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Embracing Christ in Chaotic Times

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Embracing Christ in Chaotic Times

Matthew 1:16-2:18

Introduction: The Christmas season, though joyful and exciting, often brings a hectic pace that leaves many feeling anxious, consumed, and empty.  A top-ten list for Christmas reads:  

10) A new SUV that would fit in my stocking
9) Two words: Batteries Included
8) No Payments until 2050
7) To Get Christmas Cards out by Easter
6) To do my complete Christmas shopping at the dollar store
5) Gifts shipped on December 23 will arrive on time
4) To find a string of lights that works
3) No Assembly Required
2) The kids would say, “Hey, let’s sleep in.”
1) A note that says, “Paid in Full”

In our haste to get prepared for the celebration, we often fail to actually celebrate Him.  Our need is not to celebrate a particular day, but to celebrate a particular Person.  Our days are not unlike the days in which Jesus was born.  While Israel was relatively peaceful, Herod and the Romans made sure of that, the registration for taxation made those days especially turbulent.  Joseph’s discovery of Mary’s unexplained pregnancy produced turbulence in his heart.  When Herod heard of a rival king’s birth, he was greatly troubled.  Turbulent times indeed! 

In our minds, the days in which we live are no different.  Uncertainty about the economy, the war on terror, the stability of Social Security, concern over moral decay:  all of these coupled together with personal concerns, the broken-down automobile or the broken-down body, or that broken relationship that troubles your family.

The answer for all these problems is not the sudden disappearance of problems (although each of us would like to try that method just once), but the sudden appearance of a Person—the Prince of Peace. The good news of great joy is that Jesus has already appeared!  Our problem is not a lack of resources but a lack of response to the greatest resource that God has ever given—the Messiah!

Prop:  A person who stands in need of peace finds that peace only in a faith-filled worship of the Savior.  If we are to enjoy the Savior, we must overcome two challenges of the heart. 

1.      Individuals must overcome the challenge of an unbelieving heart – 1:16-25

Background:  verse 16

a.       We often attempt to overcome our challenges through our human understanding – 18-19  “before they came together”

Joseph's options from Deuteronomy 22:13-29:

·         If he confessed he was not the father, Mary would be condemned as an adulteress.

·         If he lied and claimed to be the father, the reputations of all and the qualifications of Jesus as Messiah would be tarnished.

·         His action was to take Mary as his wife, to keep her a virgin until after the birth of Jesus, and to serve as the father of our Lord, protecting him from danger.

b.       We can only overcome our challenges through God’s direction – 20-23

It was only God’s revelation that allowed Joseph to respond in faith.

i)        A special conception – virgin

ii)       A special task – save His people from their sin (spiritual deliverance)

c.       We can only overcome our challenges through responding in faith to God’s directions – 24-25  “A heart of faith”  says that I believe Him to be authentic. 

2.      Individuals must overcome the challenge of a proud heart – 2:1-12

 

An impressive person like Jesus elicits distinct responses:  worship or jealousy – the difference lies in one’s opinion of himself.  The magi recognized a person of great importance, someone worthy of their attention.  Herod recognized Jesus as important, but only as a rival rather than someone he should receive (“He came unto His own and His own received Him not” Jn 1).  So what makes the difference in how we receive Jesus?  A humble heart of belief will recognize a person worthy of worship.    A humble heart says “I need Him.”  He is my sufficiency.

Our Greatest Need

If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator;

If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist;

If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist;

If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer;

But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.

a.       A humble heart worships even when it is inconvenient – 1-2

i)        They came a great distance – the Jews had 7 miles to travel; the magi had hundreds of miles

ii)       They came without much direction – the Jews had revelation; the magi only had a star

iii)     They found Jesus in a manger not a palace; no crown, just a cradle; surrounded not by wealth but by poverty; not by a royal court but by smelly animals.

b.       A humble heart worships even when there is cost involved – 9-12

The gifts they brought were expensive gifts intended for a king!

c.       A haughty heart sees its own interests as superior to all others – 3-8

i)        Herod (like Joseph and the magi) believed the revelation from God – 3-7

ii)       Herod rejected the Christ because of his own interests – 8, 13-15

Thus one born in obscurity is recognized by unlikely devotees as the future King of Israel. The child whose birth is shrouded in suspicions of illegitimacy (chap. 1) is in fact God’s legitimate appointee. On the other hand, the legal rulers, both political and religious, by their clinging to positions of power and prestige, prove themselves to be illegitimate in God’s eyes. Sadly, the church in many ages has perpetuated this pattern Meanwhile, God often chooses to reveal himself to pagans, at times even in the midst of their religious practices, to lead them on to the full truth found only in Christ.[1]


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[1]Blomberg, Craig: Matthew. electronic ed. Nashville : Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001, c1992 (Logos Library System; The New American Commentary 22), S. 66

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