Dec. 25, 2014 – Christmas Text: Luke 2:1-5
Dear Friends in Christ,
The great census in those days of Caesar Augustus that, humanly speaking, set in motion the Christmas story is plenty familiar to us today in the United States and Canada. Every ten years in the U.S. or five years in Canada, the government sends out forms in the mail and then follows them up with energetic, real-live human census takers – 585,000 of them in the last U.S. census. As with that famous Roman census, the goal was that “all the world would be registered,” that not a single soul would be missed. A census taker today could in one day knock on the doors of million-dollar houses and run-down apartments. Every person, literally, counted.
The Roman census was so that Caesar could extract taxes from every citizen. He wanted no one missed so that not a denarius would be missed for the imperial treasury. There was to be an accounting from every person. Our census is actually for a different purpose: so that no one citizen misses out on the benefits of citizenship. Every district is to be fairly represented in Congress, and every qualifying resident is to be noted for government programs. Every body counts.
Today is Christmas and we are so blessed with the coming of a Savior. Because of what that baby would someday do on a Calvary hill, we can exclaim with the angels and the whole host of heaven . . .
“EVERY BODY COUNTS”
Christmas reminds us that every single person, every soul, counts before God. Every single human being in this sanctuary right now – and every other human being who’s ever lived or ever will – will one day be called to give an account. God’s registration misses no one. Everyone will one day stand before God for final judgment. But God, in fact, set in motion the events of the first Christmas not to tax us, but to see that no one be missed with the blessings of citizenship in his kingdom. God knows each of us, each of you, by name. He calls you again this Christmas to himself. You count. Every body counts.
The census of Caesar Augustus counted millions. The census today counts hundreds of millions. But it really is the One that counts. Yes, it’s the One that counts, because God sees every single one of us through that One, the One who was first counted in that first census, a poor and easily overlooked baby boy just born in the little town of Bethlehem. He is the One for whose sake we count with God.
When Paul in Romans talks about Abraham believing in God “and it was counted to him as righteousness,” we are part of that. We too have been counted righteous. Scripture also says, “blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” (Rom. 4:8)
Whoever you are, therefore, and whatever your circumstance in life, this gift of the Savior is “for you.” You count. It has your name on it. Whether you are rich or poor, Jesus is your true treasure. Whether you’re young or old, he is the only one whose days are without number. Whether you are overwhelmed by loneliness or caught up in the crowd, He is the One who is your true friend and companion. You could not be any more important to Him.
“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be take of the entire world…So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David…I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people (see every body counts). Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:1,4,10a,11)