The Coming of Christ

Sermon Notes of Reverend Harvey Alford Matney
(1868 – 1951)
January 2, 1916 – Rosenberg, Texas


In this Christmas sermon, my grandfather compares and contrasts the Roman Empire, the greatest power on the earth at the time, with the simple beginnings of Christ. The power of Rome has long faded into history, but the power of Jesus Christ continues to grow in the hearts of men! — Harrison Woodard

Luke 2:7 & 11 KJV

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

The Coming of Christ

Silently and apart from observation the Kingdom of God comes. The child that was born in a manger laid his hand on the world and changed it from what it had been. He so touched men’s imaginations and hearts that their thoughts could never be the same.

At his birth, two systems were brought face to face in the little town of Bethlehem. The Roman Empire, in the zenith of her strength and glory, and the height of her power, filled the imaginations of men as her representatives filled the hotels of Bethlehem.

This, the incarnation of ordered strength, crowded out the incarnation of love in Christ and left him but a manger to be born in. Thus the two forces began their struggle for supremacy.

Now, the Roman legions are scattered, their campfires grass-grown heaps. The might and majesty of Rome is gone forever and she lives only in history.

Jesus Christ passed into the lives of men. He took into his hands their hopes and ideals.

Early (on) his coming began to change the values of life and to show men how God’s thoughts were not as their thoughts. The world still had a great deal to learn such things as these.

The world crowded its own Redeemer into a stable for a birth room and gave him no better bed than a manger.

The world was busy with so much important business. My what a rush they had. Bethlehem feels itself a part of the Roman Empire and is wild with excitement over imperial affairs.

It was easy to overlook the birth of Christ. Taxes were being assessed and would have to be paid. Questions of world empire and national independence were being considered. In its hurry, the world lost the honor of receiving its Redeemer in proper style because it was busy with important things.

A marvelous old world is this and there is room for many things in it: room for wealth, pride, ambition, trade, show, pleasure, society and dissipation. (There is) room for powers, nations, armies and their wars, but there is the smallest room possible for Jesus Christ.

I’m afraid it is so today. We are so busy we don’t commemorate the birth of Christ properly. We have no room for him by the time we get all we can out of our business and pleasure.

O yes in these later years we build him stately temples and expend fortunes on them. Art joins hands with architecture and subdued lights add their riches to the pile and the structure becomes a dream of beauty.

Our souls cry out, “Here is a home for the man of Galilee.”

Yes we have our rituals filled with picturesque ceremonies carried out with dignified movements.

And again we cry, “Son of Man see what a beautiful order of worship we have planned for thee.”

To this we add our massive creed and point to its foundations laid back in the long ago and shout, “This is Thy house O King!”

Can we hear him say, “I see your magnificent temple, your elegant rituals, your hoary creeds, but where are you sons of men? Where?”

“I solicit none of these, but the persons of men.” And yet, “The Son of Man hath not where to lay his head. I dwell not in temples made with hands.”

We need to make room amid the crowding thought for the coming of the Lord of life. We can make room for him in the secret recesses of our souls. The world could easily forget all others born in such poverty and surroundings, but not so with him. It must make room for Christ.

The one vital question for man will remain when all others have gone. It is: do I really love Him enough to take up his cross and follow him?


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