The Story of Jesus Birth - Pukekohe I Convention - Sunday night, December 14, 2008

There is no story any better in all of the world than the story of the Lord Jesus. There is no story that can be repeated again and again, and the more we hear it, the more we love it and the more hope there is. We learn about Jesus so that we might learn about our Creator, the eternal Almighty God who sent His Son to this earth that we might understand the spirit and nature of the Creator. We read of Him being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person in Hebrews 1. The one whom He made all of the world was made through Jesus. When God created all the heavens and the earth, the earth, the moon, the sun, the stars, everything, it was made through the Lord Jesus. I hope we can believe that. It is hard to believe, it's almost an incredible story of the Lord Jesus.

We are coming into a time of the year when there is a lot of festivity, celebration, about the birth of Christ here on the earth. Christmas, they call it. It is rather difficult to sort out because a lot of it is ancient mythology, even pagan feasts, mixed up with some fact. People have a strange conception of it all. Back in northern Europe, it would seem that this Christmas feasting started when there was snow around. There were several feasts. One seemed to perhaps coincide with the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, which they seem to think may have been December 25; now they say December 20-22, very little difference. Several pagan feasts. Some religious authorities in the first few centuries after the time of Christ decided to put it all together to maintain or convert. Hence Santa Claus, reindeers, and giving of gifts. When Jesus was really born, the time of the year, we don't know. No indication, it would really seem, of even the season. It doesn't say. But because they had some feasts at that time of the year, it seemed convenient, to suit some people, to just put it all together. That is what the world likes to do. Just mix things up. A little bit of truth,a little bit of mythology, put it together and people don't know the difference.

Well, it's very good, friends, if we go back and look at what the Bible has left on record for us about the truth of the matter. It is uplifted a lot, and it should be uplifted, but it is changed to suit our thoughts. There in the city of Nazareth was a young couple, promised in marriage together but not yet married. That was in the northern part of the nation of Israel. Israel, the Jewish people, those who had the promise of God in the time of Moses, over 1,000 years, maybe some 1,400 years before. They had left obeying, they had lost many blessings, they were being dominated by the very powerful and cruel Roman empire. They left them to some liberty but they were very cruel, harsh people. There was lots of corruption, even amongst the Jewish people. They had promises of natural health and prosperity that were promised just to the Jewish people if they were obedient to the natural laws given through Moses so many centuries before. But they weren't. There were blind and lame and incapacitated people there in the time of Christ. Very strong indication that people had left the promises of God to follow their own human desires. There was violence, terrible violence upon the earth. Sometimes we complain about the trends of the world but, friends, I believe that things were far, far worse in those days. There was a man, a Godly sincere man, in whom there was no guile, no deceit:  Nathaniel. When the disciples brought Jesus to him, he knew He came from the city of Nazareth where Joseph and Mary were living. Nathaniel said, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? Is it possible, in such a terrible corrupt city, that there could be one good honest life?" Now sometimes, friends, you might think it is difficult to bring up your family in this modern age. I believe it was far, far worse then.

This was no accident, the story of Jesus. It was planned by God. God in His love wanted to extend to us His tremendous love and favor and show to us His plan to help each one of us. There was the Roman emperor. He sent a decree, a law, out to the whole countryside to be counted or registered, taxed it says in some Bibles. It wasn't postal services and computers so all the families had to go back to the city where the father was born, or where the father grew up. The angel had spoken to Joseph and Mary. Mary was expecting this child of promise. She couldn't understand much but it was a very, very special child that was to be born. The most special child of all the history of the whole world was entrusted to that young couple. Joseph was a simple carpenter.

Now I don't know if you have Jewish people here, but there are Jewish people all around the world and they are very well known for their business capacities. I was in a kind of a meeting with a religious man some years ago on the other side of the world. He asked, "Are there any Jews here?" "No." "Do you know some Jews?" "Yes, some people did." He said, "Do you know any Jews who are poor?" "No." Prosperous, industrious people in business but they weren't known to be tradesmen. The time when Solomon built the temple, centuries before this, he used foreigners as carpenters and stonemasons. It wasn't a skill that the Jews were great in. Joseph was a humble man, doing what he could in a poor situation. They were struggling, friends. In spite of all the corruption, corruption in the Jewish priesthood amongst the rulers and all. Here were two people, young people, fearing God, looking to God, when everyone else would seem to be so much against it. And now Mary expecting to give birth, a first child. They said, "You will have to go down to the city of Bethlehem, the town, maybe almost 100 kilometers away, to be registered with Joseph." She could have said, "Well, that is not reasonable." No motorcars or trains or planes. Better people might have had horses or donkeys. It seems doubtful that Joseph and Mary had that. You just go walking. She could have said, "Well, this child I am to bear is so important." Just go down, no complaint. We don't read of one complaint, from either party. Here they are with several days journey, and no 5 star hotels on the way either. They get there. A lot of people there. They were very poor. We can be sure, the Jews are not much different in our time. If they had money, they would have found a place to stay. They didn't have it, friends. They went to the inn, a type of hostel for the travelers; full up. Go round the back, where they look after the animals.

I grew up singing Christmas carols at school, and they paint these dear little pictures of a lovely little shed and the animals inside. I grew up thinking that is what a manger is. You know what a manger is, friends? A manger is just a feeding box for the animals. It's no building. Maybe of wood, maybe of stone, just where they put the food for the animals. Jesus was not born in a manger, we want to read the account carefully. Can you imagine, friends, that poor couple, that young couple, no one paid any notice of them, walking all those days, nowhere to stay, just with the animals.

The Son of God was being born into this world in such a situation. We read there in Luke's gospel Chapter 2, "She brought forth her first born Son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn." Swaddling clothes, strips of cloth, of rag. They had no special little clothes for their first born child. Some bible scholars say there was some sort of a cave, some sort of natural protection there for the animals, nothing more. No bed, no midwife, no doctor friends, just on the ground. The hard cold ground and hard cold hearts around about them. God planned it that way, for your sake and mine that we might have access to this most wonderful story told in the whole world. We read He was born. She bought forth. She wrapped Him and she laid Him in the manger. No one to help, just Joseph. They should have had a midwife, someone to help. If there had been people of any standing at all, they were probably regarded as poor beggars. This is the Son of God, the Son of the almighty Creator who was with God when God created the whole universe. Would you plan for your child to be born in such situation, your grandchildren, your loved ones? I think not.

But there were shepherds. They were watching over their flocks of sheep by night. Simple men, friends. Out in the country. It wasn't a safe place. They just couldn't leave their sheep in the paddock at night. They were out there with them. Very simple men. Just enough to live on. Just a few years ago, I visited some place in the mountains of Bolivia. A poor little lady there, looking after a flock of goats and a couple of sheep. Barely enough to live on. Just looked after them and walked with them, there almost in the midst of a small town, dogs and other animals around, her simple house she shared with those animals. Nothing more in life, friends. Here were these simple shepherds, I believe something very similar. Just a few animals, caring for them, living for them. An angel of the Lord came and spoke to them, "Do not be afraid, for I bring you good tidings, or good news of great joy, which shall be to all people." News of great joy to all people. Here we see the beginning of the new covenant of the new testament, as we were hearing this afternoon. God bringing to this world His promises through His Son. Before it was especially to the Jewish people but here Jesus was born, dear friends, to all people. Everyone who would have wished to have seen that young child had free access. There the poorest of the people, those shepherd men, they could go and see the little brand new baby, the Lord Jesus. Good tidings of great joy, friends. Great joy. Isn't that what all of the world wants and needs and just doesn't know where to look for it? People are disappointed and sad and confused in life. They go towards the entertainment of this world, they go to everything that men can build and construct, feeling that's going to be joy for them. And fierce competition in the world. People have to have bigger houses and bigger cars and more and more and more. Here we hear of the news of great joy, in the most simple situation and environment we can imagine, friends. Great joy. Joy exceeding all other joys.

Those shepherds were just so privileged to go and see that young child. They could understand there is hope even for us. I'm glad the Lord Jesus was born in a situation like that. That left access for even you and me, friends, to listen to this story, this most wonderful story. Salvation coming to us, the hope and joy of our souls now and forever. Let's use what we can for the good of life to maintain life, to be a help one to another, a help to the gospel, a help to bring salvation. But we want to be careful of this illusion that great big things and great appearance and show are going to bring joy to our lives. I don't believe it brought anything of the joy that came to those simple humble shepherds. The angel said, "Do not fear, for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord." Then suddenly, there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace and goodwill toward men." A multitude of the heavenly host. A multitude of angels, not 10 or 20 or 100, a multitude praising God and bringing a message of peace and hope to everyone who wanted to listen. That's the way the gospel goes forth these days, friends. To bring exceedingly great joy.

We can read a little bit later on when those wise men went from the East, when they saw the star in the skies, they were filled with exceeding great joy. A joy, a hope, a satisfaction in life, a love that God loves you and me, friends. God, the great eternal One who has the power of everything but is so humble, friends, that He brings this gospel in a beautiful simplicity to each one of us. We heard today in Isaiah 55 the thoughts of God are not our thoughts. As the heavens are higher than the earth so are God's thoughts higher than ours and His ways higher than ours. God planned for this most precious life to be born here on the earth. The most important birth in all the history of the earth. How would we plan it? We would want a great palace. We would want a great army of soldiers around to protect it. That would perhaps call the attention of all the other nations of the world and there would be great danger. A war. Jesus came to bring peace and peace to us. How did God make provision to protect His beloved Son? He protected Him with humility and simplicity. Born in such humble and down to earth situation that no one even opened an eye. Safer there than all the armies of the world could have provided, in humility and simplicity and sincerity. Friends, that can be our safety as we are willing to walk in this life humbly and with our Lord. Enjoy the hope and the love that is out stretched to all of us through this wonderful gospel story.

It has been my privilege to be in different parts of this earth. One of the great impressions I have in life was there in the mountains of Peru, some have been there. It was all so simple, there wasn't any electricity, no roads, no cars, no vehicles. There in a tent on the top of a mountain, away up, we had a Wednesday night meeting before the convention. It was getting dark. Here comes one little lantern from one corner. Another one, another one, and another one, 150 or 200 people, some of them walking two hours with little children coming to listen to the gospel story. Just a one or two hour meeting, not so long. Their joy to be there. The meeting finishes and then those little lights disappearing in every direction, down through the valleys, walking, little children on their backs, others walking beside them. Another hour or two to walk home, full of joy. They had heard the message of hope; they had heard the message of salvation. They were embracing it. It meant everything to them. This gospel comes within the reach of everyone, friends, to all the world, not just the Jews, not just the wealthy, the intelligent of this world but to everyone who would be willing to listen to the story of Jesus. Showing the love of God to us in ways that we wouldn't be willing to even show to our best friends. Born in such humble, contrite situation.

We read back in Leviticus 12, it describes the Mosaic law. When the first-born was born, whether a son or daughter, the offering for them was a lamb, one year old, and a pair of doves. A young pigeon or a turtle dove as a sin offering. Bring that to the tabernacle, or which was later the temple, in Jerusalem. Did Joseph and Mary take that at about 40 days? No, Luke just says, "They took two turtle doves or pigeons because there back in the law it does say that if they are not able to bring one little lamb then they may bring two turtle doves or two young pigeons." That was all that Mary and Joseph could bring. I'm sure that if it was possible within their reach, they would have brought a lamb, but they couldn't, friends. They didn't have that much. God entrusted His son to people like that. God has entrusted the life, the eternal life, to us, if we are willing to embrace it. The life of love, the life of forgiveness, the life of mercy. Sometime later there were wise men from the East. Maybe months later, went to visit, opened their treasures. Just cannot be sure where they went. It could have been to Bethlehem, it may have been Nazareth, the Bible does not say. They went quite some time later. Mary and Joseph were in a house. Then they were warned to flee to Egypt because that terribly cruel king, Herod, was wanting to destroy the One who was born to be King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We know the story.

Friends, don't complain about the times we live in. That king made another decree to the soldiers, "You go forth and kill every little baby boy in the district of Bethlehem from the age of two years and under." Kill them. Murder them. Can you imagine the soldier knocking on your door? "Any little baby boys in here? Give them to us, we are going to kill them, in front of you." Can you imagine the knocking on the door and the mother trying to hide it, and the little boy cries out, and then they go and destroy it. God saw fit to send his Son into a place like that. What a privilege we have, friends, to listen to this story, the most wonderful story of love that the world has ever known. God in His greatness, friends, in His eternal mind, is a humble God, and loves humble people. If we could just put our pride and arrogance aside and learn more of the wonderful story of Jesus, of the love of God for us, that emanates from every side of this wonderful story.

It wasn't a great fancy place where the Master was born. He wasn't born to great wealthy parents. They had to flee then to Egypt. It would be the last place on earth that they would want to go. It was the story of the Jewish people for centuries of how they had escaped from slavery and cruel bondage of Egypt. It was told to be told from generation to generation. That was the beginning of the year, the feast of the Passover. They were to tell it, how that God, through the hand of Moses, delivered the people out of cruel bondage of Egypt. Now the angel was saying to Joseph and Mary, "You go back to Egypt." They went, friends, in perfect obedience to the heavenly Father. Then later, back to Nazareth. It's a wonderful story, friends.

The love of God is far deeper than we could ever imagine, for you and for me. It’s a story that is open to all of the world. You know, sometimes our human pride and arrogance would stop us listening. We would like to doctor up this story. We would like to make it prettier, more attractive, to our own human ideas and ways and thoughts and miss the joy. That exceeding great joy that came to those who participated in the story of Jesus. Exceedingly great was their joy. They heard the multitude of the heavenly host in perfect harmony singing praises to God, greater than any. I love to hear you singing. I love to hear you singing, "Tell me the story of Jesus. Let God write on our hearts every word.”