Spiritual Growth Agendas, Topical Curriculum

Unrecognized & Ignored

Main Point: Don’t let Jesus go unnoticed this Christmas.

Discussion Starter: Missing the Majestic

It was Friday morning, January 12th, in the middle of the morning rush at the DC Metro. As over a 1,000 people passed by, a young white man in jeans and baseball cap pulled a violin out of its case, threw a few dollars down as seed money, and began to play.

A rich sound filled the Metro plaza, an elegant and pure melody that these walls had never heard before. An occasional passerby dropped a few coins in the case, but for the most part, the musician was ignored.

1097 people passed by that morning. The violin case managed to collect a mere $32 and change in donations.

Who was this unrecognized brilliant young musician?

“No one knew it, but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside The Metro in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made.” (Pearls Before Breakfast, Washington Post, April 8, 2007)

The musician’s name was Josh Bell. Three days before this experiment that the Washington Post arranged at the Metro, Bell filled Boston’s Symphony Hall, where average seats went for $100. Two weeks later there would be standing room only at the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda. But on this particular frigid January morning only a handful of people paused for even a moment to take in the beautiful sound that under normal circumstances filled Halls and packed auditoriums.

The violin that Bell cradled was a 3.5 million dollar instrument hand crafted in 1713 by Antonio Stradivari. It is said that no violin produces a sound as wonderful as Strads from the 1710s.

Sixty three people passed by before anyone even seemed to notice the musician at all. A middle aged man slowed his pace for a moment and glanced to the left. He kept walking, but it was something. Not a minute later a women tossed in a dollar without even stopping. It was six minutes before someone even stopped to listen.

Only seven people stopped at all to listen to the master musician, twenty seven people gave, and over 1,000 never stopped, never even turned to look.

The master musician had gone unrecognized and overwhelmingly ignored. (Click here for the original Washington Post Article and a short video clip of Bell in the Metro )

2,000 years ago the very creator of the universe showed up, and very few people even noticed.

You’d think that people would recognize our master creator by what they saw and heard. But overwhelmingly, people were too busy and too blinded to notice.

Of course, God didn’t choose to enter the world as a conquering king or triumphant hero. His arrival was humble and simple. He came as a baby, born in a dirty stable because there was no room at any of the inns.

The master creator showed up on earth to save us from the walls we had built between ourselves and God. His arrival was hardly noticed, but for centuries to come, people would celebrate this single, momentous, yet ignored occurrence- one of the most significant events in human history. This event is what we call Christmas. 2,000 years ago most people missed it.

Are you missing Christmas this year?

Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.

CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.

Discussion Questions:

  1. AROUND THE CIRCLE: Before we begin, tell everyone your name and if there’s something you’re looking forward to during the Christmas season this year.

  2. ASK A FEW: In the story we just heard, one of the world’s best musicians went unnoticed in a busy D.C. Metro station. Why do you think nobody noticed him?

  3. ASK A FEW: This guy normally draws in hundreds of thousands of dollars when he plays. How come he only brought in $32 and change?

  4. ASK A FEW: When Jesus came to earth as a baby, he didn’t spend his first night in the Presidential Suite at the Hilton… he stayed in a mere stable. Why do you think God chose to enter the world this way?

  5. ASK A FEW: How many people showed up to see Jesus when he was born?(Besides Mary and Joseph, the only others that showed up were the shepherds (the three wise guys actually came a little later).

  6. Read the following passage:

      Luke 2: 8-20
      8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

      13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

      14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

      15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

      16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

  7. ASK SOMEONE: What did the angel tell the shepherds? (A savior has been born)

  8. ASK A FEW: What is a savior?

  9. ASK A FEW: Why do we need to be saved? (For going deeper, have students look up and read these verses: Isaiah 59:2, Romans 3:22-24, Romans 6:23, II Cor 5:21, Proverbs 28:13, Colossians 1:27)

  10. ASK A FEW: Why do you think the shepherds went to go see the baby?

  11. ASK A FEW: If an angel came down and announced to you that God came to earth as a baby… would you go check it out? Why or why not?

  12. ASK A FEW: When did the shepherds start spreading the word about the birth of Jesus? (Hint: verse 17, answer: after they had seen Him)

  13. ASK SOMEONE: What does the last verse say that the shepherds did after they saw Jesus? (So the Shepherds did two things after they saw Jesus: they spread the word, and they praised God for all they had seen and heard.)

  14. AROUND THE CIRCLE: Do you think that followers of Jesus should do these two things? Do you think you should do these things?

  15. AROUND THE CIRCLE: How can you spread the word and praise God about the birth of Jesus- in other words- what does that actually look like today?

  16. AROUND THE CIRCLE: How can you do those two things this week?

When Jesus came into this world, he arrived virtually unnoticed. But now his birthday is celebrated all over the world as one of the most significant dates in history. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ, plain and simple.

Sure, the world has come up with all kinds of other fun elements that surround this Holiday: Santa Clause, Rudolf, shopping malls and decorating trees. These things aren’t bad… but sometimes they become the focus of Christmas and we miss the real reason behind the holiday. Christmas comes and goes… and Jesus is unrecognized. His message of saving grace is missed.

Don’t bypass the stable this year for a trip to the mall. Remember the baby. Remember why he came.

Spread the word of Jesus’ birth and take some time to praise Him this season. If you don’t hear the Christmas story being told this season, share it with someone. Read the passage above. Heck… show the Charlie Brown Christmas special and Linus will read the passage for you. Just don’t let Jesus go unnoticed this season.

Close in Prayer

*Special thanks to Paul Edwards for this idea.


Jonathan McKee

Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to FOUR BATTLES Every Young Man Must Face; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.


  1. Anne
    November 30, 2014 at 12:00 am

    Thanks. I really like this lesson. I am using it with my kids Sunday school class.

  2. Jesse Posner
    December 10, 2015 at 12:00 am

    Sorry, I forgot to rate it. And in the post below I mint assumption, not assumsion.

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