An Unexpected Christmas

Jesus came to earth on Christmas in a way that would have been totally unexpected for a Savior King, and thus, He treats us in a way that is totally unexpected as well.

TRANSCRIPT


INTRODUCTION 
Merry Christmas! 
I’m sure you all have had Christmas’ where you were really hoping to get a certain present, and instead, you got something a bit…unexpected.  
Maybe you wanted the “Toy of the year”
In fact, just the other day I came across an article that listed the “Most Wanted Christmas Toy” for every year…for the past 40 years or so… 
1983 was the cabbage patch doll  (don’t ask me why!)
1985 was the pound puppy 
1995 Beanie Babies
1996 (The worst toy ever to hit shelves) Tickle Me Elmo 
Which, even Elmo, without tickling laughter is annoying enough.  
And maybe you were hoping for one of those gifts that year, but instead, got something you didn’t expect  
Like, I don’t know if you’ve seen the videos on YouTube of parents who get their kids a gag Christmas present just to see how their kids react? 
Terrible parenting, great entertainment.  Like this: 
(Play Unexpected Presents video)  


UNEXPECTED THINGS ABOUT THE BIRTH OF CHRIST 
Well, 2,000 years ago…the greatest gift the world has ever known, Jesus, came to earth as a baby. 
And yet, I want to tell you, that the way in which He came was completely unexpected
Now, the Jewish people, that’s God’s chosen people of the Old Testament, were EXPECTING that a Savior, a Messiah, would one day come and rule over his people forever. 
But most people hadn’t read the prophecies very closely, so most were confused about what they were actually looking for 
And in the time of Jesus, the Jewish people were occupied by the Roman Empire, and so talk of a Messiah coming to save them from the Romans was more prominent than ever. 
Now, let me ask you. 
If you were living 2,000 years ago, in say, Jerusalem…
And someone told you the Messiah was going to come that very year…
How would you have guessed it would all play out? 
My guess is that probably NONE of us would have scripted it out like it happened…which, by the way, is just another logical reason to believe that it DID actually happen
If anyone was trying to make this up, this is not the way you write it. 
In fact, what I want to do this afternoon is give you FIVE ways that the coming of the Savior was completely unexpected to the people of that day…and, maybe, even to us today.   
The first reason that the first Christmas was unexpected was that….
5 Reasons for An Unexpected Christmas: 
1. Jesus came as a baby, not an adult 
It almost seems weird to say because we KNOW the story, right? 
We’re so conditioned by it being this way, that it’s hard to think of it in any other way. 
But the prophecies speak of God coming to earth and establishing his reign forever. 
And when you think of God, you think of power and strength…not, cute little baby, right?  
Many people of that day would have been picturing God coming down, on the clouds, in adult form, to rescue them. 
But God comes, not in a show of force, but in humility, as a little baby.  
It’s…truly…unexpected. 
5 Reasons for An Unexpected Christmas: 
1. Jesus came as a baby, not an adult 
2. Jesus came from no-name parents 
History tells us often of the births of really important people. 
Particularly of princes & princesses born into royalty 
And what do we think of these people? 
Take Prince William’s son, Prince George of England.  
We naturally expect that even though little George is currently in the palace probably playing with a Peppa Pig Playset, that one day, he’s going to grow up, be famous, and do great things, right? 
And so whom would you expect the Savior of the entire World to be born to?  
Probably the King, right? 
Maybe King Herod? 
Not that King Herod can have a baby, but his wife, you get the deal.  
Maybe the wife of Caesar? 
But Mary??  Joseph? 
Who in the world are they?  
Most scholars believe Mary was just a teenage girl. 
A nobody from nowhere. 
And yet, God looks not at your outward accomplishments and place in society, but at our hearts. 
Look at what God says to this no-name woman from the middle of nowhere: 
We’re told that God sent the angel Gabriel… 
(Luke 1:27-28) – NIV 
to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
God’s unexpected ways, often aren’t our ways.  
Okay, let’s take a look at another unexpected reason…
5 Reasons for An Unexpected Christmas: 
1. Jesus came as a baby, not an adult 
2. Jesus came from no-name parents 
3. Jesus was born in the least of towns
He was born in Bethlehem, which was a tiny village just outside of Jerusalem. 
2,000 years ago, many people probably didn’t even know where it was.
It’s like telling people from the South Metro you’re for Ham Lake…and they’re like, “Where?”  
(Ham Lake PNG)
And you say, “you know, the town with the lake shaped like a HAM!”  
And yet, it was prophesied hundreds of years earlier that the Savior would be born in Bethlehem…most just missed it.  
And those who did think about a Messiah being born, would have guessed he would be born in Jerusalem or Rome or some other important city. 
But the prophecy said this: 
(Micah 5:2) – NIV 
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, (eff-ra-thah) 
   though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
   one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
   from ancient times.”
5 Reasons for An Unexpected Christmas: 
1. Jesus came as a baby, not an adult 
2. Jesus came from no-name parents 
3. Jesus was born in the least of towns 
4. His birth announcement was made to the “unimportant”  
That is unimportant by “society’s standards,” not by God’s standards. 
We’re told that God sends down one angel, and then a heavenly host of angels (that means an entire army of them) to announce the birth of His son...
…but He sends those angels to…shepherds.  
Dirty, often misunderstood, definitely not high-on-the-ladder-of-success…shepherds.
Author Max LucAdo says it this way:  
“Had the angel gone to theologians, they would have first consulted their commentaries. Had he gone to the elite, they would have looked around to see if anyone was watching. Had he gone to the successful, they would have first looked to their calendars. So the angels went to the shepherds…men who didn’t have a reputation to protect or an ax to grind or a ladder to climb.” – Max Lucado  
Are you getting this?  
It’s almost nothing like you would script if you were making it up. 
It’s unexpected! 
But remember, God is not like us. 
5 Reasons for An Unexpected Christmas: 
1. Jesus came as a baby, not an adult 
2. Jesus came from no-name parents 
3. Jesus was born in the least of towns 
4. His birth announcement was made to the “unimportant”  
5. His birth was a mostly private event 
Again, if I was told 2,000 years ago that the Messiah is coming in the next few months, and I’m clued in that he’s coming as a baby, this is what I’m picturing it will look like:  
(Show Lion King clip of Rafiki holding Simba over the rock to all of the animals) 
We actually had that clip produced for this service.  
No, I’m just kidding that’s from the new Lion King that’s coming out this summer 
But Jesus’ birth looks nothing like that.  Instead, it looks like this: 
(Luke 2:6-7) – NIV 
6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
The Savior of the world…God’s son, is born in a stable…which some conjecture was built into a cave 
There’s hardly any fanfare to it. 
No palace, no crowd of people, not even a crib lined with silver and gold. 
In fact, I love in the Book of Luke in the Bible, when the angels tell the shepherds that the Messiah has been born nearby…and then they give them a sign for how they will KNOW which baby is the Messiah  
And, if you haven’t read the story, you’re thinking, “Yeah, okay, the sign will be, ‘Look for baby holding the royal, gold scepter… 
But look at what they say: 
(Luke 2:12) – NIV 
This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
But again, pretend like you don’t know the story. 
The angels basically said, “Here’s how you will recognize which baby is the Son of God:  It’s the one that’s lying in the grimy feeding trough!” 
What?!  
It’s all about as unexpected as you can get!


THE UNEXPECTED THINGS ABOUT HOW HE TREATS YOU 
And so when you study the story of Jesus’ birth, you see it’s not at all what you might expect for a first Christmas…the birth of a Savior 
But…if you keep reading the whole story, you might realize that unexpected gifts aren’t always a letdown. 
Sometimes…the unexpected gift is the one we actually need. 
The famous philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, once wrote a story about a King who loved a poor woman who was just a commoner. 
And yet this incredibly rich and powerful king felt that if he indeed asked this peasant woman he loved, to marry Him, that he would never know for certain if she would have loved him just for himself.  
Or did she just say she loved him simply because of what he could offer her (the palace, riches, fame, etc.)  
And so the king decided that the only way he would know if she truly loved him for who he was…and the only way he could TRULY prove his love to her…was to descend down to where she was. 
So he laid aside all his power, wealth, and privileges, and became a commoner, just like her, to win her true love. 
That’s what Jesus, the unexpected King, is like. 
He is one who left heaven, and it’s throne and its incomparable riches, to be born in a dirty manger. 
Why? 
For you. 
He did it for you.  
To win your heart. 
God knew that if He had merely stayed in the palace of heaven…or even if he just rode down to earth on a chariot of fire, while we may be impressed, he most likely wouldn’t have our hearts.  
And that’s what He wants.  He wants your heart. 
He wants to show you that He IS NO ORDINARY KING.  
Think about this…just as King Jesus came in an unexpected way, the way King Jesus treats you is unexpected for a King as well. 
A normal king wouldn’t pay attention to people like us. 
We’re nobodies.  
And yet the Bible tells us that he’s pursuing you.  
That He desires that you KNOW Him…that you invite Him into your life.  
Think about THAT! 
The king…of the UNIVERSE…came down to our level on earth because He wants to be in a relationship with you! 
By the way, that’s why he showed up to shepherds and not celebrities. 
He wants you to know that He’s interested in people like US. 
No matter who you are…no matter what you’ve done. 


THE GOSPEL 
He’s the unexpected King. 
Even in how he looks at justice.   
Have you noticed that nowadays, our culture wants justice for absolutely everything?
You just look at someone funny, and they’re offended by you…and want justice to be done on you. 
Do you know what Merriam-Webster’s “Word of the Year” was for 2018? 
JUSTICE
In the last 12 months alone, the word “justice” has been looked up 74% more often than in the previous years. 
We crave justice. 
Justice to be done for those who are committing wrongs. 
And this is perhaps where Jesus makes the most unexpected move of all. 
On, not Christmas weekend, but Easter weekend, 33 years later…
Instead of riding into Jerusalem on a chariot like a typical king…he comes riding in on a donkey. 
He’s not given a crown of jewels, but a crown of thorns…
And he willing, WILLINGLY, dies on the cross.  
Why? 
So justice could be done. 
The Bible is incredibly clear that all of us are sinners. 
We fall short of God’s standard.  
We cheat, we lie, we lust, we backstab, we hate, we… you know…the list goes on. 
And if we want JUSTICE so badly, we must not forget that there also must be justice for our own sins.. 
And don’t miss what I’m about to say: 
Maybe you’ve been opposed to coming to church or put-off by Christianity because you’ve always thought that God was up there on his throne…shaking his head at your shortcomings and mistakes. 
Maybe you thought He was like any other King, high and mighty executing judgment on everyone else. 
But Jesus isn’t like any other King.  He’s the UNEXPECTED King!
He’s not sitting on his throne shaking his head at you. 
NO!  He came down for you! 
Because God loves you, and wants to be in a relationship with you…He sent his VERY OWN SON, to die on the cross for you. 
And when Jesus died on the cross, what He was doing, the Bible tells us, is that He was taking our punishment, for our sins, for us! And so He dies on the cross. 
He lets justice be done…but he lets it be done to himself.  
That’s amazing love. 
And the Bible says: 
(John 3:16) – NIV 
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
And so if you believe that Jesus died for you, in your place, and you invite Him into your life to become His follower…you can be completely forgiven. 
Justice will be served…on Him. 
Now that’s unexpected!
There’s no better news than that. 
But it comes with a warning
But, the bible says, if you don’t believe...if you just try and ignore that He let His own Son die for you, and you try and be “good enough on your own” 
If you don’t invite him into your life…to be the leader of your life. 
Then the punishment will still be on us, and justice will come upon us. 
And it will be served by separating us from God, in hell, for all of eternity. 
But Jesus came on Christmas to rescue you. 
He came like no other King because He is going to treat you like no other king.  
And for those of you that want to make that decision today, I want to give you an opportunity to start that relationship with Him right now. 
I want this to be a special moment between you and God, so let’s just have everyone bow their heads and close their eyes
If that’s you…and you do want to tell God for the first time today that you believe God sent his son for you…
That He loves you.  
That He can forgive you. 
That you can go to heaven forever…by believing he died in your place.  
And that you can let Him into your life…right now…to follow Him. 
If you want to make that decision to be forgiven and to follow Him this afternoon… in a minute…I’m actually going to ask you to respond by quietly standing up right where you are. 
It’s a symbolic way to say to God, “God, I believe you came down for me, and starting today…I will follow you!
This is how you can be forgiven, go to heaven, and have a relationship with God…it’s by making this decision. 
NO ONE will be looking at you…no one (don’t even think about that!).  This is about you and God. 
So wherever you are, if I’m talking to you and you’ve never done this before.. and you’d like to become a follower of Jesus Christ, to enter into a relationship with Him for the first time, and accept his gift of forgiveness, I want you to stand up wherever you are.  (you can stay standing for a minute as others join you)
If God is nudging your heart in this…that means He’s talking to you.  That means…it’s TIME. 
If God himself is prompting you to do something right now, don’t disobey that. 
Stand up.  God is talking to you! 
If you’re standing up, would you pray this prayer with me?
This is not a magic prayer…but just a prayer to tell God where you’re at… the Bible says, we 1) believe in our hearts and 2) confess with our mouths.  
So I want you to say it out loud with me. Repeat after me
IN fact, there are a lot of other believers already in the room, and this is what we believe.  
So, let’s all say it together with these new believers.  
Repeat after me
Dear God
I confess to you, that I have sinned against you.  
But God I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place
And God I thank you, for forgiving my sins.  
And now I commit, to following you, with my life.   

As everyone else still has their eyes closed, I want to talk to those of you who are standing for just a moment   
I need you to do one more thing for me. 
It will only take a few small minutes, but I believe these are a few of the most important minutes of your life.  
You’ve just made the most important decision of your life, and I believe that requires some more information…
So here’s what we’re going to do…In just a second, one of our leaders is going to pray, but right before he does that, I need you to quietly sneak out of your row, and head towards the hallway where it will be quiet.   
I’m going to go out there with you…and I want to give you some extremely important resources & next steps to get you started on the most important journey of your life. 
Also, if you feel like today was the day that you too did, in your heart, surrender your life to Jesus, but you just didn’t want to stand up…
Come out in the hallway with us too, just sneak out while people have their eyes closed
I promise you all will be able to sneak right back into the service & back into your seats in just a few moments. 
All right, one of our leaders is going to pray 
But for now, would you please had out there with me.  
Go ahead.  We can all go together.    


Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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