Advent Reading 24- Jesus the Baby (Christmas Eve/Day Reading)

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger because there was no lodging available for them. That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” -Luke 2:1-12 NLT
Christmas is about Jesus the baby. For some reason, many Christmas cards have Jesus with a halo around his head and soft velvety animals around the manger. It also has three wise men bringing gifts to the new-born. There are a few misconceptions in these images.
First of all, Jesus didn’t come with a halo alongside Mary and Joseph, if he did many people would recognize him and probably thought there was something strange about him. Isaiah spoke of Jesus being simple and all throughout the New Testament, Jesus is spoken of as being humble. There may have been some cute little animals around Jesus but more than likely the donkey which Mary and Joseph rode on as well as the sheep that were brought with the shepherds. And the greatest misconception are the wise men. First of all, we don’t know if there were three of them, we just assume because of the three gifts. It could have very well been an entourage of men from Babylon and the east. They arrived in Bethlehem when Jesus was a child more than likely a toddler about 2 years old.
No, I am not trying to disprove the nativity story. Christmas is indeed about the baby Jesus, but more so his incarnation. This is the story of God coming to earth as a human. Christmas is about God’s love stretching beyond heaven’s door to earth. His birth linked all people together, not just Jews. God called the shepherds first to witness this beautiful incarnation. They were of little importance, bottom of the food chain as far as prestige went. Jesus came as the Savior to all nations. Thus, the reason the wise men came from the east to worship him. He included the lowest of the low to the richest and most knowledgeable men.
Even as a baby and a child, Jesus created turbulence. His existence caused a stir and demanded a response. People either loved or hated him, accepted his love and try to squash it. Herod tried to get rid of him by murdering all boys 2 and younger (see Matthew 2:13-18), very much like the Pharaoh did when Moses was born. And just like Moses, Jesus was spared because of God’s intervention. Moses was a savior for the Israelites in the Exodus to the promised land. Jesus came as the Savior for the whole world.
I know in some parts of the world; Christmas seems to be a swear word. The reason is simple, people are offended by the message of the incarnated Jesus. We will cause offense by just being Christians. This should not come as a surprise to us as Jesus said this was going to happen. People are offended by Jesus because it goes against their selfish desires. Sadly, people hate God who they don’t even believe exists. God desires everyone to come to know him as their Lord and Savior. God wants us to be the bearer of his love. The question I have for us, if we were tried in a court of law, under oath, for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence in our actions and words to convict us?
Jesus is the incarnation of God himself. Give thanks to God for his ultimate gift of love. Spend time today and tomorrow especially, to worship this amazing God. Jesus came to set us free. He came for the rich and the poor. He loves everyone. Christmas is about Jesus- the baby, the incarnation. May He be born in us.
Today’s Prayer is the Lyrics for O Holy Night, don’t just sing it, really read and breathe in the words:
O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night, O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night, O night divine!
Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle, we stand.
O’er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
God bless you all. Merry CHRISTmas!

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