4And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. 5He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.
6And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
8That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
13Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
14“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
15When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
This is the real Christmas story.
There is so much to see in this amazing story. I would like to focus on just a few things for today.
First, there was no room for Mary and Joseph at the inn. So they found the most suitable accommodations they could for Mary to deliver her blessed child. They found a stable meant for cattle. And there amongst the peaceful eyes of the cows and lambs, the newborn baby Jesus entered the world He created. Mary gently laid Jesus in a manger. A manger is a sort of trough for animals to feed out of, not fit for a baby, much less our Lord and Savior. But maybe it is?
Jesus called himself the bread of life. Whoever eats of that bread will never hunger again. They will be filled.
Now take a look at the town Jesus was born in: the town of Bethlehem. Bethlehem in Hebrew means house of bread. You and I couldn’t have planned that better. The bread of life being born in a small town, in simple surroundings, but bringing the good news to all people. Bethlehem is also the hometown of King David, from which the scriptures said the Savior would be born. Literally the stars aligned that night.
Then there’s the shepherds. The wise men that the Bible talks of later were kings and such. They brought all kinds of gifts to the infant Jesus, but by then it was actually around Jesus’ second birthday. It’s not wise men and kings who showed up first, but lowly shepherds.
Shepherds were despised by the religious leaders. Not exactly invited to the A-list parties back then because the shepherds were out in the fields. That was their lives and livelihoods. They could not do a lot of the ritualistic washing and obey a lot of the ceremonial rules that the Jews obeyed. So they were made to stay in their fields and tend to the sheep. They lived with sheep and smelled like sheep, but nobody knew those sheep better.
The religious leaders didn’t care for the shepherds, but they needed them. The shepherds were in charge of picking the best, healthiest, most blemish-free sheep for the Jewish sacrifices for their holy days.
I say who better than these shepherds to be the first to see their newborn Savior. They were the most experienced in looking at lambs meant to be sacrificed for the people’s sin. Jesus would be what the Bible says is the “lamb without blemish” who would be destined for the perfect sacrifice, taking away the sins of the world once and for all.
So they came and saw the baby Jesus. In fact, when they heard the news from the angel, the Bible says they went “with haste.” They immediately walked, if not ran, to the manger. Those shepherds were the first people besides the family of Jesus to lay eyes upon their Lord and Savior in the flesh.
His name Jesus, from the Hebrew word Yeshua, meaning God Saves. So when they even uttered His name for the first time, they were not only acknowledging him as Lord and Savior, but also giving Him the glory for what He was going to do with the life He took for Himself.
With this birth, He would be able to now know what we go through first hand. He would experience the highs and lows of life. The Bible says that Jesus would even be tempted in all ways as we are. But unlike our sinful selves, He would be without sin.
Jesus would be able to touch people who have never experienced love, lift up people who have never experienced the ability to walk. And at the end, with this body of flesh and bone He took for Himself, He would finally do something that God could not normally do: He could die. He could take the punishment we deserve for our sins.
Through his life, death, burial, and especially His resurrection, Jesus gave us the free gift of eternal life with Him in Heaven, so that on our last day, we too shall be raised to new life with Him. Jesus said, “I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:3)
That’s the Christmas story. The salvation, the peace, and the eternal love of our Jesus.
At Christmas time, it is great to be able to see these trees and glitter and all of the lights. But don’t be too astounded by the lights of Christmas. Instead, think back to the light of the world being born on this day. Because of Jesus, we will never be in darkness again.
Merry Christmas beloved! God’s blessings to you.