was ignorant of what was happening in his own backyard and too busy to take notice. Herod knew what was going on, but was a bad dude, too evil and power hungry to give up his rule. But this third group of people should have never missed Christmas.

Herod called the experts together: the theologians, chief priests, the best of all teachers with great speaking skills, the pastors and elders, the seminary-trained professors with their Ph.D.’s and Doctorates of Ministry. And they all knew the Scriptures. They said: “Oh yes, we know where the Messiah is to be born.” And they quoted Micah 5:2, “He will be born in Bethlehem.” They knew where the Messiah was to be born, but the religious leaders of the day missed Christmas.

What the Religious Leaders Knew

Of all the people these guys shouldn’t have missed Christmas. Having a Messiah was no big deal to them. The religious leaders just didn’t care. Why not? They were already self-righteous. In their eyes they were already close to perfect. They were proud of their heritage. Wrapped up in their own pride and indifference, in their own self-righteous system, there was no room in their lives for the Son of God they supposedly were waiting for.

They were God’s chosen and that was enough. Even years later, what happened when Jesus did show up as a man? They ridiculed him, hated him, and plotted his murder. They didn’t need him or didn’t want him. Their ultimate crime against Christ is indifference. They had their own version of Messiah and weren’t interested.

Since the time of Moses, they taught that there would be a Messiah. They longed and hoped and prayed for a deliverer. It had been the great hope of the ages. And the ones who knew, the ones who were the intellectuals, the leaders, the religious teachers, they never even bothered to walk the 9.5 km from Jerusalem to Bethlehem to check it out for themselves.

Those guys knew more of the Old Testament then we could ever hope to know, but they were worshipping the right God in the wrong way and missed Christmas. Religious, close, but they missed Christmas.

5. THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL MISSED CHRISTMAS

The fact is, out of the entire population of Jerusalem and Judea, only a few shepherds came to see the Messiah. And do you remember what they did? After encountering Him, they joyfully told everyone about their experience until everyone in the Judean countryside heard about the birth of the Messiah. But even then, there is no record that anyone else, including the religious leaders of the day, came to see Jesus.

John 1:10-11 (ESV)
He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.

Scholars believe He probably lived in Bethlehem for about two years. It was only after the Magi came and left that Joseph received the instructions to escape to Egypt. The religious leaders and the local people had two whole years to go visit their Messiah, but they missed him.

The warning here is, don’t get so religious that we miss the relationship. Don’t get so theological that we miss the point of Christmas. The gospel is simple…we all have sinned, we all deserve death, but instead of condemning us to eternal death and separation from God, God sent His Son as a gift that first Christmas, to die in our place, and give us life.

CHRISTMAS IS FOR EVERYONE

Know who didn’t miss Christmas? The shepherds. Common folk, working class folk.

Luke 2:8-12 (ESV)
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

But not just common people. Learned, wise, smart Magi came from another land, and they didn’t miss Christmas…

Matthew 2:9-12 (ESV)
After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 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. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

Christmas is God’s gift to all those who would receive it, great and small, rich and poor, powerful and overlooked. Jesus is God’s gift and our Saviour.

WHY DO SO MANY MISS CHRISTMAS?

Why did those I mentioned miss Christmas? Business, pride and indifference! And it’s the same today. Leaders like Caesar and Herod, businesspeople like the inn keeper, religious people and those who have never heard.

They either don’t see it, or don’t care. The average Aussie either doesn’t know or doesn’t care. Too busy living their life, too preoccupied with family, business, career to think twice about their eternal destination. Some people are too busy on Facebook writing offensive comments about how much Christians offend them!

Colossians 3:2 (ESV)
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Today, many people miss Christmas, even in church, because they don’t realise their need for Christ. They may have believed in Jesus and have eternal life. Some most likely “go to church.” Others observe religious traditions. But that’s where it stops for many. They think they know all they need to know about Christ and who He is and what He did. These people don’t really want to have a relationship with Him, they just want to call on Him if all else fails. They don’t really want to meet him daily in His Word and come before Him daily in prayer.

A CHRISTMAS GIFT

When we humble ourselves and seek to serve him as He humbled himself to serve us, we will not miss Christmas.

We know what time of year it is, and who this season is about. But like the innkeeper, I think all of us are guilty of adding too many activities into our days. We get so busy that sometimes we miss out on what the season is all about.

Maybe some of us are like Herod. We are afraid of what Christ might do in our business or career if others knew that He was our Lord. Our calling is to bring Christ into our workplaces and homes and to our friends. Christmas is a great time to shine His light into our dark world, and Christmas is a great time to do this!

Finally, and most importantly, we need to recognise our need for Christ. Not just our need to receive eternal life through faith in Jesus but recognise our daily need for fellowship with Him and to listen and obey Him wherever He leads.

Only then will we not miss Jesus but will enjoy the true blessings of Christmas.

This Christmas, God gave the gift of His Son for you. But let me ask you, what are you going to give God this Christmas?

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