“And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
‘Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’”
In Whose Heart Can Jesus Be Born?
Christmas is the day that we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. We Christians are celebrating the coming of the Lord by setting apart one day as “Christmas.”
When I was a child, I used to go to church around Christmas. To be honest with you, I went there to get free tasty food. While I was young, people were impoverished with the Korean War. There were times I had to go to an orphanage in town with an empty bag to get some milk powder. At that moment I felt envious of those orphans because they seemed to be being fed better than I was. At the orphanage where I went begging, I saw a cross for the first time in my life. In those days orphanages were being supported by American Christians, so there used to be crosses at any orphanages. I didn’t have faith when I first went to church and looked at the cross, but as I got older, I came to put my faith in Jesus; and now I am delivering the Christmas message to you as a pastor.
Brothers and sisters, as I just told you, Christmas is the day for us to commemorate and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Then where on this earth was He born? I mean, in whose hearts was He born? To find out the answer is to know the real meaning of Christmas celebration.
Human being is frequently called a “small universe.” Jesus, who is God Himself, gave up His Heavenly King’s throne and came into this earth, that is, people’s hearts. Why did Jesus come to this earth? He was born in our hearts in order that He may be with us. So to speak, He came to this world to adopt us as God’s children. When He comes, in whose heart will He arrive? All the accounts of the birth of Jesus are recorded (by being focused) on this point.
When we look at the Bible to find out whose heart can bear God, we can find the fact that Jesus had never come into the heart of those people who were rich. The Lord doesn’t come into the hearts of those with powers and wealth, but He comes into the hearts of who are humble and fearful of God.
Our Lord was born in Bethlehem when Caesar Augustus was ruling the Roman Empire. It was not accidental that God was born in those days. The Lord arrived in time to save humankind from confusion, sins and suppression. Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world; therefore a census was taken in Israel, which was one of the Roman colonies.
Our Lord came to this world during the specific period of time according to His plans. He was conceived in Mary’s body, and came out to this world 10 months later. He was born as the Savior to human races. The Son of God clothed in a human body came to this earth as Savior.
Baby Jesus was conceived with the power of God’s Word while Mary was still engaged to Joseph. The Roman Emperor issued a timely decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world, and all the Israelites had to go to their hometowns to register. To summarize, God let the world go through a tumultuous situation to send Christ according to His prophecies. Joseph and Mary also went to register in their hometown of Bethlehem, and Mary, who was very close to the childbirth, started to have contractions. “Joseph, the baby is about to come out.” When Joseph saw his wife having contractions, he went to talk to an innkeeper.
“Sir, could you give us a room? My wife is about to have a baby. We need a room immediately.” Then the innkeeper said, “Are you out of your mind? This place is full of people from out of town, and we were about to charge people for staying in our yard. At this moment in time, do you want a room of your own?”
There Is No Place for Jesus to Dwell in Your Heart
The Bible says that baby Jesus was born in a stable because there was no room in the inn. Just because the inn did not have room for them, Jesus was born in the stable and placed in a manger. The highest Jesus was born in such a lowly place as stable and he was wrapped with cloths and placed in the manger.
Brothers and sisters, we need to know God’s love and His plans as we celebrate Christmas. It is same as knowing what kind of souls can serve Jesus Christ as Savior. Our Lord Jesus incarnated with human flesh. The highest God came down to this lowly place
Then who can receive Jesus? It is not those whose hearts are filled with worldly things, but those who have empty hearts that can welcome Jesus. People who can conceive Jesus are not those who are full of greed, delusions, and temptations, but those who anticipate God’s Kingdom and attend God at the center of their hearts.
I have God in my heart because things in this world do not satisfy my heart. Even though I use materials that are in this world, I am not attached to any of them. The Lord comes into the hearts of such people. Why wasn’t Jesus born in a nicer and cleaner place even when He could have? Jesus is the King of Heaven and the Creator of this earth, so it is reasonable to think that He should be born in a clean and luxurious room. Then why did He come into such a musty and shabby place like that? We can find the answer to this question when we look for reasons why Jesus arrived at that very moment in time. He had a message to tell us by showing how He unfolded the history of this world. He wanted to come into the hearts of those who have poor spirit.
Our Lord also visits people who are inclined to worldly possessions, but He cannot be born in their hearts because there is no room to accommodate Him in their hearts. Our Lord continues visiting the hearts of people even as we speak. He is with us now and He will be with us forever. The Lord wants to reside in our hearts forever.
Jesus has knocked on so many people’s hearts this year too. “Let me in. I am your Savior. I have saved you. I will make you prosper. I will adopt you as God’s child.” He wanted to come inside of people’s hearts like this. But sadly many people rejected Jesus. Some people turn Jesus away because they do not have any room for Jesus while they do for things that are visible such as money, physical pleasure, knowledge and fame. “I have some studying to do. I have to get my doctoral degree, make money and do many other things. I am determined to be famous and rich, so I don’t have any room for you. Visit me again when I am about to die, then I will be ready for you.” Numerous people turned Him down saying these things this year. Jesus wanted to be born in all people’s hearts. However, many of them refused to take Him in. Those who are interested in only the materialistic world rejected Jesus, so He came into the hearts of those who have a poor spirit—a spirit like a stable where only cattle stay. The Lord comes and stays in such empty hearts.
Those who welcomed the Lord are not attached excessively to the things of the world even if they are necessities to them. They do not abandon the Lord just to gain the worldly things. These people place their hopes in Jesus and trust in Him while they live out their faith even in times of troubles. That is why Jesus is born in the hearts of those who have a poor spirit, a discouraged and humble spirit. This also explains why worldly people and rich people with many possessions hardly receive Jesus as their Savior. Even if they believe in Jesus, they are more interested in the things of this world. People who go to church to be rich and to have more businesses cannot bear Jesus in their hearts.
Some people in the world think very highly of themselves. On the contrary, there are people who underestimate themselves. The Lord goes into the hearts of those who know their own insufficiencies. Only those who realize their lowliness, sinfulness and admit that they are nobody can welcome Jesus and attend Him.
When we go out to preach the gospel, we meet people who greet us superficially and leave in haste. They probably think the counterpart is not compatible to them. They might think they are superior to us, the workers of the genuine gospel. Whenever I see those snotty people, I feel sad even though I understand their ignorance. They treat evangelists with scorn when they hear, “Believe in Jesus.” Come to think of it, most people with money and authority think light of Jesus.
For this reason, the number of believers is decreasing. It is because people’s financial situations have improved a lot. If you say, “Believe in Jesus. Jesus loves you. Join us in Heaven by believing in Jesus,” to those rich people who have their own luxury cars and houses, they will give you a stare and walk away without saying anything. They are misguided to think they are privileged people just because they have possessions such as luxury cars and lord-like mansions.
Brothers and sisters, can you think of anyone who is richer and nobler than Jesus? We take pity on them and try to help them to have faith in Jesus in order for them to go to Heaven; but we cannot force them if they are not willing to receive Jesus. However, there are some rich people who want to believe in Jesus and be a part of the Church. They couldn’t get satisfaction from their wealth and reached a conclusion that they needed God. Others feel that they won’t survive a day without Jesus.
Dear beloved saints, as we celebrate Christmas, we need to study who can bear Jesus and who cannot. We should commemorate the meaning of Jesus’ birth and live a life that receives the remission of sins and help from the Christ.
The Lord Comes to the Pitiful
When the Lord was born to this world, His name was Jesus. Jesus means ‘Savior,’ while Christ means Messiah, Mashiyach in Hebrew, which means the anointed One. Let’s look at Luke 1:50-55.
“And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever.”
The passage that we have just read talks about those who can get compassion from Jesus and receive Jesus into their hearts. God has compassion on those of us who are poor in spirit. He shows His infinite mercy on such people so that it is written, “His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.”
Whose heart does God come into? It is the hearts of those who fear God. God doesn’t come into the hearts of those who do not fear Him. Those who fear God and obey God with an immediate “Yes!” can bear God in their hearts. We can see that the hearts of those who received the remission of sins by faith and became children of God are obedient to God’s Word even when the Word of God does not make any sense to them. We have observed those hearts bearing Jesus. Our Lord is born into the hearts of those who acknowledge the Word of God just as it is written.
Who Does Our Lord Scatter?
“He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts” (Luke 1:51). Our Lord came to this world and did salvation work for us. God has saved those who fear God and removed all their sins. He delivers them from the power of darkness, curses, hell and the Devil.
However, the Lord is not always kind-hearted and loving. One of the things He did was to scatter those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He did not leave the proud alone, but He turned them all down. Verse 51 that states, “He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.” This basically means that God would send those proud people in their inmost thoughts to hell no matter whether they admit their pride or not. The Lord keeps them from coming to Him even if they want to put their faith in Jesus.
Our Lord is not always kind to people. He doesn’t always accept people with “Okay, No problem!” He is the God of love but at the same time He doesn’t condone those sinful people who would not seek Him or believe in Him. He sends them to hell. But to those who seek Him from the heart and still do not know how to depend on Him, and to those who are disappointed at their lacking, He shows His mercy and kindness. Our Lord is like that. He saves us from all sins and sends us to Heaven as children of God. He is such a loving God. However, He scatters the proud and sends them to hell.
Our Lord has these two different sides to Him. “He has put down the mighty from their thrones, And exalted the lowly” (Luke 1:52). He puts the worldly authorities down and feeds the hungry with good things. God saves and adopts those who thirst and hunger for the righteousness, yearn for the remission of sins, God’s nationhood and Heavenly citizenship. To those people, God becomes God of favors.
However, He brings down rulers and the rich. God is God of truth. He never fails to put down those who challenge Him. He still brings down those who try to misuse their worldly authorities in the Church and corrupt God’s Church by spreading their own doctrines and offering their money. No matter how much authority they might have, they are never greater than our Lord. When they challenge God with their limited authority, our greater God will bring them down without mercy and send them to hell.
The Bible tells us the following. “You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Exodus 20:3-6).
I haven’t seen anybody prosper from serving their dead ancestors. As a matter of fact, families of first-borns or children of first-borns do not have much success. Most first-borns tend to exercise their authority as the eldest and bring God’s condemnation on themselves. A lot of families of first-borns go bankrupt and have family illness for this reason.
What is the difference between the descendent of righteous people who have fear for God’s Word and the descendent of those who challenge God? The Lord has brought down rulers from their thrones. Brothers and sisters, isn’t it reasonable to expect the descendent of those in authorities to be happier and more successful than others? On the contrary, however, they become nobody. It is because God brings them down from their high positions when they misuse their authority and do not fear God. No worldly powers are useful before God.
God takes away all the power, wealth, fame and health from those who are not afraid of God. Once God of true power and authority brings them down, who can reclaim their authority? The authority comes from God, and when God takes away the authority, that is the end of it. All authority is from God. All the love and blessings are also in God’s hand. Powers are up to our Lord, who was born as our Savior on Christmas day.
Our Lord has lifted up the humble; He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. It is said that our Lord lifts up the lowly. Are you lowly or are you proud of your authority? The answer is simple. We human beings are all lowly before God. Only those who realize this fact receive God’s Word.
The almighty God said to Mary through an angel, “Your relative, Elizabeth was barren, but she is now pregnant. God is going to do the miraculous work in you. It is the Word of the almighty God.” Then, Mary replied, “I am a lowly maidservant of God. Let it be to me according to your word.”
What did Mary, who was the biological mother of Jesus, call herself? She called herself a lowly maidservant. She didn’t call herself “the Queen of Heaven,” but a lowly maidservant. Mary is not the Queen of Heaven. God picked a lowly girl and spoke to her; Mary accepted God’s Word and was able conceive Jesus. The Lord incarnated through Mary’s body to save all human races.
Jesus lifts up the humble. What is the reason we think highly of Mary’s faith? It is because Jesus lifted her up. Mary was as lowly as we are, but she was fully aware of her lowliness. Because she humbled herself, saying, “I am a lowly maidservant of God. Let it be to me according to God’s Word”, she could conceive Jesus.
Our Lord Lifts up the Humble and the Lowly
Our Lord lifted a lowly person like me. I was truly lowly. As far as I know, all the famous figures in authority were also lowly. There is not a single person who is not lowly. But people didn’t honestly admit their lowliness before God, so God couldn’t lift them up. I know how lowly I am. If God says so, I think that is the way it should be. I take God’s Word as it is; when God says that He lifted up the humble and filled the hungry with good things, I believe and accept it into my heart. I really want to live a righteous life. I really want to live by God’s Word and be blessed with the promises God made in the Bible.
I wanted to go to Heaven and become God’s child. I also wanted to be a righteous person. I wanted to inherit fertile land and God’s great blessings. I wanted to be like one of the blessed people in the Bible. Then, God has bestowed all these blessings on me abundantly. Our Lord fed the hungry with such wonderful blessings. God filled us with good things because we are lowly.
As we celebrate Christmas, let’s come to our senses about who we really are. We are all lowly people before God. Even a president of a country and the richest person in the world are lowly in front of God. Those who know their lowliness can stretch their hands to God saying, “God, I am lowly. Grant me Your blessings. Please remove all my sins. Bless me.” Then God will show His favor to them and open the door to Heaven.
On the contrary, those who lift themselves up high before God just because of the worldly authority they have can never receive the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We can be sure of this from His Word that the Lord lifted up the humble and filled the hungry with good things. Can any rich man take his possession with him at death? No. God is the God of justice. If we can take our possession with us when we die, the rich will stay rich and the poor will stay poor even in the coming world; but the Lord doesn’t let this happen. Rather, He sends the rich away empty. Rich people are only rich in this world; not in the next world. Those who receive favor from God become God’s heir and rich people; those who refuse God’s favor become poor.
Brothers and sisters, do you know how much rich people look down on a small church like us? They are people who have a premodern way of thinking. They only see things according to their external scales. There are people who only look at the scale of a church’s building or congregation and despise the small church. These people are slaves to the premodern way of thinking. We shouldn’t evaluate people by its outward aspects as these people do.
How unfair would it be if rich people in this world could spend their wealth after death? That’s why God sends away people empty handed when they die. God will send those who are rich only in the material sense to hell without fail. Real rich people are not the ones with tangible possessions but those who have rich hearts toward God. Those who are righteous and kind to others are genuinely rich people.
I am telling you over and over again, God doesn’t consider us rich no matter how much we have. However, people who misinterpret the Word of God and think to themselves, “Be as good as I am. Do as much good work as I do,” will be abandoned by God. How good and kind can we be when we really try? Our Lord is truly a good and kind person. There is nothing good in us.
Then, how can such a wretch like us be saved? It is only by God’s goodness. In other words, we receive salvation because Jesus was condemned for us, not because we lived a righteous life that deserved salvation. Jesus came to this earth, was baptized, was condemned for the sins of the world and saved people who believed in the goodness of God. That is the love of God. Our good deeds or kindness doesn’t bring us salvation. Only because our Lord is good, does He lift up the lowly and show His mercy to the poor and the hungry. Our Lord gives His gospel and blessings of His Word to the believers and adopts them as His children to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. This is God’s love and the purpose of His coming to this earth. Let’s praise this Lord.
Our God blesses the men of faith. He blesses their children as well. Our God helped Israel. The Lord has promised, “To perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham” (Luke 1:72-73). He had compassion on them and He performed the mercy promised to Abraham and his descendents forever.” God was born to this world not because of our righteousness, but because of His compassion for us. We were destined to die because of our sins and go to hell, but God took pity on us and opened a way for us to God’s Kingdom. That is why our Lord gave up His heavenly glory and came to this earth to save all the lowly people like you and me. To do so, He even came down to the manger where cattle eat and sleep. That is all because He wanted to save all the lowly people like you and me on this earth.
Our Lord is such a loving God. Man does not treat the lowly with respect, but the lowlier we are, the more our Lord favors and shows His great love and salvation to us. He tells us that we are too pitiful not to have compassion on us and bring us to life and to His nationhood. Out of all His creations, the human race is the lowliest. Animals come and go without worrying about anything as God has designed them. They have no next world. However, we are under unfortunate circumstances because of yielding to Satan’s temptation, even though we human beings are born in the image of God and are the head of all creatures. We cannot live as our hearts desire; we are living a lowly life.
God still loves lowly people like us, saves us and wants to give us His glorious Kingdom as a gift. God wants to bless us. Dear fellow believers, the Lord came to this earth to give us eternal life, blessings, salvation, the remission of sins and to make us righteous. I believe that our Lord saved you and me. I trust in this Lord who came to save the lowly, and I give praise and thanks to our God.
Brothers and sisters, God loves the lowly unlike us who love good-looking people in authority. Isn’t this God truly wonderful? Yes, He is. Truly, You are our Savior. Jesus Christ, You are the Messiah. You are truly the Son of God. You are the author of the universe, who created the universe and every one of us.
Praise the Lord! I praise God for sending Jesus to this earth. I give Him true praise for saving us from all sins. I praise Him for looking after the lowly. Thank you, Lord. I give You limitless thanks and glory for taking care of all the lowly people like us.