If you’ve spent time in church (or with my grandmother) at Christmastime, you’ve heard at least parts of the Christmas story. Most of us own a manger scene, complete with Joseph and Mary, three shepherds, an angel and some cows or sheep, and of course a baby Jesus wrapped in a tiny blanket. We know about the angels appearing to the shepherds and the star that shone bright; the wise men that came bearing gifts, one of which would reappear during the burial process of the same baby boy they were rejoicing over. I want to encourage you to re-read the story, not from a Christmas book, but rather search the scriptures and ask God to show you something new this year as we take a tour together of the manger scene.
Why shepherds? Shepherds were not seen as important people; not politically, not economically. They lived among sheep. They ate with their sheep, slept among their sheep, they taught their sheep to obey commands and they protected their sheep at all costs, even at the risk of their own lives. Just as Jesus came to earth through a very humble birth, the news of His arrival was first presented to a very humble group. God works through humble hearts and simple situations. Christ walked among His people. He ate with them, slept among them, taught them His commands and gave His own life to protect them. He was the ultimate shepherd. What better companions to have displayed in manger scenes for centuries to come than the very men that represent what Christ is for all of humanity?
Study Psalm 23:1-6
Mary . . .
Why Mary? She wasn’t rich. She wasn’t heir to a throne. There wasn’t any part of her that would suggest that she should bring a king into the world. I smile as I think about the people that God has used to do some of the most courageous things that we read about in our Bibles. She was humble, she was willing. Read Luke 2:19. I cannot begin to imagine what she was pondering. She held in her arms the sweetest, most precious gift that the world would ever reject. The journey ahead of her would be one like no other mother in history until then or since has ever had to face. Her son; the little boy that was birthed in a lowly manger, peering up at her with the clearest of eyes, latching hold of her finger as he pierced her heart with his infant perfection; she would one day watch as he was mocked and beaten. She would watch him flinch under the cattails attached to a whip. She would see his body collapse in pain, no longer able to carry the cross he so undeservingly was sentenced to. She would be there as he called out to God for the forgiveness of the very men who were putting Him to death. And she would watch her beloved baby boy draw in His last breath before giving up everything He had on a dark, gloomy hill as He swallowed up man’s sin once and for all. I don’t know that any other woman alive could have endured what she did. In the eyes of her culture she was plain, she was ordinary. But God chose her because she was stunningly extraordinary, just like you. How does God desire to use you? Allow Him to reveal a plan for your life.
You . . .
If you look very closely into any manger scene you can find yourself. You’re in there!! We are all there among the smelly sheep. We are in the heart of baby Jesus. God knew you before you ever were. He knew you would one day walk on Earth as His child and He had a purpose for you. He also knew that your purpose would require the sacrifice of His Son. When was the last time you thanked God for the manger scene and what it means for your life? Spend time in prayer today praising God for the birth of His Son and take time to read about the life and ministry of Jesus in the Gospels.
Riverview Family Devotion Guides
Family devotion guides are provided to help reinforce the "Big Idea" that is studied in Sunday School and presented in the Pastor's message each week.