December 24, 2017

No Room: A Christmas Tragedy

Luke 2:7;  John 1:1-13

Pastor Matthew Burt

Wellspring Church Springfield, Ma.

  1. Introduction
    1. Engage
    2. Review
    3. Preview
    4. Big Idea
  2. The tragedy of the First Christmas
    1. We all know there was no room in the Inn, so she laid him in a manger. We now a this part of the Christmas story. Every depiction of the Nativiity that I’ve ever seen is set in a stable or a cave. Every scene has a manger, animals, shepherd and sometimes wise men. When we look at the narrative of Luke’s gospel we notice that there is no mention of animals. The shepherds do come, but there are no wide men,perhaps for upo to two years. Where did these visitors come? To a stable? Luke doesn’t say that. The only thing we are told is that these parents, Joseph and Mary laid their new born son in a manger because there was no room for them in the Inn.  This short little sentence has been gilded with layers of sentimentality that draws us emotionally to the harshness and hardheartedness of the cruel uncaring world. It is presented to us in such a way as to tug on our hearts because it all seem so sad my, so unnecessary, so tragic. Actually Luke’s statement is given to us without a hint of emotional evaluation. He gives us a fact, a mere passing obsevbation. Actually, their isn’t any judgment at all. Instead the whole Chrisitmas narrative is meant to show us how the Holy God of Creraiton has made a way for hostiry’;s greatest tragedy to be rememdfied and right.
    2. However, the real tragedy of Christmas began a long time before the events recorded for us in Luke 2 (Thousands of years earlier in the Garden of Eden). To be acquainted with the biblical story is to know that the perfection for the Garden is destroyed by the willful disobedience of the first couple. That disobedience, the bible calls sin. The results of that sin include the inheritance of a broken, rebellious nature in all human beings that sets our minds, our hearts, and our wills against the rule of God.
    3. The great tragedy of the Christmas narrative is the dreadful fact that all human beings are included in this class sinners.
      1. What do we mean by sin?
      2. I know this isn’t a popular idea at Christmas and so our traditions and culture have invented a hundred different ways to lessen it presence in our celebration.
        1. We have Santa clause, little toy-making elves, magic flying reindeer, and so forth
        2. We have an emphasis on family and their traditions
        3. We have song that nostalgically tells us about snowmen who come to life, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and the importance of having snow on the ground for Christmas morning.
        4. We have parties, food, drink, ugly sweaters, and what ever noise we can muster to help us forget that Christ came to save poor ornery sinners like yo and like me.
      3. We focus on what looks to us as a sadness and a tragedy of this one aspect of the birth of Jesus when instead we ought to see the whole of the Christmas narrative as God’s remedy for the original tragedy. Consider these familiar parts of the story.
        1. Mary refers to God as her savior Luke 1:47. Here is a young women who knows that she needs a savior. As soon as we are introduced to her, we are introduced to her realization of her need.
        2. When the Angel comes to Joseph in their dream of Matthew 1 he tells Joseph not only to keep Mary as his wife in spite of Her strange pregnancy, but he gives a further instruction—you shall give him the name, Jesus. He does not stop with the mere identification of the name, but he immediately adds the reason for this name. The name is so familiar to us that for many it has not particular importance. But, most of us will remember that Jesus is the Greek form of the common Hebrew name, Joshua.  The angel says, His name shall be called Jesus, why? Because he will save his people from their sins.  The name, Jesus, and the reason for it are meant to proclaim to us that God is beginning to work the remedy for this great tragedy of Sin’s destruction of the friendship between human beings and their creator.
  • A Third way that the gospels tell us that God in inaugurating His incredible remedy for sin is the emphasis in the narrative on the fact that the other of this Child, Mary, is a Virgin.
  1. When we read the opening verses of John’s Gospel he tells us how great ths phrase, “no room in the Inn” really is. The phrase is not meant to stir at our emotions and sentimentality, it is meant to focus our attention on the largest picture.
    1. In chapter 1 verses 1-13 we have at least ten descriptors of Jesus—We know the passage so well that we can easily list them. Lest we think these fourteen verses are not about Jesus, John makes sure it is abundantly clear to us in verse 17 naming the Word as Jesus Christ. So what do we have?
      1. Jesus is an eternal person. He is from the beginning. Whenever the beginning was, Jesus was already.
      2. Jesus has always been in the presence of the God.
  • In fact Jesus is God.
  1. He has created all things, He is the creator.
  2. He is Life, the source of all life. This is important to us because the fact that there is an end to life,death, is the result of sin.
  3. He is the Light. This is important in the Gospel; because it is sin that has darkened our minds, it is sin that makes the experience in this life so dark,
  • Verse 14, and theWord became flesh. Not only is the Word, Jesus, all of the the above, when we meet him in the Gospels we are meeting the Ever-existing, creating God of light and life veiled and dressed in a human body. This is what we call the Incarnation. (Chili con carne, Chili with meat, or flesh) God con carne.
  1. I’ve only listed seven so far. There. Are three more descriptive terms that John gives to Jesus in these opening verses. Two of them intensify the larger tragedy of the phrase, “there was no room”
    1. The first of these two intensifiers is in verse 10. “He was in the world and the world did not know him. (Some translations say the world did not recognize him)
    2. Why did the world not know him? Indeed,why does the world not know him today?
      1. On a very basis physical level the world did not know him because, as Wesley’s hymn tells us he was veiled, hidden in a normal very in god-like human body


  • The second sentence that shows the depth of the tragedy of “there was no room” is in verse 11. “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him (or his own rejected him)
    1. Who are “his own”? Of course this is the Jewish People. That nation whom God had promised top Abraham, birthed in the lives and descendants of Isaac, Jacob and his twelve son. It is the nations that he carpet though the 400 years of Egyptian bondage and than created at the exodus. It is the people that he defined by the law given at Sinai and then guaranteed his love and protection in the covenants. This people did not receive I him. Paul laments this rejection in Romans 9:1 when he describes this highly favored people as those whose were
      1. The adoption
      2. The glory
      3. The Covenants
      4. The giving of the law
      5. The worship
      6. The promises, and
      7. The Patriarchs—
    2. It is from these People that Jesus is born. A Jew born to Jewish parents..
    3. It is to the people that Jesus is sent
    4. It is to these people that he came to restore them to their Heavenly Father.
  1. Why didn’t his own people receive him? Why did they reject him? Well the common answer is that he didn’t meet their expectations. We have been told over and over again that the Jews of Jesus days were expecting a political leader, a military deliverer. A king like David. That is only a part of the answer. A more accurate answer is given to us, again, by the apostle Paul in Romans 10:1 there he says that although his own people, he Jews were zealous for God’s law, they sought to establish a righteousness of their own. There problem was that they were not willing to be told that what they needed was a savior from their sins. The wanted a deliverer from Rome. They were quite sure that they were in good standing with God, they were good obedient people. When Jesus came he showed them and told them that the righteousness, the goodness, the Obedience they were living was insufficient. This was something there pride would not accepts. Jesus showed them that what they need was humility and repentance. They thought they needed a better political situation. They rejected Jesus who lived a life of perfect holiness, Alia Ethan showed them there imperfect lives. He showed them a life of perfect and accurate law-keeping. He showed them true God-fearing humility. All this was contrasted to their loop-hole living, their law-bending, their self delusion and their self righteousness. Not only was there no room in the Inn, there was no room in their self-defined world view for the light that Christ shone into their darkness. There was no desire for the life that he offered them in place of the living death.
  1. It is not only that there’s was no room in the Inn at his birth it is that there was no room in the lives, expectations, plans, or felt need of the people. Their lives, their expectations, their plans, their needs filled every space where Jesus might set up his rule in their lives. Nothing has changed in the 20 centuries that have come and gone since that first night when there was no room. People do not know Jesus, they will not recognize Jesu. They do not want to know Jesus as he truly is. All of us have a wonderful mechanism for refusing to accept what we do not want to believe is true. We will ok for a dozen different defenses to reject what is contrary to our own opinion. There is no room for Jesus the savior from sin in the lives of those who do not think they are in rebellion against God—if indeed they allow themselves to believe in God. There is not room for Jesus to come and rule a life that is satisfied to allow other powers,person, or pleasures to rule them. There is no room for Jesus to come and replace fruitlessness with happiness. Nothing has changed. John tells us the stark reason that there is not room for the light. In John 3:19 he says that men love darkness rather than light.
  1. We do not end there though. I’ve given you only nine descriptions of Jesus. There is a tenth. The tenth tells us that the unrecognized, unreceived, rejected Jesus is not the end of the story. John plants a powerful epoch-changing adversative for his tenth description. He does so with the simple little three letter word in verse 12. Contrary and in opposition to grievous tragedy of verses 10 and 11 is the hopeful, bright light of verse 12. BUT—verses 10 and 11 are not the end of the story.It does need to end with tragedy. It can end with Glorious beauty. But to all who did receive him, He gave the right to become the children of God.We do not begin pour lives as children of God. Not one of us can claim to call God our father without this But. Christ Jesus must be received, He must be accepted as who the Scriptures tell us he is. And what does it means to receive or to accept.
    1. Believe on his name
      1. Heb. 11:6
      2. Rom. 1;17
  • Eph,. 2:8,9
  1. Rom. 10: 9-10
  1. Mentally and Really accept him as he is
    1. True God in Flesh
    2. Perfect without sin
  • Who died and un-earned death as a substitute for the death that sin had earned others
  1. Accept that he is the one and only way to be brought into relationship with God.
  1. There is more—and this is very important. We are to receive him not only as the deliverers from sin—which is of massive importance and benefit. We are to Receive and accept him as he defines himself in John13—You call me teacher and master and that is right for that is what I am I am you Lord and teacher. To accept and receive Jesus to open up the room that is our mind and accept his teaching as the only way to leave. It is to open up the room that is our will and to accept him as the Lord and Master of our desires, decision,and destiny.Let me come at this another way. WE are not only called to receive him with the rights, privileges and benefits of sons hip. We are called as well to accept and receive with those privileges the responsibility of obedience and followership.
  2. When I receive him this way I remove all the sentimentality of the phrase no roomand at the same time remove all of the tragedy of a life that is lived with no room.
  1. Are you a child of God? Do you have a sorrowful sense of your own going sinfulness before a holy God? Is your faith in Jesus as the only remedy for this sin? Are you growing in your love for others? Do you seek to live in such a way that you reflect and are conformed to the very lie that Jesus lived? Are you progressively saying no to the allurements and invitations of this world to be you source of happiness and delight? Are you looking forward to the the day when there will be nothing to separate you for the presence and vision of this great God in flesh, the lamb of God upon his throne? The greatest tragedy of Christmas is to that the inn had no room. It is that hearts and lives today have no room. The greatest tragedy is that those lives that have no room for a better ruler, no room for a needed savior, no room for a better way of living will spend eternity rueing their decision to close the doors of their mind,s hearts and wills to the one necessary.