Monday, 16 December 2013 15:36

Good News... For All the People!

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As the Christmas season comes each year, I try to read the story of the birth of Jesus in each book where  we find it in the Bible.  The story in Luke 1 and 2 is the longest and probably the most famous.  Matthew 1 gives us a very brief narrative following the genealogy of Jesus.  Mark skips it entirely and John begins  his account with a testimony about Jesus but no details about His birth.

I usually end up back in Luke.  Doctor Luke is full of the details.  As you might expect, Luke covers an old woman getting pregnant, a virgin having a baby, and even the reactions of the men involved in this event we celebrate so often we may lose something in the familiarity of it all.  I still recommend the reading of it every year because every time I read the story, I get something new from it and the examples of those involved.

Many times I have been touched by Elizabeth’s reaction to Mary’s visit.  In Luke 2:42, she says, “Why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to visit me?”  She made Jesus Lord before He was ever born, before Mary told her story, before she could hear the testimony of the shepherds, or hear the gospel as her son, John the Baptist, would tell it.  I can learn a lot from this older lady.

Even reading about old Zechariah has something to teach me.  Every time I doubt God’s word or fail to trust His timing, like Zach did in Luke 1:18 when he said, “How can I be sure of this?  I am an old man and my wife is well along in years”, I end up missing out on opportunities for joy and celebration of God’s faithfulness.  I imagine that he had prayed all of his married life for a child and when Elizabeth finally got pregnant, he was mute and could tell no one.  Oh the cost of unbelief!

And then there is Joseph!  He’s the man.  An angel shows up in a dream and tells him that his fiancée, Mary, is pregnant and he knows for sure the baby is not his. He has every right to divorce her for unfaithfulness and get out of this marriage before it even begins but His trust in God and the obedience that follows challenges me this season in many kinds of ways (Matthew 1:18-25).  He doesn’t assert his “rights” about divorce, a honeymoon, or even a room at the inn for his pregnant wife.  It helps me manage my expectations around the season when I see the way Joseph handled the events, inconveniences, and even the death threats that came to his little family due to the jealousy of an insane ruler.  (Yep, Joseph had crazy people in his world too!)

One year I had just found out I was pregnant with my 5th child in 6 years when it was Christmas time.  I was undone to say the least.  I had 3 sons and a daughter and thought I was finished having children.  As I thought about my options, birth or abortion, I realized that birth was really my only option.   I concurred with Mary’s reaction in Luke 1:38 when the angel told her that she was going to have a baby at an inopportune time in her life, “I am the Lord’s servant.  May it be to me as you have said.” Like Mary, I now look back and say with her, “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” My  child has become a man and a special blessing to me and those who know him, just like her Son.   

My favorite part of all is the story of the shepherds.  They are just out in the fields, making a living, tending sheep, keeping them safe from predators during the night hours.  An angel appears with a message that forever changed my world and yours.  Up until this night, God was a God of the Jewish people.  He was known best as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  But He was also the God of Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon, and Isaiah. All the way down to Malachi.  Occasionally a few of us heathen Gentiles had a glimpse of Him.  Hagar, Rahab, and others knew who He was and believed Him but for the most part, we were the outcasts.  Then, as the glory of Lord shone around  the shepherds,  these words were uttered, “Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy that WILL BE FOR ALL THE PEOPLE. Today in the town of David (Bethlehem) a Savior has been born to you, he is Christ, the Lord. This will be a sign to you:  You will find a baby, wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

We seem to get stuck on this picture of Sweet Little Jesus Boy, lying in a manager with cows mooing nearby and miss the fact that the whole universe has just changed.  Before Jesus was sent from heaven, we Gentiles were left out, not included, standing on the outside looking in.  But, we have just been invited to the event that is so phenomenal that all of history as we know it measures time by it.  Time before this night is known as Before Christ, B.C. and A.D. is Anno Domini.  The term Anno Domini is Medieval Latin, translated as In the year of the Lord, and as in the year of our Lord.  It is sometimes specified more fully as Anno Domini Nostri Iesu (Jesu) Christi ("In the Year of Our Lord Jesus Christ"). Life after this event has never been the same on plant Earth.

None of this is because of what we have done as people to earn God’s grace but because A Savior is Born. To ALL THE PEOPLE.  John says in Chapter 1, verse 10, “he was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize Him.  He came to his own, but his own did not receive him.  Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” We are now welcome, included, part of the family of God!  As we have believed in Him, we become like the shepherds who left the manger scene and went back to work, “glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”  They left with a song in their heart, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace to men on whom His favor rests,” Luke 2: 20.

As we become more satisfied with Him, the less we need of the other trims and trappings that the world tells us we must have to enjoy the holiday.  Yes, we all have expectations and anticipations of family, friends, music, food, gifts, and fun but as we “hope only in God, for our expectation is of Him”  (Psalm 62:5), can we put those things in perspective and take the pressure off of ourselves and others to make the holiday “merry and bright”.  We will be like the Magi who followed the Star, gave gifts to others, and left after they bowed down and worshipped Him. Remember, they were The Wise Men!

His birth is Good all the people.  His life, death and resurrection  is even better news…to all the people.  His coming again is for all those who “have longed for His appearing”.

 Merry Christmas! You are invited to the party! 

Read 2017 times Last modified on Thursday, 15 December 2016 17:20
Kathy Haecker

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