Nearly everyone missed that first Christmas. Like people today, they were busy, consumed with all kinds of things – some important, some not – but nearly everyone missed Christ. The similarities between their world and ours are striking. Every one of those people has a counterpart in our modern world.
- The Innkeeper (Lk.2:6-7)
Scripture doesn’t specifically mention him, but that night in Bethlehem, an innkeeper was confronted by a man and his pregnant wife. Not only did he turn Mary and Joseph away, but he apparently didn’t even call for anyone to help a young mother to give birth.
The Son of God might have been born on his property, but he missed Christmas because he was so preoccupied. There is no indication that he was hostile or even unsympathetic. He was just busy, that’s all.
Millions of people today are consumed with activity – not necessarily sinful activity, just things that keep us busy. At Christmas we are especially busy; there is shopping, parties, concerts, school activities, and other things that compete for our attention. And in the clutter of activity, many preoccupied people miss the Son of God.
- Herod the Great (Mt.2:1-3, 7-8)
Herod pretended he wanted to worship Christ, but he was fearful of this One who was born kind of the Jews. He didn’t want any competition for his throne. Today many people won’t allow anything to interfere with their activity, career, position, power, ambition, plans or lifestyle. They are not about to let someone else be king of their lives. They see Jesus as a threat, and so they miss Christmas.
People don’t mind taking time off work to commemorate Jesus’ birth. They will even embrace Him as a resource when they get in trouble. They might even accept him as a spiritual leader. They are even willing to add him to their lives and call themselves Christians, but not if he insists on being their King.
They are fearful of losing their place on the throne of their life. They will guard at all costs their own priorities, values, and morals. The world is full of people who say, We will not have this man to reign over us (Lk.19:14).
People want to chart their own destinies, and so we have a world of kings and queens who are not about to bow to Jesus. Such people are governed by the same jealous fear that controlled Herod. And like him they miss Christmas.
- The Religious Leaders (Mt.2:4-6)
Imagine what these people knew. They knew exactly where Christ was to be born, but they never bothered to walk a few miles to Bethlehem to find out for themselves if the Messiah had indeed been born.
Why did the religious leaders miss Christmas? That can be answered in one word – indifference. The religious leaders had all the facts. They just didn’t care. Indifference is a profound sin against Christ. Sadly, it is one of the most common reactions to Him.
Usually, these kinds of people don’t believe they need a Savior, they believe they are all right just the way they are. That is a dangerous attitude. Why? Because of the problem it causes (Mt.9:13). If people are indifferent – if they don’t realize they are sinners – they cannot respond to His call.
This is probably the biggest plight in America today. We have become a nation that doesn’t always oppose him openly … we just ignore Him. As a whole, the vast majority of our nation doesn’t care about a remedy, because we don’t believe we have a disease. And what happens? We miss Christmas.
- The People of Jerusalem
Bethlehem is within easy walking distance of Jerusalem, but the entire city missed it. Why? Because they were so busy being religious they missed the reality.
- They were looking for a conquering King, not a baby in a manger.
- They looked for someone to support their religious system, but He opposed it.
- They were so determined to earn their own salvation that they could not see the depth of their spiritual poverty.
Religion can be a deadly trap. Rituals and rules make people feel spiritual when they are not (2 Cor.11:14). And so, like today, even religion can be used to make people miss Christmas.
- The Romans (Lk.2:1)
At the birth of Christ the Roman Empire was at the height of its power. There must have been Roman soldiers everywhere in Bethlehem and the surrounding area, overseeing the census. Yet they missed Christmas. Why? Idolatry.
They had their own gods – they were even willing to allow their emperor to pretend to be God. Christ did not fit into their belief system.
Paganism has a strong grip on our world today, and millions miss Christmas because of it. I’m not talking about some form of dark idolatry that we normally would think of, but of a modern form of paganism. In our modern world there are people that are consumed by paganism because they worship money, cars, boats, houses, power, prestige, popularity, and fame. Those are modern man’s pagan gods. Modern idolatry is selfishness and materialism. And because so many are wrapped up in these things, they will miss Christmas.
- The People of the Little Town (Nazareth)
Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but he grew up in Nazareth. Yet, he was completely overlooked. After living years among these people He revealed that He was the Messiah (Lk.4:16-21). And what was their reaction? (Lk.4:28-30) They tried to throw Him off a cliff. That’s what you can call really missing Christmas. The people of Nazareth that had known him best; had no idea who He really was.
What was their problem? Familiarity. They knew him so well they couldn’t believe He was anyone special. Perhaps the most tragic sin of all is the unbelief of a person who has heard all the sermons, sat through all the Bible lessons, learned all the Christmas stories, but rejects Christ.
There is no Gospel, no good news for such a person, because he already knows and rejects the truth that could set him free (Heb.10:26-31). What a sad way to miss Christmas.
Perhaps you have been missing Christmas. You may receive presents, eat a big dinner, and decorate a tree, but you know in your heart you are no different from the innkeeper, Herod, the religious leaders, the people of Jerusalem, the Romans, or the town of Nazareth. You are missing the reality of Christmas.
But the good news is this … you don’t have to miss another one. If we will turn from our sin and unbelief and receive Christ as our personal Savior he will forgive your sin and change your life. And then you will have received the greatest gift of all: Jesus!
Don’t miss Christmas this year!