A Christmas Story

He was born in a small town called Bethlehem in Judea. His parents were on their way to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of the Passover and for the census when Mary, his mother’s time came to deliver. Because there was no room in the local Inn, his parents took shelter in a stable, a barn filled with livestock. He was born with no immediate pomp or circumstance and was laid in a manger filled with straw, a feed trough where the cattle and sheep ate. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit yet born of a virgin woman.

 

What must Mary have thought when the Angel of God visited her months before to tell her she would conceive a baby born of the Holy Spirit even though she herself was a virgin. Historians say she was probably only eleven or twelve. Her fiancé Joseph, thought to quietly disown her as was the custom of the day but the Angel of the Lord also visited him to tell him the baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Joseph married her but as commanded by the Angel had no relations with her until after the baby was born.

 

Shepherds who were grazing their sheep on a nearby hillside were told by an Angel, “Don’t be afraid! 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! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the Angel was joined by a vast host of others, the Armies of Heaven, praising God and singing, “Glory to God in highest Heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” The shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem to see this child the Lord has made known to us.” So they went to Bethlehem and found the baby just as the Angel had said. Wise men from far off Countries also heard of the newborn King. They followed a star until they found him and presented gifts of myrrh, frankincense, and other precious gifts.

 

But Herod, the King of the Jewish Nation also heard about the baby as it had been prophesied in the old testament Scriptures. Trying to stamp out any thought of a new King, he had the first born of every Jewish family slaughtered. But an Angel warned Mary and Joseph to flee to a foreign Country until it was safe to return.

 

He began his ministry at age 30. He seems never to have owned a horse or chariot. He apparently traveled from town to town on foot. Yet the crowds followed him and esteemed him. His world was very small by modern accounts. He touched very few foreign countries. His ministry was cut short by his death three years later. He was beaten by the Roman Guard. A stripe for every disease know to man laid open his back. He was wrongly condemned to die on a Roman cross. The enemy of God thought he had won. Yet he arose three days later in victory, just as the prophets had said he would and ascended to sit at God’s right hand.

 

He wasn’t a tele-evangelist. His ministry wasn’t broadcast all over the world. He didn’t fill stadiums or sell books. He didn’t make the nightly news. Yet no man has ever lived who influenced the world the way Jesus did. The Son of God, descended to earth, was born a natural birth, lived a sinless life, was crucified, dead and buried to free his own creation from their sins. He who knew no sin, made himself a sin offering for mankind. He paid a debt he did not owe. A ransom we could not pay. All because he loves us. So we pay homage to him this Christmas. We celebrate his birth and resurrection. He was and is the hope of the world. He did it all for us.