With the Season of Christmas now upon us, many are busy getting ready. There’s cleaning, cooking, baking, shopping, wrapping, shipping, giving, receiving, many events to attend, and of course the eating.
But before we get lost in all the events and stuff of Christmas, take a few moments and in your thoughts come back with me to that first Christmas.
Remember the “Predictions of Promise” that are recorded in scriptures by men like Isaiah who wrote:
“All right then, the Lord himself will choose the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel–`God is with us.’”(Isaiah 7:14, NLT)
And, “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. And the government will rest on his shoulders. These will be his royal titles: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”(Isaiah 9:6,
There was also Micah who was the one who wrote:
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”(Micah 5:2, NIV)
Remarkable words, recorded over 700 years before the event took place.
Come back with me to the night when God’s Promise arrived, His Son, Jesus, coming as a baby, was born as it had been previously foretold in Bethlehem, to a virgin and laid in a manger.
His birth heralded by Angels to Shepherds, who upon hearing this news responded with obedience and travelled to Bethlehem to find “The Promised One.” And when they did, scripture tells us “they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child” (Luke 2:17b).
The Wisemen, or Magi, travelled a great distance to Bethlehem based solely on the appearance of the star and a prophecy of scripture. When they found Him, we’re told “… they fell down before him and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11, NLT)
Think about how ten kilometres away from Bethlehem, in Jerusalem we find King Herod. Herod was so wrapped up in the fear of losing his position as king that he became obsessed with protecting his throne at all cost. It was that fear which led to mass murder. The Bible states that: “Herod was furious when he learned that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, because the wise men had told him the star first appeared to them about two years earlier.” (Matthew 2:16, NLT)
Then there was the Innkeeper, whose name is not even mentioned in scripture, but we presume there must have been one, as someone had to make the manger available to Mary and Joseph. And so the Innkeeper is cast as an individual that was so busy that he misses both the miracle and his part in it, which took place a short distance away (perhaps only mere feet).
And let us not forget Mary and Joseph. From scripture we learn that they were God followers. Mary was greeted by an angel as one “who was highly favored,” and Joseph we’re told “was a righteous man.” In spite the odds, and the likely negative public opinion they submitted their wills to God. The result – the arrival of Jesus – the greatest Christmas present ever!
Various players took part in this first Christmas, some named, some not. The rich, the poor and those in between. Each had the same opportunity, but had different responses.
Here’s the thought I leave you with to ponder. If you had been there, if you were one of the “major” players we often see portrayed in Nativity scenes, “WHO WOULD YOU HAVE BEEN?” And perhaps the bigger question, “WHO DO YOU DESIRE TO BE?”
This Christmas may we seek after the answer to that second question, and in so doing, share the greatest gift of Christmas with others.
May the presence of Christ in your life, enrich this Christmas for you and for others.
“But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children” (Galatians 4:4-5, NLT).
Rev. Will Keller is Senior Pastor of Harrowsmith Free Methodist Church.