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"The Cradle, The Cross, The Crown"

By Pastor Bob Lewis

Blackstone Valley Baptist Church, Cumberland, RI

Text:  Matthew 1:18-2:21

Introduction:   It goes without saying that the date for Christ's birth remains a mystery and that December 25th was in ancient times a Roman holiday to celebrate the passing of the winter solstice, (December 21st is the shortest day of the year.) and the lengthening of days which would lead to spring and summer.

 But in 325 A.D. in Rome, professing Christians settled on this date for commemorating the coming of Christ Jesus into the world. The popularity of this date stems from the 12th century.

 It is well that the world be reminded annually of the great gift God made in the person of His Son who came to be the Saviour; to come and live a sinless life and die a vicarious death for our sins.

I. THE CRADLE: The beginning of Christmas

        A. The angels

 There have been many unusual birth announcements:
IT'S A BOY! SIGN IN THE YARD
BALLOONS ON A MAILBOX
BULK MAIL WITH PHOTOGRAPHS
NEWSPAPER ADVERTISEMENT
PHONE CALLS to friends and relatives
I handed out BUBBLE GUM CIGARS

        B. The shepherds

               1. Luke 2:9 they were sore afraid
               2. They believed the angels!
 
 Luke 2:16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

        C. The Wise men; Matthew 2:1-6

Matthew 2:2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

Matthew 2:9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

 The wise men had come from the east. Possibly they had read and studied in Babylon the ancient Book of Daniel with its Messianic prophecies. There was a huge colony of Jews living in Babylon with synagogues and vast areas of houses. These wise men were educated in all the wisdom of the Babylonians and Persians of earlier times. But somehow they understood that God was leading them in a special way.

                1. They had seen a star

 Matthew 2:2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

                2. They came to worship

 John 4:24 God [is] a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship [him] in spirit and in truth.

                3. They presented gifts

  In God's providence, these gifts financed the needs of this poor family. They would flee to Egypt and spend some time there before returning to Nazareth. God supplies.

                4. They departed "another way"

                    a. While the text  means "a different route" in order
                        to escape Herod's forces, we learn that people do
                        go "another way" after they find Jesus as the way....
                    b. Prophecy was fulfilled in their journey to Egypt

 Micah 5:2 But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah, [though] thou be little among the thousands of Judah, [yet] out of thee shall he come forth unto me [that is] to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth [have been] from of old, from everlasting.

II. THE CROSS: The ultimate goal of Christmas

 Luke 9:22 Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.

 I Timothy 1:15 This [is] a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

III. THE CROWN: The glorious climax of Christmas

 No wicked hand touched Him after His crucifixion!
 No evil eye saw him after His resurrection!

 Acts 1:3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:

 I Corinthians 15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

 Hebrews 2:7 Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:

 Hebrews 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

Peter was a fisher boy helping with the haul
Pilate was a soldier leading troops in Gaul
Judas was as innocent as a little child can be
The wood that made the cross was still a growing tree
Unminted was the silver that made the traitor's pay
And none had yet commercialized the day

But what changes would be wrought by this tiny king?
It began with a grand and glorious message angels sing
Soon the shepherds became filled with wonder , faith and awe
It was a tiny mangered baby, that's what they saw
Later wise men came to see the King of the Jews
Wise men always know that He is the one to choose.

WISE MEN: Matthew 2:10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

Conclusion:  JOY should not depend upon circumstances. The late Dr. Millard A. Jenkins, who served at First Baptist Church, Abilene, Texas tells a story about the singing evangelist, Homer Rodeheaver's encounter with an invalid. The young man asked Dr. Rodeheaver to sing a special song. "What song do you wish me to sing?" Rodeheaver asked.  The young man replied, "I want you to sing that one about the sunshine. I have a lot of songs to play on my victrola, but I have so much sunshine in my life, I want to hear the song about the sunshine." When Dr. Rodeheaver asked how he could talk about having so much sunshine in his life  when he was an invalid, the young man replied, "I'm sorry for well folks, sometimes because they have so much to do they haven't time to get acquainted with Jesus!"

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