Christmas Unplugged — Jesus was recognized not announced


Greg Barber

Last week we talked about how Jesus came humbly. As a child. In a dirty barn where the animals slept. To a humble family. Jesus came not to conquer or judge, but to have relationship

John 3:16–18
16 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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

Our hope in last week’s service was that we would dwell on the humility of God. Sit in it. Contemplate it. Feel it’s implications in our relationship with God. Feel it’s implications in God’s relationship with the people around us. 

I often find myself thinking about God from the perspective of how can I get close to God. 

  • He is out there
  • He is huge
  • He is perfect
  • He is powerful
  • He is God

And no matter how hard I try, I seem to fall short of getting to Him. But the reality that I see in scripturev is different. The character of God that I see over and over again in scripture shows that He is trying to get to us, to have relationship with. That He is running after us! The theme of the bible seems to be about God trying to connect with us in spite of us. It is not us trying to get to Him, it is Him trying to get to us, to have relaitonship with us. Jesus’ birth is the clearest picture of this. God coming to our level in order to connect with us. Sit in that reality. Think about that. 

Let me tell you right where we are going as we take a second week of christmas unplugged. A deeper look at the humility of God and then a challenge to be more Christ like. Propped up on our perspective of the character of God as humble, loving, caring, relational, perfect. 

Jesus you could have made such a grander entracne. Jesus you could learn a little from professional wrestlers…

Jesus, think about all the attention that could have been put on you if you would have made a grand entrace. Think about the attention, think about the buzz, think about the following!

Today we reflect on four moments at the beginning of Jesus’ life where he was recognized. What does that pattern teach us? And then we will reflectabout how we should be recognized not announced. How are we to reflect Christ?

So to get us thinking about this. Think about an attention seeker. What is going on inside? What is goes on inside a child that is not getting enough attention? 

When you think of a child that is crying out for attention you may think:

  • Annoying
  • Those parents…
  • Bad
  • Spoiled
  • I don’t want kids like that
  • I know what it is to have kids like that

But what is going on inside a child as they plead for attention? 

What is going on inside? 

That is a hard question. Maybe they are: 

  • Not feeling noticed
  • Lacking attention

So they responding with:

  • A tantrum
  • Getting in trouble
  • Pouting
  • Weeping
  • Screams
  • Breaks things

What is going on? 

Think about adults, we may not throw tantrums like kids… Maybe some do… But we all have our own need for attention, to be recognized, to be known. What is going on inside of an adult that is not getting enough attention? What do you see in an adult that is an attention seeking? What does that look like? How is that played out? Does it look like a tantrum?

An adult, consciously or unconsciously feels like they are not getting enough attention. An adult that is an attention seeker. They start to seek attention. Maybe in healty or unhealthy ways. 

Let me ask you a few quick questions: 

How much attention does a person need?
When does the need for attention become unhealthy?
What is going on inside someone who is an attention seeker?

Those attention seekers… Oh boy… They have issues. They are so hard to relate with. They are so draining. They really need to grow up. Well, what about you? What about me? When you feel like God doesn’t notice. When you feel like your friend and family don’t notice. When you feel like no one cares. How do you respond? Are you defensive and push people away? Are you needy and pull people in? Are you aloof and act like it doesn’t matter?

How do you respond to feeling unnoticed? What is happening inside of you when you are in “attention seeker” mode?

Jesus was recognized not annouced. Even when He was announced it was to the obscure, the insignificant or the outsider. He was announced to a handful of average shephards. He was announced to a group of Magi from the east. In fact the Magi where most known as Astrologers who were involved in various occult practices, including sorcery, and were especially noted for their ability to interpret dreams. These were not priests like we tend to think and depict in the nativity scene.

Even before He was born there is this weird interaction where Jesus is recognized as a blessed child:

Unborn John The Baptist LEAPS
Luke 1:39–45
39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

People were moved / motivated to cross His path

Simeon Recognized Jesus as the Messiah
Luke 2:22–35
22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”, 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

Prompting people to give attention to God

Anna Recognizes Jesus
Luke 2:36–52
36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.

Amazed by his wisdom

The Boy Jesus at the Temple — His Wisdom Is Recognized
Luke 2:41–52
41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

Over and over again Jesus was recognized. Mary and Joseph could have paraded Jesus around. God could have shot fireworks from heaven everywhere Jesus went. The face of God could have pushed through the clouds and gave Him a professional wrestler introduction everywhere he went. But instead he was recognized. What does that say to you? Not God in the booming announcement, but God in the wisper. 

I love what we see in 1 Kings 19. Elijah bursts onto the scene in 1 Kings 17 and confronts what shouldn’t be in Israel. He confronts Israel’s sin. He tells King Ahab that it is not going to rain until he says. He then runs off in hiding, is fed by ravens and a widow. Then returns to Ahab and has a showdown with the prophets of baal. Fire falls and consums Elijah’s offering proving that his God is the true God. He is pumped. The rain is coming so he runs in front of Ahab’s chariot and Jezebel threatens his life. Once again Elijah is on the run. 

1 Kings 19:9–18
9 And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

God in the wisper. God doesn’t just want attention, He wants relationship. 

What does it say about God when we understand that God doesn’t just want our attention, He wants a relationship?

Confident in who He is. Focused on being and doing, not just being seen. Is not throwing a tantrum because people are not noticing, but stays consistent. God wants relationship. 

What about us? Our being noticed? Do we need to proclaim who we are and what we believe to everyone that passes by? Do we need picket signs for fear that people don’t know what we stand for? How are we to be noticed? 

How we love each other

John 13:34–35
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

By our love

1 John 4:7–21
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

By the fruit we bear

Matthew 7:15–20
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
Matthew 7:21–23
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

As a Christian, as a follower of Christ, it is easy to get into a mode where we need to be announced. 

Hey, God! I am about to do some really good thing — ready — watch me. God look at me — I’m helping — I’m doing —I am a good little boy. God did you see that one? GOD, LOOK AT ME!

Hey everyone! I am about to do something really good because I want you to become a Christian. Look at me — I am helping — loving — serving — caring — LOOK AT ME — see — I am a Christian — I love God — you should do the same. Did you see that? I hope you didn’t miss it. I was really generous. I did that so you could see. LOOK AT ME — I’M A CHRISTIAN!

What does it say about a person as their faith is recognized not just simply announced?

Often times it’s so easy for us to look for God in the miracle, in the crazy, in the unexplainable, in the unimaginable. When the miracle doesn’t happen it’s easy for us to think God has gone silent. But God will never leave us. The issue is that we often don’t recognize God. We look for God in the major and miss our what God is really doing

Matthew 14:22–32
Jesus Walks on the Water
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.

The wind was crazy and the waves really were high, but Peter didn’t see them at first. He didn’t consider them at all; he simply recognized Jesus, stepped out in recognition of Him, and “walked on the water.” Then he began to take those things around him into account, and instantly, down he went.

Often times we recognize God for who he is and we step out in His strength, then self consideration enters and we begin to drown. We begin to be afraid. We start to doubt. Maybe Pride seeps in and we think we are doing it on our own. We start to take our eyes off of God and His strength and we realize we can’t do it on our own. We can’t make it through this issue, this job, this struggle, etc… We fail to recognize who God is. We fail to put our faith in Him. We fail to rely on His strength

When is it hardest for you to recognize God? When is it easiest?

Follow Up Questions

Read Luke 2:22–52

  1. Share your famous person sighting story.
  2. Share your 15 minutes of fame story. (When have you been in the paper, on the new, on stage)
  3. What is going on inside a person who is seeking attention?
  4. How did Simeon and Anna recognize Jesus?
  5. How have you recognized God in your life?
  6. How should be we recognized by God and by others?
  7. How can we better recognize God in our daily life?

Resources

http://www.wikihow.com/Stop-Being-an-Attention-Seeker

http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/385174/jewish/My-Child-Demands-Too-Much-Attention.htm

This post was adpated from a message shared at Corner Church by Scott Woller, Greg J Barber and Kelsey Barber.

Messages Christmas Unplugged, Christmas, Attention Seeker, Tantrum, Luke, Matthew