Christmas was when the greatest event since Creation, took place in a sleepy little village just five miles south of Jerusalem. But the lives of most people surrounding Christ's birth were like the rooms of Bethlehem’s Inn—too full to let Jesus in.
Christmas is all about worship; and worship is all about having room in your life for God.
God devotes us four chapters of the Bible to Christ's birth, look with me at the first few verses of Luke’s account. Please stand as we read Luke 2:1-7:
And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife,[a] who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. NKJV
Christmas was when no room was found for the Owner of the Universe, and he had to be welcomed in a borrowed stable. Like the Apostle John says, “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not”--they didn’t have room for God.
But those who made room for Christ were given the greatest of all treasures—they were able to come before baby Jesus and offer themselves in worship to Him.
This Christmas are you like the Inn with no room for Jesus? Or are you like those who welcomed Him, worshipped Him, and enjoyed His Presence because they made room in their lives for Him?
Room for Jesus?
At the center of the Christmas story, is the truth that--worship is all about making room for Jesus.
The only record of Christ receiving worship comes from those two groups who paused their own plans, their own agendas, and their own pursuits—and pursued finding Jesus. The Shepherds came with haste from the fields; and the Wisemen came with persistence from afar. Both presented their adoration to Christ.
God's Word presents to us a question this Christmas is, “How much room is there in our lives for Jesus?” We need to examine whether we give Him room in our desires, our thinking, our planning, and our talking.
• Do we talk more about Him than to Him?
• Do we do more for Him than with Him?
• Are we content with knowing more about Him than from Him?
One of my favorite hymns that challenges me each Christmas is that old hymn that affirms over and over, ‘there’s room in my heart for Thee’. Turn there with me in your hymnbooks to # 127.
The hymn “Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne” was written by Emily E. S. Elliott (1836–1897) for the children of her father’s church, in Brighton, England. Using simple wording, she presents a clear challenge to all of us, during the Christmas season and also throughout the entire year.
1. Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown when Thou camest to earth for me; but in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room for Thy holy nativity. Refrain (vv. 1-4): O come to my heart, Lord Jesus— there is room in my heart for Thee!
2. Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang, proclaiming Thy royal degree; but of lowly birth didst Thou come to earth, and in great humility.
3. The foxes found rest, and the birds their nest in the shade of the forest tree; but Thy couch was the sod, O Thou Son of God, in the deserts of Galilee.
4. Thou camest, O Lord, with the living word that should set Thy people free; but with mocking scorn and with crown of thorn they bore Thee to Calvary.
5. When the heav’ns shall ring and the angels sing at Thy coming to victory, let Thy voice call me home, saying, “Yet there is room—there is room at My side for thee,” My heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus, when thou comest and callest for me!
Worship is all about having room in your life for God.
At His birth Christ was only welcomed and worshipped by the shepherds and the Wisemen, who were poles apart socially, economically, culturally, ethnically, and in every other way but spiritually.
But when the shepherds and Wisemen met at the feet of Jesus, they worshipped on common ground, because:
Making Room for Jesus
What does Matthew record as the first response of those who made room in their lives for Jesus? Listen to Matthew (2:1-11) as he describes this hallowed moment with such unforgettable words. God enters time and space as an infant!
As we go through these verses, underline some insights in your hearts that we can glean from the text.
v. 1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,
v. 2 saying (present participle, continuously asking over and over), “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
v. 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. (Still these three responses to Christ are still present today: Herod hated Him; the leaders ignored Him; the Magi loved Him)
v. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
v. 5 So they said to him (they knew it, didn’t have to look it up, they quoted it—but just didn’t believe it), “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: 6 ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ” 7 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”
v. 9 When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them (so it came and went and wasn’t always visible—it is the same today as God gives us only what we need, when we need it), till it came and stood over where the young Child was.
v. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy (when God gives us direction, before we follow we should pause like them in gratitude).
v. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down (notice the immediate response to the Divinity of Christ, they dropped down flat before Him just like everywhere else in the Bible that people got in front of God) and worshiped Him (if there was ever a time to worship Mary it was now—but then as now they worshipped HIM!). And when they had opened their treasures (they brought their best and what was costly to Jesus), they presented gifts to Him (worship always involves giving—giving gifts of praise and adoration, as well as gifts of time and treasure): gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
The shepherds in Luke 2 and the Wisemen in Matthew 2, stand out in the Christmas story because of all the creatures on earth created in His image--they were the only ones who came seeking the newborn King!
Shortly after the birth of the Messiah, Judean shepherds bowed at His feet in the stable, offering their praises. Then, some days later, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem asking King Herod where the real king of the Jews was born. As we know, the response of the Bible scholars of Herod's court was “in Bethlehem”.
The startling fact is--that though these religious professionals could recite the right answer, their hearts were indifferent to the truth of God's Word. They knew the Scriptures; they just did not believe them! But those magi believed the Scriptures. They had traveled several hundred miles to worship Jesus. The Magi were willing to go anywhere in order to find the Promised King and Savior.
Do you see the lesson in the way these Wisemen offered their worship?
First, they didn’t send their gifts of worship by another’s hand; they came and brought their worship personally to Jesus. The lesson of their pursuit is that you should…
1. Come and Worship
God wants you, in person, to come to Him. Undaunted by the long and arduous journey, they must have been amazed to find a mere baby in a stable.
After the magnificence of King Herod’s palace and his overpowering presence, it is amazing that they fell down in worship before baby Jesus as they did. Choosing to disobey Herod’s demand that they reveal the location of Jesus indicates their faith. This choice could have cost them their lives. So in every way it was a personal coming to Jesus that marked their lives.
Have you come personally to Jesus in prayer, worship, and adoration today? Have you given yourself to Jesus this Christmas? That is the first gift. Remember how Paul commended the saints that “first gave themselves” (II Corinthians 8:5)?
Another lesson from the Wisemen is that it cost them so much to worship Jesus. Like them, chose to secondly:
2. Sacrifice your time, freedom, and comfort
To Worship Him
From the two year calculation of Herod’s death warrant on the babies of the region we can infer that it took many months for these Wisemen to travel to Jerusalem. Herod added some months on each end to cover any potential birth near that time. All that to say that it was hard to travel 1100 to 1200 miles back then.
They walked and rode across hot and arid deserts, through rivers, and across cold and dangerous mountain passes to get to Christ's birthplace from the regions of Babylon, Persia or Media. Even today this journey is very difficult and dangerous.
What are you sacrificing giving to Jesus this Christmas that costs you something?
Then as we ponder this story we see how they brought more than themselves, they also brought Him gifts. Worship is a presentation of our gifts to God. We read (v. 11) that these wise men “presented unto Him gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh.” Their worship prompted them to prepare and set aside something tangible to give to this Child they sought to worship. So like them, choose to thirdly:
3. Present what you have
To Worship Him
The significance of these gifts is beautiful.
• Gold speaks of Christ as the King of Heaven, or His Deity, as a study of the Tabernacle makes plain.
• Frankincense speaks of Christ's role as both our Great High Priest and the Perfect Lamb of God, just as it gives forth its perfume only as it is brought into contact with fire.
• Myrrh speaks of Christ's sacrificial death as myrrh is only harvested after the tree is bruised with stripes cut into the bark. Resin that flows as a healing balm to the damaged bark of the tree’s suffering, has always associated myrrh with the death and burial of our Lord.
Thus these wise men, by the gifts they presented to Him, expressed first, their faith in His Deity; second, their adoration of His sinless life; and third, their anticipation of His sacrifice of Himself for the sin of the world by His death. The Wisemen brought prophetic gifts that pictured what Christ's earthly work was all about. They brought what they had in their lives as wealthy rulers. And that is what God wanted, that is why He chose them.
When God chose you it was not to bring their gifts but yours. Remember how the Lord accents the gifts of each individual. None are the same; all are precious to Him.
Think through the people and gifts that God uses in His Word.
• Remember the little boy’s lunch that fed thousands?
• Then there was the borrowing of an unbroken colt to carry the King of Kings as He rode to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
• And who can ever forget the un-requested flask of perfume broken and spilled out just for love of Jesus.
• How about an anonymous person’s upper room that witnessed the Last Supper, the appearances of the Risen Christ, and the prayer meeting of Pentecost?
Present what you have to Him this morning. Give Him your mind—let Him fill it. Give Him your hands—let Him guide and use them. Give Him your future—let Him plan and direct your life. Give Him your treasures—He can store them and invest them in safe places that bring everlasting rewards.
The greatest moment of all was when at last these patient Wisemen saw the One they had sought for so long. Before they rushed in with their gifts, before they poured out their treasures, they just wanted to adore Him—they came, they bowed, and they fell down and worshipped Him! Like them we need to learn to fourthly:
4. Personally Fall Down and
Worship is a rare and easily lost atmosphere of devotion, adoration, sacrifice, and communion. Those Wisemen were overwhelmed at the sight of the One they came so far to see; the One they had waited so long to honor; the One they had paid so much to sacrifice their gifts upon—and when at last they saw Him they fell down and worshipped Him.
Remember what we see in Revelation 4? Look at v. 9-10 with me please.
Revelation 4:9-10 “Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever,10 the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne…”
Seeing God’s glory always makes God’s servants want to get into as humble a position as the human body is able to get!
And if you look through the entire book of Revelation we see:
• Worship is the description of the atmosphere of Heaven;
• Worship is the protocol God expects;
• Worship is what is offered and received in the place where God is magnified and adored.
Our Worship of Jesus?
Someone once defined idolatry as worshipping what we are supposed to use and using what we are supposed to worship. Have you checked lately, how you are doing in the worship department of your life? We can uncover those things that we worship in life by doing a few diagnostic tests:
• First, try the test of sacrifice—“What things will we make sacrifices for, in order to get them?” True worship involves sacrifice.
• Another test is seeking—“What is it that we are really pursuing in life?” True worship involves seeking.
What you and I seek out and sacrifice for can become something we worship, if we persist seeking and sacrificing to get whatever it is. Many things were designed by God for our use: food, money, time, pleasures, possessions, and so on. In their right place each is a powerful tool. Wrongly placed in our lives as the goal of our desires, they become idols that we worship in place of God.
The question about making room in life for Jesus is brought up in Christ's last words to the local churches of Revelation 2-3. When He writes to the seventh and final church that is the picture He left for us in His words to the church of Laodicea.
Remember Christ's words, “… I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (3:20)? Jesus was outside, their lives were too full for Him. So what was Christ's precious invitation?
He uses the word deipnon, used for “dine” in verse 20, which refers to the evening meal, the main meal of the day—a time for lingering over the meal after a long day’s work.
Jesus is standing at the door of your heart this Christmas, waiting for you to invite Him in to linger in fellowship as your Lord and Savior all throughout your life.
Remember Holman Hunt’s famous picture of Christ standing at the door knocking:
• Christ has done all that is needed for your salvation, so the handle of salvation is on your side, lost friend; and
• Christ has done all that is needed for intimacy with God, so the handle of fellowship is on your side, Christian.
This Christmas is all about stopping and inviting Jesus in to dine with us, to share our deepest thoughts and affections with Him and for Him to warm and fill our hearts and lives.
True worship takes a sacrifice of our time. The Wisemen set aside time from their daily lives to seek Jesus; and the Wisemen paid a price to find Jesus to worship Him.
True Worship always leads us to the person of Jesus Christ; and takes us beyond information to experience. They didn’t worship information, they worshiped a person.
The Wisemen didn’t settle for knowledge about Him, they persisted until they found Him.
This week why not make these simple choices drawn from the example of the Wisemen:
• Come and worship Jesus yourself.
• Sacrifice your time, freedom, and comfort to Worship Him.
• Present what you have to Worship Him.
• Personally Fall Down and Worship Him soon!