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Christ Was Born For This

Luke 2:1-20

In the Golden Days of the settling of the American West, an old prospector was exploring new territory looking for gold. As he pulled his mule along behind him, he trudged over a rise and suddenly came to an abrupt halt at the very edge of the Grand Canyon. He couldn’t believe his eyes. He gawked at the sight before him. He had never seen anything like it before—the vast chasm, a mile deep, eighteen miles across, more than 100 miles long. It was awesome, incredible, colossal, amazing; it took his breath away. He stared at the sight before him for a moment and then he turned to his mule and said: “Thunderation! Somethin’ big’s done happened here!” Well, you know that’s the way I feel when I look at Christmas—the sights, the sounds, the symbols, the fragrances, the traditions, the lights, the decorations, the parades, the parties, the plays, the pageants, the music, the worship services—all celebrating the birth of a little baby born in a little town called Bethlehem 2000 years ago. When you really see all of that coming together and stretching all around the globe and touching the lives of millions and millions of people on every continent, it makes you want to shout like that old prospector: “Thunderation! Somethin’ big’s done happened here!”

I read not long ago of a man and woman who happened to be standing on the corner of 5th Avenue and 57th Street in New York City. It was Christmas time. The Christmas rush was going on in full force before their very eyes. They were waiting for the traffic light to change. The man was obviously irritated by the crowds and the hubbub and the traffic. In his frustration he growled: “This is awful. Look at all this traffic. It’s terrible. Something ought to be done about it. It’s just ridiculous.” The woman responded to his outbursts by saying: “You know, when you really stop to think about it, it’s not ridiculous at all. It’s actually quite astonishing. It’s amazing. The romance of it is extraordinary. There was a baby born to a peasant family in a little out-of-the-way village halfway around the world from here. The parents had no money, no clout, no prestige, no social standing, yet 2000 years later, their little baby creates a traffic jam on 5th Avenue in New York City, one of the most sophisticated streets in all the world. That irritates you? It ought to fascinate you! It ought to amaze you!” In her own way what the woman in New York was saying was: “Thunderation! Somethin’ big’s done happened here!”

Of course, I guess that’s what the shepherds were thinking and saying to one another on that silent and holy night so long ago. They saw the angel on that first Christmas night, they heard the good news the angel came to bring, the announcement that the Savior was being born in nearby Bethlehem. They heard the music from the heavenly hosts praising God for the gracious gift of His Son. And then the shepherds said: “Let’s go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” They rushed over there and they found Mary and Joseph and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they knew for certain something big had happened here.

And what is this big thing that has happened? The God who made the universe, the One who set the moon and the stars in place, the One who breathed into us the breath of life came to earth in the form of a little baby, to visit and to redeem His people and to save the world. And what’s so amazing is that the God who came in Jesus Christ to Bethlehem on the first Christmas comes to us in Orlando this Christmas.
If we believe that incredible promise today, believe it enough to live it, then the real power of Christmas begins to take hold of our lives and we come to understand that Christ was born for this and that that message is something we put away with the Christmas decorations. It’s not something to be remembered and rehearsed once a year It’s something by which we live every day.

Back in the late 1940s a missionary named Oswald Goltar was sent money by his mission board to come home for a time of furlough, having spent years in the service of Jesus Christ in north China. He boarded a ship and set sail for the United States. When his ship docked at a port in India, it became necessary for him to transfer to another vessel to carry him on in the journey and while he was waiting for the sailing date for that ship he happened to encounter a boatload of Jewish refugees housed in a warehouse on the pier. At that particular point in time the Jewish people weren’t wanted in many ports and they found themselves actually stranded there in that port in India. It was Christmastime so Oswald Goltar went to the warehouse and greeted the refugees. “Merry Christmas,” he said. “What would you like for Christmas?” “We’re Jews,” they replied, “we don’t believe in Christmas.” “Oh, I know,” persisted Oswald Goltar, “but what do you want for Christmas anyway?” They finally mentioned some German pastries of which they were fond. He scoured the city and found a bakery that made those kinds of pastries. He cashed in his ticket home and he bought baskets of pastries and took them to the Jewish refugees. “Merry Christmas,” he explained. One of the Jewish refugees, astonished at what Oswald Goltar had done said: “Sir, why are you doing this? We’re Jews. We don’t believe in Jesus.” “I know,” replied Oswald Goltar, “but I do.”

Paul puts it this way in Galatians: “But when the time had fully come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law to redeem those who were under the law and make them His own.” Oh, yes, something big happened on Christmas. God came to us wearing a human face. God came to us in human form. God came to us in the shape of a little baby to rescue us, to deliver us, to save us. Yes, Christ was born for this. Christ was born for us.

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