(Pastor Tim White, Reaching Upward radio transcript, Dec. 22, 2013)
Is it no wonder that for many people,
Christmas is too busy? Is it no wonder that the celebration of the Messiah’s birth becomes lost in
the rush and hurry of the world? If Jesus’ mission to come to the earth involved defeating a spiritual enemy who is stronger than us, doesn’t it make sense that this spiritual enemy, Satan, would encourage such business that the reason for the season is easily lost?
I believe we can see it was that way from the beginning. Here was a young couple, planning for a wedding. The groom, Joseph, was probably working hard to establish his business to support a family. Mary, the bride, was probably organizing the household needs to start a new family.
It was probably one of the most exciting, and busy, times of their lives.
Then the Angel delivered the messages. “Mary, you are going to become pregnant before the wedding, but the child you will carry is from God.”
I’m sure Mary could have voiced some concern, “Mr. Angel, your timing for this announcement is rotten. I have too much to do. Can’t this wait a few months?”
I’m sure Joseph could have voice the same complaints. But as they realized the work of God happening in their lives, they adjusted and accepted His plan.
And when things really got busy, another schedule changer hit.
You can imagine Joseph approaching Mary, who was days away from delivery, with the news. “Mary, I know this is not a good time, but we need to travel 80 miles to complete the Census ordered by Caesar.”
Her response could have been, “Joseph, have you lost your mind? Not only am I trying to prepare for a wedding. I am trying to prepare for a child. And I am more than 8-1/2 months pregnant. What are you going to do? Borrow the neighbor’s RV?”
I remind you, they had no RVs in those days. Mary would have to walk or ride on some ancient form of transportation. She could ride on a horse or donkey, or a wagon (if available).
Despite this being the most inconvenient and busy time of Mary and Joseph’s life, it was the perfect time for the Messiah to come. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman…” Galatians 4:4. Translated into Texan, that verse says that, when things were just right, God sent His Son to be born.
Why? Why in such a busy season?
It seems with all the government activity, travelling, tax collecting, motel room letting, and complaining, the birth of the Hope of mankind was easily lost. His birth was shoved away from the busy Hostel to the isolation of a feeding trough in the middle of a sheep ranch.
When it came time for Jesus to purchase our salvation (What Jesus had called “my time”), the largest assembly in Jerusalem had gathered. They had come for the Passover celebration, increasing the population of Jerusalem from 200,000 to an estimated 4 million. With that kind of increase, the bustle of restaurants, sleeping arrangements, stables for the animals, and the carnival-like atmosphere, the temptation would be for the businessmen in Jerusalem to make the most of Black Friday. The crucifixion of three criminals could be lost.
Again, it appears that God chose a time when everyone’s attention was being torn in every direction to do His greatest work. That teaches me so much.
God was not satisfied with the times when Jesus was the most popular. He was not seeking a moment when Jesus’ only detractors were the religiously jealous and zealous.
In other words, Jesus was not seeking those who would focus on Him when it was easy to do so, but those who sought to honor Him at the worst possible time, when remembering Christ is the most difficult, and, as far as that goes, the most costly. He is not building His kingdom with those who sing “Hosanna. Glory to God in the Highest” on one day, and scream “Crucify Him” the next.
He is doing two things this busy Christmas holiday. One, He is calling out those who stand by Him when the activities of this world are trying to drown Him out. Are you one of those, who will face every distraction of life while keeping Jesus Christ as the filter in which you see these activities? Are you one of those who this Christmas will pause often to simply say “Happy Birthday, Jesus, and thank you for your matchless gift”? He is calling for the “Johns”, who would even attend the trial and crucifixion of Jesus, and remain faithful.
Second, He is trying to get the rest of us to that point. God, in His providential care, is nurturing Jesus’ followers for more strength.
Maybe last year we failed to pause often and truly celebrate the coming of the Savior of the World. Maybe in years past, we got caught up in culture to the point of minimizing the Reason for the season. But, through God’s nurturing and gentle discipline, this year we will do better.
You see, He is also calling the “Peters”, who may have ran and hid, folded to popular opinion, and even drifted towards the fishing way of life from which he was call us. This calling truly represents the grace of God, and it was in grace that Jesus came to mankind.
Do you sense the grace-call of God today to forgive you of your failures while calling you to live in victory? That is what the Christmas season is all about.