What if unto us a child had never been born? What if unto us a Son had never been given? What if a virgin had not conceived or brought forth a Son, or called his name Emmanuel? What if God had not been ‘with us’? What if there had been no good tidings of great joy? What if unto us this day in the city of David, a Savior had not been born?
– Bethlehem –
Walk with me down the crowded streets… the air is muggy and thick… the mutterings and shouts of weary travelers are heard on every side… their water supply and patience are both running low…
Walk behind the inn to the little cave dugout in the side of the hill… you will not find what you expect… no Mary & Joseph… no little baby… only a donkey and a few sheep… and if you look over in the corner you will see a small, rickety manger… but if you peer down into it, all you will find is dirty hay… because Jesus never came.
– Shepherds on the hillside –
The sky is black… and it will stay that way… because there will be no angel choir… no heavenly announcement… no startled looks on their faces… they will sleep this night away like a million others… and like the rest of humanity, they will hear no heavenly messages of peace and joy… because Jesus never came.
– Woman at the well –
Travel with me to Samaria… and sit with me by the well and watch as a tired woman comes to get water… when she’s done drawing water she will go back to her miserable life… back to her heartache… she will leave with the same heavy heart that arrived with… and like the rest of humanity, she will carry her heartache for the rest of her life… because Jesus never came.
– Blind Bartimaeus –
Travel with me now to Jericho… and look there on the side of the highway… that old man slumped in a heap over there… his name is Bartimaeus… he doesn’t know we are here; because he’s blind… and like the rest of humanity, he will never see the light of day… because Jesus never came.
– Judgment Hall / Barrabas –
Now I want to take you to the far side of Jerusalem, to the western wall. As we walk through the gate into the courtyard, you will see the outline of Herod’s massive palace against the night sky… We approach the palace, and walk around the corner and into the Judgment Hall … we walk to the center of the hall and stand there on the brick floor looking up at Pilate’s balcony… but there are no massive throngs of people… there are no chants from the crowd, because there is no crowd… the torches along the wall aren’t lit… and the balcony where Pilate stands is empty… there is no midnight trial going on… there are no screaming Pharisees, no washing of Pilate’s hands, no Peter by the fire outside in the courtyard… all is quiet and dark and still…
We must hurry and leave the palace grounds, for our last, and most important destination awaits, but before we do, I must point out one more thing to you. Walk with me behind the palace and down into the dungeon. If you peer through the darkness into the corner of the room you will see the outline of a man bound in bonds and stocks… his name is Barrabas… he’s a convicted murderer who will never be released… and like the rest of humanity, he will spend every day of his life in bondage and darkness… because Jesus never came.
– Calvary –
Now let’s leave the palace and head north into the Tyropoeon Valley of northern Jerusalem… we’ll follow it all the way to a little dusty road called the Via Dolorosa… We will follow it outside the city to a hill called Golgotha… But instead of the three crosses you might expect, there are only two… no spear in the side… no crown of thorns… no being wounded for our transgressions… no being bruised for our iniquities…
without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins… so like the rest of humanity, these two thieves will die in their sin and go to hell… because Jesus never came.
There is no silent night… there is no joy to the world… there is no peace on earth… No church… every heart gripped by sin… every soul destined for hell… you and I would have no hope, no future, no peace, no joy, no reason to live…
But He did come!
And that is why we celebrate Christmas.
Why are YOU glad he came?