Christmas comes every year. It’s no surprise. It’s on the calendar. Same date every year. Yet still people are not ready. It’s no different today than it was at the first Christmas. The Christmas story reveals that Jesus came to a world that he created, to a people that had long awaited his arrival, but they were not ready. Four types of people are identified.
1. The Busy
While he is not mentioned by name in the Bible, an innkeeper was confronted by a man and his pregnant wife. He turned them away saying he had no room for them. He didn’t have time for the Savior, because he was too busy. It was the census. The tiny hamlet was crowded and his was the only place for lodging. He had rooms to clean, food to serve, decorations to put up, towels to wash, people to care for. He wasn’t an evil man or unsympathetic. He was just busy. That’s all.
The innkeeper reminds me of people who become so consumed with the commotion of Christmas that they miss the Christ of Christmas. They are addicted to activity, not necessarily sinful activity, just things that keep one occupied. The clutter of shopping, parties, concerts, dinners preoccupy their day. They are too busy for the Son of God.
2. The Self-Absorbed
Standing in sharp contrast to the innkeeper is another man who didn’t have time for the Savior. Herod, the King of the Jews, was very old, very sick, and nearly dead. He was a dying man tottering on an unstable throne. Like all despots, he held tightly to the reins of power and brutally removed anyone who got in his way. Over the years he killed his brother-in-law, mother-in-law, and even his own wife. The notion of a baby “born” king of the Jews was a direct threat to his throne. No wonder he tried to kill Jesus. In his eyes, he had no choice. It was kill or be killed. He didn’t have time for another rival. He was ready to kill anyone who was a threat, even a tiny, helpless baby.
Herod is not unlike the men and women today who won’t allow anything to interfere with their career, position in life, ambition, plans, or lifestyle. They won’t let someone else be king of their lives. They see Jesus as a threat so they don’t make time for him. Allegiance to someone else other than themselves is unthinkable.
3. The Familiar
A whole group of people wasn’t ready for Jesus. And, if there were a group of people who should have been aware of the timing of Jesus arrival, it was the chief priests and scribes. They were the theologians, the religious elite of Israel. They had studied the prophecies regarding the coming of the Messiah. They were encouraged to the read the signs of the times for his arrival. They preached of a Deliverer, the Anointed One, which would come to eradicate the oppressors from their country.
They were the theological experts, the guardians of spiritual truth, yet they never bothered to travel the five miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem to find out for themselves if the Messiah had indeed been born. Surely they, too, saw the star. They heard the news about the infant born in Bethlehem. Why did they not make time for Jesus? Indifference. They didn’t care. They had all the facts but the Messiah was not really important to them. They didn’t have time for the Savior because they felt they didn’t need him. They were self-righteous, believing they were already all that God could ever want of them. They were sickeningly arrogant. They had no time for the Savior. In fact, when Jesus began his public ministry, it was these same men that despised Jesus and ultimately plotted his murder.
4. The Procrastinator
One other group of people was present who wasn’t ready for Jesus. They are not mentioned in this text, but they exist. They live in every age. They are the people who are not ready for Jesus because of delay. We have a name for them—procrastinators. The procrastinators saw the star, heard of the baby, knew that something strange and wonderful was happening, and wanted to check it out, but never got around to it. They were going to do it—just later. They had the opportunity of a lifetime. The very Savior of the world was within their grasp, but they put off going to the manager to see the baby Jesus.
Procrastinators are in each generation. They know what they should do but fail to act because of a lack of urgency. “There’s no hurry,” they say. There is always tomorrow. It is communicated in such phrases as, “I’ll buy the gift after Christmas, when it goes on sale.” “I’ll write the thank you note after things slow down.” “I’ll see my Dad when the holidays are over. I’ll have more time then.” “I’ll give my heart to Jesus next Sunday.” But tomorrow never comes. The opportunity is lost.
Of the four types of people mentioned above who are you most like?
Are you like the innkeeper? Are you not ready for Jesus because you are too busy?
Maybe you’re like Herod. You’re not ready for Jesus because you’re self-absorbed in your own agenda.
Or, perhaps, you identify with the religious leaders. You’re familiar with Jesus, but your heart is covered with calluses. You’ve heard the story so many times that you don’t hear it anymore and you just don’t care. So you’re saying, “Why bother?”
Does the procrastinator group resonate with you? You know the need and realize the peril, but would rather wait? Are you whispering to yourself, “There’s no hurry? I’ll make time for Jesus later.”
Let’s get ready for Christmas beginning now. Christmas is going to come whether we are ready or not. And Jesus is going to come again, whether we are ready or not. While there is still time let’s get ready for Christmas and for Jesus. And if you have to choose one over the other, it’s best to be ready for Jesus.