Theme: Finding Christ at Christmas
In this week’s lessons, we look at those in the Christmas story who found Christ and worshipped him in truth.
Scripture: Luke 2:8-20
One of the tragedies of the first Christmas is that so many people missed it. One clear example of that is the political leadership of the day. Luke, when he begins to tell the Christmas story, draws attention to Caesar Augustus, the most prominent person in the world at that time, and also to Quirinius, the governor of Syria, who had direct control over the area in which the birth took place. These men were rich in the sense that they had all this world has to offer, and yet they missed the greatest of all gifts. They were utterly unaware of the birth of Jesus Christ.
The innkeeper is another example. He was closest to the event, for Jesus was actually born not only in his town, but in the very stable of his own inn. And yet, presumably, because of the pressure of business and a preoccupation with other things, this greatest of all births simply passed him by.
Herod also missed it. Herod is the most blameworthy of all, because when he was told by the wise men that there was a child born who was the king of the Jews, he immediately perceived this as a pretender to his throne. So he schemed to have the wise men find the child, having planned out that when he discovered where the child was, he would see that the child was murdered.
The religious leaders missed the first Christmas as well, and that in spite of the fact that they were told that the wise men had come seeking the one who had been born king of the Jews. In addition, they even knew the Scriptures that said where he was to be born. They referred quite properly to Micah the fifth chapter, where it said the ruler to come would be born in Bethlehem of Judah.
Yet, that’s only one-half of the story. Each of these individuals missed Christmas, but the other side concerns those who found it. The shepherds responded to the message that was brought to them by the angels in the fields of Bethlehem; and the wise men also found Christmas, as they journeyed from the east to Jerusalem after they had seen the Messiah’s star. These two groups, the shepherds and the wise men, become the models for all who find or have found Christmas, whether in a past or succeeding age.
Now it’s interesting to contrast the shepherds and the wise men because it’s hard to imagine a greater contrast. There’s a contrast between that which was low on the social scale of the day and that which was obviously quite high on the social scale. The shepherds were very low. In fact, they were about the lowest thing you could be in the time. It was better to be a manual laborer than to be a shepherd. Shepherds were looked down upon and despised. It was assumed they were dishonest, so much so that they were not even allowed to render testimony in a court of law. And yet the announcement came to them. By contrast you have the magi, who were very respected. We notice, for example, that when they came to Jerusalem to inquire where the child would be born, they didn’t have any difficulty getting into Herod’s palace to inquire of the king. So you have a contrast between that which is low and that which was high on the social scale.
Who are some characters of the Christmas story who missed it? What do we know, or can surmise, about them that suggests why they missed the birth of Christ?
Who found Christmas? What is the first contrast that is drawn between them?
Prayer: As we enter into the new year, make it a point to pray daily for the salvation of the lost—including those who might seem to us to be among the least likely to repent.
For Further Study: To learn more about how the Old Testament points to Christ, download and listen for free to James Boice’s message, “Christmas in Eden.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)