Many around the world witnessed what was being called the Christmas star this year (2020). While it was bright and spectacular, it lasted for just a short time. The star these wise men, also known as magi or royal astrologers, spoke of had been burning bright for some time. “We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” Jesus’ star was not a one night affair as we experienced this year. It was a sign for these wise men announcing the birth of a king!
Of course, King Herod was surprised. He knew the arrival of the Messiah was highly anticipated by the Jews. Herod, pronounced as “king of the Jews” by Rome, was not in the line of David. So he was “technically” not a true king in the eyes of the Jewish community. He was also known to be quite self serving. We can see his true colors coming out a bit in his sudden interest in another king. Some might even call it jealousy!
There are so many nuggets of truth in this reading! Such a great passage for today (I’m writing this on Christmas Day)! John’s “nativity” is not quite the same as Luke and Matthew, but it’s riveting. It speaks to who Jesus, the Word, was. “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In Hebrew thought, the “Word’ was how God revealed himself to the people. Jesus became the revelation of God in human form. When we look at Jesus we see God’s holiness personified.
This next part really gives me hope. “The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” Knowing Jesus is victorious helps us endure the darkness of our days. We are often confused by the distortions of the world concerning our reality and eternity. We need to focus on Jesus.
Shepherds. These guys were low on the popularity scale. They didn’t get a lot of respect, yet their jobs demanded diligence, perseverance, attentiveness, and humility. That’s who God chose to be the first to meet Jesus.Got saw their worth. They were his masterpiece just as the next guy.
And it happened with great intention. “Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified.” Just the word “suddenly” invokes a feeling of excitement and anticipation. What the shepherds beheld that night was not at all ordinary.
It’s time to you use your imagination. Who would expect the King to be born in a filthy place where you’d find a manger? We don’t read about any animals being present, yet most nativity scenes have cows, sheep, and of course a donkey. Why a donkey? Because we have always pictured pregnant Mary riding on a donkey rather than making the 70 mile trek to Bethlehem on foot.
When you think of how all the pieces of this story have fit into place, it could only be God orchestrating it. We know from Micah 5:2 that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf.” How do they get there?
Unbelievable! What must Joseph have been thinking? The news Mary shared with him must have seemed incredible. Women don’t just get pregnant when they’re still virgins. Now what? This changes everything! How could he have been so blind? Mary seemed like a nice girl, didn’t she?
Enter the angel. It was time for God to intervene in Joseph’s life to ease his mind. What has happened was not meant to be a curse, but rather an honor. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” We know God chose Mary to be honored among women, but her husband needed to be a devout man of God as well. Jesus’ earthly parents would be scrutinized as well as heralded as holy.