The long-awaited birth of Jesus happens after Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem to register for the census decreed by Caesar Augustus. He was born in a manger because there was no room at the inn (Luke 2:4-7) Nearby, there were shepherds taking care of sheep, when an angel 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 that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger’ (Luke 2:9-12).
The shepherds found the baby Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah, lying in a manger, a humble birth that they celebrated, “glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told (Luke 2:20).” A humble birth, with humble shepherds the first to greet Him and then to pass the word. The shepherds were so excited about this birth and how the angel had appeared to them than any of the leaders of Israel or Rome could possibly have been. Even today, He does not come to us, taking over our lives and using God’s power to overcome us; He humbly awaits our consent and willingness to follow His lead. And He is the Son of God!
Every year we await and then celebrate His birth and the life He had come to live. We are also always waiting for His word to us, His call to serve which He also provides us, if we are willing to listen. Jesus is the center of our faith and of our lives, if we are willing to follow Him wherever He would lead us. And so, we remember every Advent and Christmas season who is first in our lives and also what we are waiting to hear from Him now—the next step on our journey with Him. It is a wonder and a grace that He bestows on us, each step closer to His word, each step closer to the purpose for which our Lord designed us at our birth. For Jesus did not come in without a purpose and neither do any of us. So, the more we listen to and obey Jesus, the closer we come to fulfilling our purpose, to being free of the burdens that the world puts on us, to living in peace, joy, love, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and humility—all the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) which comes to us as we devote more and more of ourselves and all that we do to Jesus.
There is so much to celebrate in this season and it has little to do with all the gifts and presents we will receive at Christmas. More than any material thing that we will get, we will rejoice in living in the truth, shedding the burdens of the world, living out our purpose on Earth and so much more. Notice that it is the humble shepherds who are the first to see the baby Jesus. Let us remember during this highly commercialized season what is truly important in our lives—the Savior who saves us, who loves us, who supports and challenges us to be all that we were created to be, just as He lived out the life that had been given to Him. Amen!
Questions to ponder over the week: What are the gifts, the blessings from God that you have experienced in your life? Do you think there are more, maybe many more that you have not seen? How could you experience all that the Lord is doing for you, day in and day out? What would you need to give up to do that?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who welcome all that God has given and will be giving to us. May we welcome both the blessings and the challenges, and see the blessings everywhere.
- I am giving away a 10-week journaling guide to Jesus’s Two Great Commandments. If you are interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will email it to you, free of charge.
- My latest books, “Called to Help the Poor and Needy” and “A Study Guide to the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount” are now in bookstores and on line. The first is about the more than 2,000 verses in the Bible which detail God’s instructions for caring for those in need. The second is a journaling/pondering guide to Jesus’s most complete sermon.