So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only son. -John 1:14
Once upon a time in a far away land called Bethlehem, a little boy was born, a little boy named Jesus. This little baby would one day save the world, as his name denotes (Jesus means “the Lord saves”).
This is a story heard every year in December all over the world in nearly every tongue. But, have you ever really stopped and thought about the importance and seriousness of this little E! News Backstory?
In a previous posting, I focused on one of my Biblical heroes, Mary, and how she was pretty much a rock star. Really all the characters in this story are. What strikes me the most is that not once did any of them ask why or question or refuse to do what God had commanded them to do. We explicitly see Mary and Joseph being obedient. The shepherds and the wise men give us an excellent example of how we should come to Christ (don’t worry, we’ll touch on this in a little bit), and they fully comply as well. Finally, the main man of this shindig-Jesus-although, yes He is a baby, He is the epitome of a perfect child, who not an utterance of a cry or complaint.
Mary and Joseph had the esteemed responsibility to bring Jesus into the world. Because of a census being taken at the time, Joseph took the still with child Mary to his family’s homeland of Nazareth (Bethlehem to be exact). When they arrived, they found no room for them to stay anywhere in town, so an innkeeper allowed them to stay in his stables behind the inn. There, Mary gave birth to Christ in a manger where she wrapped him in bits of cloth. Nearby, shepherds were watching over the flocks of sheep when an angel appeared to them, reassuring them that they should not be afraid, and informed them of this noteworthy event that had just taken place. The shepherds were amazed and intrigued and swiftly went to go find the baby, following a star in the sky that they angels had told them of. Afterwards, they went and told everyone what they had seen. Later, the reigning king-King Herod-caught wind of this newborn “king of the Jews” and was not too happy. Feeling deeply disturbed with the news, King Herod sent wise men to go scope things out. These wise men were filled with joy when they found the star and followed it to Jesus. They came in and saw the baby, worshipped him, and gave him gifts.
(Summary taken from Matthew 2 and Luke 2)
Although they appear like small yet integral parts to the story, I feel like the shepherds and wise men paint a pretty great picture for us as to how we should be as Christians. For starters-the shepherds. Picture this: you are tending to your sheep when all of a sudden this angel appears telling you the Messiah has been born and basically gives you a Google Maps print out of where he is, plus gives you a star to follow and says, “Dudes, go check it out!”. You then proceed to do it…I don’t know about yall, but I would be asking more questions. I mean this whole scenario is covered in about 8 verses. Not these ole country boys though, they just believed and went. After seeing the little miracle, in Luke 2:17 it says that went and told everyone what they had seen. I think this illustrates what we are supposed to do. We’ve all experienced Jesus in someway-we didn’t see him lying in a manger like they did, but we have seen him shown up in our lives in someway and now we need to go and tell others. We are to carry out the Great Commission laid out in Matthew, and this is part of it. Be like the shepherds and go and tell!
Next up-the wise men. These guys are quite mysterious. Nobody really knows how many there were, where they were all from, etc. But nonetheless, those details are not prevalent to their importance, and actually the lack of information is helpful as you momentarily will see. The wise men disobeyed King Herod by not spying and reporting back on Jesus. Instead, as it states in Matthew 2:10-11, they came in and were overjoyed when they saw Christ! They entered the house that he was in, bowed to him and worshipped, and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Let’s put this in perspective and let you get a mental image of this. They are in a tiny, more than likely, one room, dirt home. They are coming and a bowing and worshipping a child, giving him lavish and extravagant gifts. To an outside eye who didn’t know what was going on, this would look a bit ridiculous. I’m sure the commentary might have sounded something like this: “Why are they worshipping a child and giving him gifts?? Look! They’re bowing to him!?”. Yet, the wise men had faith and knew who this child was and how he would someday save them from their sins as prophesized. I think we need to be like the wise men when we come to Jesus. Maybe that’s why there’s the lack of detail when it comes to them; we’re wise men. We need to come to him, worship him, and give him our lives and the best of what we have just like they did. Now maybe its not gold, frankincense, and myrrh (I’ve never even the last two and know where I could get it), but maybe all you have to give is your life, or a measly bit of what you’ve earned from work, or maybe it’s your children-whatever it may be, come, worship and give to Jesus like the wise men!
And now the reason for the season: Jesus Christ himself ladies and gents.
He came into the very world he created but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and they even rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn-not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. John 1:10-14
Christ came into a world rejecting him. There was literally no room for him in the inns-a metaphor for our hearts. People made no room for him. His own people did not recognize him-they had to put a star in the sky for people to follow because they needed that yellow brick road, because even if they saw him, they would not recognize that this baby was the man that would someday save them. The Word and Old Testament stories came to life full of unfailing love, faithfulness, grace and truth so that someday we might be called children of God. This is absolutely amazing to me. This little baby born of two humble people would save us. The weight of the world literally on one man. One man who came into the world rejected. Nobody had room for him and his whole life he would be followed by few and rejected by many, yet still choose to love us enough to take the weight of our sins and allow us to come close to God through his sacrifice to be made on he cross.
I wonder if even as a baby Jesus knew what he would do someday? I wonder if His whole life He knew that He would die a criminals death to save us? I wonder is He knew that He was literally changing the world?
I have to think yes, he did. Which makes this story all the more amazingly, gob smackingly, beautiful. This person, being treated with prejudice and malice, knowing one day He would save us, knowing He was the king of kings and more powerful than anyone, knowing what He could do-still chose to love us. It is truly awesome in the full sense of the word!
This new kid in town changed the world by simply being born. Through his birth we have salvation. Through his birth, we are taught what true faith, obedience and love looks like. Through his birth we are taught how to live-by coming and worshipping and giving, and going and telling others of what God has done. That’s a lot carried in a little manger.