In Those Days…
It is the beginning of the Christmas week. In several days, we will celebrate the birth of Jesus, God in the flesh, as he started his earthly human life. This, of course, occurred in Bethlehem when Mary, His mother, and Joseph, the betrothed of Mary, went to Bethlehem to register for the census in response to a decree from Caesar Augustus. The world had long awaited, from way back in the Old Testament, the coming of a Messiah but the baby Jesus wasn’t exactly what the Jews had in mind.
Rather, they thought that the Messiah would be a warrior, perhaps even riding in on a white horse, to write all the wrongs and establish the Jewish nation as a force in the world, in opposition to the Roman empire. As we all know, that’s not the way it happened. Instead, Jesus entered the world as a child, advancing the Kingdom of God in ways that the people of the day couldn’t begin to fathom. But why did Jesus even spend time on earth? After all, he’s GOD – He didn’t need to be reduced to the role of a human – much less entering the world as a child.
But that’s part of the beauty of the Christmas story. Up until this time, God the Father was the connection to the Jewish nation. In fact, nobody had ever laid eyes on God – He was a spirit who guided the Israelites through the Red Sea and across the desert to the Promised Land. Even Moses, who had a wonderful relationship with God had to turn away in the presence of God, even though he saw the glory of God.
But now – God in the flesh. No longer just a spirit above us but a human – a child who was soon to become a man – who walked among us and gave us a model of behavior of what God hoped for us. His commands, such as to “love one another” as well as His offer of eternal life, His death and subsequent resurrection, are cornerstones of our faith. But we can’t lose sight of the fact that until that little child was born in the stable in Bethlehem, nobody had ever laid eyes on a member of the Godhead! And how exciting to be part of that group of shepherds who were watching their flocks and were the first to welcome the baby Jesus into the world.
They were eventually followed by the wise men and as Jesus grew, many came to know Him, but it was not until the start of His ministry that the real miracles and teachings of the Savior began. But our closeness to God didn’t end with the person of Jesus. Because we were told that when Jesus returned to the Father, another would take His place – who came to be known as the Holy Spirit. So we learn that first God was above us, then Jesus walked among us and finally the Holy Spirit lives within all believers. What a progression of our relationship with God – above, among and finally, in us.
As believers, we are afforded the promise of an eternity with God. All made possible by having a relationship with Jesus, that little baby who first appeared to the world in a stable – whose birth we celebrate several days from now. The verse for this evening highlights the beginning of the human story of Jesus. We are told, in Luke 2:8-12, “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 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. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
My encouragement tonight is that Jesus wants to have a relationship with each of us. He came to save mankind, not to judge it, and each of us has the chance to remember this and be thankful for the opportunity to have a relationship with the living God as we remember His birth later this week. My prayer is that you will be thankful for the chance to remember this great event – and to teach your children and grandchildren the importance of the birth of Jesus. After all, those shepherds had the chance to meet Jesus and thanks to His sacrifices for us, we have the same chance – and to live with Him eternally. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…