Merry Christmas! As we celebrate the birth of the Christ child, let’s consider the eye witnesses to the spectacular event.
When the angel, Gabriel, appeared to a young teenage virgin, he announced, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” (Luke 1:28) Initially Mary must have been taken aback, but she responded with great rejoicing. (Luke 1:46-56) She was no ordinary teenager, but rather one ready and available for the Father’s use.
Despite troubles and a very unexpected turn of events, Mary remained steadfast in the midst of it all, even to the point of enduring a 90-mile donkey ride while 9 months pregnant. What great encouragement it is to us. Despite the troubles we encounter in our day, we can remain steadfast in the midst of it all. God will pour out His blessings on us as well! Will we respond with rejoicing?
Now, imagine being a lowly shepherd in the fields surrounding Bethlehem. Shepherds were the lowest of the low on the socioeconomic scale, yet God chose to reveal this most important event to them! That account is found in Luke 2:8-20. In the mundane existence of a group of lowly shepherds came the news:
9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”~Luke 2:9-12
Did they experience awe and joy? What about us? In the midst of chaos, have we lost the sense of awe and joy at the coming of our King? If so, let’s kindle it afresh in our hearts and minds.
King Herod was also a character in this most magnificent account. Matthew’s gospel tells us when King Herod heard the news that the one “born King of the Jews” had arrived, he was “troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.” (Matthew 2:1-3) Why was he troubled? Could it be there was room for only one king in “his kingdom,” and he was bound and determined not to be unseated? After all, he issued a decree of death for all male babies born at the time of Jesus.
What is vying for kingship in our lives today? What things must be “under our control” in order for us to feel comfortable and at rest? Might this be a good time to examine what has become “king” in our lives over King Jesus?
Now to the wise men. Who were these men? Were there really only three? Where exactly did they come from…and why?
This much we know: the men were from the east and they came bearing gifts. The men are believed to have been well-educated, upper class and non-Jewish. Perhaps they were wise men or kings, but we can’t be certain of their vocations or standing. Nor can we be certain there were three (though they brought three gifts).
Unlike Mary and Joseph, Herod, and the shepherds nearby, these men had time to methodically prepare for the journey. But what made them come? Certainly the bright Christmas star that seemed to hang directly over the birthplace intrigued them. (They could have been astronomers.) But the fact they came bearing expensive gifts and fell down to worship the newborn King (likely a toddler by the time they arrived), tells us that worship was at the core of their coming!
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem…10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.~Matthew 2:1, 10-11
Now, imagine Mary and Joseph’s surprise at the arrival of royalty, who had come to acknowledge and to worship the king. Consider this: the Bible tells us we (believers) are a royal priesthood and a people for His possession. (1 Peter 2:9) Are we as committed to worship the King as those noble wise men who traveled afar to do so? Today, have we “traveled” in our hearts and minds to the place we can lay our most prized possessions at His feet, declare Him King, and honor Him in worship?
As wee celebrate this Christmas Day, my prayer for you is:
- To remain steadfast as Mary did in the face of trouble,
- To experience the awe and joy of our soon-coming King that graced the shepherds’ hearts that day,
- To leave no room for any King but Jesus, and
- To worship as freely as the wise men did when they bowed before Jesus, our Savior!
May you and your family revel in the glory of the Savior’s birth this Christmas!