Behold the Christ Child

By Ron Graham

 

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14

 

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

 

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, [though] thou be little among the thousands of Judah, [yet] out of thee shall he come forth unto me [that is] to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth [have been] from of old, from everlasting. Micah 5:2

 

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw [him], she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” Luke 1:26-33.

 

The birth of our Lord is celebrated among Christians all over the world. It is a wonderful time of year. Here in America we observe a Christian tradition of the celebration of our Lord’s birth on the 25th of December. At one time, in the not so distant past, we made it a real Christ centered celebration, but in recent years it has become more of a pagan day of partying instead of giving thanks. It’s a day in which we look forward to getting up on Christmas day and opening presents with our families and then we have a big meal cooked and everyone gets stuffed.

 

Many people involve themselves in celebrating but never even give a second thought to Who they should be celebrating. Think of it this way, without the birth of Jesus Christ there would be no Christmas Day celebration, just another day, no free day from work, no presents given or received, no joining together with family and friends, and of course most importantly of all, no free gift of salvation.

 

What should we be thinking about as this special day approaches? Maybe we should give some thought to what Joseph and Mary went through as they traveled to and stayed in Bethlehem. “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.” Luke 2:1. To be counted and taxed everyone had to go to his birth city. Joseph’s hometown was Bethlehem, so he and Mary, his espoused wife, traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem. This journey amounted to approximately eighty miles, a far piece to travel on the back of an ass especially with the imminent birth of Mary’s child on the way.

 

When they arrived in Bethlehem Mary was very close to giving birth, so Joseph tried to find suitable lodging, a peaceful and private place where Mary could deliver her child. All that was available was a stable with farm animals already taking up much of the room. There she gave birth to baby Jesus. “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn,” Luke 2:7. No room for God at the Inn. Kind of reminds us of the U.S. nowadays, there’s no room for God in our public arena not to mention in many of our personal lives. Soon there will be no room for God in the U.S. That’s funny considering everything, that’s everything belongs to God.

 

Or perhaps we should think about those shepherds who were tending their flocks that night when the angel appeared to them. Maybe give some thought to being in their shoes, or sandals as it were, and just sitting around the campfire enjoying the peacefulness of the evening when suddenly out of nowhere there stood an angel from God. Just imagine, the shepherds being the lowest of the low in that society and the angel of God appeared to them, not to kings and queens or other dignitaries, but to shepherds. Wow. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this [shall be] a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. Luke 2:9-12. Here’s the part that really floors me. “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:13, 14. These were angels wishing us lowly humans peace and good will. Wow, if that doesn’t bring chills to your body nothing will.

 

After they heard the proclamation by the angel and the singing of all the Heavenly hosts, the shepherds set out to find the manger where baby Jesus and Mary and Joseph had taken up residence. When they arrived they saw baby Jesus lying in the manger and shortly thereafter they set out once again to make known to everyone the strange events of that evening and about the wonderful savior of the world lying in a manger.

 

Jesus received His first distinguished quests:

 

The Magi came for a visit. These were men from a far off country who had studied a prophecy written hundreds of years earlier about the coming King to be born in Israel. The prophecy (probably given by Daniel) had been passed down from generation to generation and finally it was about to come true. They made the long journey by following a strange light in the sky. This guiding light was all they had and by it they found the Christ child. By this time He, Joseph and Mary were no longer living in a manger but in a house in the Bethlehem. Jesus was about two years old at this time.

 

By this time the censes had been completed so that the Roman soldiers and most of the people had left Bethlehem and gone back to their homes. This left plenty of room for Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus to find more comfortable accommodations. When the Magi, or wise men, arrived in Bethlehem thy found the child Jesus and offered Him presents. We aren’t told how many Magi had actually made the journey, all we are told is that they brought gifts. The gifts included gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Church tradition tells us there were three wise men but that isn’t substantiated by the scriptures.

 

So this is the story of the birth of Christ as it is portrayed in the Bible. This is what we should be celebrating on the 25th of December. We would do so much better by recognizing the day for what it was meant to be, a celebration of the birth of the Savior of the world. Never mind if it was the exact date of His birth or not, that’s a mute point. It’s the reason behind the celebration that is important.

 

From an infant Jesus the Christ grew into a man. Jesus Christ was fully man and fully God. As He walked the shores of Galilee and the hills of Judea He taught folks how they should live, He performed many miracles. He was despised and rejected, beaten and put to death on a cross of wood, and yet He owned the hill on which it stood. But the grave couldn’t hold Him. He rose on the third day according to scriptures. This little baby of whose birth we celebrate on Christmas day is now seated at the right hand of the Majesty on High.

 

God bless you all and Merry Christ-mas.

 

Ron Graham