Tuesday, December 10, 2013
A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE
We see Mary, the mother of Jesus. Who was she?
A young virgin maiden, hand-picked by God to bring His Son into the earthly realm.. She was a humble woman. Her character was such that she saw herself as little and low, simple and poor. When the Angel Gabriel told her of the honor which was to be hers, Mary responded to God with deep reverence and with a holy meekness of attitude. She marveled that God willed a holy Son to be born of her. God’s greatness in comparison to her humble state caused Mary to say to the angel, “I am the Lord’s handmaiden” and to speak praises to God, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. Thus, the Angel Gabriel said to her, “You have found favor with God and the Lord is with you.” Mary became a woman known by her grace and all manner of virtues.
After traveling to Bethlehem, weary and tired, Mary along with her espoused, Joseph, found themselves in a stable for the night since there was no comfortable room to be had. Soon it became apparent that Mary’s time was accomplished. This would be the place she would bring her child into the world. That night, Mary gave birth to a Son. She called him Jesus. Here in the most unlikely of places, a barnyard stable, Mary beheld her son for the first time, not just any son, but The Son of God.
Her heart was full of wonder, many thoughts were hers to ponder: The honor of being the mother of the Son of God, the immaculate conception, the life He would lead, yes, thoughts that brought awe to her soul. Somehow God’s light must have shone brightly in that simple setting, a beautiful miracle in soft blend with her mother’s heart, a heart now knowing a fullness of love. Can you picture what it was like? Mary holding the baby close to her heart, the infant wrapped snuggly in warm swaddling clothes. An infant who would one day set the world on a new course….
In the drama of the first Christmas night, we look into the stable. There is hay, a manger, some stalls for the animals. It is shelter for the animals during the cool of the night. But wait. Do you think the animals realize that a miracle is happening in that room? I wonder if there is a holy hush, even with animals present, as a glow straight from God shines in their midst. Amazing isn’t it? The first ones on the scene to view the baby Jesus are the friendly beasts around that manger bed.
Let’s see, …who is next? Yes, the shepherds on the hillside.It must have taken the shepherds by surprise. One angel and then a host of angels began proclaiming the good news of the Savior’s birth to shepherds watching sheep at night. The glory of the angels must have lit up the sky. And the music must have been, well…,you know, heavenly! “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, and good will to men. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord. You shall find the babe in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.” Such beautiful powerful words! It is interesting, isn’t it? The angels were heralds of a message to the most unlikely of people,… just ordinary working class men and boys guarding the flock.
These shepherds were not in the comfort of warm homes with their families, no, they were doing their job that night, and not a particularly glamorous job at that. Yet, in God’s goodness and as witnesses to God’s plan of the ages, they were chosen to be a part of that pivotal night. God’s ways are mysterious. You never quite know what to expect or what will happen next! So, what did the shepherds do? They did not wait, they did not question, they did not use caution, for they knew the message was true. They hastened to the stable to bow before the new king. These lowly shepherds had worshipful hearts. They believed the good news of great joy, that the baby was Jesus, the Lord. Soon, after witnessing the Christ Child first-hand, they returned. To all they met, the shepherds spoke of their amazement and shared openly what they had heard and seen and had been told. Their hearts were full. It is recorded that they glorified and praised God as they returned to their flocks.
The pronouncement came to one other group of people.
For them it was not so obvious as angels singing in chorus. Instead the announcement came in the form of a star, an unusual single star seen in the Eastern sky. These wise men, called Magi, believed the words of the prophet in the ancient writing, foretelling the birth of a ruler in the land of Judah, a Ruler who would become the shepherd of God’s people, Israel. These men had respect mixed with belief in the God of the Holy Scriptures. They were studying the night sky as they often did, when their attention was arrested by a star. Not just any star, but a message in the sky from the God they acknowledged. The wisemen knew they must go on a quest to seek the One who would fulfill the prophetic writing.
The wisemen knew this was BIG. It seems as though these magi did not hesitate but rather gathered their resources and supplies to make the long journey which would take well over a year. Why would they do this, at great cost in time and money? It was because they knew and they believed. These men sought to worship the One who was born King of the Jews. After a false lead and a diversion, they rejoiced when they came to the house of the Child with his mother, Mary. The magi bowed down, worshiped the young Child, opened their treasures and presented the Child with gifts, gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh. Then, satisfied that their quest was complete, their joy became full for they knew in their hearts that this young Child was the Promised One, the Messiah.
We are back to the original thought. Why does it matter?
What is so important about Jesus' birth that in churches around the world today, and in homes of Christian families, we commemorate the birth of the Holy Infant Jesus? Why indeed? It is because we KNOW. We know the end of the story. We know the final chapter of the book. We know the truth about Jesus.
From this sweet baby boy, a man grew, a perfect man. This perfect man lived a perfect sinless life, a life with no perks and no material possessions, the life of a nomad, a life with no home, a life hid in God the Father’s will, a life authenticating His holy purpose by the performing of supernatural miracles, a life used to express His Father’s will by telling parables and foretelling His own coming death and resurrection. This perfect God-Man lived an amazing sinless life until that fateful day but also victorious day, when the forces of hell could not prevail against the forces of heaven, but were defeated by the sacrifice of the God-Man. Jesus Christ became the sin-bearer on that tree. He became sin for all of humankind.
Thus, He completed and fulfilled the plan of God the Father to redeem the world. Through Jesus Christ, peace came to the people of that day and to us. It was more than just “mission accomplished”. Jesus Christ’s life and death was the most critical time in history which has an on-going impact for all the generations to come. We ask, What difference does it make? It makes ALL the difference. Man, woman, and child can know this Christ as Savior, Forgiver, and Redeemer because of His life and His Passion. We can know the presence of God as real and true as the steps we take. The people up here represent you, your life. You, like the humble Mary, like the ordinary shepherds, like the scholarly magi, have a part to play, a life to live, a purpose.
The story now includes YOU. It is your script now…
What will you do with Jesus?