Theme: Those Who Find Christmas
In this week’s lessons, we examine people in the Christmas story who did not respond to the birth of Christ as they should have.
Scripture: Luke 2:1-7
It would be entirely wrong to end this study without pointing out that although there were many who did not find Christmas—millions, in fact —there were nevertheless some who did. They were not the kings of this world. They were not the religious leaders. They were not the thousands who were entirely engrossed in the countless minutiae of materialistic lives. They were just poor folk who were looking to God and to whom God came.
We can think of several of them. There were the shepherds. They were nobody in the social structure of the ancient East. Most people thought poorly of them. They were not able to testify in a court of law, for their testimony was considered unreliable. And yet they saw the angels. The wise men also found Christmas. They were not even Jews—everybody knew that God’s promised salvation was of the Jews. Yet the wise men saw the star. Finally, there were those like Simeon and Anna, poor but saintly folk, who like many others “looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38). No one would have given a second thought to these poor folk. They were not important. Yet they saw and even held God’s treasure.
Why did these people find Christmas? I think there are two answers. The first answer is that they were honest enough to admit their need of a Savior. The self-sufficient would never have made the trip to the manger; they do not do it today. But that does not describe these who found Christ. These people knew that they needed a Savior. Secondly, they were also humble enough to receive the Lord Jesus Christ when He came. No doubt there were levels of comprehension. Perhaps the shepherds, or the wise men, or even Simeon and Anna did not understand very much. But whatever they understood they received, for we are told in each case that they praised God for the birth of the Lord.
In Europe everyone who attends a university gets the same basic training in the classics and the basic tools of religion, so that whether he becomes a doctor, lawyer, chemist, or a professor, he is only a few steps away from being fully qualified for the ministry. In one European city a German pastor was called away from his little parish in an emergency and, since there was no time for him to get another preacher to fill his pulpit the following Sunday, he called upon the tutor of a noble family who lived in the neighborhood.
The man was not a Christian. When the pastor called upon him to preach, he replied, “How can I preach that which I do not believe?”
“What?” said the pastor in astonishment. “You believe in God, don’t you?”
“Yes,” replied the tutor, “I believe in God.”
“And do you not believe that we should love Him?” asked the pastor.
“Yes,” said the tutor again, “I believe that we should.”
“Well,” replied the pastor then, “I will give you a text to preach on. It is in the words of Jesus: ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, with all thy mind, and with all thy strength’.”
The tutor agreed to the text. So the pastor went to keep his appointment and the tutor sat down to study the text and to write out an outline for his message. He was a skeptic, you understand, a rationalist. So he very rationally wrote out his first point and gave it a reason. The first point was, “We must love God.” Second, he wrote down: “We must love Him with all our powers; indeed, nothing less could satisfy Him.” Third, he wrote: “Do we thus love Him?” His conscience then forced him to put down, “No, we do not.”
Later, this man wrote about his experience. He said, “Without any previously formed plan, I was brought to add to my notes, ‘We need a Savior.'” Here light broke in upon his darkened soul. He said, “I understood that I had not loved God, that I did need a Savior, that Jesus Christ was that Savior; and then I loved Him and I clung to Him at once. On the morrow I preached the sermon, and the third point was the chief —the need of Jesus and the necessity of trusting such a Savior.”
The wise men, whether they be shepherds or magi, are the ones who acknowledge their need and humble themselves enough to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. These, and only these, find Christmas.
Who were some of the people who found Christmas? How do they generally differ from those who missed Christ?
What characteristics did they show in their proper response to the coming of Christ?
Prayer: Pray for the salvation of those who either have attended or will attend Christmas services this year.
Key Point: The wise men, whether they be shepherds or magi, are the ones who acknowledge their need and humble themselves enough to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. These, and only these, find Christmas.
For Further Study: Download for free and listen to Donald Barnhouse’s message, “The Christmas Names of God.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)