The Worst Birthday Party Ever (Luke 1:67-79)
Topic: Luke Passage: Luke 1:67–1:79
The Worst Birthday Party Ever
(One Lord: No One Like You)
December 21st, 2014
I. Billy's Birthday
Okay. You've had, and/or you've been to, and/or you've planned and hosted enough birthday parties to know a little something about the difference between a good one and a bad one, right? Well think about this scenario:
Little Billy was turning eight and he was super excited about his birthday party. He'd picked out his party theme, he'd chosen the kind of cake he wanted, and he'd personally signed all the invitations. On top of that, family and friends were RSVP-ing left and right. It was going to be, hands down, the best birthday party yet!
But when the big day came, Billy knew something was wrong from the moment the first guests arrived. Not only did they bypass him altogether, the only thing they seemed interested in was the birthday cake and figuring out who else was coming to the party. And when others arrived, they did the same thing. But wait, there's more. Someone, at some point (probably when Billy was in the bathroom), had changed all the decorations. Billy's dinosaur-themed party was now a combo cowboy and puppy dogs party! Wait. What?
But that wasn't the half of it. When it came time to open the presents, the party guests were giving the gifts, not to Billy, but to one another. And then Billy noticed his mom and dad were not giving out cake, but selling it, and a whole bunch of other stuff. What was going on here?
Heartbroken, Billy finally wandered upstairs to his room and tried to figure out how in the world a party that was supposed to be the best birthday ever could have so quickly become the worst.
II. The Biggest Missed Opportunity
Have you ever thought about Christmas in that same way? In most cases, isn't Christmas the worst birthday party ever? I've never heard anyone try to argue Christmas is NOT, by its very definition, a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. My goodness, his name is right there in the word Christmas!
But when you step back and look at the big picture, at the overall experience of the entire season, how many people can honestly say it's all focused on celebrating Jesus? Shopping, food, decorations, parties, Santa, snow, family, trees, cards, and a lot of vague talk about peace and joy...aren't those the things that dominate Jesus' birthday party?
But isn't the point of a birthday party, to honor, to highlight, to give thanks for the fact that a specific person came into the world?
Okay, wait a minute. What am I trying to say here? Am I saying no one should celebrate Christmas unless they agree to celebrate Jesus, or that at least one day a year, on December 25th, everyone should show up and put the spotlight on Jesus? No, that's not what I'm saying. I'm not saying we should not give gifts to one another, but only to Jesus, am I? No, that's not what I'm saying either.
Then...I'm not saying Jesus is like a birthday boy who is deeply concerned that He is not the center of attention, am I? Yes...yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. Jesus IS deeply concerned that He is not the center of attention. And he has good reason to be deeply concerned. Wouldn't you be concerned if the sun was not at the center of our solar system? Wouldn't you be concerned if a hub was not at the center of your bike wheel? Wouldn't you be concerned if a nucleus was not at the center of every atom in your universe? You see, if you truly understand who Jesus is, you will truly understand why He is so deeply concerned.
Listen, this birthday party analogy is not intended to chastise people who care very little about the traditional meaning of Christmas. Ultimately, the holiday is not the issue. Christmas is a human invention. The whole point of what I'm saying is that, in most cases, Christmas is a missed opportunity, probably the biggest missed opportunity in the world. Why? Because every year, every person who is, in one way or another, affected by Christmas has the chance to ask, “What kind of person's birth could affect so many people for so many years?”
III. The Passage: “Light...Was Coming Into the World” (John 1:1-4, 9, 10, 14, 16)
Two thousand years ago, a man named John, wanted to answer that very question for the people to whom he wrote. Listen to his words...
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He [that Word] was in the beginning [i.e. before the universe] with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  [You see] In him was life, and the life was the light of men...The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.  He [the Word] was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him [sounds like Billy's birthday party, doesn't it? But John continues:]...And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us [that's the Christmas story right there], and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth...For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. (John 1:14, 16)
There is and has been only one birth that could affect so many people for so many years: when the Creator became a creature; when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Do you understand why He must be the center of our attention? What kind of person is Jesus? He's God in human flesh. What kind of people are we? The kind who don't recognize our Maker, even when He walked among us.
We are the kind of people who are blind to the truth because we are so focused on what is not true. We are content with counterfeit hope, counterfeit happiness, counterfeit control, and counterfeit love. And so, we find ourselves sitting in a spiritual darkness of broken relationships, broken promises, broken dreams, broken solutions, and broken hearts, in the midst of a very broken world. We need the light. We need the true light.
Listen, if you don't agree with this assessment, okay. But I'd encourage you to keep thinking about why you believe what you believe. If you do agree (and know from experience what I'm saying is true), then please know this: there is hope. There is light. There is “grace upon grace”.
What is grace? Grace is God giving you and me the light and life we do not deserve. You see, Christmas truly is about an exchange, about giving. You give Jesus your heart, your life, your darkness, your brokenness, and in exchange, He gives you true light, eternal life, and wholeness in His love. How do we receive these gifts from Jesus? John goes on to write...
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
You see, the wooden manger in which Jesus was laid as a baby is a kind of reminder of the wooden cross on which Jesus was hung as a man. Why was He killed? He gave His life to take what we deserved in order to give us what we do not deserve; to give us grace; to satisfy justice in order to satisfy your yearning heart. But death could not hold Him. On the third day He came back to life, and because Jesus lives forever, we too can live forever...if we believe.
My prayer for you is that you would not miss the opportunity this global birthday party called Christmas is offering you. If the decorations become a distraction, if the busyness blinds us, if the giving of gifts distracts us from THE gift that was given, and the gifts being offered to us by God right now, then Christmas truly has become the worst birthday party ever. But the Good News is, it doesn't have to be. It shouldn't be. Why? Because from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
More in Christmas Messages
December 23, 2018A Lasting Peace (Luke 2:13, 14)
December 18, 2016The Lesson of the Christmas Tree (John 8:12-14)
December 20, 2015What's Missing (Acts 4:12)(Christmas Family Service)