Debbie and I just returned from a Christmas Eve Service. In a few hours the house will be buzzing with family members and three energetic grandchildren. I will conduct a Christmas Eve service at Morning Star Assisted Living, before returning home to a traditional Summers family Christmas Eve dinner. Trust your celebrations are filled with joy and fond memories.
BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY… “When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” Luke 2:17,18 NIV
“…having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.” Matthew 2:12 NIV
It happened during His earthly ministry, but it began at His birth. Those who encounter Jesus experience a changed life. During Jesus ministry some Temple guards were sent to arrest Jesus and they returned empty-handed, their explanation, “No one ever spoke like this man!” (John 7:46 ESV)
At the birth of Jesus the wonder of this child, whom the prophets had foretold, gripped those who came to see this new born baby. The shepherds as the first unlikely visitors came and stood in awe. “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” (Luke 2:20 NIV)
The shepherds did what anyone does who is deeply impressed by an event. They tell others! Even though their reputation would have made them suspect as far as their integrity. (Shepherds were not allowed to testify in a court.) But they “testified” to all they could find. I am sure others came and verified the story of the shepherds.
They returned to their fields, but they returned changed by what had taken place. The Lord had chosen them! The Lord had used them! This divine plan of God using unlikely witnesses and individuals to experience His favor would be repeated as Jesus launched His ministry. Jesus comes for all. The down and out and the “up and out.” He comes to bring dignity and value and joy.
The wise men followed the star to the place where they found Mary and Joseph. Many believe this was a two year journey. After they find the One they diligently searched for we are told, “When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.” (Matthew 2:10,11 NIV)
It is after their worship and their bestowing of gifts fit for a King, that they wise men are warned in a dream about returning to Herod. So they return by a different “way” or route.
What is the result of a search and then discovery of this magnitude? It is rejoicing, worship, gift giving and being the objects of divine revelation. Such is the case for each sincere seeker of truth and the new life that is found alone in relationship with Jesus Christ.
In these first recorded visitors to the Christ-child we see a foreshadowing of what the Lord intended for those through the ages even down to our day to experience when we encounter Him, “whom to know is life eternal.” (John 17:3)
Prayer for today…. Lord, we can observe the reactions of both the shepherds and the wise men. As we consider their response to encountering Jesus the baby, we can get a glimpse of what You desire for those who encounter Jesus the Savior of the world and the hope of eternity. Allow our hearts to be open to make fresh discoveries about who You are and experience the change in our life that comes from an encounter with You.