One of the more popular texts in the Advent and Christmas season is Isaiah 9:17. Preachers love to explore the beauty of our having a "Prince of Peace" in Jesus. But this week's featured preacher, Skye Jethani, doesn't stop there. He pushes the audience to examine the fascinating—sometimes troubling—relationship between Isaiah 9 and Matthew 10. What are we supposed to do with a Prince of Peace who says, "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." Here's a Christmas sermon that offers a unique, sometimes shocking, look at the Christmas story.
Back in 1999 there was a big story in Chicago about how the baby Jesus figure had been stolen from the nativity scene at Daley Plaza. Eventually the police recovered the baby at a bus station after an anonymous tip. After that they started securing the baby Jesus figure with a cord and a bolt and a padlock to the manger to prevent anybody from stealing it again. It didn't work, though, because in 2004 the same thing happened. This time it was a 19-year-old college student who was able to slip the baby out from underneath the cable. The law caught up with him after two days. They returned Jesus to the manger, and this guy got charged with some misdemeanor. They upped the security measures once again. A team of people is now responsible for making sure that baby Jesus doesn't get stolen anymore from Daley Plaza. They're known as the God Squad, and they're very tightlipped about what security measures they've put in place. The goal of these guys is to make sure that Jesus never leaves the manger again.
During this time of the year it's normal for us to think of Jesus as the sweet ...
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Skye Jethani is the executive editor of Leadership Journal, an ordained pastor, and the author of numerous books. He co-hosts the weekly Phil Vischer Podcast and speaks regularly at churches, conferences, and colleges. He makes his home with his wife and three children in Wheaton, Illinois.