1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. (Luke 2:1-20)
The story of Jesus’ birth has been read time and time again. You can probably recite parts of it, if not all of it. But, have you ever sat down with the words of scripture and tried to imagine what it must have been like for Joseph and Mary? They were anxious travelers who could not find a place to stay. Mary was sore from the trip and from carrying a baby for nine months. Her breaths were short. Her rib cage hurt. And, her whole body ached. Each movement she made would have been torture. Her body knew it was time for the baby to come. She waited as Joseph searched the city for a place to stay. Imagine how he must have racked his brain for places to stay. Maybe there were relatives or old friends who could put them up for several nights. He finally finds someone who will take them in. He runs back to tell Mary the good news. Can you imagine the look on her face when Joseph came back with the news that he found a place for the night?
The Bible does not give many details, but having a baby is not the quickest or cleanest process. What the Bible describes in a verse could have taken hours and hours. But, eventually the baby was born, and they wrapped him in cloth and laid him in a manger. Can you imagine that? Jesus, the Messiah, the God who created cows and donkeys, is now laying in the place where those cows and donkeys eat.
Imagine the type of fear the shepherds felt when their calm dark night turned into a light show. They had never seen anything like this. Not even close. But, when the angels filled the sky and proclaimed the good news of the Christ child, the shepherds listened. They could not wait until morning. They had to see this child. So, they left their sheep, ran to Bethlehem, and found the baby. Sometimes, I wonder how many stables and caves they had to check before they found the right one. But, they found him in the manger just as the angels said.
This baby born came to do all sorts of things. He came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. He came as a man to be a Merciful and Great High Priest and stand on our behalf before God. He came to serve us. He came to give his life in our place. He came to proclaim the good news of his kingdom. He came to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. He came to do all these things and so much more. But, none of these would matter if he did not actually come. That is what he did that night in Bethlehem. Jesus actually came. The God of the Universe humbled himself, took on flesh, and was born to a young woman and her husband. He was first visited by shepherds, and he slept his first few nights in a place meant for animals to eat out of.
And, this is only the beginning of a beautiful story of a beautiful Savior who came to us.
Father thank you for sending Jesus your Son, the true image of God.
Jesus, thank you for humbling yourself to be born in flesh so we may see God. Thank you for dwelling among us so we may know God.
Spirit, fill us with power today to worship and be glad. Renew us in the image of our creator so Jesus may be seen in us.
Our God who is three in one, we come before you to worship you on this Christmas day. As our day is filled with presents and food, may our hearts be filled with gratitude for your good works. You alone have given us a reason to live. You alone have given us a reason to praise. You alone have given us a reason to sing.
You have given us the great gift of joy through your Son. Through him you have made yourself known. Today as we celebrate with family and friends, may your name be praised today and forever! Amen.