As I sit in my office sipping warm premium blend coffee, snowflakes tumble from the sky, only to be whipped across our parking lot by a chilling west wind; a physical reminder that Old Man Winter is peeking around the corner. From the warm indoors it’s a beautiful scene to watch. Soon Christmas will be upon our heels and people will be frantically searching for that last minute gift. Amidst the rush, the colorful array of Christmas lights, the loud relatives, the eggnog, and holiday spirit I hope you can take a few moments to think about the event that happened 2,000 years ago, the day when our planet was invaded. I guess you could call it a space invasion of the heart. I’m talking about God taking on human flesh and becoming one of us (John 1:14). An event so big, that it has forever changed human history, the hearts of men and women, and Christmas for billions of believers worldwide. If you would like to take a moment to reflect on the invasion, continue reading.
Last night in youth group we examined closely Jesus’ birth as told in Luke’s Gospel. The story can be found in Luke 2:1-20 if you’re interested in reading it for yourself. We looked at four different aspects of this story: the setting, Mary & Joseph, the shepherds, and the angels. Here’s what we discovered:
The setting – The birth of Christ happened in a small town named Bethlehem. Joseph traveled with Mary to Bethlehem for a census. Because Joseph is from the family line of David he has to register in Bethlehem. It was customary to return to your original hometown for a census. Bethlehem was busy during this time, which is why Mary and Joseph could find no hotel, guest room, or spare room to lodge in for the night. Verse 7 reads,
And she gave birth to her firstborn son, and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a feeding trough, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Mary & Joseph – Not yet married, but still engaged (v.5). Traveled together to Bethlehem to register for the census. While there, Mary gave birth to Jesus. Joseph stayed with Mary despite the absurdity of a virgin birth. He was visited by the angel Gabriel and told all about the virgin birth and that his soon-to-be wife would be the mother (Matt 1:20-21). Joseph believed in God’s message and stayed with Mary. Shortly after Jesus’ birth, some shepherds visited Mary and Joseph. They too had an encounter with angelic beings and told Mary everything they were told. Her response? Verse 19 reads,
But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
The Shepherds – Tending to their sheep during the night they are visited by an angel. Like everyone else, they’re terrified. The angel comforts them and tells them of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem (v.8-12). The story gets better, because a army (literally) of angels appears with the other angel praising God (v.13-14). Inspired by the miraculous events they witnessed, they hurry off to Bethlehem to see for themselves this savior. They find Mary and Joseph and tell them everything the angels told them. I find it interesting that they leave the scene doing exactly what the angels did when they visited them in their fields, glorifying and praising God. The angels set an example for them as to how they were to respond to Jesus. Verse 20 reads,
And the shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.
The Angels – Make quite an appearance here. One visits some lowly shepherds and announces the Good News of Jesus Christ. Then the heavenly army appears to the shepherds praising God. That would have been a frightening scene. Why did they choose shepherds? Not sure, could have been direct orders from God. Could have been the only people outside and available at that time? Could have been the only people willing to listen and obey their words? Whatever the case, the angels appeared and brought the glory of God with them (v.9) and a special message for all to hear,
For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior,
who is Christ the Lord.
Hopefully you find some peace and calm this Christmas as we remember and celebrate God becoming flesh. Merry Christmas!