La Navidad ya casi está aquí. Los más pequeños han estado esperando, ansiosamente esperando a que llegue la gran mañana. Esperan encontrar algunas de las cosas…no, vamos a enfrentar los hechos, que están esperando ver todo debajo del árbol que han pedido a Santa durante los últimos dos meses! Las expectativas realizadas harán que sea un momento de Instagram para mamá y papá. Las expectativas insatisfechas pueden dejar a un pequeño preguntándose, mientras está rodeado de regalos, why they didn’t get the one thing they really wanted.
No son sólo los más pequeños los que tienen que navegar por las expectativas insatisfechas en Navidad. Nuestra sociedad nos ha enseñado que la Navidad es una feliz, alegre…bien, es la época más maravillosa del año. Derecho? Esa no es mi experiencia. Mi experiencia es que la Navidad puede ser muy difícil, tiempo difícil. Tengo amigos que experimentarán su primera Navidad con alguien desaparecido por la muerte. El pasado martes por la noche organizamos 71 niños y sus familias para nuestra Navidad Angel Tree/Bethel. Esos niños son una pequeña fracción del número total de niños que se perderán su mamá o papá en Navidad porque están encarcelados, algunos durante mucho tiempo. El divorcio complica las cosas durante las vacaciones, ¿no?? ¿Quién conseguirá a los niños en Acción de Gracias, Víspera de Navidad, y quién les dará el día de Navidad? ¿Habrá otra pelea como la que ha habido en el pasado? Algunos han perdido trabajos y las cosas están muy apretadas en este momento. Almorcé esta semana con un viejo amigo que está cuidando a tres miembros de la familia que tienen problemas de salud graves y mi amigo está cansado. Otros tienen el blues, están deprimidos, y ver a todos los felices, gente alegre los hace tristes y molestados que no están más felices acerca de la vida. Todas estas situaciones que acabo de compartir contigo son situaciones de la vida real. No son una producción de Hallmark ni una expectativa idealizada de lo que queremos esta Navidad. Son realidad, la dura verdad de que la vida es difícil, a menudo doloroso, y simplemente no hay que evitarlo. Son las realidades de la vida las que pueden complicar las cosas en Navidad si…si estamos esperando algo maravilloso, mágica, and marvelous.
Estoy seguro de que todos han visto Una Navidad Charlie Brown. Charlie Brown tenía el mismo problema, ¿no?? Estaba deprimido en Navidad y le molestaba. Fue al psiquiatra en busca de respuestas. Lucy trató de diagnosticar a Charlie Brown y finalmente ella le dijo que se involucrara en algo positivo, like directing the nativity play. Para hacer el cuento largo, things really went from bad to worse for Charlie Brown until finally he threw up his hands and confessed, “Everything I do turns into a disaster. I guess I really don’t know what Christmas is all about.” Then Charlie Brown turned his head to the heavens and yelled, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” Linus spoke up and said, “Sure Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.” He walked over to the center of the stage and began to quote Luke 2,
8 Y había pastores viviendo en los campos cercanos, velaban sobre sus rebaños durante la noche. 9 Un ángel del Señor se les apareció, y la gloria del Señor brilló alrededor de ellos, y estaban aterrorizados. 10 Pero el ángel les dijo:, «No tengan miedo. Os traigo buenas nuevas de gran gozo que será para toda la gente. 11 Hoy en la ciudad de David un Salvador ha nacido para usted; es Cristo el Señor. 12 Se trata de una señal de: Hallaréis un niño envuelto en paños y mentira en un manger.» 13 De pronto una multitud del ejército celestial apareció con el ángel, alabando a Dios y diciendo:, 14 «Gloria a Dios en las alturas, y en la tierra paz a los hombres sobre que su favor descansa.» (Lucas 2:8-14 NIVO)
“That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.” And that is still what Christmas is all about for you and for me. The real meaning of Christmas is not found in the hope of getting what we want, feeling what we want to feel, or having those we want to still be with us. The real meaning of Christmas is found in focusing on the gift that was given.
Echemos un vistazo a nuestra escritura para esta mañana. Ante todo, I want to set the scene for us. If you will go back to the beginning of the chapter we can see that the Roman Emperor, César Augusto, ordered that a census be taken of all of the people ruled by the Romans. Leamos Lucas 2:1-3 juntos.
1 En aquellos días Augusto César promulgó un decreto que un censo de todo el mundo romano. 2 (Este fue el primer censo que se realizó mientras Cirenio era gobernador de Siria.) 3 Y cada uno fue a su ciudad para registrar. (Lucas 2:1-3 NIVO)
Caesar Augustus was not his name. Caesar Augustus is really two titles combined. Caesar is a title like “king, ruler, or emperor” for the Romans. Augustus is an adjective used to describe someone. “Augustus” means honored, revered, muy estimada, highly regarded.” This esteemed emperor’s real name, given to him at birth, was Gaius Octavius Thurinus, but folks called him Octavian. Many believe Caesar Augustus’ 41 year reign and all that he accomplished made him the greatest of the rulers of the Roman Empire.
There are some interesting things you need to know about Caesar Augustus. He claimed to have had a miraculous birth, he called himself “lord” and “savior,” and was worshiped as the “son of God.” Caesar Augustus wrote something like his memoirs which, translated into english, are called, “Deeds of the Divine Augustus.” An inscription found in the city of Pergamum reads, “The Emperor Caesar, son of god, Augustus, ruler of all land and sea.” A coin of Tiberius, Caesar Augustus’ successor, dice, “Son of the Divine Caesar, the Divine Augustus.” I could go on and on, but I’ve shared this information to let you know how powerful, how esteemed, even worshiped Caesar Augustus was by the Romans. Así, when Caesar Augustus called for a census to be taken, a census would be taken of all the citizens of the Roman Empire, but is there more to the story? Leamos Lucas 2:3-5.
3 Y cada uno fue a su ciudad para registrar. 4 Entonces José también subió desde la ciudad de Nazaret en Galilea a Judea, a Belén la ciudad de David, porque pertenecía a la casa y la línea de David. 5 Él fue allí para inscribirse con María, que estaba comprometido para casarse con él y estaba esperando un niño. (Lucas 2:3-5 NIVO)
Because of the census, Joseph and Mary, who the King James Version says “was great with child,” she was very pregnant, had to make about an eighty mile trip to Bethlehem from Nazareth where they had been staying. If it were not for the census they would have never made the trip to Bethlehem, but it was important that Jesus be born in Bethlehem and not in Nazareth. ¿Por qué? Bien, it had been prophesied by Micah, algunos 700 years before Jesus’ birth, that a ruler would come from Bethlehem. Read it with me in Micah 5:2.
2 «Pero usted, Belén Efrata, aunque pequeña para estar entre las familias de Judá, de ti me saldrá el que será Señor en Israel, cuyos orígenes son desde el principio, desde la antigüedad.» (Miqueas 5:2 NIVO)
Can God use the Emperor of the Roman Empire to accomplish His will? Oh mi amigo, do you not remember that God is the King of all kings, Él es el Señor de todos los señores, He is the Emperor of all emperors? Warren Weirsbe wrote,
Augustus Caesar was ruling, but God was in charge, for He used Caesar’s edict to move Mary and Joseph eighty miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem to fulfill His Word. Rome took a census every fourteen years for both military and tax purposes, and each Jewish male had to return to the city of his fathers to record his name, occupation, propiedad, and family. All of this occurred just as the Scriptures said, and Caesar unknowingly played an important part. (Wiersbe, Warren. El comentario de exposición de la Biblia)
Throughout history the Jews had been anticipating the coming of the Messiah. It wasn’t simply wishful thinking, but the promise of God. They longed for and looked for the Messiah, someone who would rescue them from their predicament and plight in life. There are so many prophecies in the Hebrew Bible about the coming of the Messiah. There were signs the people were to look for as they awaited His arrival. Generations were born and generations died longing for His coming. Entonces, Paul nos dice, in his letter to the church in Galatia,
4 Pero cuando había llegado el momento de plena, Dios enviada a su hijo, nacido de una mujer, nacido bajo la ley, 5 para redimir a aquellos bajo la ley, que podamos recibir todos los derechos de los hijos. (Gálatas 4:4-5 NIVO)
En el momento adecuado, in the fullness of time, not a moment too soon or a split second too late, Jesús nació. The announcement wasn’t anything like you’d expect of royalty. Do you remember July 22, 2013? It was the date of William and Kate’s firstborn son’s birth, en Londres, Inglaterra. Reporters had been camped outside of St. Mary’s Hospital in London for days awaiting the arrival of the royal baby, Prince George. When he was born the news spread like wildfire around the world. He would be third in line to the throne behind his grandfather Prince Charles and his father, Prince William. The British people spent some $300 million on royal baby-themed goods and party supplies celebrating the newborn prince’s birth. The birth announcement of Jesus wasn’t anything like that.
Luke tells us there were shepherds out in a field at night keeping watch over their flocks when an angel of the Lord appeared to them. Shepherds? Why wasn’t the announcement made in Rome? Wouldn’t you think the angel of the Lord would have gone to the Emperor or maybe the High Priest at the temple in Jerusalem? Shepherds? En serio? You don’t have to know anything about first century shepherds to know they would not be high on the list of the powerful and influential. Nobody went to college to become a shepherd. Their work made them unclean in the eyes of the religious authorities. A shepherd’s testimony wasn’t permitted in a court of law because they were not considered trustworthy. Shepherds didn’t go to the temple very often, it at all, because they were working, taking care of their sheep and they were looked down on by others. The rabbis who put the Talmud together considered shepherds dishonest and prone to violating Jewish law. Philo, a Jewish writer, described shepherds as “mean and inglorious.” If the world had been told that an angel of the Lord was on his way to make an important announcement, no shepherd would have ever guessed that he would be the one the angel would seek out to share the news. Y sin embargo,, these shepherds, out in the field at night, were the chosen ones of God. This choice of God to reveal the good news to the least of society was not an aberration, it wasn’t a once-in-a-lifetime decision to include the least. It’s still the way God works with people. Pablo escribió,
26 Hermanos, consideren su propio llamamiento. No muchos de ustedes son sabios, según criterios meramente humanos; ni muchos poderosos; ni muchos los de noble cuna;. 27 Pero Dios ha escogido lo necio del mundo para confundir a los sabios; Dios ha escogido lo débil del mundo para avergonzar a los poderosos. 28 Él ha escogido lo vil del mundo y lo menospreciado–y las cosas que no son–para anular lo que es, 29 a fin de que en su presencia nadie pueda jactarse. 30 Es gracias a él que está en Cristo Jesús, que se ha convertido para nosotros sabiduría de Dios–es decir, nuestra justicia, santificación y redención. 31 Por lo tanto, como está escrito:: «El que se gloríe, gloríese en el Señor.» (1 Corintios 1:26-31 NIVO)
For those of you who feel forgotten, for those who have no influence, no power, possessing nothing that those in our society feel is important or desirable–you need to know your Father sees you and He has sent me to let you know that He desires you, El te ama, and He has chosen you to receive the good news, just like He chose those shepherds out in the field.
We read that the “glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.” The glory of the Lord would terrify any of us my friend. I know we have become so casual about God that we speak of Him like a buddy, my homeboy, the man upstairs, but if God were to blind us with His glory like Moses on Mount Sinai, like Saul on the road to Damascus, like these shepherds, we would be terrified as well. El ángel le dijo:,
10 Pero el ángel les dijo:, «No tengan miedo. Os traigo buenas nuevas de gran gozo que será para toda la gente. 11 Hoy en la ciudad de David un Salvador ha nacido para usted; es Cristo el Señor. (Lucas 2:10-11 NIVO)
Over and over again we run into people in God’s Word who are afraid. That’s comforting to me and I hope it is to you as well. No estoy solo. I’m not the only one who has to battle fear. Abrahám, Agar, Jacob, Moisés, Josue, Gedeón, Salomón, Josafat, Acaz, Jeremías, María, and many others found in God’s Word were afraid and yet they were told, “Do not be afraid, No temáis, Yo estaré contigo, I am with you.”
What’s really interesting is that when Luke describes the fear experienced by the shepherds he used the Greek word, “megas,” which means “large or great.” They had mega-fear. El ángel le dijo:, “I bring you good news of great joy.” It’s the same word. Their mega-fear would be transformed into mega-joy and only the Lord can do that my friend. The great joy the angel came to announce was for “all the people.” Not the religiously pious, not the influential powerbrokers, not the savvy politicians, not the wealthy aristocrats, but for all people…even shepherds..and even people like you and me. The angel told the shepherds to look for the Baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger, a feed trough. Is there a feed trough fit for a King? Pastor Spurgeon escribió,
Not in marble halls, wrapped in purple and fine linen, and welcomed by the great and mighty of earth, nay, this greatest of all princes is born amid the poverty of our ordinary manhood. He is One chosen out of the people, the people’s Saviour, and a manger receives the people’s King. (Charles Spurgeon)
The God of glory born a baby resting in a feeding trough looked upon by His mother, a young Jewish girl of no significance, not a blue-blood, but a virgin who had never known a man, his adopted father Joseph, a construction worker, and a host of animals oblivious to what was taking place. It is mind-boggling, ¿no es? This is how God chose to make His entrance into our existence? This is what the shepherds were to look for that night.
As soon as the shepherds were told what to look for, Who to look for, then we read, “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying…”
14 «Gloria a Dios en las alturas, y en la tierra paz a los hombres sobre que su favor descansa.» (Lucas 2:14 NIVO)
It is vitally important that we understand that last phrase, “to men on whom his favor rests.” This is a much better translation than the KJV which says, “good will toward men.” Some have taken that to mean that God’s peace comes to those who show good will towards others. What the angels were declaring was something altogether different. Peace comes to those on whom God’s favor rests. The Christmas gift of Jesus is God’s good will, His gift to us. Who are those who have God’s favor? They are those who receive the gift of God’s reconciling love, misericordia, and grace which has come to us from Jesus, Su único Hijo. I want to share the final segment of the story with you. I wish Linus would have shared it with Charlie Brown. veamos en Lucas 2:15 and let’s begin there.
15 Cuando los Ángeles los dejaron e ido al cielo, los pastores se dijeron unos a otros, «Vamos a ir a Belén y ver lo que ha sucedido, que el Señor nos ha hablado.» 16 Entonces se apresuró apagado y encontraron a María y José, y el bebé, que estaba acostado en el pesebre. 17 Cuando lo había visto, corra la voz sobre lo que se les había dicho acerca de este niño, 18 y todos los que oyeron se quedaron asombrados en lo que los pastores les dijo. (Lucas 2:15-18 NIVO)
Did you notice what the shepherds did once they saw the newborn King? When they had seen Him they spread the word! It’s really ironic don’t you think? Those who were barred from giving testimony in a manmade court of law were chosen by God to be the first evangelist, to give testimony of what they had seen and heard, to all of those they met. All of us who have experienced the gift of salvation, gracia, misericordia, perdón, alegría, and peace that has come to us by receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior of our lives must tell others the good news.
Let me share one more thing about this unforgettable gift received by the shepherds that night in Bethlehem. Those who were undeserving, those who weren’t expecting anything, were the very ones God chose to reveal the greatest news the world has ever received. It’s still true today. Para los seguidores de Jesús, one of the toughest challenges we face today, is to never forget what we were before Jesus came and opened our hearts and minds to our greatest need in life–God’s saving grace. And to remember that we are still being saved daily by God’s grace alone. It’s not that we were undeserving, we are still undeserving, al igual que todos los demás. Far too many followers of Jesus become self-righteous, high-minded, and look down on our broken world with disgust instead of empathy and love. Jesús le dijo a la multitud, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” If you are a sinner in need of God’s grace I want to invite you to speak that to the Lord this very morning. Decirle a que usted lo necesita. Tell Him you believe Him–you believe that Jesus is the Promised Messiah and you want to invite Him into your heart, to be King of your life this very morning.
Britton Christian Church
922 NW 91a
OKC, OK. 73114