Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Christmas Story, Day 2

The Christmas Story 
Day 2

Yesterday we saw that Mary and Joseph had arrived in Bethlehem to be taxed. Today we study the birth of Jesus.

"While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them." (Luke 2:6-7) Can you imagine how nerve-wracking this experience was for a young couple far from home? If Mary had been home she could have had her mother and female relatives to help with the birth but we don't see any mention of anyone being with Mary and Joseph as they traveled to Bethlehem. Plus, no inns had any room for them even though she was about to have the baby any minute. Mary and Joseph had no experience with labor and babies and I can't help wondering if they were frightened and upset. This is how the Son of God was born: to a young and poor couple far from home, in a shelter for animals, with no royal robe to dress Him in and no soft feather bed to lay Him on.  

I have heard it mentioned that most everything Jesus ever had was borrowed. When the Lord said "the Son of Man has no place to lay His head" it was the truth. (Luke 9:58) His first baby bed was borrowed from the farm animals. He stayed at the homes of friends and disciples during the years of His ministry. The body of Jesus was even laid to rest in a borrowed tomb. Jesus, the Lord of heaven and precious Son of God, owned nothing but the clothes on His back here on earth. He did that for us! He considered us worth the cost of laying aside the glory and privilege of heaven. Just between you and me, we weren't worth it. We weren't worth the hard living, the suffering, or the death of our Lord. But love made us worth it to Him.

"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord 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.' Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.'" (Luke 2:8-14) You would expect the Messiah and King to be born in a palace somewhere but the sign given by the angels was that He had been laid in a manger, wrapped in swaddling cloths, like a homeless child. Our sinful world thought we had it all but we really had nothing without Him, so He gave up everything He had to come here and save us. The Lord Jesus said to one a wealthy and materialistic church in the book of Revelation, "You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked." (Revelation 3:17) That's what we were without Christ: wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. No worldly treasures could ever compare to what we have in Him. No amount of wealth can save our souls. When we get to heaven it's going to be by grace alone.

"When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.' So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them." (Luke 2:16-18) I find it so touching that there were shepherds and lambs at the birthplace of our Lord because He was the "Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." (John 1:29) I heard someone say once that only eyes that adored Him saw Him on the night of His birth and that blesses my heart, for so many eyes that hated Him saw Him on the day of His death. On the night the Lord was born He was looked upon with loving eyes. The Father looked down on Him with pride and probably some sorrow too, knowing what was to come. The angels looked upon Him in adoration and praise. Mary and Joseph looked upon Him in love and awe. The shepherds looked upon Him in worship. The animals looked upon Him as their Creator. The King had come and on this first night He was honored.

Mary, that young scared girl with a new baby, was tired and proud and awestruck at the events that had taken place. Luke says, "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." (Luke 2:19) Doesn't that sound just like a mom? She treasured everything to do with her son and she treasured everything said about her son. Mary had a mental baby book for this precious boy, just as in our day a mom would save up all the cards, birth announcements, pictures, and the wonderful compliments said about her child.

"The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told." (Luke 2:20) The word of God is true and we will find things just as we have been told. This child Jesus had been foretold by the prophets. His eventual sacrificial death was pictured in the Passover lamb and all the sacrifices which had come before His birth. At last God had come Himself, in the flesh, to His people. Nobody else could save us but Jesus and He was more than willing to do it. Who else's God ever died for them? What other religion offers us salvation through anything but our own pitiful works which will never be good enough? Thanks be to our precious Savior who came to our rescue, for our salvation is in the person of Jesus Christ, and in Him alone. Glory to His name for this great gift!

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