For the past few weeks, we have been on a journey through our Advent series titled The Christmas Gift.
Previously, John the Baptist (Jesus’ forerunner) was born, and Joseph was visited by an angel who told him to continue with his marriage plans to Mary.
Today, the best Christmas gift arrives, but some unlikely characters proclaim the birth announcement.
Mary and Joseph set out on a 90 mile trip to Bethlehem for the census. When they finally arrived at their destination, there was one small problem – there were no available rooms in the inn.
I imagine that evening something like this…
The air was crisp and cool as their donkey strode into town. Joseph was on his last pair of sandals, and he could use a warm room and comfortable bed.
Mary was ready to have baby Jesus at any moment, and one more bump in the road would surely propel the child out of her.
They knocked on the innkeeper's door and asked for a couple of rooms (since they weren't married yet), and to their astonishment, the inn was full of census travelers.
The innkeeper replies, “All I have left is my stable in the back. The animals will keep you up, but the hay creates a nice warm bed for you to rest your weary bodies.”
Joseph replies, “We will take it.”
“And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly strips of cloth and laid him in a manger.” — Luke 2:6-7a
Joseph and the farm animals were there when baby Jesus made his entrance into our world.
No glitz, no glam, just a humble beginning for the Savior of the world.
The best Christmas gift we could ever receive is Jesus Christ. He came to seek and save those who are lost.
There were some shepherds in a nearby field keeping watch over their sheep. Shepherds were not part of the elite class, and in some cases, were viewed as outcasts.
This starry night would be a night they would never forget.
“Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them.
‘Don’t be afraid!' he said.
I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!
And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” — Luke 2:9-12 (emphasis added)
Okay, so let's step back for a moment. One minute you are watching over your sheep and maybe trying to catch a few “zzz's,” and next, an angel appears as bright as daylight and tells you not to be afraid.
What do you think their first reaction was?
Be afraid, be very afraid.
This was probably their first encounter with an angel; however, they were curious. The angel tells them of a baby who was born, who was different. He was the Messiah!
Even the shepherds knew the Messiah would be coming at some point, and the angel shares this news with them.
“Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.'” — Luke 2:13-14
As if one angel wasn't terrifying enough to the shepherds, now there are armies of angels in the heavens proclaiming the birth. This must have made them take notice in case they missed the supernatural single angel appearing to them.
They had just witnessed a miracle, and the shepherds left their sheep behind and headed to Bethlehem to see the Christ child.
When they arrived in Bethlehem, they found baby Jesus just as the angel had said – wrapped snugly in strips of cloths lying in a manger.
Here's the best part – once they had seen the Christ child, they didn't head back to the fields – they went out and told everyone they could find.
There must have been a lot of people in town because the census was still taking place.
As you recall, Mary was still somewhere between 12-14 years of age when Jesus was born. If she had kept a diary during this time, I think we would have found this little nugget in it.
“All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.” — Luke 2:18-19 (emphasis added)
She is forever linked to the greatest gift in history – Jesus Christ.
Today, as the world turns upside down, Jesus came for each one of us. He came to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, remind us that our riches are in heaven, model generosity, and teach us to love each other.
In the end, his sacrificial love paved the way for each of us to spend eternity with him. And it all began with his birth in a stable.
As you celebrate Christmas with friends and family, it looks a little different than previous years, but the one true gift – Jesus Christ – is the gift that keeps on giving.
He is the reason for the season! From our family to yours, have a wonderful and blessed Christmas.
The Christmas Gift – Advent Series
- He Will Be Called Immanuel (RCD 002)
- For a Child Is Born To Us (RCD 003)
- The Road to Bethlehem (RCD 004)
- Here Comes John (RCD 005)