Adventures in Missing Jesus
Text: Matthew 1, Luke 1-2 | Listen to Message
Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room
Woven into the glad tidings and great joy of The Christmas Story are the mini-narratives of three individuals who were not ready to receive Jesus as King.
1. King Herod missed Jesus because he didn’t want to lose power or control (Matthew 2:1-18).
Herod had spent his entire life strategically consolidating power through a series of marriages, murders, building projects, and wars. A practicing Jew, he’d convinced the Roman Senate to recognize him as the undisputed “king of the Jews” – and a client-king of Caesar.
Driven by an insatiable lust for status and control, The Jewish Encyclopedia describes him as “prepared to commit any crime in order to gratify his unbounded ambition.”
So imagine how Herod felt when “wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’” How dare some baby in Bethlehem lay claim to his title! How dare people fuss over this apparently-illegitimate infant rather than him!
Historians refer to what followed as the “murder of the innocents.” In an attempt to kill his new rival, Herod murdered every boy under the age of 2 living in that region. He would not share his throne with anyone.
2. Zechariah missed Jesus because he couldn’t see beyond his own reason and experience (Luke 1:5-20).
Zechariah was a priest who had the rare fortune of being chosen by lot to offer incense and prayers in the Temple. While performing his sacred duties, the angel Gabriel appeared to him by the altar and told him that he and his wife Elizabeth would have a son – a special son who would be the forerunner of the Messiah.
Instead of being overwhelmed with joy and gratitude, Zechariah scoffed at the angel’s promise: “You don’t get it, messenger man; that ship has sailed. My wife and I are way past childbearing age.” Zechariah was immediately put on “mute.” What good is a mediator who doesn’t believe God when He speaks to His people?
Reason was more real to Zechariah than faith. Biologically impossibility was more real to him than theological promise. Science was more real to him than the sovereign God who delights to do the supernatural. His experience was the loudest voice in his head, and his experience had been filled with the heartache and hopelessness of unmet expectations. If “hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12), Zechariah had a very sick heart. And he couldn’t see Jesus through the pain.
3. The Innkeeper missed Jesus because he had other commitments or priorities (Luke 2:7).
This guy barely gets a mention in The Christmas Story. If you blink you might miss it. On the night Jesus was born in Bethlehem, this man had no place for him in his inn. Does this mean every room in the inn was already taken by other guests? Or does it mean he didn’t want to deal with the noisy mess of childbirth that night? We don’t know. What we know is he was busy – and had no margin for his baby King.
What about you? Are you missing Jesus today for one or more of these reasons?
- Are you deliberately pushing him aside because you want the power and control to run your own life? Is welcoming him onto the throne of your heart incompatible with your selfish ambition?
- Are you letting the pain of unmet expectations silence his voice? Do your own wit, reason, and experience make his promises seem absurd?
- Or are you just simply so busy with other commitments and priorities, you have no bandwidth left for him?
The eternal God who flung 100 billion galaxies into space with just the breath of His mouth wrote Himself into the brokenness of our story in the person of Jesus. Heaven came down when God wrapped His forever Son in human flesh.
Herein is the infinite majesty, magnitude, and mystery of The Christmas Story: God became man to bring man back to God!
This is not the kind of King you want to miss. So ask yourself if you’re in jeopardy of doing that very thing – maybe by resisting him, doubting him, or marginalizing him to the leftovers of your life. Confess where he is not your Center. And receive his gift of faith.
“Let every heart prepare him room, let earth receive her King!”