| world PREOCCUPIED
"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. Luke 2:4-7 NKJV
I. GOVERNMENT LEADERS WERE PREOCCUPIED
To be preoccupied is to be absorbed in thoughts
that are so important to us that thoughts of other things are
…a businessman can become preoccupied with
products, marketing, purchasing and selling to insure that his
income exceeds his expenses.
…a bride and groom can become engrossed in plans
for their wedding and married life to follow.
…a student in training for a demanding vocation
can get engrossed in their studies and preparations for exams.
…children anticipating Christmas can get
engrossed in wondering what presents they will receive.
…all of us have experienced or observed others
preoccupied with hobbies, entertainment, recreation, and projects.
We can get so preoccupied with good things that we ignore important
things we should be thinking about. This was true at the birth of
Augustus Caesar was emperor of Rome at the birth
of Jesus. The Roman empire ruled over Israel and all other nations
around the Mediterranean Sea. Augustus was one of Rome’s best
emperors. To a very high degree there was peace, prosperity and
liberty. Augustus and his leaders were preoccupied with keeping the
empire powerful, prosperous, and peaceful. One thing occupying their
mind was raising enough money to pay for everything. Augustus
ordered everyone to go to the city of their ancestors and enroll so
that the government could get taxes from them. His imperial order
was the human means that made Joseph and Mary go to Bethlehem where
Jesus was born in fulfillment of prophecy. This was the greatest
event in the history of mankind up to this point, but Augustus never
knew it because he was too preoccupied.
Herod the Great was the ruler of Judea when Jesus
was born. He had been appointed "king" by Augustus. He was
preoccupied with staying in power. He did this in two ways. First,
he did things he knew the people wanted like enlarging and
beautifying the Temple in Jerusalem. Second, he eliminated everybody
who was a threat to him. This included his favorite wife, her two
sons and many other people. Augustus said of Herod that it was safer
to be his pig than a member of his family. When Herod heard "the
king of the Jews" had been born at Bethlehem he sent soldiers to
kill all the babies in the area of Bethlehem.
Government leaders are still preoccupied today.
There are multitudes of things that are important to occupy their
thoughts. Most of these things provide benefit to many, if not all
citizens. We should be thankful for the benefits we enjoy by the
rule of law and representative government. At the same time Jesus
finds little place in the deliberations of government leaders. To
raise the question, "Would this action please or displease Jesus,"
is almost certain to get the response of a deaf ear.
Someday, in the not too far distant future, Jesus
will be the government.
LEADERS WERE PREOCCUPIED
At the time Jesus was born the leadership of
Israel was made up primarily of the Scribes, Pharisees, and
THE SCRIBES were the authorities of
scripture. They copied, memorized, and studied the scriptures. Over
time they gave their interpretations of law, history, poets, and
prophets. Their opinions were highly respected by most of the
THE PHARISEES came into existence during the
time Judah was taken into captivity in Babylon. Pharisee means "the
separated ones" or "separatists". They opposed the loose morals and
practices of Jews who embraced the lifestyles of their Babylonian
captors. They put into practice the interpretations of the scribes.
They believed they held the only true interpretation of scripture.
Their religion became a matter of observing many externals. Jesus
condemned them because they omitted "justice, mercy, and
faithfulness)." Matthew 23:23.
were the party of the Jewish
aristocratic priesthood. They had little interest in the common
people. Their numbers were small but they exercised great influence
because of their heritage, position, and wealth. They didn’t believe
in angels, spirits, immortality, resurrection, or future punishment
for the wicked. Nor did they believe God involved Himself in human
affairs. There is no record of a Sadducee ever being admitted to a
When the wise men came to Jerusalem and inquired
of the religious leaders, "Where is He who has been born King of the
Jews?" …the chief priests and scribes could readily answer, "In
Bethlehem of Judea…" and they quoted Micah 5:2 as the prophecy
revealing this fact. These wise men had come over 500 miles to
worship Jesus, but these religious leaders would not even go five
miles to Bethlehem to check it out. They were preoccupied with a lot
of religious things, but had no place in their thoughts for having a
personal relationship with Jesus the Christ.
Many religious leaders are preoccupied today with
things that have little to do with doing the will of Jesus Christ.
They decide what is important on the basis of religious tradition,
personal ambition or what society decides is most important. Loving
God with all our heart; loving our neighbors as we do ourselves and
seeking to make the gospel of Christ known to all mankind gets
pushed into the background. We should continually remind
ourselves that the top priorities are evangelism, discipleship,
ministry, fellowship, and worship. We are very aware that we too can
get so preoccupied with other things that the essential priorities
get crowded out.
III. THE BUSINESS WORLD WAS PREOCCUPIED
laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the
inn." Luke 2:7
Bethlehem was "the city of David." All living
descendants of David were required by Roman law to return there to
be enrolled for taxation. The markets were filled with townspeople
and returned travelers milling around to purchase food and other
items. Hucksters were hawking their wares on the street. Local
families were deluged with arriving relatives seeking shelter. A
room at the inn had risen to an outrageous price. A room may have
been available to someone able to pay the price, but for the
carpenter and his wife "great with child" there was no room.
Unknown to those enterprising businessmen the
long prophesied "Son of David" who was Israel’s long promised
Messiah would be born in their town that very night. But they were
so preoccupied with business there was no room in their thoughts for
Jesus Who was come to "save His people from their sins."
The business world certainly celebrates
Christmas. Many stores count on the Christmas season for half of
their profit for the year. Christmas music begins being played
before Thanksgiving to get people in the mood to buy Christmas
gifts. No one can escape the advertising blitz in their mailboxes,
newspapers, radio, and television. Virtually everybody gets wrapped
up in buying gifts. And there are parties galore.
But is all this a sincere celebration of Jesus
Christ, God’s Son? It seems the real stars of Christmas are Santa
Claus, his reindeer, the Christmas trees and the lights.
A psychology professor asked his students to jot
down all the words that came to their mind about Christmas in one
minute’s time. The words they came up with were "cards, holly, Santa
Claus, Christmas tree, gifts, snow, parties and mistletoe." If we
read the Bible account of His birth in Luke 2 we discover these
words: "shepherd, angels, glory, good tidings, great joy, Savior,
Babe, manger, singing, peace, wonder, and praise. It appears our
minds are preoccupied with other things to the point that there is
little or no room for a true celebration of Christ’s birth.
IV. SOME WERE PREOCCUPIED IN LOOKING FOR JESUS
Joseph and Mary were looking for
Jesus…especially after Gabriel revealed God’s plan to Mary and the
angel of the Lord confirmed it to Joseph. (Luke 1; Matthew 1)
men of the east were looking for Jesus. They knew a special baby
was to be born Who would be King of the Jews and when they saw a
certain star they knew it was "His star" and they followed it so
they could worship Him. (Matthew 2:1-11).
Zacharias and Elizabeth were looking for
Jesus. They were the parents of a six months old baby boy who an
angel told Zacharias to name John. They were told that John would be
a forerunner to go before Jesus to prepare a great host of people to
believe on Him (Luke 1:13-17).
Simeon was looking for Jesus. We are told
that he was a just and devout man to whom it was revealed that he
would not taste of death until he saw the Lord’s Christ. (Luke
Anna, a prophetess of great age, was looking
for Jesus. She continued to serve God with fasting and prayers and
just happened to come into the Temple when Simeon was holding Jesus.
She joined Simeon in thanksgiving to God and went forth speaking of
Jesus "to all those who were looking for the redemption of
Jerusalem.". (Luke 2:37, 38).
That adulterous woman of Sychar in Samaria
was looking for Jesus. Listen to her words, "I know that Messiah
is coming (who is called Christ); when He comes, He will
tell us all things." (John 4:25) No wonder Jesus had
impressed that He had to pass through Samaria (John 4:4). Jesus had to
bring salvation to this sinful woman and a host of others who were
also looking for Him (See John 4:42).
Those who were preoccupied with other things to
the point they had no room in their thoughts for Him missed His
first coming. Those who were looking for Him came to meet Him
personally in time. It has been that way down through
history. It is still the same today.
Does He have a place in your thoughts and in your
Copyright © 2002 Thomas E Berry
All Scriptures quoted from NKJV unless otherwise noted
Copyright © 2008 Truth Helpers Inc.