Someone’s missing from the Christmas story

This week, some of the members from 2 Cities Church reimagined the Christmas story.  It was fascinating, almost shocking, to take a look at the Christmas story like it unfolded in our community in 2019. Most of us have read the bible’s account of the birth of God’s son every year of our lives.  The spectacular nature of this account in the Bible can lose some of the awe when we become too familiar with the details. That’s what made our Christmas gathering so amazing this week.  When we looked at the bible account for the birth of Jesus from our modern perspective the event was overwhelming. 

Can you imagine what it would look like if God brought his son this week in your hometown? We looked at the major players in the nativity scene. We asked what a modern equivalent of the shepherds in their fields watching over their flock by night would be in our community. We looked at who the wise men might be in our community. We imagined the modern-day equivalent of Caesar Augustus in our day. We even tried to imagine delivering a baby in a barn or parking garage.  These conditions would force the parents to lay the child in a feeding trough or the back end of a pick-up truck!  Imagine putting your infant in these conditions!

A baby for shepherds

There is a phrase that should arrest your attention in Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus. Luke describes angels announcing to shepherds the long-awaited birth of God’s son. Don’t miss the language of Luke 2:11. The angels tell these shepherds that God sent his son for them!  “Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”[1]  This one verse is extremely important to understanding the nativity story.

God recognized that these Shepherds needed a savior. God also understood that these shepherds were not capable of saving themselves. Therefore, he took the initiative and sent a savior to rescue them. This Savior was born for lowly, sinful shepherds just like he was born for people like you and me.  You could place your name in Luke 2:11 and this verse would still be accurate.  This verse explicitly states that God’s son left Heaven to rescue you and me!

Laying in a what?!?

Much has been sad about the details surrounding the birth of Jesus. Maybe you’re not as amazed today as you once were that God’s son was born under these circumstances.  How is it possible that the most important child ever to walk on this planet would be born under these terrible circumstances? Surely with God’s unlimited resources he could provide better conditions than this… Right?

I think the angels had to explain how the shepherds would recognize the Messiah in Luke 2:12. If the angels sent these shepherds into Bethlehem looking for a baby boy, no one would go to a barn or look in a feeding trough. Immediately, the shepherds would go to the finest house or the most powerful family in town. Who on earth would expect that a child of this importance would be born to these poor parents under this condition? That’s what makes the birth story so spectacular… God used the humblest circumstances to bring forth the most important human to ever live.  A baby born in these conditions is accessible to everyone in town, not just the rich and powerful people.

Missing from the manger

When the members of 2 Cities Church did our Christmas meeting this week, the most obvious and shocking detail of the Christmas story was the people missing at the birth of Jesus.  There is one group of people that absolutely should’ve been kneeling in worship of this baby boy when he was born in a manger… Yet was nowhere to be found. Like the center of a great painting left unfinished, the religious leaders are not recorded anywhere near the birth of Jesus! This isn’t just a minor oversight by the Bible writers. These pastors, priests, and rabbis were conspicuously missing from one of the greatest spiritual events in human history.

I wonder, if God chose to bring forth his son in 2019 in your city, would the religious leaders of your community be in the picture? Would the spiritual leaders in your community even be aware of what our God is doing in your neighborhood? This missing group from the birth of Jesus should remind us that God didn’t send his son to establish a religion or perpetuate a denomination… He did it because we cannot earn our way into Heaven. 

Have you already received God’s gift of salvation?  If not, the greatest Christmas gift any human being can receive is the gift of forgiveness from your creator. Jesus’s humble birth set the tone for the kind of life that he would live.  Ultimately, Christmas becomes the first domino that will eventually lead to Good Friday and Easter Sunday. God came in the form of a man, born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, and died a terrible death in order to rescue you from your sins. Jesus demonstrated who he really was by raising from the grave in supernatural power.  If you haven’t yet received that Christmas gift, I want to offer you the chance to become a child of God today.  

If you will turn from your sins and trust in Jesus through simple faith, he will respond by adopting you into the family of God. If you feel the Holy Spirit drawing you into a relationship with Jesus right now, you can surrender to him body and soul through this simple prayer:

Dear God, I recognize that I am a sinner.  I understand that my sin deserves punishment. Yet, I believe that you love me so much that you did not leave me in my sin. You sent Jesus on Christmas morning as a ransom to pay the penalty for my sin and to offer me the gift of forgiveness. Today I turn from my sin and trust only in the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior. I believe that his death paid the price for my sin and his resurrection provides me the promise of eternal life. From this moment forward I will follow you wherever you lead me. Amen.

If you made that Christmas prayer, I would like to pray for you. Email me: Merry Christmas.

[1] Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), Lk 2:11.

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