Title: The Cross and the Cradle Text: Matthew 2:1-12 "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 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. 3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. 7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. 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. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way." Introduction: Teachers is a suburban school district were under orders to keep Christ out of their Christmas decorations. Dr. Carl A. Newman, supervising principal of the Gateway Union School District, issued the order. He said decorations or pageants depicting the birth of Christ would conflict with Supreme Court rulings involving religion in public schools. In Tennessee, recently, the Supreme Court ordered that a Warner Sallman painting of Christ must be removed from the school hallways where it has hung for over 50 years. It was stated that it is offensive to many students. It is a significant fact that no great battles on Christmas Day. They have occurred on the 24th and 26th of December, but the anniversary of the advent of Peace on Earth has ever been observed by a cessation of hostilities. It is no different now than it was 2000 years ago. When Jesus shows up, He evokes all types of reactions and phenomena. Two events in the life of Christ hold a significant parallel that arrests our attention. The two events are His Birth and His Crucifixion. The similarities, as we will see are uncanny but profound. At the sight of Jesus people and things change. Theme: At the sight of the Messiah: I. The Community was disturbed and diluted. Illustration: I remember working retail sales during the Christmas holidays and we were issued a memorandum not to say Merry Christmas to anyone but rather Happy Holidays. Often I found myself forgetting the order and saying with a glee of whimsical cheer, "Merry Christmas." On one occasion, a lady rebuked me and said that I could keep my sentiments to myself. Without even thinking, I said, "I'm sorry, are you Jewish?" She just huffed loudly, grabbed her package and stormed out of the store. Clearly, even a greeting with the word Christ in it evoked some strong emotions from this woman. Matthew 2:3 "When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him." Luke 23:2-5 "And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King. 3 And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, Thou sayest it. 4 Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man. 5 And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place." Note: Our communities and towns, our governments and peoples are still disturbed at the nativity. They cannot stand it that what we celebrate at Christmas is the birth of the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God. They will do everything to try and circumvent and commercialize it but the fact remains that it is Jesus' Birthday. There fierceness over this issues, I believe stems from two things: A. Their grip on the people and their power is threatened. Psalms 2 "Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, 3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. 4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. 5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. 6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. 7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. 8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. 9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. 10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. 11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him." B. Their heaven is on earth and they will do anything to make sure that it stays that way John 3:19-21 "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." Transition: At the sight of the Messiah, people are still disturbed today because He threatens to expose their sin and they don't like that. Their heaven is on earth but hell is sure and could be moments away. Theme: At the sight of the Messiah: I. The Community was disturbed and diluted. II. The Cosmos declared His Deity. Matthew 2:7 "Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared." Luke 23:44-47 "And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. 46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. 47 Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man." Illustration: It is a matter of record and fact that a star appeared for the first time in the first Decan of the Constellation of Virgo immediately preceding Christ's Birth. It was so bright that it could even be seen in the day time. Ignatius says it "sparkled brilliantly above all stars." This star continued to shine this bright throughout Christ's lifetime and for a time after. Hiparchus, Ptolemy and Chinese records all record the same event. The star was in Coma, the sign of the Infant accompanying Virgo, and it marked the very head of that Infant. Note: Unique events in the heavens and the earth pointed to the Christ so that all could see. A. The Light of the Word is come and the wisemen were pointed to Jesus. The Bible says that the heavens declare his glory John 1:6-9 "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." B. The whole earth was darkened and the whole earth shook. The centurion was awed and drawn to the Son of God. Transition: Even the most learned of men are awed at the greatness of the creation. So much so that many have come to Christ simply because the heavens declare his handiwork. Theme: At the sight of the Messiah: I. The Community was disturbed and diluted. II. The Cosmos declared His Deity. III. The Consequence was death and departure. Illustration: Throughout the centuries blood has resulted when Christ was revealed. Just recently two Philipino Christians were released from prison in Saudi Arabia and sent back to the Philippines for having a Bible Study in their home. They could have very well been stoned to death. More Christians died in 1974 under the tyrannical rule of Edi Amin Dahdah than did in all the Roman persecutions. Matthew 2:12-13 "And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. 13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him." Matthew 2:16 "Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men." Luke 23:55-56 "And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. 56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment." Luke 24:50-52 "And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. 51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:" Note: Divinely God intervened and his Plan was accomplished. A. Death had it's place at the cradle and the cross. 1. Jesus was born to die to shed his blood for the sins of the world. This blood can wash you white as snow. Illustration: Christmas Poinsettia under red light. 2. God knew what men would do and brought life out of the death of innocent children who are with Him today. B. Departure was surrounded the cradle and the cross. 1. In order to live to die on the cross of Calvary, Jesus and his family departed to Egypt. 2. So that he might come again in glory, Jesus left his family behind so that he might redeem mankind. John 14:1-3 "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." John 16:16 "A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father." Transition: Jesus died so that you would not have to. He shed his blood and paid the penalty for our sin on the cross of Calvary so that we might be saved. Death is sure and so is hell and judgment. Conclusion: Theme: At the sight of the Messiah: I. The Community was disturbed and diluted. II. The Cosmos declared His Deity and desire. III. The Consequence was death and departure. Jesus returned from Egypt with his parents after the death of Herod to establish His spiritual kingdom. The rule and reign over the hearts of men and women. He also will return soon to establish his earthly kingdom with a rod of iron. The sudden disappearance of all Christians will occur first and folks this could be the day. Are you ready? What has the sight of Jesus today done for you? Illustration: Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King; Peace on earth, and mercy mile; God and sinners reconciled." Joyful, all ye nations, rise, Join the triumph of the skies; With Angelic hosts proclaim, "Christ is born in Bethlehem" Come, Desire of nations, come! Fix in us Thy humble home; Rise, the woman's conquering seed, Bruise in us the serpent's head; Adam's likeness now efface, Stamp Thing image in its place: Second Adam from above, Reinstate us in Thy love.