God's Big Surprise!
Christmas time is near and for people from a Christian tradition that anticipates the coming celebration of Christ’s birth. There’s also greater interest in Christmas from people all over the world. Christmas was God's big surprise.
There had been clues all throughout the Old Testament, though no one really expected the miracle of 'God-with-us' in the form of a helpless baby. Christmas is about God's surprising gift to us: a gift that not only transforms the way we think about ourselves and our future, but also one that gives us an insight into the very nature of the love of God for us.
The story of the first Christmas is the beginning of a new chapter in the bigger story of God's plan to rescue His people from their sin and selfishness.
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly’ (John 10:10).
When I picture the night that Jesus was born in my head, I see night had fallen, stars were sharp in the dark sky, and shepherds reclined on a steep hillside above Bethlehem watching their flocks. David, Israel's greatest king, had been a shepherd on Bethlehem's hills a millennium before. Jerusalem and its temple were just six miles north of Bethlehem and so supplying lambs for the Passover sacrifice was these shepherds' livelihood.
Bible teacher Ralph Wilson describes what happened in this way*:
‘Then, some time after, a camel train lumbered into Bethlehem and halted right in front of the place Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus were staying. Camels were kneeling, riders climbing down from their mounts. Easterners, they were, and rich… they were looking… to the little house where Mary and Joseph and Jesus lived. Through the open door [they kneeled] on the dirt floor before the sleeping Jesus.
‘We saw the child's star in the East. We knew that it meant a great king had been born among the Jews, greater than any on earth’, Magi were saying. ‘We came to do homage to such a great king.’
It is in simple loving, giving and receiving that we find the heart of Christmas. God gave us the most precious thing to Him — His only begotten Son. And what do we have to give to Him that He really wants?
A prayer? A song? Good, but not enough. On Christmas, the only gift that is worthy is to give Him the only gift He really hopes for, that which is most precious to us and most costly: our heart, our life, our love, our future.
Father, at this Christmas time we thank You for Your gift of Jesus. And somehow we want to reciprocate, to give You a gift, but we know we have nothing to compare with Your Gift. Yet, right now we open up our hearts to You. We surrender ourselves to You.