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RESPONSES TO CHRIST ON THE FIRST CHRISTMAS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, December 19, 2010


Earlier in this service our deacon Dr. Chan read the account of Christ’s birth from the Gospel of Luke and from the Gospel of Matthew. These two chapters give us six different responses to Christ on the first Christmas. The responses are summed up in the first chapter of John. Please turn to John 1:11-12. Stand and read those verses aloud.

“He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name”
       (John 1:11-12).

You may be seated. Please keep your Bible open to that place.

Dr. McGee said, “He came into His own universe but His own people did not receive Him…But as many as received Him, to them gave he the authority to become the sons of God” (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, volume IV, p. 373; notes on John 1:11, 12). Most of His own people did not receive Him. But those who did receive Him became “the sons of God” (John 1:12). We see those two groups very clearly in the nativity accounts, given by Luke and Matthew.

I. First, those who did not receive Christ.

There were four different responses of those who rejected Christ at His birth. They responded in four different ways – but the result was the same. In each case they “received him not” (John 1:11). And these responses are pictures of how people reject Christ today.

First, King Herod tried to kill the baby Jesus. The angel of the Lord said to Joseph,

“Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him” (Matthew 2:13).

I don’t think there is anyone here who wants to “destroy” Jesus, though there might be. But there are many people who want to destroy Him. The ACLU does their best to destroy Him. The professors in liberal seminaries do their best to destroy Him. They call it “demythologizing,” but they really mean to destroy Jesus. All of you who attend secular colleges have heard liberal professors that are like Herod, who seek to destroy Jesus, who say He never did miracles, who say He never rose from the dead, who say His death on the Cross does not atone for sin. You will hear professors in your college who constantly attack Jesus, and the Bible. Don’t be surprised. There have always been people like old King Herod who seek “to destroy him.”

“He came unto his own, and his own received him not”
       (John 1:11).

Second, there were the people of Jerusalem. The Bible says that Herod “was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him” (Matthew 2:3). The residents of Jerusalem were disturbed when they heard about Jesus. The Greek word translated “troubled” means “to stir or agitate” (Strong #5015). Why would news of Jesus’ birth agitate, disturb and trouble them? I think it is just human nature. The prophet Isaiah said of Jesus,

“He is despised and rejected of men” (Isaiah 53:3).

We have often seen parents become furious with their children for becoming Christians. If you have a strong belief in Jesus, it still troubles many people today.

“He came unto his own, and his own received him not”
       (John 1:11).

Then there was the Innkeeper. We don’t even know his name. It isn’t recorded in the Bible. We are simply told that Mary laid the baby Jesus “in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7). A manger is a feeding trough for animals. An ancient tradition said He was born in a cave where cows and donkeys and horses were kept. We do not know much about the innkeeper except that he turned away Joseph and Mary. We surmise that the inn was full because so many people had come to Bethlehem to be registered and taxed. But we also wonder why the owner of the inn didn’t make a little room for a woman about to give birth. Whoever the innkeeper was he has never been thought of as a kind or thoughtful person. Dr. Gill said, “Had they been rich…they would have been regarded, and room made for them…it was brutish of them to turn them into a stable, when such was her case” (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the New Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume I, p. 520; note on Luke 2:7).

The “brutish” innkeeper was like so many today who have no room in their lives for Jesus. Their work, their own personal prosperity, their careers, seem so important to them that they have no time for Jesus or church. How about you?

No room, no room for Jesus,
   O give Him welcome free,
Lest you should hear at heaven’s gate,
   “There is no room for thee.”
(“No Room in the Inn” by A. L. Skilton, no date).

“He came unto his own, and his own received him not”
       (John 1:11).

Finally, there were the scribes. The scribes were students of the Old Testament Scriptures. They were Bible scholars. King Herod demanded of them,

“…where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel” (Matthew 2:4-6).

These Bible students knew exactly where Christ would be born. They quoted Micah 5:2. They knew the Bible, but they lacked the faith to go with the wise men and come to Jesus. They knew where He was. It was about twenty minutes away by foot. But they did not come to Jesus. This is very important. It shows that you can study the Bible, and believe it – and still be a lost sinner, just like those scribes. It is not enough to know the Bible and believe it! You must actually come to Jesus Christ Himself! You could read and study the Bible for the rest of your life and still go to Hell if you don’t come to Jesus Christ! That is the lesson we learn from those scribes!

“He came unto his own, and his own received him not”
       (John 1:11).

Those are the ones who did not receive Christ. Which one is like you? Are you like King Herod – trying to stamp Christ out of your life? Are you like the people of Jerusalem – merely troubled by Christ? Are you like the Innkeeper – having no room in your life for Christ? Or are you like the scribes – coming to church, studying the Bible, but refusing to come to Jesus Christ Himself?

“He came unto his own, and his own received him not”
       (John 1:11).

Most people fall into one of those categories. But there was another group.

II. Second, those who did receive Christ.

Please stand and read John 1:12 aloud.

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name”
     (John 1:12).

You may be seated. Among those who received Jesus, there were the shepherds, and the Wise Men from the East.

The shepherds were watching their flock of sheep that night. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and said,

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And 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, good will toward men”
       (Luke 2:11-14).

The shepherds wasted no time. Immediately and quickly they came to Jesus. The Bible says “they came with haste” (Luke 2:16). They hurried to Jesus. A few of the best Christians in our church came to Jesus quickly – like Dr. Chan, Mr. Griffith, Ileana, Judith Cagan, Melissa Sanders, Winnie Chan, and one or two others. They heard the Gospel preached and “they came with haste” to Jesus.

But that is not the way most people come. Most people come to Jesus like John Bunyan, our Baptist forefather, did – through struggle and turmoil of soul. The Wise Men from the East came to Jesus like that, with great difficulty. They didn’t just walk a few blocks, and come instantly to Jesus, like the shepherds. Oh, no! It took them much longer to get to Him. They had to travel a long distance and go through many trials, striving to enter in to Christ. They came to Jesus through a struggle, like “Christian” in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Jesus said,

“Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Luke 13:24).

The Greek word translated “strive” is from “agonizomai.” Our English word “agony” comes from it. It means to “struggle” your way into Christ. Will you struggle to enter in to Christ? Will you go through agony to get to Him? The Wise Men from the East did. They traveled a long distance. They went through many hardships.

“And when they were come…they saw the young child…and fell down, and worshipped him” (Matthew 2:11).

Will you come to Jesus, even if you have to struggle to get to Him? I pray that you will.

“He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name”
     (John 1:11-12).

(END OF SERMON)
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Or phone him at (818)352-0452.

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan:
Luke 2:1-16; Matthew 2:1-12, 16.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Jesus, Baby Jesus” (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).


THE OUTLINE OF

RESPONSES TO CHRIST ON THE FIRST CHRISTMAS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:11-12).

I.   First, those who did not receive Christ, John 1:11; Matthew 2:13, 3;
Isaiah 53:3; Luke 2:7; Matthew 2:4-6.

II.  Second, those who did receive Christ, John 1:12; Luke 2:11-14, 16;
Luke 13:24; Matthew 2:11.