Lessons from Christmas
As one reads the Christmas story there are many lessons to learn from various individuals and how they reacted or may have reacted to the birth of the Savior.
Read Luke 2:1 Luke was concerned that was merely an historical note but think about the discussions that inevitably went on between Joseph and Mary. Try to picture the scene. Mary was at home feeling more and more pregnant every day. Joseph walked in and announced that word had just come that they had to travel to Bethlehem to register for a census.
Think about it from Mary’s perspective. There could not have been a worse time to ride a donkey the 90 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
Lesson 1: Following God is not always easy. Being in the center of God’s will does not mean everything will go the way we want it to go. Being Mary, the mother to be of Jesus, did not mean there were not going to be tough times.
God had a plan. He had announced that plan. Read in Micah 5:2 what God declared a century earlier. God did not make a mistake when He decreed that Caesar would demand a census. It was His plan, so He had to get Mary there.
If it was not easy for Mary who was carrying the Son of God, why should we assume His call on us will always be easy and convenient? It is seldom convenient to help a neighbor, visit a hurting friend, or reach out to someone in need of encouragement. It is often not even convenient to stop and pray for someone. The issue for Mary was not one of convenience but of doing the will of God. It is the same for us.
Read Luke 2:7. Over the years people have debated the actions of the inn keeper. Some have vilified him for not finding a better room. Others have praised him for caring enough about a pregnant woman that he allowed them to sleep in his stall with the animals. The Bible neither praises nor condemns him so perhaps we should avoid that.
Lesson 2: It is important to make room for Jesus in our lives. Jesus wants to have a place in our lives but most of us already have very busy lives doing things we feel we need to do for work and family. Every time we decide to find more room for Jesus in our lives, we find our inn, our lives, full to capacity with things that we have already committed to and often deserve a place. It is too easy to tell Jesus we cannot give Him a major place in our lives, but we can squeeze Him into our manger.
One of the challenges of Christmas is the importance of continually evaluating our lives so we can find a proper place for Jesus. We need to find time to worship Him. We need to find time to spend with Him in prayer. We need to find time to learn from Him as we study the Word.
Read Luke 2:8-14. No one would have imagined God would announce the birth of the Messiah to shepherds. Shepherds were nobodies as far as society was concerned. They were not trusted by anyone and certainly not welcome in good society. God not only made the announcement, but they were privileged to see and hear the host of angels declare, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)
Read Luke 2:15.
From the perspective of the shepherds that was not an easy decision to make. They were not going to be welcome in Bethlehem for various reasons. They were considered, by the religious elite, to be unworthy of such a visit. They lived in rags and had nothing proper to wear. They probably had not had a bath in weeks. They had absolutely nothing to bring as a gift. They were so poor they did not even have a drum to play for Him. But they went.
Lesson 3: We need to learn from them that we should not only find time to worship Jesus, but we should not hesitate to do so even when we feel inadequate. While the shepherds lacked all of the skills most feel are essential to worship, they went and were welcomed. In fact, their worship was so significant that God made a record of their visit so all generations would know they took time to worship.
You may not be able to sing like others, pray as eloquently as some, speak in the proper religious language but you are welcomed at the throne of God. In the end worship is not about the words we use but the attitude we have when we approach Him. If you have made Jesus your Savior, He has called you His friend and friends don’t worry about technicalities when taking to friends
We assume that they would talk about all they had heard and seen but, remember who they were. They were the least educated of all Jews. Not only were they uneducated, they hardly ever went to the temple and probably never even went to synagogue school. They lacked everything we assume is essential to being a witness for Jesus but still they spread the word.
Lesson 4: The secret to their witness was not in their eloquence or theological understanding but their willingness to simply tell what they had experienced. The celebration of Christmas should be a reminder to us that we must simply talk about what God has done for us. We don’t have to be theologians to talk about God’s love and the gift of His Son. Fewer and fewer in our community know what the real meaning of Christmas is but like the shepherds, we can share what we have been told about this child.
Read Luke 2:20:
It is so easy to fall into the “after Christmas letdown” feeling. The popular and upbeat music of Christmas is over. The bright decorations are taken down and put away. The friendly smiles and holiday greetings that brighten a day are gone.
Lesson 5: The shepherds remind us that our real joy is not found in the trappings of Christmas, as special as they are, but in having revisited the manger and the Jesus whose birth we remember.
The popular phrase, “Jesus is the reason for the season” should be expanded to say, “Jesus is the reason for every day.” The shepherds left the manger but continued to rejoice because of what they had heard and seen. We can put the Christmas decorations away for another year, but we dare not put Jesus away, to be briefly taken out again come Easter. Put the manger set away but not the Jesus of the manger.
There is a lot we can learn from the experience of those who were a part of the first Christmas.
We can learn to follow God all the time, not just when it is easy or convenient.
We can learn the importance of making room for Jesus a priority, not in a convenient place that happens to be available.
We can learn worship is important, and of God’s willingness to accept our worship even if it does not appear to be as sophisticated as that of others.
We can learn the importance of sharing our faith with those we come in contact with each day. Sharing is not debating deep theological truths but simply retelling what we experienced this Christmas as we re-visited the manger and the baby Jesus.
Soon Christmas will be over, the lights will be down, and the manger sets packed away, but the lessons learned, or the joy of Christmas need not be over because the One whose birth we celebrate will still be with us step by step as we enter into another year.