Behind the Scenes of Silent Night, Part 2

Title: Behind the Scenes of Silent Night, Part 2

Text: Matthew 1,2 and Luke and Revelations 12

Time: December 21st, 2003

We’ve just seen a very lively rendition of O Holy Night by Mariah Carey in an African American church, where all songs tend to be lively anyway. But the song she sang is a description of the first Christmas night when Jesus was born around 2000 years ago. It’s a blessing that we still celebrate Christ’s birth because we live in a very secular and very materialistic society where you might think that Christianity would not be allowed to influence the public. But by the grace of God, here in the United States, we can still hear the gospel and the real Christmas story in the songs of our culture. I love to walk around at Christmas times in malls and stores and hear spiritual Christmas music playing casually in the background. I love to listen for the message of the music and words being played because it makes me feel like I’m in church or I’m playing some praise and worship music in my home. It’s incredible that I can walk around in public places and hear about the Savior’s birth, O Holy Night, etc. For example, listen to the words of the song we just heard on the video: “O holy night the stars around brightly shining, it is the night of our dear Savior’s birth. Long lay the world in sin and error pinning, till he appeared and the soul felt it’s worth. The thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. Fall on your knees, O hear the angels voices, O night divine, O night when Christ was born, O night divine, O night divine.” Now I hear that song probably more than any spiritual Christmas song, and it’s played in malls, bookstores, and restaurants, everywhere. And the people around don’t seem to mind, even though you know there are probably atheists, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, and all kinds people of different philosophies and religions. It’s just one time, probably the only time, of the year that the gospel and Jesus get to appear in the public square without the ACLU and other groups taking things to court. But it’s so nice to be out in public and hear the message of the real Christmas coming through. That’s what is so neat about watching TV specials and listening to music on the radio at this time of the year too. Everybody’s singing and talking and thinking about Christmas. Now I am aware also that there are all kinds of other Christmas songs that don’t mention Jesus Christ or talk about the real Christmas story, but that’s ok. I’m just happy the real message is out there too. You’ll find in our 21st century world that you have to dig and scavenge around a little bit, but it’s possible to pull out bits and pieces of the Christian message from among the culture. That’s what our outreach philosophy is here at Crosspointe church. We hunt for something in our modern culture that says what we want to say from the Bible and let a cultural voice say it, someone who is known by people in the culture who don’t read the Bible, and then after someone like Mariah Carey talks about Jesus, then we talk about Jesus from the Bible. People hear the message and are more open to the truth that way. Which means, you can bring your non-Christian friend or family member to Crosspointe church to a service, or especially during an invitation Sunday where we have a lunch afterwards, and they can hear or see something from the popular culture they already recognize, and then hear something from the Bible that’s related to what they already know. The message of the gospel can reach them this way. But Christmas is a great time of the year to talk to your friends and family about the real Christmas, because it’s something almost everyone has heard about simply by being a member of the human race in the United States. But now, let me basically review the simple Christmas story as recorded in the Gospel of Luke put to video. Let’s look at the first Christmas scene, and then after that, we’ll talk about it. (play video). Now to break it down real simple, there are three basic scenes in the Christmas account: Mary, Joseph, and Jesus; the angel and shepherds; and the magi and Harod. I’d like to touch on all three scenes today and comment on each one, with your help. I’d like to hear whatever you feel inspired to say about these three parts to the Christmas story. Let’s pray first. (pray).

First, God had a role for Mary, Joseph, and of course Jesus to play, and he has a role for you to play to in His Big story. Now we all know that Mary is now famous, world famous, for her role as best supporting actress in a dramatic historical drama. In heaven, she was voted best supporting actress, but before her big role nobody ever heard of Mary. Mary who? Let’s look at what the Bible says when the angel first announced to Mary that she had gotten the part. There was no jumping up and down like on American Idol, there was shock and curiosity, “How will this be?” Mary was chosen by central casting, no, by God the Father Almighty to be the mother of Jesus in the Christmas drama. Wouldn’t it be interesting to find out who almost got the part? Who was the 2nd in line? Do you know how of some movies they reveal who was almost chosen to play key parts after the movie is a big hit, and it’s sometimes surprising. But God must have had strict qualifications as to who would play the role of the mother of Jesus, or, as the Roman Catholic church reminds us, “The mother of God” the Son, second person of the Holy Trinity. It’s a big role, but Mary played it perfectly, she did great. No, she wasn’t perfect. No, she wasn’t sinless. Some theologies make Mary as almost a lesser god, sinless, perfect, etc. But if you go strictly by the Bible, which is really the only way to do accurate theology, you’ll find that she was special but human not divine or even near-divine. What we must seek to do is give her her proper place, but not exalt her above her proper place. But Mary did play a key role in the Christmas story. In Luke 1:28, we read about the angel coming to Mary to announce that she’d been chosen to be the mother of the Son of God. The angel says, “Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with you.” Now if you recognize that phrase, you’ll realize that it’s the first part of the rosary that Roman Catholics pray, you know the prayer beads that are used in that church. This verse is where they get that prayer. Now a clearer translation is: “Greetings, you who are highly favored. The Lord is with you.” But there is no question that Mary’s role was the most important human role in the whole Christmas story. Just another thing to note, Mary’s response was not of doubt but of curiosity. If you remember Zechariah, we didn’t read that part of the story, but when an angel came to him to announce John the Baptist, he said to the angel, “How can this happen.” But Mary said, “How will this happen,” not doubting that it would happen but wondering how it would come about. Mary had the faith. Now Joseph is an interesting character because not nearly as much is said of him, although he plays an important role in fighting for and protecting and providing for Mary and Jesus. Nothing much is said of Joseph during the later life of Jesus which has led some to think that poor Joseph might not have lived into the adulthood of Jesus. But during the Christmas story he was a faithful supporting actor. He also won an award in heaven. Now here’s an important point: none of these people were important before God called and used them; they were unknowns until God chose them. Now you are called, you are chosen by God to play your part in God’s smash blockbuster action adventure that is still now being made. He has a part for you. Yes. You are a star. Only you can play your part. Are you willing to play your part, your role, the one God Almighty is calling you to play? Or are you resisting because it seems too difficult or not what you had in mind. Some actors take parts that they aren’t totally sure about only to find they really enjoy it. Well, why don’t you say yes to God today and start playing your important part in His made-for reality action adventure drama? You are needed. If you don’t play you, nobody else can. Now before we move on to the shepherds, does anybody have anything you’d like to add? (audience participation).

Second, God had a role for the shepherds and the angels, just as He has a role for you to play in the reality show of life. We saw in the Christmas scene the angels coming to the shepherds, putting on the spot lights out in the field in the middle of night, scarring them to death, and then saying, “O by the way, don’t be afraid.” I don’t think this was meant to be comedy, but it could be read that way, at least it can be seen that way. The shepherds might have won the award at the heavenly academy awards that year for “least likely to be in an action drama,” because of all the cast of characters you wouldn’t expect shepherds to be there. You’ve got to realize who shepherds were; they were they farmers of the Middle East. They were not city folk. They probably smelled pretty bad. They slept out under the stars and lived with sheep. Imagine all the sheep and all the manure and if you lived with the sheep 24/7 you probably smelled like the sheep, stepping in that stuff all the time. They probably made it into town, you know, like the cowboys did in the wild, wild west, maybe a few times a month, if that. When they did come into town, they quickly got a bath because they really needed it. Now these shepherds came immediately into the place where Jesus was and they had not taken baths so you probably could smell them coming. “Shepherds are coming, they are a mile away. Now they are ½ mile away, now they are ¼ mile away.” By the time they knocked on the door: “Come in shepherds!” “How’d you know we were shepherds?” “You have an air about you. Come in. We’d invite you to stay longer but . . . O look, some magi! Sorry. Off you go.” But the shepherds showed that God cared about the poor, the lowly, He cares about the wealthy and important too, the magi did show up also. But the shepherds were important, and so God cast them into the drama, the story. Now we can’t forget the angels. Now I was reading the other day in the Greek New Testament, I spent thousands of dollars learning to read Greek and Hebrew, and it was worth every penny because you find things that the English Bibles just leave out. Here’s an example. In Luke 2:13 it says, “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared.” Now what is a heavenly host? Remember, English translations are meant to clarify things for us readers and speakers of English. What does “heavenly host” mean? Frankly I’m not sure. I know that Roman Catholics go forward for communion and the white bread they take is called a host. But that’s not it. Also, a host at a meal is the person in charge of seating, but that’s not it. I went back to the original Greek and found that the word there is strategias, which means army. We get the word “strategic” as in battle plans. There’s a game called Stratego. The Greek word stratiotes means soldier. What the Bible is literally describing is an angel army, a whole sky full of angel soldiers appeared to those shepherds. Now remember last week when we talked about what was really happening behind the scenes during the birth of Christ? Revelation 12 described a battle in the spiritual world? Ok. This angel army was around because it had just defeated Satan in the battle over Jesus. They were praising God for the birth of Jesus and for their victory. A victorious army, a whole sky full of them. Now they would continue to play a role because Satan would try to kill the child later too. But these angels played a behind-the-scenes role in the great drama. Now, just like these angels, and the shepherds before them, you too are called to play a role in God’s great cosmic drama. Have you agreed? Have you signed your contract to play in God’s production? Or are you unhappy with the script? Are you holding out for something? Or have you signed up, but into the drama you are starting to have second thoughts? Remember, God is the master scriptwriter. He knows your part and what would be best for you and what would make you most complete. Trust him, like the angels and shepherds did.

Three, God had a role for the magi, and he has an important and critical role for you too in His epoch adventure now in production. I just heard the move Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is out in theaters. It is what you call an epoch adventure movie. It has good versus evil, the supernatural, dragons, etc. But as we’ve seen from the historical account of the first Christmas, we are right now in God’s cosmic theater with our lives being played out in living color. Now the only question we have to ask ourselves is, “Am I playing my part, the one God has assigned to me?” The Magi were from the east, Persia probably, and they studied the stars. They were probably Astrologists. Now God used them because they thought that every new star that appeared in the sky meant that a king was born on earth, so they naturally followed the star to Bethlehem and found Jesus. Now God used their false belief in the stars to get them to Bethlehem to show that God cares about the rich and the poor, but also to provide the traveling money for Joseph, Mary, and Jesus to go to Egypt. King Herod, a Jew but a puppet of the Roman Empire in Judea, did not welcome any rival kings, be they baby or adult, so he tried to kill Jesus. We saw the spiritual behind the scenes look at this action in Revelation 12 in the description of the dragon waiting for the baby to be born to devour it. That’s what was really going on. Herod was not only a puppet for Rome; he was a puppet for the devil too. God works with people in His great action adventure drama. If a person chooses to rebel and disobey him He still uses that person, but as a bad guy. Think about all the great action adventure movies out. Think of Star Wars. There was Darth Vader, the dark side of the force. Ok. Herod was like the bad guy in the drama. He had a choice but he chose badly so God worked with him and adjusted things. In Star Wars, it seems that Darth Vader turned good in the end. It seems that he repented and was sorry for all the evil he caused. People have free will. We can all choose. How are you choosing today? God is calling us to play a role in the greatest action adventure of all time – real life. It’s been playing for century after century. Now we are on stage, others have come before us; others will follow us on stage. Are you playing your part? Are you totally trusting the Author, Director, Producer – that’s God? The Bible is the script; it’s the directions from the Director. Why not this Christmas get to know the Author, the Producer, the Director of reality? Why not meet him through the person of Jesus Christ?


One Response to “Behind the Scenes of Silent Night, Part 2”

  1. Cronocrímenes, Los (2007) | Movie Aktuell Says:

    […] Be­hind tһе​ Sce­nes οf​ Sil­ent Night, Part 2​ […]

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